Can I Get a Job if I Smoke Weed?

If you are looking for a job while smoking weed recreationally, the weed part of that equation may be a bad idea. It’s officially the 2020s, and more and more states are decriminalizing marijuana, but many employers still won’t hire people who smoke weed recreationally.  Fifty-seven percent of employers conduct drug tests on all candidates. If you want a job, smoking weed seriously limits your job choices and faking a drug test isn’t easy or foolproof.

That said, you can apply for jobs that don’t drug test, but why limit yourself, your career and your future?

A lot of Americans smoke weed, and a majority of businesses perform drug tests. In other words, it’s only a matter of time before a weed habit clashes with a desire to find (or keep) a job.

If you’re beginning your job search, you may have a lot of questions about how weed will affect your ability to find and keep that new job.

You’ll find we have a pretty comprehensive list of questions and answers to help you understand how smoking, eating or otherwise using marijuana products will impact your job search and your job, as well as how employers typically handle drug tests and other herb matters.

When will a company drug test me?

Obviously, it depends on the company, but many businesses test people as part of the application process. Many companies also conduct random or annual drug tests once you have been hired. Some companies may drug test you if they have a good reason to believe you might be using drugs. While private businesses aren’t legally required to drug test their applicants, many companies test job seekers to ensure they will be able to perform their new job without being a danger to themselves or others.

Can my employer legally make me take a drug test to be employed?

Yes. Most states allow federal, state and private companies to conduct drug tests on their employees.  These drug tests are often less about the morality of you using drugs and more about the safety and security of the company’s property and employees.

What happens if I refuse to take a drug test during the application process?

You can always refuse to take a drug test, but you will most likely not be hired as a result. Some companies will not allow you to reapply if you fail an initial drug screen. Others have a waiting period, such as six months or a year, before you can try again.

I already have a job. Can I get fired for smoking weed?

This depends on your company’s policy. Many companies randomly drug test their existing employees. If you fail or refuse to take the test, you will have to abide by the consequences of the policy. Typically, you will either be fired, put on a probationary period or have to go through your company’s mandatory rehabilitation program.

So, I can be fired for refusing to take a drug test if I’m already employed?

Yes. If you are currently employed and are asked to take a drug test, refusing to take the test may result in an automatic termination without the ability to be eligible for unemployment benefits, depending on the state you’re in.  This is especially true if an accident or a work incident occurs.  Often times after an accident (say a forklift accident) your employer will ask anyone involved to take a drug/alcohol screen test.  This helps them determine if drugs or alcohol were the cause of the accident and who would be at fault in the situation.  By refusing to take a drug test in these particular situations you are not giving your employer any confidence that the accident isn’t your fault.

Can I get fired for smoking weed outside of work if weed is legal in my state?

Although several states (including California, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) have legalized recreational marijuana usage, employers can still fire employees who smoke or ingest THC even when they’re not at work. Even here, employers still have the right to enforce a “zero tolerance” drug policy. You can check the specific laws in your state for off-duty marijuana usage here.

Will I get arrested if I fail a work drug test?

No, however, you will probably not be hired if you are applying for a job, and it is likely you will lose your position if you are currently employed. Some employers will make you go through mandatory rehabilitation if you would like to keep your job.

Can I receive unemployment benefits if I’m fired for a drug test?

It really depends on where you live but, in many states, you won’t be able to access unemployment benefits if you are fired for refusing or failing a drug screen.

Why shouldn’t I get high on the job?

By coming to work impaired by any substance, including weed, you are putting your coworkers and yourself at risk of being injured, or worse. Marijuana usage is linked to an increase in job accidents and injuries, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Short-term effects of THC include impaired physical movement, unclear thinking, impaired problem-solving abilities, memory problems and an altered sense of time. All of these affected senses make it harder for you to do your job. Your impaired thinking and reactive abilities put the members of your team at a safety risk.

Why do jobs care if I smoke weed in my spare time?

For many companies, drug-using employees are a liability and a safety hazard. Companies have a responsibility to protect their employees and their product. Drug testing is just one way they try to reduce the likelihood of an accident and provide a safe environment for its employees.

For example: Joe works at Wonky Warehouse where he drives a forklift in a large facility. Joe comes to work high. He feels pretty alert, but his reaction time is a little slower than normal, and he has a slightly harder time than usual concentrating. Although he feels like this won’t affect his ability to perform his job, Joe accidentally backs into a stack of boxes, which falls on his co-worker, Susan, seriously injuring her and causing her leg to break. 

Accidents happen without drug impairment, but drug use increases the risk that an accident like this will occur. In order to ensure their workers are safe, companies must discourage employees from taking any kind of drug or impairing substances. If companies do not reduce the risk of accidents, their employees could get seriously injured and they could suffer property damaged. Accidents can be devastating, injuries can lead to lawsuits and property damage can put a business, especially a small one, out of operation.

