Marijuana Detection Window—How Long Does it Stay in Your System

Much of our nation accepts marijuana as socially acceptable to some degree. It’s medical use is legal in the majority of the states and recreational use is on the rise. In fact, Illinois recently legalized the drug without even putting it to a vote. With all this new found freedom, many people believe it is only right to remove pot from company drug tests. Mainly, because the detection windows show the drug in your system long after the impairment stage has passed.

They claim it isn’t fair for someone to have to risk losing their job because they partook of a legal substance off the clock.

At the same time

It’s a proven fact that drug testing in the workplace is a huge deterrent. The risk of losing your job is great incentive to straighten up and fly right. Hopefully, not only during work hours, but 24/7.

Employers who drug test are striving to provide the safest work environment possible. Marijuana use affects judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time. Even though studies show that impairment only lasts for a few hours after using the drug, currently, there is no way to determine immediate impairment. Subsequently, then, employers and advocates are actually on the same page.

Employers drug test because without a way to know if someone is under the influence of marijuana at a specific moment in time, knowing they have used the drug is far better than nothing. The risk outweighs the intrusion factor as far as business owners are concerned.

Reasons for testing

There are a number of types of drug testing policies set up within drug free or zero tolerance workplace policies. Those who provide safety-sensitive jobs must adhere to the DOT’s regulations. However, a large number of employers that hire the general workforce choose to use their drug testing protocol as a guideline.

The five types of employee drug testing most often used in company protocol. If not mandated by the DOT or another federal entity, employers are free to choose any or all of them.

  • Pre-employment drug tests are usually the final part of the hiring process.
  • Random drug testing entails randomly selecting employee names from a pool periodically throughout the year. The employees immediately report to the testing site.
  • Post-accident drug tests are self-explanatory, employers need to know if drugs were a factor to determine responsibility.
  • Probation drug tests consist of a number of random drug tests during a set probationary period determined by the employer.
  • Reasonable suspicion drug tests are performed after documentation of an employee’s suspected drug use.

Methods of testing

The length of time that marijuana is detected in someone’s system links directly to the type of test that employer’s use. All of the methods are extremely accurate. As a matter of fact, technology is making it harder and harder for  an employee to attempt to adulterate or falsify the test. No matter what drug it is, the laboratories mission is to find it.

Urine drug test

The amount of time that tests detect marijuana in the urine varies from a few days up to a month. There are many contributing factors in play. Marijuana drug metabolites, named THC-COOH, store themselves throughout the body. They mainly collect in the fat cells though.

As anyone who’s tried to drop a few pounds knows, our bodies tend to hang on to those cells with a vengeance! Therefore, heavy people test positive for marijuana longer than someone who stays fit. Working out to drop a few pounds right before the test backfires though because that releases metabolites into the system for excretion. This in turn increases the levels found on a drug test.

Another factor in how long a urine test detects marijuana is how often someone uses the drug. Occasional users only test positive for a few days. Chronic users, on the other hand, test positive for a month or more!

Hair follicle drug test

Employers who use the hair follicle drug test have the benefit of knowing if an employee has used drugs for the previous 90 days. That’s a huge detection window! The body stores THC-COOH in the hair follicle too. Once there, it takes about three days for it to grow out into the center of the hair shaft. It leaves a permanent record of marijuana use. As a matter of fact, the length of the hair tested directly relates to the detection period. Human hair usually grows about one-half inch a month. The typical hair follicle test uses a one and one-half inch hair sample.

Saliva drug test

This test is also known as a mouth swab drug test. Employers and law enforcement agencies often choose this type of drug test when they want to detect recent drug use. The window of detection for marijuana opens almost immediately upon someone smoking the drug. It usually lasts for about 12 to 24 hours after consumption.

Preventative maintenance

Employers choose to keep marijuana on their employee drug tests for safety’s sake. If ever the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” applied, it is now. It will be much easier for employees when the marijuana drug test is positive because someone is impaired right then and there. It will benefit both employers and responsible pot smoking employees.

Alcohol is a socially accepted drug, but everyone knows it is not acceptable in the workplace. Employers enforce this fact stringently. Marijuana use deserves the same treatment.

In fact, several companies are working on a marijuana breathalyzer. One company has completed testing and is set to soon be on the market. It certainly warrants keeping an eye on.

Until that time comes, employees who use marijuana products on their off time, or for medication, need to realize the risk. If they pop positive on a test, odds are company policy says “You’re fired.” It’s a “just can’t risk it” situation for your boss.

Sorry, dude.

Stoned never equals safety first.

Marijuana Legalization Not Happening In New York This Session

Governor Cuomo was sure marijuana legalization was moving forward in New York. So much so, in fact,  he added marijuana legalization to his budget proposal earlier this year. However, it’s no longer in the spending plan.

