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Are THC Drug Tests Ethical?

Sebastian El Ghaity

Understanding Ethics As Malleable Abstractions

Ethics are moral principles that govern the way in which we interact with one another in our society. We tend to have a general idea of “right” and “wrong” because we understand what it feels to be ‘wronged’, and we apply these abstract labels to all which we do. This is the basis of an ethical society, one in which we respect not only ourselves but also our neighbor. Things start getting difficult when you take into consideration the influence of environmental influences such as culture, family life, and any of the many other external influences in our lives. Is Cannabis use ethical? What if we separate recreational and medicinal applications, does this change the answer? When tackling these problems, we must remember that ethics exist within a gray area of abstraction that may require case-by-case logical evaluations in order to derive a solution.

THC Drug Tests For Employment

Unfortunately, although the number of states legalizing the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis is slowly increasing, employers are still capable of testing candidates during the hiring stages. However, the ethics here are clear-cut. Here, the employer is assessing the drug-use of the candidate. In a situation in which capital is being invested into an individual, this can generally be regarded as an ethical decision. So why should after-hours consumption of cannabis be monitored while after-hours consumption of alcohol is not? Cannabis is still illegal, according to federal law. This is a remnant of an old system of morals that defined federal law decades ago.

THC Drug Tests for Sports

An interesting point of contention in the sports community is the use of cannabis to alter performance. First, it is important to note that cannabis use takes hold very differently in every individual; your state of mind heavily influences your cognition and flow of thought, meaning that some people may perform better or worse depending on the situation. However, it is generally accepted that cannabis use can slow your reaction time, along with hindering hand-eye coordination among other things. It has also been shown that blood flow to regions of the brain associated with understanding auditory cues (Temporal Lobe) is limited post cannabis-consumption.

Despite the results of the previously mentioned studies, anecdotally, many people claim that cannabis helps them stay focused in the moment and achieve true focus. Recently, large bodies of research suggest that Dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with cannabis consumption, is linked with salience. Before, we believed Dopamine to be associated with pleasure; many viewed it as the hedonistic neurotransmitter as stigmas of cannabis users were those of the couch-potato variety. In a recent interview with The Guardian, ultramarathon athlete Avery Collins claims that cannabis edibles help him maintain salience and stay in the moment. Collins’ reaction to cannabis is essentially the opposite of what most laboratory studies suggest, illustrating that cannabis use can elicit different effects in different people. Therefore, it is important to understand these global differences and generate a code of conduct that allows all competitors to compete on an even field.



Cannabis laws in the United States are proof that our moral codes need to constantly be revised as we progress as a society. With 44 states passing legislature revolving around the use of cannabis and cannabis-testing, the necessity for discussion continues to prove its importance as we progress towards the future. Ultimately, we should use scientific findings as supporting evidence for discussion, and avoid treating these results as absolutes. As previously mentioned, cannabis consumption may bring about contrasting effects in different people competing in the same sport, or completing the same task. Currently, THC tests are ethically viable as a means to parse out candidates and competitors who abuse cannabis in order to secure the most beneficial candidate and also the strongest competitor. However, perhaps future debate will create new systems in which our society can differentiate between after-hours use and abuse during thew work-week.

About the author

Sebastian El Ghaity

Sebastian El Ghaity

Sebastian earned a B.S. in Molecular Biology and Neuroscience from the University of San Francisco and held a research position in a molecular plant evolution laboratory. He is a bonafide health nut with interests in both physical and mental health. Sebastian also has creative expertise as a musician and on-air DJ at

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