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A Rare Breed: Job Candidates Who Can Pass a Drug Test

The struggle is real - the struggle in trying to find employees who are able to pass a pre-employment drug test, that is. That’s what companies across the country are collectively saying is a huge problem they are facing when attempting to recruit new talent.

The problem is two-fold: drug-testing has become more popular in this country, but then so has drug usage, with marijuana being the greatest offender, followed by heroin and opioids. And it’s not so much that people are failing the tests - more like once they find out that they need to be tested in order to qualify for a job, they simply skip the test entirely, leaving during the middle of the hiring process.

The fact that marijuana is the biggest offender is no surprise. That’s because marijuana can still show up on a drug test months after you’ve smoked it.

Normally, the THC present in marijuana shows up between one and ten days after smoking it, but it can still be present in your urine for three months or longer if you are a habitual pot smoker. So if you decide to quit smoking pot in say, June, after smoking rather regularly, then it could still be present in your urine when you go to apply for that job in September.

That means that folks who aren’t even regularly using drugs any longer, particularly marijuana, could be denied for a job simply because they were regular users of pot in the past - not the fairest thing in the world for the candidate, nor for the company that is in desperate need of hiring new employees.

If you’ve ever had to take a drug test, pre-employment or otherwise, then you’ve probably seen the name Quest Diagnostics a time or two. Quest recently published a report indicating that drug usage has been on a consecutive rise since 2013, and employers are finding it difficult to keep a full staff when they’re running out of people to hire.

In August of 2015, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal proposed a program wherein job applicants would be drug-tested straight out of the gate upon contacting the state’s Department of Labor to take advantage of the department’s recruiting services. Then, if a candidate tested positive for drugs, they would first receive drug counseling and then, when they were fully reformed, would be offered job placement services.

The program is predicted to be an expensive and moderately complicated one, but as Mark Butler, Georgia’s state labor commissioner noted, we have to consider the opposite problem. What happens when people are consistently turned away from jobs due to their drug histories? Companies still need the help, and potential workers still need a job.

Bottom line is that it’s in everyone’s best interests to make this program, or a similar program, work to the benefit of what can essentially be considered everyone in the nation. The last thing we want is for our unemployment rates to rise, or to end up in yet another recession because companies simply can’t meet the demands imposed upon them by a growing market.