Employees Should Be Judged By The Quality Of Their Work, Not On The Quality Of Their Urine

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.]

Workplace urine testing programs are a poor method for identifying employees who are under the influence, and do not significantly reduce job accident rates, according to a study published in the scientific journal Addiction.

Investigators at the University of Victoria in British Columbia reviewed 20 years of published literature pertaining to the efficacy of workplace drug testing, with a special emphasis on marijuana – the most commonly detected drug.

Researchers found: “[I]t is not clear that heavy cannabis users represent a meaningful job safety risk unless using before work or on the job; urine tests have poor validity and low sensitivity to detect employees who represent a safety risk; drug testing is related to reductions in the prevalence of cannabis positive tests among employees, but this might not translate into fewer cannabis users; and urinalysis has not been shown to have a meaningful impact on job injury/accident rates.”

Authors concluded, “Urinalysis testing is not recommended as a diagnostic tool to identify employees who represent a job safety risk from cannabis use.”

Urinalysis detects the presence of inert, fat soluble byproducts of marijuana, the most common of which remains present in urine for days, weeks, or even months after past use – long after any psychoactive effects of the drug have worn off.

59 thoughts

  1. Most of the cannabis users are your better workers in my opinion. They need their job just like anyone else, and are more likely to practice safety guidelines in the work place, than those employees that do not ingest the plant. I just notice this from years of being employed and knowing who does and does not partake.

  2. Man I went through this around 10 years ago. I was driving a steel hauling truck up in Indiana. I did that job for 9 years straight and called off work twice. Once day because I was actually sick and the second day when my daughter was born. Suffice to say my attendance was extraordinary. No wrecks or driving infractions of any kind. I NEVER was impaired while driving that truck.
    Well I made the mistake of dating a “women” who worked in the office. Actually the mistake was telling her I smoked pot. After we broke up, she dropped a dime on me and suggested to the boss to random piss test me.
    Of course I came up positive and I went from being a model employee to one that could not be trusted behind the wheel of a truck. All from one single piss in a cup! Oddly enough the weed I had at the time was some crappy ditch weed that grows wild up there. Weed leftover from WWII when the government wanted the farmers to grow it for hemp. So it wasn’t even high grade stuff I got screwed around with.
    I wasn’t fired, but I was not allowed to drive the truck anymore. I was told I could work in the warehouse, but my pay was cut substantially. Furthermore I was required to attend drug counseling, and submit to a piss test every month for the next year and a half.
    I played the game for a few months, but finally quit, moved to Texas and became an IT dude and never looked back since. The ironic part is they took a VERY safe driver off the streets and replaced me with a 20 year old youngster that did not have the experience I had. I hope he worked out alright.
    These morons who come up with these absurd anti marijuana laws pat themselves on the back and tell themselves they are doing something good for the country as they drive home to their white picket fence houses, when in reality they are making absolute jack-asses of themselves.

  3. is this not what we have been saying all along? and will someone please send this to all the major employees in the country and to all the labor union’s international offices! urin tests are inaccurate and a complete invasion of privacy.

  4. I agree completely. In my line of work, I would certainly lose my job if I was to fail a urinalysis. I have an outstanding safety record of my five years of employment. It is a shame because if my company was to lose me becuz of this it would put them out hard. I have lots of responsibilities which I do well. My reviews are great and I like my job.

  5. Yet another study that tells the prohibs they have no common sense. I tell ya, people call cannabis consumers filthy druggies after sniffing around in our bladders. Now tell me, who is nastier – someone who smokes a little pot, or someone who puts their nose directly into our piss?

  6. H e l l o. It’s only common sense. SNAP!

    A bundle of studies that reach this same conclusion are going to be what it takes to bombard prohibition.

  7. One of my previous jobs was a call center. It was a customer service job. While I was working there, I began experimenting with Cannabis for the first time. Our scores were largely based upon customer surveys. Immediately after becoming a regular user of cannabis, my customer service scores nearly doubled and I became one of our top agents.

  8. I’ve been saying this for years and years… It’s bs, and has always been bs. I’m glad other people are starting to realize it as well.

  9. Just lost my job and I use to drive a Truck and the Dot test was Positive for Marijuana, I live in a Medical Marijuana State and yes I am a MEDICAL Marijuana Patient.. Here I have had 0 Accidents and 0 Tickets and I have been drivng since I was 16 and now 30 years Later I am being tested for something that is LEGAL in Michigan.. These Laws NEED To change.. I have to go see a Substance Abuse Professional and be tested to get my DOT back to drive a Truck, but after doing all of this, No one will want to HIRE me because it goes on a DAC report , Kind of like a Credit Report for Truck drivers, Only Problem is they can find out I failed, even though it is LEGAL in Michigan for Medical Purposes.. These Laws Need to change… In 2007 I also received a Certificate of Achievement Award and also SAFE Driver Award.. what is wrong with this PICTURE?

