Wednesday June 24, 2015View our Editorial Policy
Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, many people find themselves pondering a marijuana vacation to our beautiful state. Today, we’ll address a few of the most common questions and concerns about how cannabis consumption can impact a person's ability to gain and maintain employment at a drug-free workplace.
Can an employer fire me for using marijuana on vacation?User from Houston, TX
It may be tempting to try a marijuana edible or premium strain while on vacation in Colorado, but if you work in a drug-free workplace and are required to take a urinalysis, you could still lose your job if you test positive for cannabis.
Despite marijuana's legal status in various parts of the country, only two states (Arizona and Delaware) have passed bills to protect medical marijuana users from job loss. There are currently no states that protect recreational users, however, so it may be best to pass on the bong if you can't risk it.
Can a contact high cause me to fail a urine analysis?User from Sacramento, CA
So you've decided not to smoke pot but your friends still want to, eh? Well, the good news is you can still hang out with them while they toke as long as you're in a well-ventilated area. Hot boxing a small room, on the other hand, might not be a good idea.
According to a recent study, participants who spent 60 minutes in a "Hot Box" (a room with little to no ventilation containing marijuana smoke) tested positive for THC-COOH (or what THC turns into when metabolized) in their urine up to 24 hours later.
The concentration of THC-COOH in urine samples seemed to be dependent on a few things including the potency of the marijuana, the ventilation structure of the room and (potentially) the body mass of the individual (a larger participant had THC-COOH concentrations higher than the rest). It is important to note, however, that almost all positive results came in below the typical 50 nanogram/milliliter cutoff that most employers use.
How long does marijuana stay in your system?User from Boise, ID
There are many factors that go into how long marijuana compounds will stay in a person's system including frequency of use, amount used and body weight. Different testing methods will also show different results to determine if a person either has a history of use (urine and hair follicle tests) or is intoxicated at a specific time (blood and saliva tests).
The most common test, a urine analysis, measures the concentration of THC metabolite, or THC-COOH, in a person's urine. Because THC-COOH is stored in organs and fat cells, a person with a large body mass index (BMI) will therefore retain THC-COOH longer than someone with low a BMI.
Frequency of use also helps determine concentration levels of THC-COOH, resulting in positive tests anywhere from a few days to a few months after cessation.
Though it is difficult to say for certain how long marijuana can be detected in urine tests, a general guideline is as follows:
New and infrequent users: 1 - 6 days
Occasional users: 7 - 14 days
Frequent users: 15+ days
Heavy users: 30+ days
Blood tests, which test for active THC concentrations in plasma rather than marijuana metabolites, are a common way to test for marijuana intoxication in the event of an injury or DUI interrogation.
THC may be detectable in blood tests in less than 10 minutes after being smoked (or within a few hours after being eaten) but typically begins to subside in as little as three hours. Frequent users may have positive blood test results for as long as 12 to 24 hours after consumption, therefore making it difficult to rely on the accuracy of this form of testing.
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