Drug Testing Laws In California: Everything We Know!

Drug Testing Laws In California: Everything We Know!


California law allows the employer to conduct urine, hair, nail, saliva drug tests for pre-employment, circumstantial, random, and post-accident drug testing. 

The most common drug tests used by employers in California is the 5 panel Urine Drug Test.

For comprehensive and adulteration-check drug tests, the drug test of choice is the 10 panel adulteration all-in-one drug test kit.

Learn more about the various drug testing laws in California and what happens when you fail a drug test in CA. 

Table of contents:

CPS/Child protective services drug testing laws in California

According to California law, everyone must report to the Child Protective Services if they encounter or suspect any danger or abuse to the child. Suppose the CPS believes that the child lives in an unsafe environment that includes parental drug abuse, failure to provide adequate care, unhealthy food, medical care, physical abuse, strain their nature, etc.

In that case, the caseworker might mandate a drug test.

Suppose CPS determines that the child cannot stay with the Family Preservation and Support Services, foster care is arranged in the most family-like setting, consistent with the good and best interests of the child.

How does the CPS drug test work in California?

  • CPS investigators conduct a drug test either with your consent or the court order. The agency requires drug tests for parents who have lost their child due to addiction issues.
  • Sometimes, they might also conduct random drug tests and put that down as a situation for parents to get back their children.
  • The CPS or the social service agency in California receives and investigates child abuse and neglect cases and assists the families for their children's safety and care. They also offer numerous other services connected to child welfare.
  • A certified lab should confirm the drug test results along with the verification of MRO and stated permissible in court. A caseworker may drug test the parent within two days with the permission of the court.
  • Drug testing policies might vary from state to state, and scrutiny takes place per California state law. CPS makes informed judgments based on the drug test results with regard to family support services, child removal, family reunion, or parental rights cessation.
  • CPS may not render adequate data to confirm the allegations of child abuse or neglect.

What type of drug tests does CPS use?

It is said that 90% of the time, Child Protective Services (CPS) use Urine Drug tests for drug screening. Initially, CPS conducts a urine drug test for screening and confirmation tests. They may collect a saliva swab sample or hair samples to drug test for further clarification.

  • Urine Drug Screening: This type of testing primarily relies on urine samples sent and tested in the laboratory. Periodical urine testing will help verify whether the patients stay away from consuming drugs and their components.
  • Saliva Drug Test: A swab is used to collect saliva from your inner cheeks of the mouth. The tester analyzes the specimen to identify any illicit drugs or alcoholic substances in the body within a few hours of consumption. This method is effective for all illegal drugs except weed, reflecting on the tests only after 10 hours of its intake.
  • The CPS caseworker does random drug testing to assure the child's safety if the parent or guardian has been regularly involved in drug treatment camps or detoxification programs. The list of tested illegal drugs includes mental health medications, intoxication drugs, therapeutic drugs (similar to painkillers, other prescription drugs), and other synthetic herbal intoxicants (identical to synthetic weed).

The best option for CPS hair follicle drug test in California

CPS can conduct a urine test, swab test, or blood test. But in some cases, there are chances that you might be asked to provide hair samples for the hair drug test.

A hair follicle test can be performed with a one ½-inch hair sample. It furnishes whether the patient has consumed any form of drugs or prescription in the last 90 days. A hair follicle screening can disclose the presence of drugs that includes COC, 6-diacetylmorphine, AMP, MAMP, MMJ, Codeine, and PCP. It may also find oxymorphone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and hydromorphone.

The best option for the CPS hair follicle drug test in California is to use a PDT-90 hair follicle testing kit that helps you test for drugs personally before going for the original hair drug test.

Newborn drug testing laws in California

Under California legislation, 1990; it is against the law for a children’s services agency to take a newborn baby from the mother solely based on a single, positive drug test. Pregnant women who use drugs are in a complicated situation in handling the thought of being charged on drugs.

The law requires hospitals to inspect the mother's health to determine if the baby is at any form of risk before calling children’s services authorities.

