The test was simple.
Twelve people (6 non-smokers, 6 smokers) enter a specially designed plexiglass room filed with marijuana smoke. Wearing protective jumpsuits, booties and goggles to keep their clothing clean, can you fail a drug test from second hand smoke from being exposed for one hour?
You may ask yourself, how can I fail a drug test if I didn’t smoke? I can’t get a DWI if I didn’t drink but was around someone drinking. Is it the same as if someone poured a beer over your head then claimed you had been drinking? How can I be blamed for something I didn’t do?
Can you fail a drug test from second hand smoke? YES!!
The longer answer is a little more complicated. Like alcohol, marijuana users develop a tolerance due to prolonged exposure. The people in this study varied in tolerance level and therefore showed different effects in the short run. Those who don’t smoke had memory and cognition impairment from being in the enclosed space with the smoke. The heavier smokers showed less but still some of these effects.
Now, this seems pretty obvious. Placing people in a enclosed fishbowl (or hotbox) room designed to magnify the effect for faster results should show an immediate reaction regardless of tolerance level. The plexiglass room was about 10′ X 13′ and had a specifically adjustable ventilation system allowing the controllers to change that at will. This has been the first comprehensive study on the ability to pass a drug test and the effects of marijuana since the 1980’s.
Johns Hopkins University is responsible for this examination. Since the 1980’s, marijuana has been cross-bred and tripled in potency on average. So regardless of tolerance level or previous exposure, being that much stronger since the last test, the marijuana used will affect the patients more. The point of the confined space was to simulate as if someone smoked in a closet, car or other sealed off location next to someone who was not smoking. This does not mean the non-smoker doesn’t smoke at all. This means that for the study they were not smoking but were not exposed to natural air.
The study concluded what we already knew and more. The obvious, people who smoke regularly would not pass a drug test. You think!? But what was fascinating is that due to the different levels of potency, ventilation and tolerance, even non-smokers could be at risk of failing a drug test the next day.
Based on how confined of a space, duration of exposure and potency of the marijuana smoked, the non smoker there may secondhand inhale enough to read as if they smoked very little. So, sitting in a ‘hotbox’ car might not be a smart place to be if you’re a non-smoker if you’re at risk of a random drug-testing!