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Anyone know the nature of the pre-employment drug screen/physical?


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#1 Guest_TravelinChef_*

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Posted 23 March 2008 - 10:05 PM

Howdy! I recently applied for a job with Amtrak, and I've been told the job is mine pending a pre-employment drug test, and physical examination. I live in California, and I'm a medical marijuana patient, so I do smoke marijuana (I stopped smoking as soon as I heard I had the job, but I'm sure I would still test positive). So I guess my first question is Will Amtrak accept my doctors recommendation that I use medical cannabis? I'm leaning toward no on that one. My second question is does anyone know how the physical exam/drug test is conducted? Are they at the same facility, or different? Is there someone watching over your shoulder while you urinate? Anyone know what lab they send you to for the test?

If anyone has been through all this with Amtrak I'd love to hear from ya. And BTW the position is LSA, so Im not going to be driving the train, or in a position where my previous marijuana use might put people in danger...

Cheers!

#2 jackal

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Posted 23 March 2008 - 10:54 PM

I think USDOT regulations would trump a doctor's note. I'm not sure what the regs are, but in my experience with the Alaska Railroad, I don't recall any exemptions being made for any reason. DOT regs are pretty strict about drug use.

I don't use any drugs, but from what I understand, marijuana clears out of the bloodstream pretty quickly. You may end up not testing positive... (Then again, there's a drug which stays in your system for 30 days...maybe pot does...as I said, I'm pretty inexperienced...)
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#3 Guest_Guest_Yerry_*_*

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Posted 23 March 2008 - 11:51 PM

I've spent the past 15+ years running/judging a middle/high school academic tournament, from local to national level, and I get asked constantly variations of "How do you look for or catch ______ type of cheating?" My standard answer(s) rotate between "Why do you want to know?" and "Why would I ever tell you? I think we can all figure out how that applies here.

Summertime, when (of course) I'm not teaching, I have a fill-in job that requires drug screening. Pretty serious, expensive tests by a huge company known nation-wide as "squeaky clean". Two things I've noticed:

First, while nobody watched/watches me potty, opportunities to get rid of bad whiz are zero. There's no opportunity to stash a clean sample, no place to put a bad sample, no place to dilute, ruin or exchange a bad sample. Plus, come donation time, they don't always ask for the same type of sample they mentioned over the phone-- and even upon arrival.

Second, I've been told several times per year by new employees (who had been putting off their tests) the past eight years about their plans to somehow pass the test. OD'ing on iron tablets (even filings in one case). Massive vitamin intake. Even [i]pounds]/i] broccoli to mask their urine. No matter what their plans were, the results came out the same: I never saw them again.

One question I have: just exactly how legit is this post? Being a former Californian, I'm wondering why such worry is even necessary! From what I know, the California "medicinal marijuana" law only allows use for such conditions that a routine physical would prevent you from working for Amtrak in the first place.

Also, I keep reading the same old song and dance here over and over and over: the reason Amtrak service employees make some five times more than what I make is because they're specially trained in emergency assistance and procedures in case of a wreck. Since I don't question this training, or the need for it, I'm not so sure a stoner as a LSA is such a good idea.

Finally, what are the odds of Amtrak OR its various unions going along with the idea that some operating people have to be clean and some don't? I immediately stopped complaining about my annual drug screening once I saw my boss, her boss, and his boss all line up for it too.

#4 Guest_Travelinchef_*

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 12:02 AM

I've spent the past 15+ years running/judging a middle/high school academic tournament, from local to national level, and I get asked constantly variations of "How do you look for or catch ______ type of cheating?" My standard answer(s) rotate between "Why do you want to know?" and "Why would I ever tell you? I think we can all figure out how that applies here.

Summertime, when (of course) I'm not teaching, I have a fill-in job that requires drug screening. Pretty serious, expensive tests by a huge company known nation-wide as "squeaky clean". Two things I've noticed:

First, while nobody watched/watches me potty, opportunities to get rid of bad whiz are zero. There's no opportunity to stash a clean sample, no place to put a bad sample, no place to dilute, ruin or exchange a bad sample. Plus, come donation time, they don't always ask for the same type of sample they mentioned over the phone-- and even upon arrival.

Second, I've been told several times per year by new employees (who had been putting off their tests) the past eight years about their plans to somehow pass the test. OD'ing on iron tablets (even filings in one case). Massive vitamin intake. Even [i]pounds]/i] broccoli to mask their urine. No matter what their plans were, the results came out the same: I never saw them again.

One question I have: just exactly how legit is this post? Being a former Californian, I'm wondering why such worry is even necessary! From what I know, the California "medicinal marijuana" law only allows use for such conditions that a routine physical would prevent you from working for Amtrak in the first place.

Also, I keep reading the same old song and dance here over and over and over: the reason Amtrak service employees make some five times more than what I make is because they're specially trained in emergency assistance and procedures in case of a wreck. Since I don't question this training, or the need for it, I'm not so sure a stoner as a LSA is such a good idea.

