If you have to take a drug test as part of a recruitment process you want to be certain of passing. But there are some legal products that can cause you to fail a drug test and put your job application in jeopardy. In this guide, we will explain what those products are, how they can trigger a drug test, how this relates to your wider background check, and what you can do about it.
More and more jobs these days require applicants to pass a drug test before being hired. For most of you, this should be a formality as you have either never taken illegal narcotics before or it was so long ago that any effects will have long since left your system.
But there are some products that can affect the results of an employment drug test even if use them is perfectly legal.
If you use one of these products, that can be a big problem, especially if you have anything related to drug-taking on your background check. There are already examples of people who have lost out on jobs having failed their drug tests as a result of taking legal supplements.
In this guide, we will explain a little more about how some products can trigger a drug test fail, how this relates to your wider background history, and what you can do about it.
What are employment drug tests
Employment drug tests are an increasingly common part of many employment processes. Any job can request a job applicant to take a drug test but it tends to be those that require people to drive, operate heavy machinery, or undertake other complex manual tasks that do so the most.
The reasons for these tests are simple. Employers don’t want staff on their books who are likely to be users of either illegal or prescription narcotics. The use of opioids and other narcotics is a growing problem across the USA which is why the use of drug testing is on the rise.
There are a number of different reasons why an employer might request to run a drug test:
- Pre-employment tests – to check that job applicants do not have any trace of narcotics in their systems.
- Random/regular drug tests – Some jobs require staff to submit to either a random drug-testing process or regular drug tests on an annual or bi-annual basis.
- Post-accident tests – If you are involved in an accident at work, employers might ask you to take a drug test to rule out the involvement of narcotic use in the incident.
- Safety-related tests – If your job has the potential to put other people’s lives or safety at risk, employers might ask you to submit to drug tests on either a regular or ad-hoc basis.
How many people test positive?
In 2019, Quast Diagnostics, one of the four main companies that run employment drug tests in the US, published its analysis of more than 9 million drug tests taken during 2018. It found that around 4.4% of the samples tested proved positive. However, the number of tests that came back positive for opioids was just 0.31%.
The biggest single cause of a positive drug test was THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). 2.8% of all tests showed traces of THC in a person’s system.
The number of positive drug tests taken after an accident in the workplace also showed an increase in positive results. 8.4% of these tests came back positive according to this study.
How do employment drug tests work?
The majority of employment drug tests are done using a urine sample. Applicants or staff will be given a small vessel and asked to fill it with urine, seal it, and return it. This will often have to be done in controlled conditions to avoid cheating.
In a small number of cases, employers may also request samples of blood, saliva, sweat, or hair. This is usually only the case for particularly sensitive jobs such as an airline pilot.
This sample will then be tested for specific substances in a lab. Most employment tests will only test for things like opioids, TCH, alcohol, and certain addictive prescription drugs. Certain sensitive jobs might also opt to test for a wider range of substances too.
Can other substances trigger employment drug tests?
There is a mounting body of evidence to suggest that there are some other legal substances that can still trigger an employment drug test.
The main cause of such false positives appears to be cannabis-related products such as Cannabidiol.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the main ingredient in CBD oil, a natural remedy that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Like marijuana, CBD is derived from cannabis. It is one of 104 chemical compounds found in the plant along with THC. But unlike THC, CBD contains no psychoactive properties and both CBD and CBD oil are completely legal in the USA.
CBD oil offers some of the benefits of medical marijuana such as pain relief and anxiety reduction. But while CBD oil and THC are completely different, it appears that THC can sometimes appear in small traces in CBD oil. This trace presence is not something users would notice but it can be enough to result in a failed drug test.
Atlanta-based TV station WSB-TV reported a couple of years ago on the case of a woman who failed an employment drug test and missed out on a job because she was taking CBD oil. As a result of that report, pharmacists in the Atlanta region took to warning customers of the potential risk. Since then, there have been several other similar cases across the country.
Some CBD oil manufacturers have disputed these claims and there are CBD oil products out there that claim to be 100% THC free. The trouble is, these products tend to be less effective than the ones that do contain very small traces.
As a result, patients who use CBD oil or other CBD-related products should be aware that using it can make it harder for you to pass an employment drug test.
When false positives can cause big problems
If you do fail a drug test as a result of using CBD oil or for other innocent reasons, it will sometimes be possible to persuade your prospective employer that there is a valid reason for the result. But this can be a lot harder if your criminal background check shows up other drug-related issues in your past.
If a job is going to the effort of running a drug test on you, you can be almost certain that they will also be running a criminal records check too.
If your criminal record contains issues related to drug-taking, such as convictions for possession, dealing, or things like DUI, it can be a lot harder to convince people that your test result isn’t evidence of using illegal substances.