  10. I’ve been utilizing Cannabis for over 30 yrs.I would like it legalized and taxed.We do need some type of work place test like an alcohol test,that can tell if you are impared at the moment of the test.The urine test is worthless for that.The blood test is better but too expensive for small employers.The saliva test works well,but still only pinpoints imparement to within several hours to a couple days after usage.You smoke ON the job,you should be fired. People should not be losing their jobs for choosing the safer allternative while not at work.

  11. Such sad stories. I am sorry. I think it’s big corporatins that are keeping prohibition alive and will fight to the death to do it. Only thing is regular people like us will continue to suffer. The laws need to change for sure.

  12. Amy, I hear you. That’s complete bull.

    These limitations on harmless pot smokers around the world ruin lives. I have multiple friends who are only unemployed because everywhere that interviews them drug tests. They are some of the hardest workers I know.

    I used to work for a company that “said” they did random drug tests, but I smoked pot the entire 2 years I worked there and so did most of the staff the whole time. If they were to screen their employees, they’d have to re-hire most of their AZ staff actually. It may not be legal here, but people are still going to find it. These “drug-free” requirements are extremely biased. The only thing they test for and will ever find is Marijuana. All other drugs don’t last in your system long enough to find out. I could shoot up heroin on my days off, but they wouldn’t know within a couple of days. I could get drunk right outside work and they wouldn’t care as long as it wasn’t on the job. These “policies” NEED to change.

  13. very true i bet i am top employee responsible and my driving is better i am evidence that pot makes life better and i live in depression ONLY because i am scared of being kicked and pushed around only for the sake of my daughter! i love everything about norml ricky williams is my hero and yes yes yes marijuana cannabis is my EXIT DRUG i love you norml thank GOD for whoever made this you are

  14. im sorry thank you norml that is what i meant to say!! thank you for making me feel norml lol!!

  15. Ironically, I saw an article in the local paper today stating the economy is “on the mend” due to an INCREASE in pre-employment drug testing. I work with people who drink like fish and are idiots to boot. Troubling when one’s most endearing and employable attribute is clean urine. You’ll get to management ranks, no doubt, with those chops.

    Buy the “approved” products of Wall Street or suffer the consequences, regardless of state law or the natural law of man to have jurisdiction over one’s own body.

  16. This article points out what we have all known for a long long time. These tests are meaningless to safety at work. If the test showed that you were under the influence and maybe a safety risk that would be a whole different picture.

  17. I have always used marijuana, grew up around it even, never has it affected my performance at work. i worked at this job for 2 years, helped open 2 new stores and managed one myself, Never had a problem till one on my cashiers asked a customer for some “medicine”, corprate found out and next thing i know i’m out of a job, the tested everyone in my store. Because i smoke after work and on my days off i lost my job,never missed a day of work went in on my days off, worked 70 hours a week for crap pay.I think employers have gone too far, what i do after work should not take away from the job i do at work

  18. A hundred studies like this will not change a thing. The corporation will do as it pleases, and the government will let them…they are married.

    Drug-testing is here to stay, and people will submit, until people get the balls to get in the streets and demand what’s right. Voting isn’t going to hack it…sorry NORML, you try…but it’s always one step forward and two steps back. If we want change now, we have to show them we mean business. 420 smoke-ins are fine, but where’s the outrage…or maybe just the rage in general? This is OPPRESSION, people. We should not stand for it.

    [Editor’s note: Drug testing is not here to stay if cannabis is legalized. Want to end drug testing and oppression? Cannabis freedom is there for citizens that are willing to work for it. Complaining about the government or corporations in chat rooms and comment sections is insufficient.]

  19. I sort of have a solution to these damn employers. Go in knowing your not getting the job an take a laxative and shit in that cup an tell’em to test that. Jus a thought

  20. The real problem is the fact that insurance companies use drug testing as a means to lower a company’s insurance rates. If a company drug tests they get discounts. It’s not who you work for it’s the insurance company offering a discount to discriminate against you.

  21. All great comments here. The question is, what can be done about it? Is this not a violation of our rights to privacy? If we are taken to court can we be made to testify against ourselves? Why then can we not have the same right to privacy in the workplace? With the economy being in the tank as it is now, my employer probably like many out there, has started a random testing policy, in my opinion to be able to thin the ranks, and do it without paying unemployement. I have seen many with 20+ years of service let go and marked as a criminal for the rest of thier lives..