Finally, what are the odds of Amtrak OR its various unions going along with the idea that some operating people have to be clean and some don't? I immediately stopped complaining about my annual drug screening once I saw my boss, her boss, and his boss all line up for it too.



Thanks for the info, and I understand the concern. Like I said, I stopped smoking immediately when I found out I may have the job, and I have no problem continuing to abstain. I'm just pretty sure that it wont have all left my system yet. I do know of some people here in Ca that have tested positive, and their employer accepted a medical marijuana reccomendation, but none of those people where employed by the railroad, and I don't think those were pre-employment tests. I'm 100 percent serious about this, my medical condition is not something that would show up in a basic physical, I do see the moral issues with cheating/putting one over on a potential employer, but I have stopped smoking, and wont start again if I can get past this hurdle.

Cheers!

#5 Guest_Amtrak OBS Employee gone f_*

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 12:03 AM

Howdy! I recently applied for a job with Amtrak, and I've been told the job is mine pending a pre-employment drug test, and physical examination. I live in California, and I'm a medical marijuana patient, so I do smoke marijuana (I stopped smoking as soon as I heard I had the job, but I'm sure I would still test positive). So I guess my first question is Will Amtrak accept my doctors recommendation that I use medical cannabis? I'm leaning toward no on that one. My second question is does anyone know how the physical exam/drug test is conducted? Are they at the same facility, or different? Is there someone watching over your shoulder while you urinate? Anyone know what lab they send you to for the test?

If anyone has been through all this with Amtrak I'd love to hear from ya. And BTW the position is LSA, so Im not going to be driving the train, or in a position where my previous marijuana use might put people in danger...

Cheers!



If you recieve a standard drug test (urine sample) and physical, and test negative for the drug test you should be alright. Usually marijuana will clear out of your bloodstream within 30-45 days. However, there is such a ting as a "hair sample" drug test. If they take a hair sample in addition to the urine sample, then the marijuana will be visble for up to 10 months or more. And most likely it would cause you to test positive.

In any event if you test positive, doctors' note or no doctors' note, you may no longer be offered the job (depending on the level of medical marijuana in your system if you have a note)! And even at that, chances are real good you will no longer be offered the job at all. Amtrak may look at you as a huge liabilty risk. Sorry, the railroads frown on drugs and alcohol even more nowdays. Good luck to you... let us know how you make out with the job op.

OBS gone freight...

#6 Guest_Guest_Yerry_*_*

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 12:18 AM

While I'm still up, I also want to clear up (and also apologize for) what OBVIOUSLY looks like me calling you a stoner. Bad choice of words, but I should have done a better job of making that an example that DIDN'T involve you.

But I have no idea what a hair test would reveal; one of the Summers I had had a LOT of dental work done beforehand, and therefore a LOT of painkillers, but when I asked about it I was told, "they're just looking for street drugs". except I thought that the stuff I was taking was so darned effective that it WOULD be considered a "street drug". . . . .

#7 PhilaBurbTom

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 07:04 AM

THC, the active agent in pot is fat soluable and processed through the liver. The metabolites are excreted through feces and urine. This binding to fat is what causes pot residue to last longer than water soluable drugs like cocaine and others.

Most urine drug screens are in an enclosed bathroom by yourself with a toilet but no water supply (outside valve shut-off). Usually there is an artificial coloring in the toilet water to avoid that source as a possible dilutent to the sample. You are instructed not to flush. The temperature of the sample is recorded immediatly after exiting the room and must be within a certain parameter close to body temperature, The sample is then sealed in your presence and secured usually in a locked refrigerator until picked up or tested.

#8 stlouielady

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 09:48 AM

My experiences with drug testing has been similar. With a typical urine test, it should clear out of your system within 30-45 days. With a hair sample, I have been told that they can go back into your past for as long as your hair is (could be several months in some cases); whether this is right or wrong, I have no idea. This information mirrors the same stuff that you have been told by others. I know a former co-worker that smoked marijuana in October, and still tested positive for it (hair test) in February; they were subsequently dismissed.
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#9 MrFSS

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 10:13 AM

I'm a medical marijuana patient, so I do smoke marijuana (I stopped smoking as soon as I heard I had the job, but I'm sure I would still test positive).


I guess my question is, if you smoke it for medical reasons and have stopped, do you really need to smoke it for medical reasons in the first place? I take blood pressure medicine. If I stop taking it I could die! So, I don't stop taking it for any reason.

#10 VentureForth

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 11:34 AM

Interesting segway on the legitimacy of medical marijuana. My first thought was, Though MedPot is OK in CA, it's still trumped by Federal Law. You may be OK if you're employed by Amtrak California and never leave the state, but they are right in terminating your application (or your employment if you get hired, even with the waiver) if you work on the interstate system. Last three jobs I had required you to take a test within 72-hours of an offer or else your application was terminated.

Another question you had that wasn't answered is what facility do they use? Most employers use third party labs, like Quest Diagnostics. They are very thorough and tight - they don't want to get sued for tainted results.

