Job seekers beware

Looking for a job in the new year? The recent election brought about a confusing new twist for many job seekers in states where marijuana is now legal. How do you handle a pre-employment drug screening if you use marijuana? Here are a few things to consider.

Marijuana is still an illegal substance on a federal level. This means that employers, even those in a state where pot is legal locally, have the right to a test for illegal substances. If an employer aspires to have a drug-free workplace, detecting marijuana in a drug test may prevent a candidate from being hired. This is true even in Colorado – although it has brought about many challenging lawsuits.

So what does this mean? It means the way to prevent a failed drug test while job searching is to avoid using all recreational drugs while job searching. Yes, even if cannabis is legal in your state. Just as you likely know not to take shots of tequila before you head to the urine test, stay away from anything with THC, as well. But for how long? While most of us realize alcohol metabolizes pretty rapidly (think hours and days), marijuana has a much longer, less agreed upon tail. Given the varieties of drug tests, individual metabolisms and length of use, drugs can show up for days, weeks or even months after use. What might be fun in your personal life could limit your options professionally. This is no different than employers avoiding candidates who have questionable social media posts or Twitter rants.

It helps to remember why most employers drug test – to keep their work environments safe and productive. Like it or not, recreational marijuana use does not have common acceptance like alcohol use. Drug use, in general, is tricky for employers because it is difficult to know how long the effects may linger. Given the uncertainty, it is easier for employers to start with a drug test so that they may avoid any unnecessary risks brought about by habitual users of any drugs. It is a logical move on their behalf.

Some employers who drug test may not target marijuana use if they are in a state where it is legal. Over the next couple of years, some employers in states with legalized pot use may revise what substances they are targeting in a drug test. I have seen this in practice already in California. If you are considering a job change, start by researching their full employment screening process before you start. Typically, employment screenings may involve things like completing an online application, providing managerial references, conducting a criminal background and credit check and completing a drug test. A question like, “So that I can be prepared, what is your employment screening process?” can be very helpful early in the job application.

There is no doubt that the subject of pre-employment testing for marijuana use will be a highly contested topic for some time, but employers have the right to screen for any substance listed as illegal on a federal level. If you know you are going to take a drug test and you have been using marijuana, your best move is to be upfront before you submit for a potentially costly test. Some employers may appreciate your honesty and opt to not screen for marijuana specifically. It is still a risky move but it beats knowingly submitting for a test that will come back positive.

‘Know’ before you go.. NW Paramedical Industries  NPI 

We Provide Drug Screens for Employers and anyone that wants to test and ‘know’… come see us at our Beaverton, OR office anytime, no appointment needed, Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm!