Depending on how you look at it, shutting down the economy may or may not have served a purpose—but we’re all pretty much in agreement that it can’t go on forever. If marijuana has been your “go to” for taking the edge off the chaos these past few months, you might be wondering what’s going to happen if you’ve got to take a drug test to go back to work.
Lots of Americans will go back to their jobs without an employee drug test. With millions unemployed, though, not everyone’s going to have that luxury because they’ll be looking for a whole new gig entirely.
Increased drug use is all over the news
Since the onset of the pandemic, opioid overdose deaths are rising dramatically across the United States.
That’s devastating news when you consider that the number of prescription overdose deaths had declined by 13.5% during 2017-2018 according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). The drug culture in our nation quickly turned to the mind numbing comfort for which opiates are known.
No one has ever overdosed on marijuana, but there’s little doubt that if we dug for the stats, use has gone up since we’ve all been at home. Not to mention that it’s still on the majority of employee drug tests anyway.
The type of drug test that you’re taking determines the length of time that marijuana is detected.
Urine drug test
The odds are that you’ll be handed a cup and escorted to the restroom when it’s time to get a sample. The urine test is still the most widely used employee drug test. They’re cost-effective, accurate, and they’re so commonly used that employees expect them.
That said, there are lots of “beat the test” methods out there when it comes to the urine test. But, be cautious if you decide to try one—drinking lots of water just prior to the test is all over the internet but laboratory equipment is so sophisticated today that it detects when urine is diluted so if you go over the limit by even the tiniest bit, you’re getting busted.
Even if the test doesn’t show pot in your system, some employers treat a diluted test result as if it’s positive. Zero tolerance policies don’t give second chances. So, weigh your options before you jump on any bandwagons… and good luck if you do.
Your best bet?
Take some time to dry out if you can. Here’s the time table:
- If you only smoke 3 or 4 times a week, the detection window is between five and seven days.
- When you smoke a joint every day, you’re going to test positive for around 30 days.
- If you are a chronic smoker and use repeatedly every day, it’s likely that you’ll test positive for up to sixty days and maybe longer.
Mouth swab drug test
Employers who want to detect recent drug use opt for the mouth swab test. Moreover, law enforcement agencies use them more often when suspecting drug use during a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident.
They’re cost-effective and reliable. Mouth swab tests detect most drugs within minutes of use—marijuana included. It depends on the drug how long its identified, but mouth swab tests cap at 72 hours after use.
Marijuana shows up for 24 hours.
There’s no way to tell if someone’s currently impaired though because scientists haven’t been able to discover how to determine when the test is picking up the parent drug and when it’s acknowledging the marijuana metabolite.
There are some products on the market—mints, gum, and mouthwashes—that claim to mask drug use.
As far as home remedies go, never consider swishing bleach in your mouth—that’s a serious accident waiting to happen. And—marijuana metabolites in your saliva don’t latch on to fatty foods leaving your mouth metabolite free for the test.
Hair follicle drug test
If you’re going back to your old job, your employer probably doesn’t use this drug test! That’s because the hair follicle drug test identifies any drugs used over the past ninety days. The longer detection period is causing employers to overlook the added expense of the test.
Furthermore, some trucking companies have jumped the gun on the DOT’s request to switch from the urine test to the hair follicle drug test. They require employees and new hires to submit to a hair follicle drug test in addition to the urine test.
Marijuana metabolites stored in the hair follicles grow out into the center of the hair shaft causing the positive result.
There are shampoos that claim to mask the metabolites, however, as with other “beat the test” products, it seems the manufacturers leave an “out” somewhere in the fine print.
An ounce of prevention
If you want to know if you’re in the clear, you can always schedule a drug test on your own at a facility near you. Many places even accept walk-ins—you might have a longer wait time, of course.
All three test methods are available. If you know specifically which test you’re taking, you can have your answer beyond the shadow of doubt.
It’s exciting to think about getting back to work and moving forward with our lives again.
It’s even more exciting to think about the new marijuana breathalyzer that’s going to be hitting the market soon. Employers doing business in states that have legalized marijuana will be able to test for current impairment. That’s going to be a game changer, isn’t it?
I can’t wait!