What to Expect at your Marijuana Drug Test

In most states, pre-employment drug screening takes place at a drug testing laboratory or medical testing facility. Like other testing facilities, you will check in with the Staff and will probably have a slip or voucher from the Employer requesting the test(s). After filling out required consent forms and other paperwork, you will usually be given your sample cup, usually a small plastic cup with a screw-on cap. Some sample cups have a thermometer strip attached to the outside. The purpose of the thermometer is verification: in an attempt to catch folks using fake pee, plain water or other liquids, the Staff will check the urine temperature when you hand them the sample. Most human urine comes out at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Synthetic urine kits often come with heating pads and thermometers to verify the urine test sample is in the correct temperature range. (98-101 degrees Fahrenheit)
The collection and initial testing is sometimes integrated:

    • An integrated test cup is the most preferred by the testing Staff because they do not have to touch the urine because the test strip is built-in to the container. This is gaining in popularity, but it is also the most expensive quick-test format. Most often used are:
    • Cassette Media is a very common form factor whereby drops of urine are transferred to the test card using an eyedropper or pipette. After a few minutes, the lab tech checks the drops for color or line indicators.
    • A Dip Card uses test strips that are dipped into the urine sample. Once the THC test strips become saturated, the results can be determined after about five minutes. Dip cards are often used for multi-drug screenings.
    • Dip Strips use a test strip which is dipped straight into the urine sample container. Results appear in about five minutes. Dip strips are typically used to test for one drug type only.

In most cases, you will be shown to a small room, (usually a toilet room) in which to give the urine sample. In the private sector, you are allowed privacy while urinating. For those under probation or parole, privacy may or may not be allowed according to policy or sentence- this would be referred to as a “supervised donation”.
Shortly after you hand in the urine specimen, a Staff Member will use one of the first-level initial test types as discussed above. Typically, this initial testing and inspection is not done while you are present. The reaction tests are the most common and least expensive of drug tests and sometimes the only method available to the employer or lab.
If the test is positive for marijuana metabolites, the lab Staff person will either send the results back to the employer or send the sample on to the “real lab” where further, more accurate testing will be conducted. Usually the secondary results are available back to the first lab within 48 hours, sometimes the employer is notified directly.
In some cases, for lower paying jobs, if the test is positive at the first level, the applicant might be denied at that point with further testing completed.
Because so many tests result in a false-positive, it’s important that you assert yourself and request a re-test should your test come back as positive for THC metabolites.

Be sure and understand your rights regarding workplace drug testing by the ACLU.
If you are seeking employment with a large Company, you might have the drug screening administered by a Company Nurse or internal Health clinic from the Human Resources department. In situations like this, the test used will most likely be the first-level “dip-strip” type only. If you pass at this level, most likely the employer will forego the expense of further testing of the urine sample.