Whether you have been using weed for years or are just now dipping your toe into the waters of legal marijuana, you should know that legalization doesn’t equate to a free pass. In Washington State, employers can have varying opinions on marijuana use, and getting drug tested can bring on a whole new meaning.
So what is a Washington resident supposed to do if they enjoy marijuana but also need to bring home a paycheck every other week? Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get a wide range of answers. In general, let’s review the basics of what you need to know when it comes to cannabis and drug testing.
First Things First
Before diving too deep into drug testing laws and employer outlooks on weed use, it’s important to know why cannabis is becoming such a big issue in the workplace. Unlike alcohol, an unarguably popular recreational substance, marijuana stays in your system long after use. If you have a beer the night before you’re about to get drug tested, it’s typically no big deal. Yet if you smoke a joint even weeks beforehand, you may find it poses a challenge.
Why such a huge discrepancy? Marijuana affects many major organs, including the brain, liver, and your heart. Because your body processes it much differently than other compounds, even a one-time smoke can stay in your system up to four days. People who use weed fairly often will have at least a 10 day waiting period before a urine test would show up drug free, and heavy users could have 30 days or more to wait before being able to pass a drug test.
In many cases, individuals who are on the job hunt don’t think about this element of their weed use, and poor planning can lead to the inability to pass a drug screening. When the prospect of waiting at least one month before obtaining employment is on the line, people often get frustrated and blame employers for not being more lenient. However there’s a good reason for standards to be as strict as they are, as we’re about to learn.
What’s The Law?
Washington residents as a whole are still getting used to the idea that marijuana is now legal to use for both medicinal and recreational purposes. With such a big change in legalization, it’s only natural that it will take some time for certain guidelines to become formally established. At this point in time, the law is a little gray when it comes to weed use.
Despite the fact that it’s legal, you can never use weed on the job, similarly to alcohol or any other substance that would be questionable in the workplace. But what happens if you want to smoke over the weekend and show up to work Monday morning? That’s where things get a bit hazy.
At this point in time, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to testing positive for marijuana while on the job. If you are obviously high, your boss does have the right to exercise suspension or even termination from your job. When you haven’t smoked in days but test positive for weed, it’s up to the employer as far as how to handle the situation.
Some take the approach that what you do on your own time is fine, and as long as the only thing showing up on your test is legal weed, you’re good to go. Other hard drugs will probably lead to different types of conversations, but you get the idea.
Others have a strict no-tolerance policy and will instantly fire you if your drug screening shows positive results. Why are they so harsh? Ultimately, marijuana is still illegal on a federal basis, and certain employers in Washington want to maintain their reputation as individuals who follow every law to the letter. Furthermore, any type of on-the-job accident that can be attributed to weed use creates panic in the eyes of many employers.
Still some jobs will be somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, and may ask that you talk to their HR department before returning to work, or might ask you to take some vacation time until your test can come back negative. How your employer chooses to handle the situation is as unique as each company themselves.
When You’re On The Hunt
We’ve talked about what might happen if you test positive for weed when already employed, but what happens if you’re job hunting and you are asked to take a drug test? More and more staffing agencies in Washington are starting to enforce mandatory urine testing along with the submission of your application, and sadly this strict policy is causing more and more people to go without work.
Some estimates show that over 30% of people who apply to work with a temp agency are failing their drug test, a number that is significantly higher than it was in past years. Perhaps taking such a hard stance on marijuana is creating more problems in the job market than many anticipated.
Once you’ve taken a hit, whether it’s your first ever or you’ve now lost count, you need to start thinking about how it will affect your current or future employment. Many individuals often try to get around drug testing and utilize over the counter products that claim to rid your system of all traces of marijuana. Stories have been told for years about people smuggling fake urine into the test with them, although the success of this method isn’t very high.
Your best bet just might be to have a candid discussion with your employer and ask what their stance is on marijuana. You may end up surprised to find that they don’t care what you do on your own time, while others will make it very clear how they feel about any kind of weed use. Once you have that information, you can then determine what makes the most sense for you should you ever get randomly drug tested.
Still unsure about what to do? You can always visit the team at The Bakeréé, as our budtenders are well-versed in all things marijuana. If losing your job isn’t worth it, visit us to pick our brains about how you can still enjoy weed without the worry.
We all know that person who somehow managed to never smoke marijuana during high school or college. Perhaps they were afraid, they wanted to make their parents proud, or they were an athlete and knew they would get drug tested. Now as an adult, their interest is piqued.
For individuals who live in a state where it’s legal to consume cannabis, like Washington, you have more options available to you now than ever before. Something that once had a stigma around it and could potentially put you in jail under certain circumstances now has a free pass associated with it. If you’re still scared to get high, that’s ok too.
The first time you smoke weed, or eat an edible for that matter, can bring up a plethora of feelings. Let’s unpack those a bit and explain why being scared to get high is common and how you can prepare for a successful experience.
