Understanding Marijuana Cut-Off Levels

March 8, 2018

Drug Testing Articles


Marijuana Urine Drug Test: Know the Cut-Off

If you give your employees a urine drug test for marijuana, you should know the cut-off levels. Click here and find out what to look for.

Do you know the cut-off levels for a urine drug test?

If you’re testing employees for marijuana, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking at. You don’t want to unfairly punish employees due to not reading the information correctly.

If the situation calls for a urine drug test, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking at with this essential guide to marijuana cut-off levels. Read on to learn more!

What Is a Urine Drug Test Cut-Off?

The cut-off level is the point at which the test result goes from negative to positive. A cut-off level is important to prevent false positive results, while still accurately detecting drug use.

This means that negative samples can still contain the drug, just in a very low concentration that falls below the cut-off point. It may sound strange, but using a cut-off is standard practice in toxicology screenings.

The cut-off level is measured in nanograms per milliliter in a urine drug test. The test will read as negative or “not detected” if this number is below the cut-off, even if there was still a measurable presence of drugs.

The cut-off for a urine drug test is different than the cut-off for other forms of testing, such as a hair sample. This is because there are different factors in different types of testing, such as how long the test can measure a drug’s presence after consumption.

Why Do Cut-Offs Exist?

Cut-offs can get rid of false positives caused by secondhand exposure to drugs. For example, if someone is in an area where marijuana is being smoked, they might inhale just enough to register on a drug test, even if they didn’t smoke the drug themselves.

Sometimes, cut-off levels are also used to differentiate between drugs that were taken shortly before the test, and drugs that were taken a long time ago.

For example, at some jobs, testing is important to prevent intoxication at work. However, there may be no rule against marijuana consumption off the clock. A cut-off level helps ensure employees won’t get punished for what they do on their own time – only for if and when they show up to work under the influence.

Uses for a Urine Drug Test

Wondering if a urine drug test for marijuana is right for you? These tests have many different useful applications across industries.

1. Healthcare Reasons

Sometimes, a doctor will require a patient to take a drug test to rule out substance abuse issues – or to diagnose them so the patient can get treatment. These tests can also be used in emergency room settings so that the proper care can be given.

2. Employment Reasons

Employers often test possible employees before hiring them, especially if the industry calls for a drug-free staff. For example, someone who works as a truck driver or air traffic controller will need to be able to stay away from substances while they’re on the job.

Without testing, accidents can occur more often, causing major harm to a business’s reputation.

3. Rehab Success

Drug rehab centers often involve drug testing to ensure that patients stay clean and sober during their visit.

Although marijuana is not the kind of drug that people need rehab for, some centers require complete sobriety during the stay. A test with an accurate cut-off level can measure for substances consumed after rehab began, not before the client checked in.

4. Legal Reasons

People on legal probation may not be allowed to use substances of any kind. A probation officer can request random drug tests to ensure that you are meeting requirements if on probation or parole.

5. Protect Loved Ones

Sometimes, you may even use a urine drug test at home to help ensure the safety of a loved one. For example, maybe you’re supporting a family member in becoming sober. If they’re not in rehab, a home drug test can help ensure they’re still staying on track.

Urine Drug Test Types

There are two main types of urine tests that are commonly used. Let’s take a look at what they are.

1. Immunoassay

This test is a very affordable option, and tends to give fast results.

However, the immunoassay test is also known for giving false positives, which can cause obvious issues.

2. Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS)

This test is often used together with the immunoassay test. This helps ensure accuracy, since immunoassay tests can have false positive results.

If the first test is positive, a GC/MS test is often given next to confirm the results. However, the GC/MS test costs more, and takes longer to provide results. It doesn’t often give false positives, though, so this test is important for certainty.

Either test can give a false negative result, and sometimes these tests don’t capture drug use on the same day as the test. While no test is perfect, a combination of these two can be fairly accurate in most cases.

Administering the Test

It’s important to administer the test properly for accurate results. The cut-off level is only useful if the test has been given the right way, so the results aren’t affected.

1. Provide Specimen Cup

First, the person taking the test is given a specimen cup for the urine. They’ll also be required to empty their pockets and leave personal belongings in another room, to prevent tampering.

2. Accompaniment

Most of the time, leaving personal belongings behind is enough to make sure the person doesn’t tamper with the test.

But in rare cases when tampering is likely, a professional may be required to come into the bathroom with them while they take the test. In this case, the reason for supervision should be thoroughly explained.

3. Sample

The person taking the test will clean themselves with a moist cloth so the test isn’t contaminated. Then they can urinate into the cup and place the lid on it.

4. Temperature Measurement

The urine sample provided is often measured to make sure the temperature is in the expected range – this can help prevent tampering.

5. Send for Testing

Now, the sample can be packaged and sent off for testing. If the sample is above the set cut-off level, further steps will be taken.

Do You Need to Provide a Urine Drug Test?

Cut-off levels are crucial for accurate drug tests. With this understanding, you can properly test people without false results.

Do you have what you need to administer drug tests properly? If not, contact us today to learn what we have to offer.

 

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