Drug test tomorrow
March 7, 2016 6:24 PM   Subscribe

I smoked marijuana this past weekend (yesterday). Today at work I found out that I have a drug test tomorrow. I doubt I will pass the test. What should I do? Some more background and options inside.

I'm a fairly regular pot smoker. I laid off the weed for 2 months prior to getting my current job. It's a fairly laid back company that I've worked with for many years, and they don't drug test, but I figured better safe than sorry and abstained. I got hired about 3 weeks ago, and this past weekend I got together with some friends and enjoyed pot and a few beers. Tomorrow I'm scheduled to be on-boarded at a client site (I am billed out as a consultant by the company I work for) and found out that there will be a drug test at the client site tomorrow. I wasn't prepared for this. Since I smoked yesterday and the day before, I doubt I will pass the test tomorrow.

What should I do? I see a few options:

1) Call my boss and explain my situation to her. I've known her for many years and don't think she cares at all about pot use. However, I'd feel really uncomfortable putting her in a bad position. As a boss would you rather know about this beforehand? Would it be a smart thing to give her a heads up that I might not pass the test?

2) Fake a massive stomach illness and don't go to the client site tomorrow, try and buy myself some time to flush it out of my system.

3) Just take the test and hope I either pass, or don't get fired if I fail. If I fail the test there are other clients I could be billed out to, so I don't know if I would be fired from my company.

4) Build a time machine and go back to Friday and tell myself to chill for another week.

Any advice you can give would be helpful.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would tell your boss and see how things go. It'll put you and your firm in an awkward place if you don't pass. It is easier to do damage control up front and have your boss say you were pulled into another project at the last moment.
posted by toomanycurls at 6:29 PM on March 7, 2016 [18 favorites]

Not knowing firsthand the coolness of your boss, I vote for feigning illness. This might make your boss/coworker suspect you of something, but that ain't evidence.
posted by Drosera at 6:31 PM on March 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Marijuana stays in your system long enough that feigning illness is a dicey proposition: unless you're prepared to fake a flu for a week you'll likely still fail the drug test when you're on-boarded afterwards. Since you're basically guaranteed to fail the drug test, I think you should tell your boss this is going to happen and hope for the best.
posted by gerryblog at 6:38 PM on March 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

If I'm reading this correctly, you're employed by Company A, and working on-site at Company B. It's Company B that's having a drug test tomorrow. If that's correct, tell your boss at Company A and see if they pull you from the assignment before the test. You might be shit out of luck no matter what you do, but this at least potentially avoids your employer having to explain to a client why one of their employees can't piss clean.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:55 PM on March 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

If it is a mouth swab test you'll probably pass. If it is a pee test you probably won't for at least a week or two. Especially if you smoke fairly regularly. Mouth swab tests are cheaper than pee tests so you might get lucky. My experience with the supplement drinks or just drinking a lot of water before a pee test is that they don't work. Best of luck!
posted by irisclara at 6:58 PM on March 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

If you fail the test, I can't imagine that you won't get fired. And an extra 24 hours isn't likely to clear the THC-COOH from your system if they're doing a urine test. There's no way you'll reliably clear it in time to start the contract.

Your company needs to send someone else with whatever excuse they want to provide because having you fail the test is going to damage their relationship with the client company. If your company does cover for you, make sure that your social media does not contradict their story if they told the client that you would be there by name.

How to navigate this - I don't really know, it depends on your boss and your company. I've had some that would have laughed it off and some that would have canned me immediately. At the very least, I'd do them the courtesy of making a decision tonight and reaching out to management if possible so they can find someone else to go in your place.
posted by Candleman at 7:04 PM on March 7, 2016 [14 favorites]

I would fire any report who failed a test on site at a client.

I may or may not fire a report who told me about it beforehand and gave me an option to handle the situation. A good employee who had no reasonable expectation of being tested and didn't use during the work week, I would give them a pass and recommend they be ready for the next test or else.
posted by French Fry at 7:42 PM on March 7, 2016 [38 favorites]

Definitely go with choice #1! Tell your boss.

This exact situation happened to a friend of mine just a few weeks ago. She opted to tell her boss that she wouldn't be able to pass the test. Boss wasn't happy, but she didn't get fired - she just got pulled off of the assignment. Since the drug test was required by Client/Company B, not Company A, and Company A (her employer) hadn't required a drug test during the hiring process, Company A had no grounds on which to fire her. I would check your company's official policies to see if your situation aligns.

Either way, telling your boss is the best decision. The consequences of embarrassing your boss/company should you fail to pass the drug test will be worse than the consequences of you telling the truth before it comes to that.

No need to elaborate on why you won't pass the test; just say you won't be able to pass and they should put someone else on the assignment for now. To ensure you won't have to pass up future opportunities with Company B or other similar clients, you can agree that you'll be able to pass a drug test the next time around.

(My friend's company has enough clients that she was actually able to say, nah, don't ever put me on a project for which I need to be drug tested, and they said 'okay fine.') ***YMMV***!!!
posted by emoemu at 8:21 PM on March 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

5. Tell your boss you are personally opposed to workplace drug tests.

In my opinion, employers should not be entitled to demand body fluids from employees. They should not be entitled to dictate what the employee does on their own time which does not impact their work. I have never and would never consent to this. It sounds like you didn't consent to this either as a condition of employment.

