Do Poppy Seeds Make You Test Positive For Weed

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Do Poppy Seeds Make You Test Positive For Weed Sesame seed bagels are better, anyway. 🙂 It’s well known in drug testing circles that poppy seeds can make a person test positive for opiates. A woman tested positive for opiates on a drug test because she had poppy seeds. Find out about the connection between poppy seeds and drug tests. Do poppy seeds affect drug test results? Find out if they can impact your hiring chances and if you should skip the seeds before a drug test.

Do Poppy Seeds Make You Test Positive For Weed

Sesame seed bagels are better, anyway. 🙂

It’s well known in drug testing circles that poppy seeds can make a person test positive for opiates.

That’s because poppy seeds come from the poppy plant, which is also used to produce heroin, opium, and whatever it was that made Dorothy, Toto, and the Cowardly Lion fall asleep on their way to the Emerald City.

Delicious, but deadly.

The opium in poppy seeds on a bagel (or in salad dressing) isn’t enough to get you doped up, but it can be enough to give you a false positive on a drug test.

We’ve known this for at least 20 years, and I’ve generally advised employers to check with the drug testing lab or Medical Review Officer if a person tests positive for opiates and claims to have eaten poppy seeds before taking the test. If the lab or MRO confirms that poppy seeds could have caused the result, then I’ve advised giving the individual the benefit of the doubt.

The New York City Department of Correction isn’t as nice as I am. According to the New York Post, Officer Eleazer Paz tested positive for morphine and codeine, and had been cleared to return to work by an administrative law judge. The ALJ found that the positive result was probably caused by Officer Paz’s consumption of a poppy seed bagel. Officer Paz even had expert testimony from a toxicologist, who testified that the result “could only be explained by eating poppy seed bagels because the quantities of the drugs were . . . inconsistent with heroin or individual morphine and codeine ingestion.” (Ellipsis in NY Post article.)

The ALJ recommended that Officer Paz be reinstated, but the DOC ordered this week that he be fired, crediting instead the testimony from a representative of the laboratory that conducted the test.

I’d have given Officer Paz the benefit of the doubt. But maybe the real moral of the story is to stay away from poppy seeds if you’re subject to random drug testing, or if you’re applying for a job. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency reportedly recommends that athletes refrain from eating poppy seeds for a few days before any athletic competition.

See? Sesame seed bagels really are best. In more ways than one.

Image Credit: From flickr, Creative Commons license, by Infrogmation of New Orleans.

Yes, Poppy-Seed Bagels Really Can Make You Fail a Drug Test. Here’s Why, and How Much You Have to Eat

A new mother’s traumatizing experience sheds light on the urban legend.

You’ve probably heard the old wives’ tale: Don’t eat a poppy-seed bagel if you might need a drug test in the near future. But is there any real truth to this crazy-sounding rumor? One new mom found out the hard way—at pretty much the worst possible time—that, in fact, there is.

WBAL TV reported this week that back in April, Maryland resident Elizabeth Eden went into labor and was admitted to St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson to deliver her daughter. But before she gave birth, her doctors informed her that she’d tested positive for opioids. Per hospital policy, the mom-to-be had also been reported to state officials.

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Eden had eaten a poppy-seed bagel for breakfast that morning, and she remembered learning in health class that this could potentially trigger a false positive drug test result. But the hospital had already set the wheels in motion: Because of her test result, Eden’s daughter had to stay in the hospital for five days after she was born, while a caseworker was assigned to conduct a home checkup. “It was traumatizing,” Eden said.

This type of misunderstanding is pretty surprising, but it’s also not the first time something like this has happened. Here’s a quick look at the history of—and the science behind—this unfortunate side effect.

Why do poppy seeds affect drug tests?

It may seem like this popular baked-good flavoring has nothing to do with illicit and addictive opioid drugs like morphine, codeine, and heroin. But actually, they all come from the same place: the poppy plant.

While poppy seeds used in food are produced legally, they can still contain the same chemicals that show up on drug tests for opioid substances. This has been documented several times in medical literature. In a 1997 case report in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, for example, a patient tested positive for a morphine-like drug, even though she swore she wasn’t taking any drugs her doctor hadn’t prescribed.

When asked to describe her diet, the patient stated that “her bagel preference was cinnamon raisin, but if cinnamon raisin was not available, her second preference was for poppy-seed bagels.” Unsure as to whether this would alter her drug test results, the patient’s doctors performed an experiment: They asked her not to have any poppy-seed bagels for two weeks, then they tested her urine before and after she ate half of one in their office.

The tests confirmed it: The patient’s urine tests were negative for morphine before she ate the bagel, but positive—with a concentration of 446 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL)—two hours afterward. Five hours after eating the bagel, her morphine level had decreased to a still detectable 336 ng/mL. Her doctors concluded that urine “may remain positive from 24 to 48 hours after ingestion,” depending on the test used.

Other research has shown that just a teaspoon of poppy seeds can raise opioid levels to 1,200 ng/mL. That’s under the 2,000 ng/mL federal limit set by the Department of Health and Human Services in 1998 for a positive drug test—but St. Joseph Medical Center still uses an older limit of just 300 ng/ml. Hospital staff told WBAL TV that they keep their threshold low to be sure they identify as many drug mis-users as possible.

Eden is not alone in her experience of being falsely categorized as a drug abuser. In fact, she’s not even the first new mom who had her child taken away—temporarily—after failing a post-poppy seed drug test: The same thing happened to two other women in 2013 and 2014. A jail guard in New York who was recently fired for failing a drug test has evoked the “poppy-seed bagel defense,” and a similar storyline was even featured on the television show Seinfeld.