Here's another question that I gotta ask - I'm sure on the application, it asked if you use any sort of medicines or have any medical conditions. This would have been the time to make your disclosure. Most employers get much more upset discovering something that conflicts with the original application for employment than if there was disclosure, even embarassing, with an explanation up front.

For example, I got a ticket about 10 years ago for going 70 in a 45. It was a big deal - a $155 fine (a lot back the '90s). Well, my application required that I disclose all guilty convictions that resulted in a $150 fine or more. This qualified. I put it down. I got the job and was subsequently told that if I hadn't and they found it on my driving record, I would have been terminated immediately.

This is one of those situations where the adage "Asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission" may not be the best choice.

Edited by VentureForth, 24 March 2008 - 11:43 AM.

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#11 Guest_travelinchef_*

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 01:54 PM

Lots of good info here guys! I appreciate it, and thanks for the clarification on the stoner bit. I'm hoping it's going to be a urine test, as I've been growing my hair for the past 8 years, and if they can find anything in that time frame im screwed. I've been looking in to the way the body metabolizes THC, and I'm really not sure if I'll be clean by the time I have to test. On the one hand I'm a pretty small guy (5'10, 130) amd have a very high metabolism, but on the other hand I was a moderate smoker up untill a week ago. At this point I'm trying to drink alot of water, run a couple miles a day, and I'm taking a 5 day detox kit (which I hear is a bunch of crap, but its worth a shot.) I went today, and bought a home THC test kit so I'll be able to test myself before I go in, and atleast know beforehand.
Oh, and I was recommended medical marijuana for insomnia. I really don't do well with sleeping pills and the such, but cannabis seems to be the perfect substitute. So while it may be very uncomfortable for me to stop medicating, it's not like I'll die without it, I'll just be awake. :D

#12 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 10:35 PM

Here's the thing. This is a weak employment market. Unemployment is danged high.

Now, this is an employer's market. Amtrak has 50 applicants in the possible column, and you have pot in you. Why in gods-own-earth are you going to be given the job? I've been hired in spite of my issues (primarily temper and apparent disdain for humanity as a whole- you'd have to meet me to grasp what I am talking about) because I happen to be damned good at analysis. At certain types of analysis, particularly ones that require assimilation of a several volumes of information, I am probably one of the best you can get (if I say so myself).

Since my skill (which is how I make whatever money I happen to have, by the way) is unique, rare, and expert, people are willing to accept me as an annoying, arrogant, curt, and high-strung individual. Because they need me, specifically, to do a task. You are looking at a job as LSA. Its a tough job, but it requires nothing individually special. You need to be CS oriented, relatively bright, and willing to work your tuchus off. There are plenty of people like that...

Why pick the person who uses pot?

Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#13 Guest_Amtrak OBS Employee gone f_*

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 02:15 AM

You are looking at a job as LSA. Its a tough job, but it requires nothing individually special.



I agree with you 100% on everything except this! You could have left that remark out. It does in fact require a special trained & in-tune individual or a highly flexible individual to work that job! So unless you have worked the job as an LSA, you should stop now before you cross the line. I would like to see you do the job of an LSA or as a trainman for the next thirty years, and see if you sing to the same tune!

And yes, I regard you as a highly intelligent individual, and respect your views. But at times (and even you have admitted it in this posting), based on your input here on the boards, however, you do come across with an arrogant and curt mindset at times! And IMHO that tends to erode ones creditbilty over time. If you think otherwise, come to work with us at CSX as a trainman with the same attitude, and we'll eat you alive! OBS gone freight....

#14 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 07:12 PM

Don't read this as a dis or anything like that, OBS. I have a great deal of respect for most of Amtraks OBS staff. I'm just saying, it isn't a position for which you need to overlook notable, against-company-policy problems in order to find a suitable person.

A good majority of people I have met have the ability to do the jobs required of an LSA. Very very few people I know have what it takes to be a good LSA.

Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#15 Guest_Amtrak OBS Employee gone f_*

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 12:50 AM

Don't read this as a dis or anything like that, OBS. I have a great deal of respect for most of Amtraks OBS staff. I'm just saying, it isn't a position for which you need to overlook notable, against-company-policy problems in order to find a suitable person.

A good majority of people I have met have the ability to do the jobs required of an LSA. Very very few people I know have what it takes to be a good LSA.



And these my friend, are now a couple of points at which I really can't argue with you about. I hope I wasn't being too harsh, but I just wanted you to be mindful of how your initial statement appeared to me. Text has a way of appearing different to the reader than what the author may have intended it being it is not easy to express the tone or the intensity of the one's point. I am more than willing to accept folks for who they are. If I couldn't do that, then I would have already been "ground up" beyond reconignition here at this railroad! Anyway, my point is now that you have worded (or in this case clarified) your response a little differently, I can comprehend it better allowing me to see your point more clearly!

I know many LSAs as well, but I agree with you with the fact there are very few who are "really good" LSAs. I do know a few really good ones, though. Sadly, most do not last as they get promoted, find a different craft all together, or quit and shift to a different field. Take care and looking forward to your continued input here on the boards.
OBS gone freight....



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