Editorial: Testing the Toke’

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The problem with cannabis drug tests

By | The Lumberjack Editorial Staff 

Cannabinoids have no business being screened for on drug tests when applying for a job until current drug testing practices are able to accurately detect cannabis usage and consumption. With the legalization of weed in California through the passing of proposition 64, these inaccurate tests criminalize and marginalize marijuana users.

While business owners are rightfully concerned about employees being high on the job, these tests have turned into discriminatory tactics used to turn people away. Medical marijuana users have a right to privacy. They do not need to be forced into revealing anything about their condition. Recreational users have a right to an occasional smoke without losing a job. The purpose of drug testing is to determine if a potential employee has a substance issue. Unlike cocaine or alcohol which can be flushed out of the system in 24hrs, chemicals in cannabis stay in the bloodstream long after the effects have diminished.

Regardless of the method of testing, THC is in the system long after the activity of smoking has occurred. Whether used medically or recreationally, a positive drug test doesn’t guarantee that an employee is going to use cannabis while on the job. Unlike cocaine or alcohol which can be flushed out of the system in 24hrs, chemicals in cannabis stay in the bloodstream long after the effects have diminished. With drugs like cocaine, there is a strict time limit that can be tested for. Because these time standards don’t hold true for marijuana, employees are being turned away on the assumption that workers are under the influence on the job.  
Cannabis drug test are also unreliable. There are too many factors to account for when testing for cannabis. Tolerance, how it’s ingested, body weight, metabolism, and its potency all impact how easily weed is detected in the system. 
Held up as one of the most accurate test for marijuana use, researchers have determined hair tests are just as fallible as other drug tests. According to a study published in October 2015 by researchers’ at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Freiburg, Germany, cannabis can be detected in hair without having consumed it by touching cannabis or simply being around cannabis. The study also debunks the idea that a hair test can provide an accurate timeline of marijuana use by passing proportionately from the bloodstream into hair follicles. The study finds that the actual amount of THC that passes from the blood stream to the hair follicle is insignificant. 

Until science can accurately determine when a person is high as opposed to when a person has cannabis in their system, marijuana drug tests need not be given by employers.

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