  22. I remember reading (around the early-’90s) that a LOT of high-tech businesses were putting less-and-less credence on dug-testing, ’cause they were starting to lose a LOT o’ their more-innovative/”risk-taking” employees!!

  23. If prohibs had it thier way, everyone would take a U.A. daily before working. FRAKKING PARASITES !

  24. This is the reason that I don`t pay taxes. Because every time an employer discovers me, Uncle SAM steps in and says “You have to pee in this cup so we know if you`re a reefer madness monster, or if you`re a good ole drunken pedophile like the rest of the country.

  25. I dont even worry about drug tests anymore since they are SOOOOOOO easy to beat. Dont waste your time or money on pills or teas or other “Flushes”. Simply find a reputable vendor of Synthetic Urine online. I have EASILY passed the last 6 employment related drug screens by using this method.

    Thank You Quick Fix!!!!!

  26. You know in all my years in the work force I have never seen anyone fired from the job site due to a failed drug test for drugs like speed,heroine,acid,shrooms,and alcahol. I have only seen people get canned for their cannabis use. I have been using cannabis medically for 17 years. I also have lived in pretty bad neighborhoods in my life and the only people i personally would deem as a safty hazard at the work place would be users of speed, heroine,acid,shrooms, and alcahol. So can you tell me why there are not more test strips coming up positive for those drugs or are the big corporations just picking on us….wtf….i thought this was the land of the free i guess that only works if you have enough money…(wouldnt that make america just about as bad as communist russia i dont know but i think our rights as men and women are being trampled by the people that are supposed freed by this government….i dont know)

  27. Discrimination in the work place should be illegal. Fix all urine tests to be equal. Make all prescription drugs, alcohol, meth etc. test positive for a complete month after one has had it in their system. Cannabis is the only one discriminated by the test methods to show past use, regardless of imparement. The testing companies need to be sued for discrinination.

  28. It’s about time we heard something about this unAmerican ineffective bullshit search for everything the employer doesn’t need to know without telling him what he does need to know.
    I want to hear more about impairment tests!Why are these tests never talked about?An impairment test is one that measures motor skills and the ability of an employee to perform his job at the time he shows up for work.Everyone takes it every day before starting work.If you fail you are sent home for the day,with no accusations of drug use.
    I had to take a pre-employment drug test just 2 weeks ago,luckily I haven’t smoked in almost a year because I was unemployed,marijuana was the first non-essential luxury to go.I just stopped,no cravings or withdrawals,I simply stopped.There,I just shot down 2 myths about marijuana…it is NOT addictive and it doesn’t cause people to be irresponsible.I asked the guy giving the drug test why he doesn’t do impairment testing and he said he never heard of them.

    NORML…can you find us some info on impairment testing and where they are used and where they are available for companies who really are interested in whether their employees are ready to work?

    Employers ONLY give the urine test to save on insurance…it has NOTHING to do with workplace safety.My new job gives randoms,that will be the day I lose my job,it is the equivalent of throwing people up against the wall and strip searching them with no reason to believe they have done anything wrong.

  29. I partially agree with the editor’s comments on my comment #22.


    “Cannabis freedom is there for citizens that are willing to work for it.”

    There is very little cannabis freedom for anybody, as far as I can tell. Sure, the legislative atmosphere for legalization is better than it ever has been, but this is mostly due to the fact that governments are broke and need something to tax. NORML has worked hard “through the system”, but essentially we are still not free to smoke pot. I just think that if NORML or some other organization was able to stage serious protests, as in the Vietnam War protests, or the Civil Rights marches, pot would have been legal years ago. It’s a matter of showing the government who’s boss.

    There are millions of potsmokers out there. Why are we unable to really make a show of it in the streets? I’m tired of waiting for legalization…I want it now.

    …and don’t kid yourself. Corporations can and will require drug tests even when and if weed is legal. They can do it now for alcohol, and they can deny employment to tobacco smokers. They don’t have to hire anybody that does not meet their standards.

    [Editor’s note: Cannabis laws and penalties are largely a function of geography as some parts of the nation cannabis is de facto decriminalized if not ‘legal’ (i.e., California, Colorado and Montana if the individual is a qualified patient). The major reason why cannabis is illegal is because well under 1% of cannabis consumers are actually involved in the five decade old political and legal struggle to replace prohibition laws with effective alternatives.]

  30. So right on, there are NO safety risks with responsible users. In this day and age, as advanced as we are, as advanced as all of our technology is, how is it possible that they can’t make an accurate T.H.C. level test; accurate to a few hours or at least something close. It is such a shame, no, a tragedy considering everything America has gone through and sacrificed all these years, and still a good-hearted, partiotic, otherwise law abiding citizen, in the sanctuary of their own home can not sit back and let loose a little say on a Saturday because they could lose their job on Thursday! What an outrage.


