Just imagine – you go to work one day and the boss tells you that you have been selected to have a random drug test.
You smile to yourself with quiet confidence know that you don’t drink, you don’t smoke and you don’t use any drugs outside of the occasional painkiller to relieve a headache. As you wait your turn in line, you overhear others talking nervously about what they hope doesn’t “still show up” on their test and how they heard about someone who tested positive because of second hand smoke. At that moment, you remember that you passed some youngsters smoking marijuana just this morning.
Your job could depend on the results of this test, how do you feel now? What thoughts would run through your mind? Would you panic or still feel confident that you will pass with flying colours?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports of a study undertaken to test the impact of second hand marijuana smoke or what is also termed as “contact high”. Twelve people sat together in a room without ventilation, for one hour while half of the group smoked marijuana. At the end of the hour, the heart rate of the non-smokers had marginally increased and some reported feeling “slightly buzzed or sleepy”. There was also some decline in their results in logic tests when compared with their performance before the conduct of the experiment. The experiment was repeated in a well-ventilated room and it is reported that there was “no change in the non-smokers’ heart rate or test performance, and they did not report any signs of a contact high”.
But, what about the drug test scenario? NIDA also reports of further studies, which have shown that after three hours in a well-ventilated space with people who casually smoked marijuana, non-smokers were found to have trace levels of THC in their urine, but not at a level to record a positive drug test. However, the same cannot be said for those who tested positive, immediately after spending one hour in an enclosed space with people who casually smoked marijuana.
The science therefore suggests that the likelihood of a non-smoker receiving a positive THC result in a drug test as a result of passing or even spending time in the presence of smokers is relatively low. The science also demonstrates that there second hand marijuana smoke does have some impact on the non-smoker and studies to determine the health effects on humans are ongoing.