Anyhow, the medical professional cannot perform newborn drug testing without the consent of the mother or a warrant. Article 4. of the Perinatal Health Care places a strong emphasis on providing a supporting hand and intervention for new mothers experiencing substance abuse. They conduct an assessment to determine the level of risk to the newborn from the parents on time of discharge and returning home.

Pre-employment drug testing laws in California

California courts have validated an employer’s right to require their potential employees to undergo a drug test as a condition of employment.

The company cannot impose pre-employment drug screening on selective candidates based on suspicions or specific characteristics.

Individuals undergoing drug tests should understand that your employer has the right to withhold employment for a positive drug test.

If you turn out positive for MMJ, and you submit a legal prescription for medical MMJ, you will be fine and likely be considered for employment by that particular organization. The Supreme court does not make it compulsory for employers to hire people who are taking MMJ.

Do Teachers get drug tested in California?

California public schools require their teachers to undergo a pre-hire drug test before employment. There may not be random drug testing for teachers. Under the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act, any employer that receives federal funding must operate a drug-free workplace or risk losing federal funding.

As California had made the medical prescription of MMJ and weed legal, there might not be a more significant impact if the drug test identifies the presence of such substances due to medication.

Drugs above a certain threshold are considered illegal, and there might be chances that the school may not hire you. Learn about drug cut off levels and about drugs in detail. Be informed or you may risk your career as a teacher.

Companies or agencies that drug test in California

  • Safe way- All Safeway marts do compulsory drug testing. Oral Drug Tests are administered during your interview with the District recruiter before employment.
  • Walmart- It is one of the greatest retail giants that have extended its branches in many parts of the United States. Walmart conducts random drug tests for the new hires and runs a background check as per their policy guidelines.
  • Albertsons- The Albertsons do random drug tests during the pre-hire period. They also perform drug tests on the occurrence of an accident. They use mouth swabs to perform an oral examination.
  • Lowe’s- This is a well-established American retail company with its specialization in home improvement.  Lowe’s prioritize mouth swab tests for the pre-employment candidates. They have a strict drug testing policy to conduct random drug tests and post-accident drug tests for their employees.
  • Walgreens- They perform random drug tests if there is a suspicion of someone snatching controlled medicines. You may undergo your drug test at the beginning or before employment. Once after hiring, they will never drug test you.

Top 10 jobs in California that do not require a drug test

Nearly 56% of American employers still require job candidates to take pre-employment drug tests for THC and MMJ. Not all places require alcohol or drug tests for getting into jobs.

Retail stores

Retail stores hardly drug test their employees and the new hires. Many large retail stores across California don’t have strict terms on drug-free workplace policies.

Real estate agent

Employers in the real estate sector don’t require drug testing. The job description is simple. You get paid a reasonable commission from the sale of properties. Thus you will be legally classified as a contractor (part-time) rather than a full-time employee. Drug screening policies are not a thing to worry about in these jobs.

Beauty sector

Beauty salons are another region where employees aren’t forcefully tested for drugs. The employer is not interested to know about employees' drug history or medical prescription. Some of the unique jobs in this sector include nail technicians, makeup artists, hairstylists, etc.

Technology sector

In a field where expertise, creativity, innovation, and thinking outside the box are encouraged, there is no need for employers to drug test their employees, including mobile app developers, computer programmers, web designers, coders, animators, and IT consultants.

Design studios

This sector is the scope for people with designing skills because it does not conduct a drug test. People who are interested in creating beautiful infrastructure can initiate their career as interior designers.

More tech-savvy people can focus on becoming graphic designers, game designers, etc. However, the way you go with skills in designing things, you’ll always be safe from archaic drug testing.


It is a known fact that success brings many perks once you move up the ladder and become the boss. No person will be questioning if you have got PCP or THC in your system. The second case is you don’t even have to be the boss of a company, but finding a job at the higher management level in an organization would work.


Some big restaurant chains, such as Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill, don’t perform a background check. A restaurant manager can earn a considerable income for a year without providing a urine sample or a blood sample.