These criminal background checks are always extremely thorough and will look at everything on your file at federal, state, and county levels. There are only a few circumstances where a previous drug conviction might now show up on your check:
- The seven-year rule – Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), employers are not allowed to consider criminal convictions from more than seven years ago, so these shouldn’t show up on a background check. In some states, the time limit is even shorter, so it is worth checking local laws.
- Your record has been sealed – for some misdemeanors and even lesser felonies, it is possible to get your criminal record sealed. This means that the court agrees to remove it from the public record and it will only be opened if you re-offend.
- Your record has been expunged – if you meet certain criteria, a court may even agree to expunge your record. This means the offense is permanently wiped from your file and shouldn’t show up on any background check.
If you are not sure whether an old drug offense will still appear on your record, the best advice is to run a background check on yourself.
Employers will use a professional background checking service that complies with all the relevant legislation, including the FCRA. But there are also public background checking sites that are open for everyone to use. These are not restricted by any regulations and so will show up everything that is held in the public domain meaning you should know exactly what shows up on your record.
Choosing the best public background checking site
Running a background check on yourself is easy. The toughest part is choosing the right site to use. There are dozens of different public background checking sites and each claims to be the best around. But the truth is that some are much better than others.
Our researchers have been testing all the top background checking sites to see which are best at digging out accurate criminal records data. The results are now in and we can confidently recommend the top two background checking sites on the market right now. They are:
Instant CheckMate is a super-fast and reliable background checking site that allows you to run online background checks with just a few clicks. Its big selling point is speed and our tests found that it delivered results faster than any other site we tested. There was no compromise on accuracy either. Instant Checkmate was able to generate detailed and accurate criminal records reports every time.
Using Instant CheckMate to run a criminal background check is easy. Just sign up, enter a name and locationor other basic information and then sit back. You won’t have to wait more than a few moments and with unlimited searches, you can research as many people as you like.
Prices start at $34.78 per month but choose a three-month subscription you can pay as little as $27.82 per month. This is a bit higher than some rival sites but if speed is your priority, Instant CheckMate is well worth the money.
TruthFinder offers deep and detailed background checks and criminal history reports with a highly impressive accuracy rate. TruthFinder can find everything from sex offender registries to driving records, arrest data, contact information, financial history, educational background, and employment records. Even if you enter false or misleading information it still has a knack of turning out the right results. In our tests, it never put a foot wrong.
A one-month subscription starts from just $27.78 or you can opt to pay $23.02 for two months. The basic package offers a full criminal record check which should return information including sex offender registers anddriving records.
If you pay a little more for their premium package, you will get every record there is including hard-copy records from county courts. Managing your searches is easy and prices are extremely competitive. With a great customer support service thrown in too, TruthFinder another truly impressive site.
How long will TCH and other drugs stay in your system?
If you think you might have TCH or another substance in your system that might result in you failing a drug test, you are probably wondering how long you will have to wait until the substance leaves your system.
There is no set answer to this and there are a number of different factors that can affect the length of time it takes a drug to leave your system. This includes things like:
- a drug’s half-life
- Your state of hydration and fluid balance
- How often you have used the drug
- How you took it
- How the specific test is run
For a urine test, the approximate times it takes a substance to leave your system is as follows:
- Amphetamine – up to 2 days
- Barbiturates – Up to 2 days for short-acting or 3 weeks for long-acting.
- Benzodiazepines – Up to three days for casual use or 6 weeks for chronic use
- Cocaine – Up to 4 days
- Codeine – Up to 2 days
- Ethyl Alcohol – Up to 12 hours
- Heroin – Up to 2 days
- Marijuana (THC) – Up to 7 days for single use of 2 months for sustained use
- Methadone – Up to 3 days
- Methamphetamine – Up to 2 days
- MDMA – Up to 2 days
- Morphine – Up to 2 days
Please do note that these times are a general guideline and not a guarantee that a test taken after this timeframe will not show up these substances.
Many employers these days ask staff and applicants to take a drug test and it has been found that legal substances like cannabidiol can trigger these tests.
In this guide, we have explained why and also given some advice on how these tests work. In particular, we have noted how a drug test results can seem worse if you have other drug-related offenses on your record.
If you aren’t sure if you have drug records on your file, we have advised you to use a background checking site to look and recommended the best ones around right now. We have also given you some general guidance on how long drugs can stay in your system.
Have you ever failed a drug test when you thought you were clean? Do you use cannabidiol or other cannabis-related products that you think may have triggered it? How did you handle the situation? We always welcome the experiences and views of our readers, so please do share yours with us using the comment box below.