Legal marijuana is more available than ever before. From Georgia to Israel to Canada to Venezuela, a growing number of countries is decriminalizing, legalizing or otherwise embracing the plant. Even the Canadian police is asking whether officers should be allowed to smoke while off the clock or not. Widespread acceptance is so high that Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal and the Canadian army all said “yes” to recreational cannabis use.
Despite all this progress, marijuana is still illegal on a federal level in most countries. As a result, it’s important to understand that a weed test can still come up during your background check. Below, we’ll explain what a marijuana test can reveal, what it doesn’t show, and a few important legal facts to keep in mind.
What do marijuana drug tests look for?
Marijuana tests are designed to reveal recreational cannabis users. It doesn’t matter if you consume by using a bong, joint, vaporizer, edibles, or tincture. All forms of whole cannabis will show up on a quality drug test – though it’s important to remember that marijuana products, e.g. hemp oil and concentrated CBD, may not (more on this later).
The reason is simple. Marijuana tests look for the THC molecule, which is the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis. This is usually done by testing a urine sample, although it’s possible that your hair or blood get checked instead. So long as your sample contains THC, you will test positive.
Now, there are a few things to remember here. First, you can pre-test yourself before a background check with cheap screening strips (widely available online). This should help prevent surprises during your application process.
Second, having THC isn’t necessarily going to stop you from getting your job. We’ll explain why in a minute – but first, let’s cover how long THC stays in your system.
How long does THC stay in my system?
How long THC stays in your body varies by your consumption frequency and quantity. If you’re a non-smoker who consumed some marijuana recently, you might be clear after a couple of days. If you smoke regularly – say, 3-4 times a week – you’ll likely need 10 days to be completely clear. Daily users may need even longer than that (up to 30 days) – and very heavy users can take as much as 2 months to be THC-free.
A few factors influence how long THC shows up in a drug test. First, your activity and body fat levels. THC metabolites are stored in our fat cells, so the leaner you are, the easier it is for THC to leave your body after consumption. Moreover, moving around helps your body detox from THC, so active people need less time to recover before taking a drug test.
All in all, THC can stay in your system from as little as 2 days to as long as 3-4 months. If you want to be 100% sure, just buy the testing strips we mention above on a site like Amazon. That way, you’ll know for sure whether you’re ready to take a drug test or not.
What won’t show up in a drug test?
Besides THC, CBD is the other main molecule in marijuana. This can be concerning for many people because CBD is an increasingly popular ingredient in medical treatments and products. Can CBD show up in a marijuana drug test?
The simple answer is, “not usually”. Your average marijuana drug test isn’t designed to screen for CBD or anything other than THC. This means that if you consume products high in CBD and low in THC, you’re likely to be safe. CBD is unique enough from a chemical perspective that it doesn’t show up in most background checks.
At the same time, it pays to be diligent. The reason is that many CBD products have trace amounts of THC. While this is usually far below the margin necessary for you to test positive for marijuana use, exceptions can happen if you’re a heavy CBD product user.
Why don’t companies test for CBD?
Companies don’t test for CBD because it isn’t psychoactive. This means it doesn’t make you hallucinate, nor bring on the intense laughter associated with marijuana use. In other words, CBD is about as much of a recreational drug as dried hemp, which makes it irrelevant for background screening purposes.
Another reason companies don’t test for CBD is costs and permission. Testing for CBD requires an applicant’s permission in many states. This creates extra hassle the average employer doesn’t want to deal with.
In addition to this, getting a CBD test means one of two things. You either have to contact your testing provider and ask them to include an additional test or find a new testing provider if yours doesn’t screen for CBD. All of this costs time and money – and as a result, most employers don’t bother.
In short, if you’re worried about CBD use, don’t be. It’s unlikely to be a factor in all but the most thorough, rigorous background checks (think “beyond FBI level”).
Is it legal for me to get tested?
First thing’s first. The federal law only requires you to get tested if you work in a federally regulated industry or for a company that has government ties. There is nothing that says you have to get tested. At the same time, state and local laws often do enforce drug testing. If you feel that a request for a drug test is illegal, check your rights before taking action.
