2022Drug TestingMarijuana

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On April 7, 2022, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – published a pair of notices in the Federal Register proposing changes to drug testing policies for federal workers for marijuana and other illicit drugs.

The notices clarified that having a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana or any other Schedule I drug is not a valid excuse for a positive drug test. The notices also propose revised language that would clarify that passive exposure to, or accidental ingestion of, any illicit drugs is not a valid excuse for a positive drug test.

The current policies from SAMHSA on urine drug testing focus on marijuana as the one controlled substance for which passive exposure like secondhand smoke or ingestion of infused food products is “not a legitimate medical explanation” for a positive test result for Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).

However, one new notice from SAMHSA proposed that passive exposure to a drug, like secondhand marijuana smoke, or ingestion of food products containing drug products, like marijuana or poppy seeds containing codeine and/or morphine, is not a legitimate medical explanation for a positive drug test result.

In another new notice for oral fluid drug testing, SAMHSA proposed a similar expansion from the current policy, which states that passive exposure to a drug like secondhand marijuana smoke or ingestion of food products containing marijuana is not a legitimate medical explanation for a positive drug test result.

The new proposed language from SAMHSA reads that passive exposure to a drug, such as exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke, or ingestion of food products containing a drug, like products containing marijuana, is not a legitimate medical explanation for a positive drug test result.

Current policies include all drugs with passive exposure but only marijuana with infused foods. Under the revision, both categories of positive tests would apply to all illegal controlled substances while citing marijuana as an example. A 60-day public comment period on the proposals is open until June 6, 2022.

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