U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Proposes Changes to Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Proposes Changes to Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs

On April 7, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed in a pair of rules published in the Federal Register changes to the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. The notices of proposed rules were published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the HHS.

The first rule would revise the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Oral Fluid (OFMG) published in the Federal Register on October 25, 2019, while the second rule would revise the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Urine (UrMG) published in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017.

The October 25, 2019, notice established guidelines for the inclusion of oral fluid specimens in the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, effective January 1, 2020. The January 23, 2017, notice revised the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, 73 FR 71858 (November 25, 2008) for urine testing.

The two notices proposed on April 7, 2022, would clarify that having a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana or any other Schedule I drug is not a valid excuse for a positive drug test, and also proposed revised language that would clarify that passive exposure to, or accidental ingestion of, any illicit drugs is not a valid excuse for a positive drug test.

In the first rule proposed by the HHS for oral fluid testing, the HHS suggested expansion from the current policy, which states that passive exposure to a drug – such as secondhand marijuana smoke or ingestion of food products containing marijuana – would not be a legitimate medical explanation for a positive drug test result.

The new proposed language from the HHS would expand on the current policy and state that passive exposure to a drug – such as exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke, or ingestion of food products containing a drug, like products containing marijuana – would not be a legitimate medical explanation for a positive drug test result.

The current policies of the HHS on urine drug testing focus on marijuana as the one controlled substance for which passive exposure – such as secondhand smoke or ingestion of infused food products – would not be a legitimate medical explanation for a positive test result for Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), an active component of marijuana.

However, the HHS proposed in the second rule that passive exposure to a drug – such as secondhand marijuana smoke, or ingestion of food products containing drug products, like marijuana or poppy seeds containing codeine and/or morphine – would not be a legitimate medical explanation for a positive drug test result.

Current policies include all drugs with passive exposure but only marijuana with infused foods. Under the revision, both categories of positive tests would apply to all illegal controlled substances while citing marijuana as an example. A 60-day public comment period on the proposals is open until June 6, 2022. To submit a comment, click here

ClearStar is a leading HR-technology company specializing in background checks and medical screening services. ClearStar offers drug and clinical testing that is fully integrated with major laboratories and features real-time collection status updates. To learn more about drug and clinical testing, contact ClearStar today.

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    Thomas Ahearn - News Blog Editor and Public Relations Specialist

    Thomas Ahearn is our News Blog Editor and Public Relations Specialist. Our News Blog provides information about the background check industry to employers, HR professionals, recruiters, and consumers. ClearStar's News covers a variety of topics including Ban the Box, credit reports, criminal records, data breaches, drug testing, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), E-Verify, Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), HR technology, identity theft and fraud, jobs reports, lawsuits involving screening, Millennial workforce, privacy issues, social media background checks, and workplace violence.

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