Despite intentions otherwise, legislatures did not come to terms on the issue. Therefore, marijuana legalization was left pending when the New York session closed last week for the summer recess.

Marijuana advocates hoped strides would be made in the recreational use of the drug. They hoped to gain approval to set up a regulated marijuana market by the end of the legislative session. However, last week the discussion swayed to focus on further decriminalization of the drug instead.

Push came to shove

Senator Liz Krueger (D) introduced the bill proposing laws for legalization. It incorporated a number of proposals. Consequently, the spectrum proved too wide for everyone to come to terms.

  • Regulate cannabis
  • Expunge the records of those previously convicted of possession
  • Set aside a portion of state revenues for communities disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests

That proved to be a tall order. Those against the bill had a lot of food for fodder and they sunk their teeth in good!

Each of the bill’s proposals merit discussion to reach an agreeable resolution. As the session’s end drew closer, it became clear a resolution was not in sight.

“It’s just too far, too soon for New York,” Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of the national advocacy group, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told the Wall Street Journal. He has lobbied against the bill with law-enforcement officials and school parents in New York.

Up for debate

There’s no doubt that marijuana legalization is going on the docket when sessions resume later this year. As a matter of fact, things are likely to pick up right where they left off.

There’s little chance of republicans opposing marijuana legalization to change their view. On the other hand, we have all those democrats who stand in support of the bill. Many believe an economic boon goes hand in hand with legalizing pot. They believe the financial boost New York will experience is reason enough to push forward as soon as possible.

As a matter of fact, now that the session has ended, advocates say not passing the bill is harmful for already struggling communities across the state. Those in favor of legalization feel these communities are now hindered in their opportunity to become part of a lucrative industry. One that is sure to have a positive affect on the community for the long-term.

In addition, according to Mayor Cuomo, marijuana decriminalization will benefit communities who, have been “disproportionately impacted” by marijuana laws.

It will all come out in the wash

By and large, marijuana legalization is coming to New York because the people have spoken. Now, legislators must decide on the particulars. This is their cup of tea. They’re great at haggling.

And, haggle they will, as soon as the legislative session resumes in the fall.

Until then, New York’s plans to jump into the marijuana industry full force are on hold.

In the big picture, that’s not a bad thing.

Take this time to think about where your business stands in regard to marijuana. Then, take a little more time to make your thoughts known on the matter. Contact your state legislatures and other business owners . You can make a difference on the outcome.

You can.

How Does Hair Follicle Drug Testing Work?

Hair follicle drug testing hasn’t been a common choice for employee drug testing. In fact, it is the least likely candidate in the running. Only 7% of employers use the hair follicle test for employee drug screening. However, that statistic is likely to rise very soon.

The DOT (Department of Transportation) proposed changing the standard drug testing method for all safety-sensitive employees from the urine test to the hair follicle test. Expect it to go into effect as soon as it has passed through the chain of command.

Consequently, if trends continue, employers that aren’t mandated will soon follow suit. Currently, urine tests are performed on 90% of employees required to take drug tests for work.

Manufacturers of the hair follicle tests may soon see a boon in revenue!

Administering the test

Before any drug test, employees complete an identification process. Next, the technician snips a small section of the hair as close to the scalp as possible using scissors. The sample is taken from an inconspicuous area for obvious reasons. The technician places it in a bag. The employee completes the test in a matter of minutes, freeing them to return to work.

Prior to testing, technicians cut the hair to the length of one and a half inches discarding the remaining hair.

Employers receive results within a week.

The range of panels

This method detects all manner of drugs or alcohol in a person’s hair. Employers most often choose the standard 5 panel test. The drugs included in this test are amphetamines, opiates, marijuana, PCP (phencyclidine), and cocaine. The test also picks up on Ecstasy, heroin, and methamphetamine. It doesn’t find synthetic opioids, however. You can easily add these medications if the thought of employee impairment is a concern.

The panel spectrum ranges though. There are 9, 10, and 12 panel tests available, as well. You can choose the standard version or customize them to meet your specific need.

Advantages of using this test

Hair follicle drug testing is the least intrusive, albeit most convenient, drug test on the market. There is no need for privacy, meaning it can be administered anywhere. And, we haven’t even mentioned the 90-day detection window! That’s right. The hair follicle test detects any drug or alcohol use for a 90-day period.


All of these facts combined make the two cons that we can come up with little concern. Hair follicle drug testing is the most expensive employee drug test on the market and the results take about a week.

It is worth taking a second look at the hair follicle drug test. In view of the impending DOT regulation change, employers are sure to be doing so.