One of the more common reasons that people are afraid to get high at any age is that they don’t know what to expect. Unfortunately, marijuana is still viewed by many as a drug that’s terribly evil, and by getting high you’re just asking for an extreme psychedelic experience. If you didn’t already know – that’s not true.
Part of what gets you high comes from THC, a compound in cannabis that does impart psychoactive effects, yet they are typically manageable from the start. As a new smoker, you can take a few steps to ensure you don’t get too high and that your journey is pleasant rather than anxiety filled.
The first time you smoke, your body will have the strongest reaction to THC that it will ever have, which is why people who have smoked for years often need more and more to experience the same level of high. Keeping this reaction in check means choosing a strain of marijuana that’s relatively gentle.
Be sure to consult a budtender at your local upscale dispensary, like The Bakeréé, and let them know this will be your first time. More than likely they’ll suggest a strain with a low THC percentage, typically around 10% or so. Anything greater than 15% could be too much and create a negative set of effects that could sour your experience.
Once you have your mellow weed, another key element in soothing your fears is to make sure you partake an appropriate amount. A first-time smoker probably shouldn’t enjoy an entire joint or take multiple bong hits in succession – you’re just asking for trouble if you do. Instead, all it might take is one or two puffs at the most before the effects start to kick in.
How Long Is Too Long?
Related to the fear of what it’s like to be high, many first-time smokers worry that they don’t know how long they’ll be high for. If they hate the feeling, do they have to ride it out for seven hours before they feel normal again?
The answer depends on how sensitive your body is, how much you’ve had to eat, and if you’re smoking versus ingesting cannabis. In general, new users note that they experience effects for a much longer period of time the first several times around, and that’s mostly due to your body not quite knowing how to process these new compounds that have made their way into your system. We don’t want you to worry, but some people have reported being high for a full 24 hours the first time they smoked a joint.
Your best bet is to try getting high on a day where you have absolutely nothing to do. Maybe it’s your day off from work, the errands are done, and the kids are at grandma’s house for the weekend. When you have nothing remotely responsible looming on the horizon, it can help to lessen the fear of being high for too long. If you do experience effects for 24 hours, it won’t ruin your day.
Perception Is Everything
The connotations that are still present in our culture around smoking marijuana and getting high is another common reason why people are afraid to ever start using it. Self-doubting questions like “what will my friends think?” or “will I become a stoner?” can run rampant through people’s minds, and it’s enough to make them fearful about what could happen if they decide to cross the line into becoming a cannabis consumer.
Everyone is so different that we can’t necessarily speak to each and every concern about how people will perceive you, but we can offer some general things to think about. First, remember that you are ultimately in control of your marijuana use. If the fear of becoming a non-functioning member of society who is always stoned and glued to the couch is terrifying, you and you alone have the power to make sure that’s not the case.
If judgment from friends and family makes you fearful, then you have a few options. Some people simply don’t care what others think, which of course is easier said than done. Others take the opportunity as a way to have a candid conversation with their loved ones. This allows them to explain their reasons for starting to use marijuana and could even break down stereotypes within families or groups of friends.
Still, others might choose to get high by themselves in the comfort of their home and never tell a soul. Maybe their budtender is the only one who knows that they’ve taken the leap into the world of weed, and that’s ok too.
No matter why you’re afraid to get high, we want you to know that your fears are 100% valid. New experiences can be scary, and if you’ve gone your entire life avoiding pot only to try it for the first time as an adult, there’s a fair amount of common sense that might tell you to stay away. When in doubt, remember that the reasons you choose to get high are yours, and no matter what your mom says, no one has ever died from getting high.
Do you have a cannabis-related crimes on your record?
The Minority Cannabis Business Association and Marley Natural™ have teamed up to combat the negative consequences of the war on drugs. The mission of the Rise Up™ Expungement Program is to help men and women expunge (or “vacate”) certain types of cannabis-related crimes from their record. On May 20, we will assist a group of select individuals with vacating their Washington cannabis-related crimes. You may qualify if:
• Are over 18 years of age
• Have a valid (not expired) state-issued (any state) ID or valid U.S. passport (you cannot participate if you do not bring your valid ID with you)
• Were convicted of a cannabis crime in Washington State
On May 20, in 2 hours or less, we will help you complete all the steps necessary to file your request for expungement with the state of washington, including covering all costs and fees.
• Apply for the expungement day by completing the registration form. Space is limited, so register early.
• You will receive notification of confirmed registration within 3 business days
• The event will be held in Seattle, WA. Address to be communicated upon confirmed registration
• There are two time options – an 11am appointment start time and a 12:30pm appointment start time
• This is an estimated 2-hour time commitment. Expect to complete the process within 2 hours of your appointment start time
• Food and beverages will be provided
• Please provide a valid email address with your sign up. We will confirm your sign up via email
• NOTE: If you sign up, you are expected to show up. A no show means someone else who needed this service missed out because we saved a space for you
Complete the sign up form today to reserve your spot. Spots are limited, and will be assigned to qualified individuals. Sign up early before all spots are taken.