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Northern California Employers Are Re-Examining Drug Testing Policies

Northern California Employers Are Re-Examining Drug Testing Policies
Photo Credit: Getty Images

In light of legalization and the growing prevalence of cannabis consumption, Northern California employers are re-examining drug testing policies. Are they swayed by science? By logic? Or are they just losing out on prospective employees because of unreliable testing methods? It seems that there are a lot of factors at play here.

Drug Testing

If you’ve had or applied for a job in the United States, you have probably been subjected to at least one mandatory drug screening. Job offers that are contingent upon clean urine are ubiquitous. It seems that everyone and their mother has strategies for passing drug tests! Or at least beating the system one way or another.

But in recent years, more and more people are questioning the validity and necessity of mandatory drug testing. Especially when it comes to employment. Although prospective employees have (rightfully) complained about this compulsory testing for years, employers are officially on the bandwagon.

Or at least some of them have. According to recent reports, Northern California employers are re-examining drug testing policies. This re-analysis of urinalysis follows the rapidly evolving legal status of cannabis in The Golden State. Now that residents of California have voted in favor of legal recreational weed, more adults in the workforce are becoming better acquainted with our girl Mary Jane. And as a result, the workforce is suffering. Not because people are coming into work impaired, but because they’re failing drug testing. So employers are missing out on otherwise qualified employees.

The employers in question are mostly small business owners and in businesses that are not required by federal law to drug test existing and prospective employees. According to the data collected and released by Quest Diagnostics (one of the most prominent clinical testing labs in the country), cannabis is the most common illicit substance detected in drug screenings. It even beat out amphetamines.

Quest’s senior director of science and technology, Dr. Barry Sample, has confirmed that if the drug screenings are anything to go by, California leads the nation in cannabis consumption.

Are Drug Tests Fair?

Since Northern California employers are re-examining drug testing policies, we need pose the question: are drug tests even fair? Most of us would answer with a resounding “no.” In the majority of cases, rejecting a prospective employee because they use cannabis off-duty is ridiculous. Especially if they consume it for medicinal purposes. It even borders on unethical.

The other issue with mandatory drug screening is that there is currently no reliable way to determine when someone last consumed cannabis. For most smokers, THC stays in their system at least 30 days after they last smoked. Sometimes it can last longer, depending on different factors. These factors include how often the person in question smoked, their body composition, their level of activity, etc. The waters get even murkier when the drug tests involve hair, saliva, and blood.

Therefore, current drug tests are essentially useless when it comes to cannabis. Even if someone tests positive for THC, it doesn’t mean that they’re high. It doesn’t even mean that they’ve been high in the recent past.

Final Hit: Northern California Employers Are Re-Examining Drug Testing Policies

Certain jobs will likely always have some form of drug testing. But progress is underway.  And it’s not just in California. In states like Colorado, some employers don’t even want Quest to include marijuana in the drug screening reports. It seems that if consuming cannabis off-duty doesn’t affect someone’s job performance, employers are more than willing to look the other way. We can only hope that more will follow suit.

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