  32. For the life of me, I don’t understand how corporations, or the government can get away with random drug testing. To my mind it is in direct conflict with both the 4th (unreasonable search) and 5th (no compulsion to testify against oneself) Amendments.

    How have we gotten to this place in our society where urine voodoo is considered run of the mill. If you had told my grandparents that one day, in order to get or keep a job, you would have to piss in a cup, they would have laughed their heads off.

    Why are we not making a concerted effort to end these unlawful, unjust and unconstitutional practices?

  33. I agree with #25 Rookie’s comment. Can we fight against this policy thru our 5th amendment rights? By definition one’s rights are being destroyed by the fact one is subject to in essence “testify against themselves” sheerly by providing a specimen that the owner knows will lead to incrimination. So my argument would be that the 5th amendment should protect us just as much as any other amendment does in any other situation. People still get shot with guns. People are allowed to say whatever they want, be it hate and bigotry or peace and love. The people who own guns can keep their jobs. There is no test for hate. I should have the right to my body and what’s in it because fundamentally it’s mine and no part of it should be used against me by anyone. Not even my pee.

  34. But in complete seriousness my final argument is part of the text of the 5th amendment: “nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”. 1. Being drug tested is in fact being accused of a crime. Albeit not in a court of law but still accused of a legitimite crime. In “any case” applies to in or out of a courtroom, without evidence by a non-governing body and giving a urine sample is in essence being a witness against oneself. 2.A drug test is a loss of private property. 3.At no time is person ever compensated for their “private property” being taken. When I say “private property” I beleive what’s on or in my one’s body is most certainly private property.

  35. Private employers are not bound by the constitution but drug testing is absolutely unAmerican…it is having to prove yourself innocent.
    But the courts have ruled that the government,which is bound by the constitution, are innocent of wrongdoing because drug tests are not a search.how ridiculous is that!They are looking for something in your body,if that’s not a search ,what the hell is??

  36. I believe the court system has granted the Employer the Right to Invade our Privacy. Untangling that mess is much larger than I can be.

  37. we live in an expanding police state.

    cannabis users are demonized because we see thru the bullshit and are a serious threat to the bullshit system.

  38. to ed

    u say: “Cannabis laws and penalties are largely a function of geography ………”

    ya mean like in liberal noo yawk city where they bust 40,000 mostly young brown men per year for simple possession and brand them for life?

    as long as the fed law says cannabis is illegal, it is. the cops ain’t stupid merely disgusting.

  39. Everyone is referring to “studies”. Though I am a supporter of the cause, I also know that studies can and often times are skewed. Toward the favor of any party. Pay and Ye shall receive. Companies out to clear the path for themselves or block the road for someone else, fund a “study”. This way, the results are guaranteed to reflect whatever they want.

  40. This saddens me. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, and work for our local police agency. I have been informed that the city has a zero tolerance policy for medical marijuana. I have used it in the past to assist with panic attacks and irritablilty. Because I can not use medical marijuana, I have been forced to take pills which we all know are more toxic on the boddy and addictive. What’s worse is that I have found out that the pills that I am taking have a half life of 18-50 hours. So instead of allowing me to medicate with what I prefer and not be under the influence on the job, which is life or death emergencies, I have to use these pills which may alter my senses for an extended period of time. I know I wouldn’t want someone responding to my emergecny with impaired senses. How do people find that more safe? This is just our government making it seem like they are going to assist us, but still leaving that loop hole so that they don’t.

  41. WTF, I work at a factory in OH, and I smoke outside of work and I have always done higher quailty of work and no work related accidents plus more work than the non smokers, and even with a cast on my right hand. Seriously What the Fuck!!!

  42. This ruling is so unfair to patients like me. I am a cancer patient and my husband is truly my caregiver. He’s changed my dressings, drained my drains and admistered the Oxycodone, Vicodin and all other drugs during my surgeries and treatments and now since I choose Cannabis for my pain medicine he will prepare that too (vaporizer) if I am too sick. This close proximity to my medicine exposes him to possible absorption and thus a potential positive UA test. So HE would be penalized (fired) under this Supreme Court ruling if drug tested for simply taking care of me (I should note here my husband is a “tea totaler” – doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke – anything -, races bicycles – if it were not for my medicine he would have no concerns with a UA). How is that fair?

  43. how long should i wait to start back up after a new job? there was no talk of testing so im not sure what there plan is,or if they just don’t test.

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