Understand Marijuana Drug Testing

photo credit - Understanding Cannabis Drug Testing

Whether you smoke marijuana or not, you definitely don't want to fail a drug test that may result in a loss of employment or have a black mark - as a drug user - on your ever so important computerized portfolio.  Imagine that a Bill Gates and Steve Jobs could not be employed at many major corporations because they smoked grass.  Asinine. 


Our ethical position on this topic is that Marijuana is not a hazardous drug and is generally beneficial with its medicinal effects.  By legalizing Medical Marijuana 1996, The State of California has recognized that Marijuana has many beneficial medicinal benefits.  California Proposition 215 was the first medical marijuana ballot initiative passed at the state level; causing a conflict in the United States between states' rights advocates and those who support a stronger federal presence.


Protections afforded by Proposition 215

  • Exempts patients and defined caregivers who possess or cultivate marijuana recommended by a physician from criminal laws which otherwise prohibit possession or cultivation of marijuana.
  • Provides physicians who recommend use of marijuana for medical treatment shall not be punished or denied any right or privilege.
  • Declares that the measure is not to be construed to supersede prohibitions of conduct endangering others or to condone diversion of marijuana.


Well, it is a free country and employers can hire and fire whoever they want. Nice idea, but America was not really free in every regard as the Federal Government has been harassing the people in increasing increments over the past 80 years.  Pot was legal since the days of the founding fathers till the 1930's, but since the times of Prohibition, the Feds have been sticking their nose in places the founding fathers said, explicitly, it did not belong.


In an almost arbitrary ruling; "The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a business can fire an employee for using medical marijuana, even if the employee is off-duty and abiding by state law, a decision that could have far-reaching ramifications in a state that has decriminalized most marijuana use."


Drug Test Fail

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In the Fed's big-corporate sponsored War on Drugs, they effective and some say deliberately put Marijuana sales and distribution into the hands of criminals, just like booze fell into the hands of the Al Capone types during prohibition.  Now the Federal Government (independent of political parties) is challenging and overruling the constitution by infringing on a host of state and municipal rights. 


While the rules and regulations relating to marijuana are allocated to the individual states, the Federal Government disagrees.   Like a great white shark mindlessly eating, the Feds just have to control anything and everything.  At the end of this process, the people are not allowed to rule themselves, cannot exercise their opinions, and have no power to free themselves of the tyrannical government, which is the Fed of today.


On the other side of the coin, the good people are fighting back.

Real Test Cases - How People Pass a THC test.



“It’s now painfully clear that something akin to a medical marijuana bill of rights is needed for patients in Colorado, we need robust state protections for our patients and legal adult marijuana users, just as we have robust regulations for the marijuana industry.”  - Art Way, State director for the Drug Policy Alliance in Colorado


Ever heard of Jon Jones, Brock Lesnar, Marion Jones, Ben Johnson or Lance Armstrong?


All of these people used performance enhancing drugs and were unceremoniously busted in catastrophic fashion and with devastating results.  In these cases, it is an open and shut case, they cheated.  In the case of marijuana use, no one is cheating anyone.  Still, a positive can bring you down just like Hulking Lesnar.

Cannabis might be legal locally, the Fed and your employer may disagree, and reprimand you for testing positive for THC.



MMA - an obvious Drug Fail waiting to happen.

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Though THC is not known as an athletic performance enhancer, several high-profile athletes have been put through a Kangaroo court.  Medals and titles were lost and careers sabotaged  needlessly. 


Marijuana "users" fall into three categories.  Some people do not really smoke Marijuana but have a puff, perhaps once a month, perhaps at a party. Others smoke recreationally a day or two per week.  Then there is the regular user which includes the Medical Marijuana patient.  All three types of users can test positive if their consumption is close enough to the date of testing. 


Really, most employers could care less if their employees smoke pot.  What they are concerned with, or should be, is performance.  This being the case, most employers do not want a valued employee to fail.  By understanding how to avoid testing positive, you're doing everyone a favor, especially yourself.


With that said, we're not recommending any particular type of action be taken, nor do we suggest that you cheat. 

Drug Testing


Lab results - THC Positive


GCMS - Confirmatory test with molecular fragmentation mass spectra photo credit


Urine Test

About 90% of the 55 million drug tests performed annually are urine tests. Urine tests are often inaccurately thought to prove impairment.  Urinalysis does not detect the presence of illicit drugs – including THC, rather, the test identifies the presence of non-psychoactive drug metabolites - indicating that a controlled substance was consumed previously at some point in the past. Pot’s primary metabolite, THC-COOH is fat soluble, which means that it can be present in the urine for up to three weeks. THC values in urine can be reduced with dilution - drinking large quantities of water - or other methods described below. 


To beat a urine test, sometimes an adulterant is added to the urine sample, that causes a false negative. Adulterants include bleach, visine, glutaraldehyde, nitrates.  "Spiking" a urine sample is effective, but risky because analysts sometimes test for adulterants. 