While it’s easy for us to roll our eyes and complain that companies should be less strict about drug testing, there are many legitimate reasons why drug testing is important to companies and the people who work there.

How do I handle a drug test if I am taking heavy prescription medication?

While taking a prescription drug won’t register as positive for marijuana, many companies do test for opiates and benzodiazepines. Before you take your test, disclose what prescription medications you are currently taking. Be upfront about everything you are taking. You may need to provide a  list of the medication you are prescribed. Prescriptions must be in your name and non-expired. You can get a list from your doctor or pharmacist, or bring your prescription bottles with you to the test.

What happens if I tested positive for drugs, but I don’t think the test is accurate?

If this happens, your course of action depends on what state you live in. Make sure you tell your employer you are drug-free and don’t believe the results are accurate. Many companies will re-test you, request you take another test at a lab or send your current sample away to a professional lab.

Will I fail my drug test if I eat too many poppy seeds?

In theory, it’s possible, but it’s unlikely. Poppy seeds can make you fail a drug test, but you would have to consume a sizable quantity of poppy seeds to be in jeopardy. It’s a good idea to avoid eating poppy seeds before your drug test, but don’t freak out if you realize there were a few poppy seeds in your muffin. You’ll probably be fine.

Can I get hired if I failed the same company’s drug test a few years ago?

You’re clean now, but three years ago you failed a company’s drug test. You want to apply again, but you’re not sure they will consider you. As is usually the case, your ability to be re-hired really depends on the company hiring policies. Depending on the company you are applying with, they may consider rehire after a period of time or you may not be able to work for them again.

Will marijuana possessions show up on my background check?

Many employers run background checks on applicants during the hiring process. If you have a marijuana possession conviction, this will show up if when conducting a criminal record search. However, if your possession charge was dealt with by the municipal court, it may not show up unless a local level check is done.

Will employers hire me if I have a marijuana possession charge?

Ultimately, it depends on your specific employer, what kind of job you are seeking, the employers’ hiring policies and other factors in your application.

Factors that may be considered include:

  • How long ago you were convicted
  • If you are a repeat offender
  • How the charge relates to your potential job duties
  • Your job history

What kind of jobs will drug test me?

Most any company can drug test its employees and potential employees. That said, some industries are more likely to drug test than others. If you are applying for jobs in these industries, it’s more likely you’ll be drug tested:

  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing
  • Warehouse
  • Factory
  • Federal government
  • State government
  • County government

What jobs don’t care if I smoke weed?

While most any company can choose to test its applicants and employees, jobs in the service industry are often less likely to drug test employees, so positions like a chef, restaurant manager and waitress. Likewise, if you choose to be an independent consultant of any kind, you are unlikely to be drug tested.

That said, choosing to smoke marijuana recreationally severely limits your career and the jobs you can take. Many companies still may decide to drug test you, even in these industries. Ultimately, it depends on the company and their policies.

How do employers test for drugs?

Most employers conduct a urine test, but there are a number of other options businesses may choose, which include:

  • Urine test: Urine tests are most frequently used by employers to drug test applicants and employees. You will be asked to pee in a cup, which is then tested. Depending on how much and how often you have marijuana, this test can detect THC in your urine from three to 77 days after your last intake.
  • Saliva test: Saliva testing helps to determine recent weed usage and produces accurate results. Saliva testing can detect cannabinoids if you have consumed THC in the past four hours to seven days.
  • Blood test: This is the most accurate test, but because it is also the most expensive (and invasive), most companies do not use this method. That said, this test can measure THC in your bloodstream for four to 12 hours post-consumption, but if you’re a heavy user, the evidence may linger in your bloodstream for days.
  • Hair test: This test measures the drug metabolites that enter the blood vessels of your scalp. To administer this test, a clump of hair about 1.5 inches long, typically from the back of your head close to the crown, will be cut for the test. And, for the record, you can’t avoid this test by shaving your head as hair from the rest of your body will also work. This test can determine if you’ve smoked weed in approximately 90 days, making this a more thorough test.
  • Sweat test: This is a newer method of testing and is rarely used by businesses. For this test, the recipient wears a sweat patch that detects drug metabolites that are excreted through your perspiration for two weeks.

What substances do most businesses test for?

Most businesses test for the big five illicit drugs:

  • THC
  • Amphetamines (meth, speed, crank)
  • Cocaine (coke, crack)
  • Opiates (heroin, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust)

That said, many employers also test for alcohol, benzodiazepines, ecstasy, barbiturates and propoxyphene.

How long does weed stay in your urine?

The length of time weed stays in your urine primarily depends on how often you consume cannabinoids and your body.  The more you partake, the more the THC accumulates in your cells. As your fat is burned, THC is re-released into your bloodstream, which is why heavy users can test positive for several months after quitting.

