Most companies want their employees to refrain from drugs, and it’s usually expected that they will. This ensures a safe, healthy, and positive workspace. Although many businesses will test before employment and periodically throughout, some employees will occasionally get a positive drug test. With some states now allowing medicinal or recreational marijuana, what should employers do in these situations?

Here’s how employers can prepare to handle any and all excuses for a positive drug test.

What is the Best Defense for a Positive Drug Test?

As stated above, some states now allow marijuana to be used legally for recreational or medicinal purposes. There is a registration process for those who intend to use marijuana, including a “user card” to bring to dispensaries. Employers are encouraged to review their state’s policies before making an employment decision regarding drug testing/usage.

With this new information, it is not always easy to discern how to handle a positive drug test for an employee. First, employers must maintain an awareness of the drug laws specific to their state. What drugs (if any) are now considered legal, other than marijuana? Also, what is the process for an individual to obtain “permission” to use these substances? This leads companies to wonder, what is the best defense for a positive drug test?

Choose Third Party Testing

One of the best defenses against a positive drug test is third-party testing. Having testing done through a third party is recommended for both your and your employees’ wellbeings. Medical Review Officers can assist employers in discerning who is or is not being truthful.

Current drug tests are also designed to take other factors into consideration: poppy seeds, secondhand smoke, etc.

Some employees will give reasons as to why they may have tested positive. Reasons can include:

  • “I ate a poppy seed bagel”

  • “It was secondhand smoke”

  • “My significant other kissed me after smoking”

  • “I take natural supplements. Not all of the ingredients are listed on the packaging.”

  • “I did not know there was an illegal substance in X food I consumed”

Per some employers, not all these reasons will be considered legitimate for testing positive. The best defense for a positive drug test is an honest one. Using a third-party agency will help companies move about the recommended protocol when a positive test occurs.

What About a False Positive Drug Test?

Before an employer is notified of a positive result, the specimen will go through extensive procedures. The specimen will be re-tested, and a Medical Review Officer will contact the donor about the test. The MRO will privately ask the employee about their test. This gives them an opportunity to provide a valid explanation for a positive result.

The process is designed to safeguard employee privacy, first and foremost. It is also designed to give employees and employers impartial tests and results. The design of drug tests and procedures following results is to guarantee that there are no false positives or negatives.

However, some prescriptions can result in a false positive drug test. For this, employers need to have specific policies in place. For example, will the employer discuss this with the employee? Will there be a termination of employment? Or, will you discuss this with the drug testing agency before moving forward?

Procedures should also take state laws into account. If an employer has offices in different states, then each office will need to have procedures according to location. Employers should also be mindful of employees with disabilities, or employees who take prescription drugs.

Positive Drug Test with Prescription

In some cases, if an employee is on a prescription drug, this could cause them to fail a drug test. Substances that can cause false positives are antidepressants or decongestants.

Antidepressants can result in a false positive for PCP, LSD, or methamphetamine, depending on the ingredients in the prescription. Phenothiazines help with nausea and are known to produce false positives for methamphetamine.

If an employee has a positive drug test with a prescription, there should be medical documentation provided by their healthcare professional. A healthcare provider is also able to do a second test for accuracy.

We Would Love to Help You!

Above all, the mission at Soteria Screening Laboratories is to ensure employers can create drug-free workspaces. This team prioritizes helping businesses with successful drug screening programs. Contact Soteria today!

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