Drug tests are also flawed (false positives are common; a friend of mine was nearly booted off a transplant list because the poppyseed bagels he'd eaten came up as heroin!), expensive, and unevenly applied (if you'd done say, LSD, you'd be fine).

Especially since there are other client assignments that don't require this, it should be relatively straightforward to decline the test.

The more people cave in to these violations of our bodily integrity and right to have a life outside work, the more and more companies will not think twice about requiring whatever draconian tests or privacy-violating acts their whim dictates.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 8:49 PM on March 7, 2016 [33 favorites]

I agree with mysterious_stranger in principle, and all the people who advise you to tell your boss intellectually, at least in terms of being a 100% responsible employee who puts the welfare of the company above his own well-being.

There is also another option, though, which is that you could fake stomach illness tomorrow, go buy one of those cleansing teas, and hope for the best. I did that in my wild idiot youth (I faked a car accident), drank the tea, had my sample come back "dilute," took the drug test again, and passed.

(That was for a job at a hospital.

A hospital where my father worked.)

I wouldn't do it again, but I did it that one time, and it worked out. If I were you, I'd probably decide based on my gut instincts about my boss at job A - it's a risk either way, but it could also work out either way, too, so don't freak out completely just yet. Just be smarter than me, and when you call to see if they processed your results, don't say, "Hi, I'm caling to find out if I passed my drug test?...?...?....?....I mean, if the results are in yet. Yep. That is what I mean."
posted by pretentious illiterate at 9:11 PM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Why not tell your boss a lie? You were in Seatle or Calorado last weekend for a family function and you tried a tiny bit of the there legal pot. Therefore you haven't broken law, but you would likely fail the test.
posted by jazh at 9:15 PM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd probably factor in my states at will status before taking in mysterious strangers #5 option
posted by Jacen at 9:55 PM on March 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I know a lot of people are skeptical of the pot cleansing stuff that is sold to enable you to pass a piss test but my sibling swears by it. Sibling has medical issues and smokes A Lot and has never failed a drug test even on short notice. I find it hard to believe but it's true.

You can also fail the drug test and contest it to by yourself some time. Having a false positive result is very common.

If I totally trusted my boss I would probably go that route. Calling in sick especially when you have advance notice of a drug test is gonna look hella sketchy unless you actually have a doctor excuse.

Best wishes. This sucks.
posted by futz at 9:58 PM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would tell your boss. I wouldn't fire you for not being able to pass, but I definitely would fire you for embarrassing me in front of a client. If you take the test and fail, you're risking not only your job, but the company's reputation. Don't do it.
posted by frumiousb at 12:01 AM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

I get tested all the time because I'm on a pain management scheme. My docs know about my pot smoking, and they don't care. These days (most) doctors and employers really don't give a flying fig newton about pot. What they are looking for are hard drugs: coke, heroin, benzos, speed etc.

Talk to you boss, be up front about it before he gets the results back. If there is a problem, they (the company you work for) may say they will re-test later, giving you a second chance. Some companies would toss a good employee into the street for this, but it's becoming less frequent.

Good luck. Let us know who things work out.
posted by james33 at 3:29 AM on March 8, 2016

The problem with telling your boss is that you then burden her with complicity. In many businesses the drug test is not a moral issue but an insurance issue. I would absent yourself for a few days and then hope it is a swab test.
posted by InkaLomax at 5:00 AM on March 8, 2016

Tell your boss so that she can send someone else out. If you go and fail the test, it would make the whole company look bad. If she fires you for it, then that is life. At least you did the one decent thing and didn't bring the whole company down with you.
posted by myselfasme at 5:25 AM on March 8, 2016

The dollar store chain around here (Dollar Tree) has the pee tests for $1. Maybe pick up a handful of those in the meantime so you know how long it'll take before you can pass the test? Just in case you wind up in this situation again.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:27 AM on March 8, 2016

I'm totally sympathetic to the ideas of #5 (and take pride in working for a company that respects their employees; the policy is "if we think you're doing something dangerous because of drugs, we'll ask for a test but otherwise we'll butt out"), but that is such amazingly bad advice to someone that wants to keep their job. There is a time and place to discuss those ideas with an employer, but the day that you're supposed to show up for a contracting gig is one of them.

Contracting employees do not generally pick and choose where they go and pulling an attitude on management is a surefire way to get fired and can make all the difference between, "I'm sorry, I have to let you go, but here's a reference and some people that are looking" and "I'm firing you with cause and reporting it as such."

There's a lot of "shoulds" in the suggestion, which is fine for philosophizing but in practicality, there are no legal protections OP can fall back on and they're almost certainly employed at will. This may be a hill OP wants to die on eventually, but today is not a good day to die (or to say, "I would prefer not to").
posted by Candleman at 10:00 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

You have been clean for the previous 2 months and 3 weeks? You'll pass within a week. THC builds up in your system the more you smoke. Infrequent users can be clean within a day or two, depending on their own metabolism.

I would first go get a home test and see what that says. If it says positive, then I would talk to the boss.
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:18 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

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