On April 20th, millions of people around the world celebrated an unofficial holiday, often known as “Marijuana Day.” While most don’t get a day off for this holiday, if you do ingest marijuana in participation and are subject to random drug tests, you run the risk of an extended amount of time off from work, in the form of discipline, corrective action, or unemployment.
Why does 420 represent marijuana?
First, a bit of history (or maybe lore). How many of you have been told, or believe that the number 420 represents marijuana use because the police code for marijuana possessions is “four twenty”? You, then, might be surprised to learn that the number’s origin can be traced back to a group of high-school students in the early 1970s. As it turns out, this group of students in California acquired a hand-drawn, rudimentary map, a treasure map of sorts, that supposedly showed a location of an abandoned marijuana farm.
The group was determined to find the farm and would meet at a set time, every day, after school to search for the lost crop. The time they set to meet every day? Have you guessed? That’s right. 4:20pm.
While details are a bit hazy, there are many sources that corroborate this account of the phrase’s beginnings.
What is 420 Day?
420 Day, or April 20th (4/20), is the day the counterculture uses to symbolize the ingestion of marijuana. It is a day that is supposed to be used for peaceful protests and for marijuana enthusiasts to elevate the awareness of their beliefs.
Hand-in-hand with protests and awareness comes the ingestion of marijuana on 4/20.
Regardless of your position on celebrating marijuana on April 20th, if you smoke it, eat it, or otherwise ingest it, it’s likely to show up in a drug screening (link).
If the company you work for does random drug tests or reasonable suspicion testing, you place yourself at elevated risk.
What are random drug tests?
Many companies have a drug policy that governs employees and employment with the company. This policy might be as simple as a page in the employee handbook or as comprehensive as a designation as a “Drug-Free Workplace.” Part of that policy could be that employees are subject to random drug tests as a condition of employment. These tests are usually held monthly or quarterly, and a random sampling of the employee population is selected to participate in the drug screening.
Here’s an example, if a company has 100 employees, conducts random drug testing quarterly, and has a sample rate of 25%, this implies that 25 employees will be chosen at random and tested over the period of a year meaning 6-7 people are tested each quarter.
So, does that mean that if you were selected last quarter as part of the drug screening that you will not be tested again until next year? Sorry, no. Each test and random sampling is “mutually exclusive” to the previous test. All employees are entered into the random selection each time the test occurs. Theoretically, but unlikely, you could get selected each time! The selection is random, using a scientifically validated random selection process, meaning you could be randomly chosen.
Are there alternatives to random drug tests?
Companies can, and should, build into their drug policies other types of drug tests. These include testing when there is reasonable suspicion of drug use at work or in a post-accident situation.
So, even if you show up at work still under the influence of, for example, smoking marijuana, you could be tested if your management has a reasonable suspicion that you have been using illicit drugs, based on behavior or physical evidence. There’s nothing random about this test so that even if not random selected you could still be tested.
Ultimately, as a responsible worker, you should understand that to pass a drug test at work, you should avoid ingesting any impairing substance that may negatively affect you while at work.
Is there really a Random Drug Tests Day?
Officially? No. And we’re certain that, much like the NFL field-goal star who scores from 60-yards on Sunday and is part of a performance-enhancing-drug screening on Monday, any sort of random drug test that occurs on the business day following 420 Day is ethical and truly random or your speech, appearance, behavior or odor provides an employer with reasonable suspicion.