General Question

Qingu's avatar

What are best practices for occasional pot smokers when confronted with corporate drug tests?

Asked by Qingu (21135 points ) August 28th, 2010

Someone I know occasionally smokes weed and is looking for a new job. Some of the jobs she’s looking at require drug tests. (We’re in Chicago, so it’s not legal here.)

She actually had to take a drug test for her current job—as an occasional pot smoker—and got hired without any problems. (We’re assuming they just didn’t care that she smoked.)

Should she take the tests and hope for the best? Or should she admit at an interview that she has occasionally smoked? And what is the likelihood that corporate HR in a big city job will even care if she tests positive for marijuana?

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25 Answers

frdelrosario's avatar

I’ve been sure a couple times that the pre-hiring drug tests would disqualify me, but it seemed that in neither case were they testing for marijuana.

If I were disqualified for THC showing up in my pee cup, I wouldn’t want to work at the place anyway.

iamthemob's avatar

The best practice is to not smoke pot. That’s the only way to be safe. Of course, how long she would have to be straight before the interview depends on the type of test that would be administered. Regardless, it’s never a good idea to lie in an interview – at any point if the lie is discovered it may be grounds for dismissal.

Qingu's avatar

@iamthemob, it’s too late to not smoke pot; she’s not going to smoke anymore since she’s started looking for a job, but as I understand it the hair test will indicate whether you’ve smoked in the past year or two.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

How often she smokes dictates how long the pot will stay in her system. If she smokes maybe once a month, it will probably be out within 3 days. If she smokes every day, it will take 30 days to clear her system. She can buy an OTC drug test at her local drug store to see if she tests positive for pot. She can also go to a local head shop and buy fake pee. Hair tests are very, very uncommon, as they cost more money. Also, companies care if you are currently doing drugs – there are many people who have recently become sober or fell off the wagon for a week during the past year that can still dispense fro-yo or answer phones.

isuppose's avatar

@Qingu from what I’ve heard most companies don’t use the hair test because of it’s expensive.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I’ve never heard of an employer doing a hair test, so she shouldn’t really worry about that. I would buy one of the over the counter drug tests at the drug store and see if it comes up as positive. If it comes up positive, she could test again in a few days and keep doing that until it’s negative. Once it comes up as negative, she shouldn’t have any worries. If she has an interview during the time she’s waiting for the negative test result, she should go to the interview. I wouldn’t recommend mentioning she smoked at an interview, unless specifically asked. If they did ask, I’m not really sure what I would say. If they want to do a drug test, hopefully she’ll be showing up clean by then. She could try to stall the drug test for a few days, but I wouldn’t recommend stalling it for too long because that will just make her look unreliable.

Qingu's avatar

Interesting re: hair test; she had to do one for her current job! (And almost certainly failed).

MissAnthrope's avatar

If they do a hair test, she’s screwed, not much you can do for that. They do sell shampoos and stuff, but the good drug tests test for that (or other interference).

Pee tests, it’s variable, depending on how regularly she smokes, how quickly it will be cleared from her system. I’ve heard everything from a week to a month. I’ve heard that lots of water and exercising to burn fat can help speed the process (THC is stored in adipose cells).

Swab/saliva test, so so so much easier. Better for detecting whether the person has smoked recently, also easier to beat if you’re so inclined. 5 days of not smoking and you’re clear. Eating something, popping a mint, etc. before test interferes with the results.

iamthemob's avatar

If it is the hair test, I feel like the only viable option would be a severely close haircut. However, I doubt that would work in the corporate environment.

chyna's avatar

I cannot imagine a company would care if someone smoked a year or 2 ago to go through the expense of a hair folicle test.

iamthemob's avatar

@Qingu – Has there been any indication that the employer will use the hair test? It also seems a little extreme that all the jobs she might be applying for would subject her to this kind of testing…what is the nature of the employment? (if, of course, you can get at all specific about that…)

Nullo's avatar

At the risk of sounding pedantic, Don’t smoke pot in the first place.

willow6's avatar

At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, I believe she already did smoke pot in the first place. “Don’t smoke pot in the first place” is like answering “don’t kill someone in the first place” when the question is how to clean up blood after bludgeoning someone to death.

Facade's avatar

I just drank a lot of water, about three liters, right before the test. A few days before, I tried not to metabolize the THC– didn’t burn any fat. I checked myself with the home drug testing kits, and I passed the drug test for work. It was a urine test by the way.

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actuallery's avatar

According to an “expert” contact of mine, it stays in the system for about 30 days after the actual use.

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augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Please remember: This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

tk_421's avatar

I took a hair test once around 2000. They took a certain length, from the root up and trimmed & discarded the rest. If you get your hair cut too short before the test they can take hair from other parts of your body. The test goes back approx 2 months iirc.

superjuicebox's avatar

use a ua belt.

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