Those who smoke marijuana know that it might show up on a drug test. But what about second hand smoke? If you are in the room or car with someone who is smoking marijuana, can the second hand smoke you inhale show up on a drug test? Many people worry about this, and with good reason. If you are at a social event where other people are partaking of the marijuana but you are not, should you be penalized for their choices? You might be if the second hand smoke shows up in a drug test. This article will give you the answer and offer some tips to limit your exposure to second hand smoke.
Will Second Hand Smoke Show up in Drug Test?
It is very unlikely that second hand smoke will make you fail a drug test. However, it can leave traces of the active chemical in the marijuana, tetrahydracannabinol, or THC for short. This amount of THC is not likely to alert most drug tests. In addition, most drug tests are highly sophisticated, and can avoid those false positives that might come from second hand smoke inhalation.
However, you can avoid the chance of it showing up at all by avoiding that second hand smoke as much as you can. Stay out of smoke-filled cars or unventilated rooms. If you are breathing in the smoke in an enclosed space, your levels might go high enough that a drug test would detect them. If you are in a room that is hazy from the smoke and you stay there for several hours, you could easily breathe in enough smoke to not only make you high, but enough that it will show up on a drug test – even if you never took a puff yourself.
However, simple exposure in a typical room of average size is not enough to create a positive result on the drug test. That’s because drug tests work to identify the drug, but they also identify the metabolites, which are created by your body after the drug goes through your system.
Follow-up Test: Hair Test
It’s a different story with the drug test on hair. In a hair drug test, second hand smoke can and usually will be detected. A positive hair tests typically requires a follow-up tests, during which the hair sample is washed before testing. This will remove any residue on the hair from the second hand smoke and test only for metabolites, not for the THC itself. If there are no metabolites in the hair, and the water used to wash the hair tests positive, then it is assumed you were in a room with second hand smoke, and you didn’t smoke the marijuana yourself.
Here’s a video that tells you more about second hand smoke and drug testing:
Woman Fired for Failing Drug Test Because of Second-hand Pot
There have been several cases of people being fired or denied jobs because they tested positive on a drug test, even though they never used drugs. Cheryl Hale of Washington lost a good job in a retail store, one she had held for 16 years. She was injured on the job, and as a result, had to submit to a standard-procedure drug test. The test came back positive, and she was fired.
She had subsequent tests to try and clear her name, proving that she did not smoke the marijuana. The blood test came back with trace amounts of THC, which meant she could have been under enough exposure that it had actually begun to affect her blood levels, too. In the end, her regular exposure to her husband’s habit of smoking marijuana meant that she lost her job. The result was a serious financial problem for the couple.
Watch the video for the story and relevant tips:
Advice and Suggestions
The moral of the story is this: If you can avoid second hand smoke, by all means, do so. Keep in mind that when you are exposed to second hand smoke, it could show up in your hair for a while, and it might also show up in swab tests. If you are exposed to second hand smoke, try to limit to the exposure to only a few minutes, if possible.
Another point to think about is the use of medical marijuana. If you are living with someone who uses marijuana for medical purposes, make sure you tell your employers this when you are called in for a drug test. This will alert them to the fact that the THC might be present in your hair, and that can help them rule out any false positives, or go another route with the testing, such as opting for urine tests or blood tests. But even so, keep in mind the story of the woman from Washington – the exposure was heavy enough that she had trace amounts of THC in her blood. If this is the case with you, make abundantly sure your employer knows that you live with someone who uses marijuana for medical reasons. You might have to provide documentation of that fact.