Does Medical Marijuana Show up in Drug Tests?

Cannabis has been used as medicine for thousands of years, but with the recent resurgence of medical marijuana, many patients have questions. Due to the murky legal territory of cannabis around the globe, some patients may wonder how medical marijuana use may affect their employment, or if it will show up on a drug test. Despite the unrivaled relief that medical marijuana provides for a variety of conditions, these are still important considerations.

Medical Cannabis is Still Cannabis

The reality is, regardless of why a person uses marijuana, it will still show up on a drug test. The most common type of drug test used today is called urinalysis. This process can detect the metabolites and byproducts of THC, which will be present in the body for a time after using medical marijuana. The length of time that THC use can be detected after stopping will vary for each person based on the frequency of use, duration of use, and individual biology.

When Might an Employer Drug Test?

Every employer has their own policies on drug testing, but there are a few guidelines that most companies use. Many companies will first do a pre-employment drug screen to check for drug use before hiring a new employee. Most companies will drug test an employee after hire if there is an accident which leads to physical harm, or if there are signs of intoxication on the job. Rarely, some employers may simply have a policy to randomly drug test their employees. Employees at these companies may be tested one or more times per year, or may never receive a drug test.

Looking Forward

Could medical marijuana be excluded from employment drug tests in the future? There is lots of precedent for this considering other prescription drugs. Many prescription drugs will show up on a drug test because they have a potential for abuse. If someone with a valid prescription is required to be screened, a Medical Review Officer may contact them after the test to verify that they do in fact have a prescription for the flagged substance.

Right now, it seems unlikely that these same privileges will be given to medical marijuana users. That said, it is up to the individual business (as well as their insurance policies) to decide. As more governments begin to allow medical marijuana use, businesses and insurance companies will likely start to treat medical cannabis as a medicine rather than an illicit substance.

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