Why Should You Worry About Taking Medical Marijuana Before an Employment Drug Test? 15 Mar 2019


You’ve aced the job interview. All that’s left is the drug test. Everything you take is prescribed, so you’re sure to pass. Excitement fills you when you get a call from the company. Shortly after, you’re confused when you hear, “I’m sorry, you didn’t get the job. You tested positive for marijuana.” How can you get turned down for a job because of a legal medicine?

Unfortunately, medical marijuana users may face this real challenge. One man was attempting to get hired as a regular employee when he found out he would have to take a drug test to get the job. He was contemplating taking medical marijuana to help with a debilitating disease. Because he needed a job, he had to put his plans for medical marijuana on hold until he could find a job that didn’t involve drug testing. Could this happen to you?

If your doctor prescribed medical marijuana for your illness, you might feel like you’ve finally found something that helps you. However, you might worry that using marijuana will stop you from getting a job. Is that the case? Will medical marijuana show up on an employment drug test? Can medical marijuana bring your job seeking to a standstill? Is there anything you can do to help your employment chances?

Will Medical Marijuana Show Up on Employment Drug Tests?

Yes. Marijuana, legal or not, turns up on drug tests. Most employment drug panels include marijuana. THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, can be detected long after you’ve last used marijuana. How long marijuana takes to leave your system depends on how regularly you use marijuana, how much you use, and when you last used it.

Different types of drug tests can have different results. Blood, saliva, and hair follicle tests are affected by how recently you’ve used marijuana. Blood and saliva-based tests show marijuana you’ve used in the last few hours, but hair follicle drug tests can find traces of marijuana as old as 90 days. Urine tests are affected by how regularly you use marijuana. If you’ve only used marijuana once, urine tests will detect it for around 13 days. Casual marijuana users can test positive up to 45 days, and heavy users can have positive results for 90 days.  

You can’t explain away a positive marijuana result either. The testing used to confirm marijuana has been refined so much that no other substance can give a false positive for marijuana. Naturally, if you use medical marijuana, it’ll come up on your employment drug test. The question remains: Will it affect your employment chances?

Will Medical Marijuana Stop Your Career in Its Tracks?

Just because medical marijuana is legal in some states doesn’t mean it’s protected by law. Individual states have diverging laws on marijuana and employment. Since marijuana is not federally legal, the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t apply. Neither do other anti-discrimination laws.

Most states allow employers to fire employees for being under the influence of marijuana at work. However, laws differ on what employers can do about employees using medical marijuana outside of work. Some states prohibit employers from discriminating against hiring medical marijuana cardholders. Other states leave it up to employers to decide whether to hire a job applicant that uses medical marijuana.

Even if your state protects medical marijuana users, there are limits to this protection. Employers can deny medical marijuana users a job because of safety issues. For example, they can turn you down for jobs involving driving or using heavy machinery.

Several states don’t have any laws on medical marijuana and employment. Don’t assume it’s safe to use medical marijuana before a drug test though. Courts in those states have tended to side with employers in discrimination lawsuits.

It seems like, for now, there’s no clear-cut answer on whether your medical marijuana use will affect your job prospects. Despite that, is there anything you can do to increase your chances of getting a job?

How Can You Increase Your Chances of Getting the Job?

Person researching job requirements and drug policies online

Much depends on the laws and legal precedents of your particular state. The type of job you’re applying for also matters. While this gray area makes looking for a job more challenging, you can do a few things to help your prospects:

  • Review your state’s marijuana laws. Know your rights if you get turned down for a job because of your medical marijuana use. If your state doesn’t have medical marijuana employment laws, then study state court cases on marijuana and employment.
  • Analyze the job duties. Jobs that include driving or using heavy machinery typically prohibit any drug use. Instead, focus on applying for jobs that don’t have any safety concerns.   
  • Read the drug policy of potential employers. Check if the employer does pre-employment drug testing or promotes a drug-free workplace. Businesses supporting a drug-free environment probably won’t hire you, but alternatives exist. One option is finding a company that doesn’t do drug testing. Another is finding an employer that has an inclusive policy on medical marijuana. If you are called for a drug test, be prepared to show your prescription.

You’ve learned how to increase your chances of getting a job by finding one that accepts medical marijuana users. But, are drug tests the only employment background checks you need to worry about?

Get High on Knowledge and Get the Job

Unless federal law changes its stance on medical marijuana, some people will have to choose between their job and their medication. In the meantime, you’re now armed with knowledge essential to your job search.

You now know that medical marijuana shows up on employment drug tests and a positive result can affect your job chances. However, you learned how to improve your chances of getting a job. Are you ready for your employment drug test? What about your employment background check?

At Trusted Employees, we offer self-background checks so you can prepare for your employment screening check. We can help you decide what checks to run. We’ll also explain what the results mean for your employment chances. Contact us today to learn more.