These factors determine how fast THC will exit your body:

  • Your metabolism
  • Body mass index
  • How often you smoke/ingest
  • How often you exercise
  • How much cannabis you consume
  • The strength of the cannabis

If you’re a one-time smoker, it typically takes about eight days for your urine sample to clear up. For those who smoke two to four times a week, you can test positive for more than two weeks.

How can I get weed out of my system?

There is no sure way to remove cannabis from your system quickly. Obviously, the best way to ensure you don’t have cannabinoid in your body is to stop ingesting marijuana.

What do people use to pass a drug test if they know they can’t pass on their own?

Many people try the following DIY hacks to get THC out of their system faster.  None of these methods are scientifically proven to remove THC completely or quickly from your body.  Many testing centers are smart to these methods and others so it is unlikely that these can skirt the system completely.  As well, some of these methods involve intense workouts or medications which can be harmful on the body and not worth the risk over a failed drug test.

  • Fruit pectin and electrolyte mix: Fruit pectin is a type of fiber made from plants and is often used in jellies. Some people try mixing fruit pectin with an electrolyte drink, like Gatorade, and drinking it a few hours before the drug test. Most of the THC in your body is naturally eliminated through your stool; the fruit pectin fiber binds to the bile in your intestines, and the fiber increases your bowel movements. As a result, the THC is excreted out of your body. This unproven method is neither healthy nor safe, and it certainly isn’t fool-proof. Drinking such a large quantity of pectin is likely to upset your stomach and cause stomach pain and constipation. Your body’s reaction may be severe, and this method isn’t likely to clear the THC out of your body in time for a drug test.
  • High-fiber diet: By eating many high-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables for multiple days before your drug test, you can try to clear THC from your body. This a healthier option than ingesting fruit pectin or drinking “detox” diuretics and laxatives, but similarly, this may not be enough to cleanse the THC out of your body in time for you to pass your drug test.
  • Exercise: This method hopes to burn fat cells storing the THC through cardio exercise. While this makes sense in theory, as you burn fat containing THC, there is no hard evidence showing that cardio helps you influence a drug test one way or the other.
  • “Detox” drinks: These drinks are typically types of diuretics and laxatives that, at least in theory, dilute the urine and remove the THC from your body. As diuretics/laxatives, these drinks are not safe and could seriously upset your stomach and create digestive issues. They are also not a sure way to eliminate THC from your body.
  • Sweating: Some believe sweating excessively by sitting in a sauna or wearing heavy clothes can help them release THC through their sweat. That said, most people report this option to be ineffective. Likewise, exposing yourself to intense heat can be dangerous, as it stresses the body and promotes dehydration.
  • Midol: Midol is a diuretic that is sometimes used by those trying to urinate the THC out of their system. Again, this method is neither safe nor foolproof. Depending on a number of factors, you may not be able to rid your body of the THC in time.
  • Diet Pills: These are also diuretics which will make you go to the bathroom more, but there’s a chance you could test positive for an amphetamine. Remember, diet pills aren’t safe, healthy or effective.
  • Synthetic urine: Synthetic urine is a mix of chemicals that mimic the properties of human pee. It comes in multiple forms, including pre-mixed and dried powder. Successfully using synthetic urine takes planning. If you make a mistake, you could easily fail your test. Fake pee is expensive and expires fairly quickly. It’s easy to misjudge the temperature of your fake urine, as most drug tests are temperature sensitive.  Synthetic urine is banned in some states, making it illegal to attempt to purchase or use synthetic urine. For instance, in New Hampshire anyone caught using or selling synthetic urines is fined a minimum of $500.
  • A friend’s clean urine: Much like synthetic urine, using the urine of a friend, makes you susceptible to temperature inconsistencies. You are relying on a friend to be honest about their drug use as well. If they use prescription or illegal drugs, you will fail the test. Also, there is the gross factor.
  • The safest method: The best way to pass a drug test is to stop using cannabis. It’s simple, cost-effective and foolproof. Quitting does not require your body to endure harmful processes to rid your body of THC.

What should I do if I smoke weed currently?

If you’re looking for a job, your best bet is to quit. Finding work is hard enough without limiting your options. Give yourself and your career the best shot for success.

Does smoking weed affect my life prospects?

While it’s hard to point to conclusive evidence, drinking alcohol and smoking pot have been found to have a negative impact on teens. Teens, especially young men, who smoked pot and drank frequently were less likely to have a job or get married later in life.

The final conclusion: Can I smoke pot if I’m looking for a job?

You can, but it’s not a good idea. Most jobs require a drug test as part of the hiring process. While there are many risky ways to try to thwart a drug test, none of them are guaranteed. If you are looking for a job, it’s wise to keep your options open and not limit your future.