Beyond that, remember that employers have every right to screen employees for drugs and alcohol. This means that an organization can fire you for getting a positive weed test result, give you conditional job offers predicated on your being THC-free, etc.
If you’re concerned about the above, remember that a growing number of companies is marijuana-friendly so long as employees don’t use during work hours. This is especially true in states with pro-cannabis legislation, e.g. California, Denver, New York, etc.
Can I be fired for a positive test?
If you’re a medical marijuana user who didn’t break any laws, getting fired qualifies as workplace discrimination and could land your employer in serious trouble. Remember: THC stays in your system for up to 2 months after your last instance of consumption.
This means that you don’t need to be high to test positive. Employers who fire you on the presupposition that a positive test means you were high on the job are, simply put, in the wrong.
If you work in a state where there’s no medical marijuana, different rules apply. The same is true if you’re interested in a job where marijuana use, even off-work, can impair performance – e.g. driving motorized vehicles, guarding important buildings, etc.
Some states, like New York, define medical marijuana users as being disabled and call on employers to reasonably accommodate their medical needs. If you live in a state like this, you’re safe; there are no legal grounds for an employer to fire you solely on your test results.
Running a background check on yourself
If you’re worried about prior cannabis use coming to light during a job interview, don’t fret. A number of online services can help you search through past criminal records, court cases, DUIs, and other records that point to marijuana use quickly and easily. Here are the main features to look for when choosing a specific service.
- Report accuracy – you want to make sure the report you get reflects what your future employer may find. To prevent faulty reports, try to steer clear of free services. Instead, consider using the ones we recommend below.
- Result speed – if you’re preparing for an important application, it’s important you get your results as quickly as possible. To that end, look for background check services with fast turnaround times.
- Search customization – since “‘prior marijuana use” isn’t a common background check profile, you may need to manually configure any search you run. In order for this to happen, look for a service provider with search customization features.
- Dashboards and mobile apps – a quality website means you can find the specific results you need quickly and easily. iOS and Android apps let you take data with you without printed pages. Look for both when choosing a background check service.
TruthFinder is another background checking service that comes in 2 tiers. On the first (basic) subscription level, you get to see someone’s online footprint, including social media activity, as well as criminal records, driving records, and contact details. If you upgrade to a premium subscription, you get access to licenses held, education history, and more. Most importantly, TruthFinder reveals data that’s usually hidden from search engines and web crawlers. This includes dark web data that can point to buying drugs illegally, which is helpful when looking for records that point to marijuana use.
TruthFinder doesn’t have an iOS app, but it does have an Android one. It also has desktop and mobile websites that make it easy for users on all device types to use the service. Customer support is available 24/7 so you can always get the help you need, and reports are concise and rich in information.
Instant CheckMate might have the best customer support line of all the service we tried out. Help is available 24/7, and operators are knowledgeable enough to respond to virtually any question or query you may have. Furthermore, the final reports delivered by CheckMate are wonderful in terms of design and helpful in terms of information covered.
Subscriptions come in two tiers. With the basic subscription, you can see criminal records, marriage histories, and public social media profiles. If you upgrade, you also get licenses, financial history, and more. Either way, you get access to all kinds of information that can lead to a drug test, making Instant CheckMate another quality service here.
Intelius looks through a wide array of data from all kinds of sources to give you a single comprehensive background check report. These include criminal records, sex offender registers, financial history documents, credit reports, court histories, and more. The website dashboard is intuitive and simple to use, and apps are available for both Android and iOS devices if you want to do research on the go. Customer support is quick to respond and helpful, though not live (i.e. not 24/7).
Being a marijuana user isn’t as dangerous as many make it to be. So long as you do a good job, don’t come to work high, and understand your rights, you’re unlikely to ever get in trouble for cannabis consumption.
If you’ve got a drug test coming up, make sure to leave enough time for the THC to leave your body before being tested. If you’re a CBD user, try to go for products that have little to no THC before a test to avoid getting into trouble.
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