Zinc sulfate is used to remove (with mixed results) THC metabolites from the urine. The majority of THC metabolites are eliminated from humans by way of the feces, not urine. Zinc sulfate is thought to bond with THC metabolites, rendering them too large to filter through the kidneys into the urine.




Blood Test

Blood tests prove the level of intoxication by detecting the presence the actual illicit drug rather than its metabolite. THC is detectable in the blood for a few hours, but ultra-trace residuals remain for 12-24+ hours.


Blood tests are typically only administered in the workplace post-accident in order to estimate recent marijuana consumption. In practice, after-work consumers won't test positive from a blood screen.  Sophisticated ultra-trace testing, while seldom used can detect consumption in the past few days,a Monday test will probably detect THC consumed on Saturday night.


Hair Analysis

Hair strand testing detects the presence of drug metabolites that diffuse from the bloodstream into the hair follicle. Critics say that drug readings vary according to metabolism and genetics. Dark hair is thought to take up more substances found in the blood than gray hair for example. Then again, there are issues with all types of testing, especially urine. Occasional cannabis consumption is sometimes not detected in a hair test, however, this analytical technique is respected by police and forensic experts.  A well preserved hair sample tested using state of the art techniques will conclusively indicated if THC was consumed many months afterward.


Hair test - THC

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EMIT Test -  Blood of Urine

EMIT or enzyme multiplied immunoassay technique is a common in workplace drug screening. EMIT testing is used by employers as a preliminary drug screen,  The test is prone to false positives.  Occasional consumers seldom test positive for the THC metabolite - so long as they have been abstinent for a day, or preferable two - before the test.  In other words, occasional users want to stick to Friday and Saturday (not Sunday) consumption to be on the safe side.


Saliva Test

Saliva testing, like blood testing, detects the presence of the actual drug,  It is difficult to identify THC in oral fluids, because very small amounts are excreted. Most saliva tests detect the presence of cannabis for one to two hours following drug uptake.



Methods of Altering Drug Testing Results


By drinking massive quantities of water, the amount of drug metabolites in a urine test can be significantly lowered to the point of a false negative. Testing urine creatinine for lower than normal levels is used to spot dilution by overhydration. Diuretics, including teas, coffee are used to flush out drug metabolites. 


Effects of diuretics are short lived and the THC fat-soluble metabolite levels quickly return to detectable amounts. Iodine is used to doctor urine samples.  It breaks down morphine on contact and knocks out 50-80% of THC metabolites. Lasix (furosemide) is a stronger diuretic used to circumvent random workplace drug tests on short notice.  Papain is an enzyme found in papaya, lowers the presence of marijuana metabolites and goes undetected using standard laboratory procedures.


False Positives


Testing personnel who don't know what they are doing can easily bust innocent people based on a false positive. Protonix (pantoprazole sodium), for one causes "false positives" in certain cannabis tests. Ibuprofen products (e.g. Advil) will not test positive for marijuana in competent drug screens, but OTC cold remedies can trigger false positives for amphetamines. 


Marijuana, Alcohol and Driving


Ben Johnson - A False Positive Ruined Him

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At the end of the day, if you have tested positive for a drug, and you are clean, your chances are good to prove your innocence - provided that a competent and sophisticated repeat test is done.  Botched testing can be effectively fought in court, but it is generally very unwise to challenge a reputable laboratory using the best test methods without a very solid case.


Getting Set Up


Incidentally, in the case of Ben Johnson, the world's fastest sprinter, his urine sample tested positive for an un-metabolized steroid, which is impossible.  Ben's team knew how testing worked and laid off the steroids before competition and always tested clean.  While Ben admitted to Steroid use, the test was an open and shut case of false positive.  Everything about this case is wrong. The athletes are all cheating, there is bad science, and there is bad testing all rolled up in one.  Sports and drug testing remains an absolute mess.



GCMS or gas chromatography/mass spectrometry is used to confirm the findings of the cheaper and less accurate drug screen tests.  In MS testing, analysts are looking at the actual molecule's fragments, so there is a very small probability of a false reading.  Most workplace drug testing programs specify that all positive EMIT tests MUST be confirmed by GCMS to eliminate reasonable doubt about a "false positive". GCMS tests are very sensitive, down to 15 ng/ml which means that marijuana use can be detected two or even three weeks into the past. 

GCMS instrument for cannabinoid profile testing

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Water - Dilution can be a Solution

Drinking large quantities of water - like 12 cups of water -  prior to a urine test is the easiest, cheapest, and one of the most effective methods of beating a urine test. In desperate circumstances, cheaters add water directly to a sample.

MMJDOCTORONLINE NOTES:  While it is not an absolute guarantee, being a legal to use medical marijuana might save your bacon - if you test positive for marijuana in a drug test.  We specialize in 420 Medical Cannabis Evaluations by California Licensed Doctors.  Our online service is simple, quick and is substantially cheaper than most visits to a clinic. 

- 100% Online Process - Takes a few minutes -

- Complies with the Health Board of California standards for Telemedicine -


Review of Biologic Matrices (Urine, Blood, Hair) as Indicators of Recent or Ongoing Cannabis Use


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