Can I Refuse a Drug Test? (2023)

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by Morris Green 7 Comments

Last Updated on November 13, 2019 by Morris Green

Refusing to take a drug test is much like refusing to take a breathalyzer; it’s your right to say no, but just taking the test is usually the better option. The question you pose shouldn’t be whether you can refuse a drug test, but instead whether refusal is a smart decision.

Drug tests are ordered for many reasons. If you’re starting a new job, your employer will likely request a drug screening. If you’re working, your employer might ask for a random test. In some cases, even your doctor may request a drug test for medical reasons. The point is the request to take a drug test can crop up at any time for any number of reasons.

Can I Say “No”?

Here’s the simple answer: Yes, you can say no to a drug test. However, the consequences could be far worse than simply taking it.

According to, most people feel drug testing is unfair, which is why their initial reaction is to say no. If we were to engage in a philosophical or political argument, then there are plenty of reasons to refuse a drug test in protest. But let’s look at the situation from the requester’s viewpoint.

When an Employer Requests a Drug Test

Drugs affect the brain in negative ways. They lessen productivity, change a person’s behavior, and almost always contribute to rash and unsafe decision making.

Imagine sitting at your desk in the office. You’re hammering out the day’s agenda only to be interrupted by a commotion just outside your workspace. It sounds like a scuffle. You leave your desk to investigate, only to find a co-worker engaged in a fight to the death with the shared office printer, and the printer isn’t winning.

Your co-worker’s behavior is outlandish. In an attempt to subdue them, punches are thrown, and other co-workers are injured.

Now imagine the reason for the attack on the printer was drugs. Your co-worker was high at the office and hallucinating. Not only did their drug use cause property damage, but it resulted in a major disruption and physical harm.

(Video) What Is a Refusal to Test and its Consequences?

Although this situation may read like something from Office Space, it aptly represents what can happen if an employee is using drugs. Their use puts everyone and everything at risk. As such, employers request drug screenings prior to and sometimes during employment to ensure the workplace remains safe for everyone.

The Consequences of Saying “No”

The unfortunate reality is that saying no to a drug test automatically raises suspicion. Why did the person refuse? Do they know they’ll test positive? Are they hiding something? Refusal to take a drug test can result in termination of employment, and refusal to take a court-ordered screening could result in legal charges.

The best course of action is to take the test. Although a moderate inconvenience, it contributes to a safer work environment and shows good faith. If your reason for refusing a drug test is because of a drug addiction problem, then it’s time to seek professional help.


Can I Refuse a Drug Test? (2)

About Morris Green

Morris manages the day-to-day operations of Absolute Advocacy, ensuring clients have what they need when they schedule appointments and attend classes and treatment. Morris specializes in the business and technical aspects of running a Mental Health and Substance Abuse treatment agency including web and content strategy.
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Reader Interactions


  1. Can I Refuse a Drug Test? (3)David says

    One cannot consent under coercion or duress. “You take the test, OR ELSE.”

    Then there is the issue of presumption of guilt. Very offensive.
    Then making an employee prove their innocence in a demeaning way.

    “If they have nothing to hide, then what’s the problem?” FALSE POSITIVES.

    And if they do have something to hide, an employee is coerced into self-incrimination.

    (Video) Can I Refuse A Work Drug Test? | STV Explainer

    Everything about the drug war and testing is unAmerican in the extreme. This violates everyone’s most fundamental rights across the board. Employers should just respect their employees, and not create a hostile work environment.

    If somebody isn’t doing their job right, an employer has the right to let them go, and if you have a good employee, then an employer shouldn’t bother them in the first place.

    My problem is that I’m old enough to remember when employees were not treated like prisoners. There was a mutual respect between good employers and good employees.

    I’m an employer now, and I respect my employees. No buts. No drug screening for another party to profit at the expense of me and my good workers.


  2. Can I Refuse a Drug Test? (4)matt says

    Very well stated. Laws definitely need to be changed and test procedures need to be updated. What one does on their own time is that one’s business. A weekend pot smoker is harming nobody and is no dangerous to anyone. Current test procedures don’t differentiate between someone stoned out of their mind or someone who smoked a bowl two weeks ago while on vacation. The testing protocol at some companies is more akin to entrapment than “workplace safety”. For example, “random” UA for someone returning from a 3 week vacation who the supervisor dislikes for personal reasons


  3. Can I Refuse a Drug Test? (5)Sam says

    (Video) Off Duty Cop Refuses Mandatory Drug Test in Front of Supervisors!!!

    If marijuana is the drug you’re alluding to in your hypothetical situation, I can assure you that marijuana has never caused anyone to hallucinate and get in a fight with a printer at their office. Or elsewhere for that matter.


  4. Can I Refuse a Drug Test? (6)Blayke says

    This is what I was feeling. I had a great job lined up and I smoked some CBD with trace amounts of THC, mind you I also smoke 420, but regardless, it doesn’t hinder my ability to perform in the workplace. I got the call a few days later telling me that I tested positive and they recommend me see an addiction counselor or whatever. I was so angry. I tried to explain, and they would not listen to my reasoning. I don’t have a medical card for it so they don’t care.
    I am not a dumbass stoner! I have an educational background, I am intelligent and capable. What I do in MY down time is in MY discretion.

    Quite frankly, I use it at home, AFTER work, to wind down from a long day. I have an eating disorder, and it helps me find that long lost appetite. I also have anxiety, depression, ADHD- all things that this product helps alleviate. I do not understand why companies are still drug testing for marijuana because SO MANY people are using it medicinally rather than recreationally, that it doesn’t make sense why it is still considered such a “heinous” drug. It doesn’t need to be, it needs to be moved down the list from a S.1 to a S.2 or 3. It is NOT a “drug” that hurts you. The psychoactive chemicals, sure, they make you feel different – but they do not, and should not, be impairing you so badly that you suffer in the workplace.

    I have a hard time understanding why this law was put into place to begin with. Alcohol is far greater a risk for people to become abusive with (abusing others, and abusing it in general) than Marijuana will ever be.

    It is disappointing that we cannot protect ourselves by simply saying No. It hurts us to say no, but will hurt us to say yes. There is no winning.


  5. Can I Refuse a Drug Test? (7)Raiden says

    (Video) Can I Refuse Random Drug Testing in the Workplace?

    Failing a drug test at an engineering job will get you flagged and turned away from engineering firms for 5 years. “No” is a MUCH better option in this case.


  6. Can I Refuse a Drug Test? (8)Lee says

    I have a question; my son took a pre employment UA at DISA. He did not fail but well it’s a long story, he gave a sample but the women refused it. Now DISA is telling him tht even if he completes everything they want him, he will NEVER be able to go back to a “zero tolerance” facility. My question is, can they do this? Can they truly stop a man from working like that??


  7. Can I Refuse a Drug Test? (9)Ray says

    This just happened son as well disa tried to bring a security officer to strip search him and the nurse he simply walked out even though his sample was at 94 degrees she the nurse felt it should have been higher temperature even though speciman is required to be 90 to 100 …is this legal and now is flagged from all disa facilities..


    (Video) Refusals To Drug Test - How To Recognize & Handle Them

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