Photographers are independent idealist jobs who tend to work on their will and have zero necessity to undergo a drug test. The freedom of exercising things on own perspective is always entirely satisfactory, and no big deal on giving a second thought for screening processes.


Many jobs are paying reasonably high that don’t drug test in the engineering sector, which is expected when technical innovations are more critical than conservatism.

Engineering jobs are also very well demonstrated among the top ten percent, with education in each engineering field will usually earn more worthy a year.


Working on flexible timing is a dream job for souls who love independence and freedom. And there are some great freelance opportunities like bloggers, content creators, video editors, etc.

They don't have to submit to drug testing to please the clients. As a freelancer, you will not be an employee of a company but simply a contractor who delivers the work as per the client's wish. The clients won’t be interested in getting to know what substances you consume in your free time. Companies need to know about your previous work experience and email address for communication.

California Employer Drug testing laws

California laws do not have specific drug testing protocols that urge employers to drug test their employees. But the law makes sure that the drug testing should not threaten the worker’s privacy.

Both national and state laws provide strict regulations for employers and employees in work industries regarding drug testing. Employees who operate under the fields of transportation, aviation, or those working on a contract basis with the Defence Department or NASA must submit to periodic drug testing.

Drugs that are tested are,

  • Amphetamines( such as speed)
  • Meth, crank, and ecstasy.
  • THC, such as hash, cannabinoids
  • Cannabis, Codeine
  • Cocaine or crack
  • Phencyclidine is PCP or angel dust.
  • Opiates such as 6-MAM, morphine, opium, codeine

Most private employers place no threshold on the number of drugs they can test for. Some employers may also test for more drugs, such as

  • Barbiturates
  • Methadone
  • Inhalants
  • Ethanol
  • Hallucinogens

Procedural Rights for Employees

California statute doesn’t set up any specific drug testing protocols and procedures.

Because of the 'balancing test' a judicial test that the courts use to weigh in on the importance of a legal case, employers are more likely to prevail. 

Once a person is employed, drug testing is only permitted in obvious conditions, generally determined on a case-by-case basis. If an employee is asked to submit to regular or random drug tests, the court would consider how the employer’s intention for testing balances against the employee’s right to privacy.

Since an employer can evaluate an employee based on job performance, efficiency, and work history, in this case the courts would generally rule in favor of the employee, meaning that routine or random drug testing is not required in this scenario.

What if you fail a drug test in California?

If you fail your drug test in California, the employer can lawfully refute your employment. If you are an existing employee, the employer has the right to terminate your employment depending on the terms and conditions of your hiring.

Each state or city has its own rules regarding drug testing in the workplace and the effects of failing a drug test. Commonly speaking, if you fail a pre-employment drug test, any organization may legally deny hiring you.

However, not every employer has a zero-tolerance policy, and the outcome of failing a drug test often depends on the employer. The same is true for California.

Once you get hired, the employer may want to continue your employment but decline to boost your performance with the promotion until you pass the subsequent drug tests.

What if you fail a drug test on probation in California?

As per the standard conditions in California, the probationer has to obey and abide by the law and remain drug-free during the probation period. When you fail a drug test, it is a violation that might affect your probation to a more considerable extent.

The way of treatment depends on how you are doing with the other probationary conditions and the relationship you exercise with the probation officer.  If all is well and clear your drug test, you may get an indication or a reprimand to seek treatment.

If you fail your probation drug test, the probationary officer has exclusive rights reserved to file for revocation and bring you down to the court and seek the judge in deciding your fate.

You can take charge by seeking a valid rehabilitation program and voluntarily pay for your private drug tests every week.

When you go to court, you can show that you are addressing the issue with therapy with a documented form of recording by lowering levels of drugs in your system.

Final words

Drug testing in California is different from other states in the United States of America. Even though they have legalized some drugs for medical use, the laws are clear about the threshold, denoting misuse.

It is better to avoid illegal drugs altogether to lead a better life and thrive in a safer society in California.

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