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So, can poppy seeds get you high?

As far as scientific research goes, there’s no evidence that eating poppy seeds can actually get a person high. In one 1992 study, the Oregon State Police Crime Library evaluated seven people who’d eaten 25 grams of poppy seeds (baked into bundt cakes) for signs of opioid impairment–but found none.

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There have, however, been a few reported instances of people becoming addicted to poppy seeds: In 1994, doctors wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia that a 51-year-old patient with chronic pain “noticed a growing fondness for poppy seed noodles” and subsequently began buying packets of seeds alone.

The patient told doctors that she would fill her mouth with the seeds and suck them until they were dry, and that she would get a “tingling sensation in her body, followed by a feeling of euphoria.” Eventually, she was eating the seeds five or six times a day, “and became restless if she extended the time between ingestions.”

More recently, a 2010 case report in Drug and Alcohol Review discussed an 82-year-old woman in India who had become dependent on poppy-seed tea over the past 55 years. She was brought in for treatment when access to the tea became difficult following new legal restrictions.

How worried should you be about eating poppy seeds?

Those reports of dependence are extreme cases, of course—not something that would happen from eating one poppy-seed bagel, or even eating them on a regular basis. But it is smart to be aware that even a tiny amount of those seeds can still cause a drug test to come back positive, even if you don’t have any symptoms of opioid use.

After the misunderstanding at St. Joseph Medical Center was cleared up, the state closed Eden’s case file and allowed her baby to come home. But the new mom is hoping the hospital will change its testing threshold so the same thing doesn’t happen to other unlucky patients.

Judith Pratt Rossiter, MD, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at St. Joseph, told WBAL TV that doctors generally have not educated patients about the potential side effect of poppy-seed bagels, “and it’s a really good point that people probably should know” about it.

Perhaps the best advice we’ve seen on this topic is from Boston Medical Center’s Jack Maypole, MD, in a 2013 article for the National Institute of Drug Abuse for Teens: “To all you poppy seed lovers out there,” he wrote: “They can be a tasty treat in favorite foods, but may be one to avoid before undergoing drug testing.”

Will Your Poppy Seed Muffin Show up on an Employee Drug Test? 24 Jan 2019

In 2016, a New York City corrections officer was fired after failing a random drug test. The test found traces of morphine and codeine in the guard’s system.

The guard was genuinely bewildered. He hadn’t taken any illicit substances or even prescription medication. So, how did those drugs get into his system? Why did the drug test turn up positive?

The culprit was a poppy seed bagel. The corrections officer had eaten a bagel sprinkled with poppy seeds for breakfast. Those poppy seeds caused his test result to show a false positive. Because of a handful of poppy seeds, he lost his job.

You’ve probably heard stories of people failing drug tests because of poppy seeds, but does this still happen? Thankfully, advancements in technology have improved drug testing in the past couple of years. So, can poppy seeds still show up on a drug test? Let’s discover the answer.

Do Poppy Seeds Show up on Drug Tests?

Yes. Unless it’s a hair follicle test, poppy seeds will show up. Why is this?

The plant that produces poppy seeds for those tasty bagels, muffins, and cakes also makes opium extract. Opium extract is the source of many controlled drugs, like codeine and morphine. If this liquid contaminates the poppy seeds during harvesting, they can test positive for morphine, codeine, or heroin. But, not all drug tests detect poppy seeds.

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Unlike urine- or saliva-based drug tests, hair follicle tests don’t detect poppy seeds. This is because the seeds don’t stay in your system long enough and in high enough quantities to show up in your hair follicles. So, unless it’s a hair follicle test, poppy seeds can show up in a drug test.

Does that mean poppy seeds can make you fail a drug test?

Will Poppy Seeds Cause You to Fail an Employee Drug Test?

Not usually, but it depends on the type of drug test. If the drug test is urine- or saliva-based and it reports a positive after a low level of the drug is found, poppy seeds can cause you to fail. However, most drug tests have measures in place that stop a false positive from poppy seeds. What are these measures?

One is that the amount needed for a positive reading is higher than the amount found in poppy seeds. In fact, the United States raised the limit for a positive employment-based drug test from 300 nanograms a milliliter to 2,000 nanograms. This means contaminated poppy seeds don’t contain enough opium extract to cause a positive result.

Many employers also use a questionnaire before the drug test. This questionnaire usually checks for poppy seed ingestion and prescription drug use. The drug test technician can then adjust the test results to compensate.

The third measure is that drug tests can distinguish between poppy seeds and heroin. Heroin contains a distinct metabolite called 6-0-monoacetylmorphine. So, if a test comes back positive for heroin but doesn’t contain this metabolite, the test is a false positive.

These measures sound like reliable ways to distinguish drugs from poppy seeds. Does that mean it’s harmless to eat poppy seeds before a drug test?

Should You Eat Poppy Seeds Before a Drug Test?

Pick up that bagel and go wild. While eating too many poppy seeds can make a drug test give a false positive, most employment drug tests confirm the results using a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC or MS) test. This test is specifically used to rule out interfering substances like poppy seeds.

After weighing the facts, poppy seeds are a safe food choice for anyone taking a drug test.

Your Breakfast (and Job) Is Safe

The corrections officer fired over a bagel managed to get his job back after two years. But, he won’t be eating poppy seeds anytime soon.

As we’ve discovered, it is possible for poppy seeds to show up on drug tests. With drug tests being able to distinguish between poppy seeds and opiates though, the possibility of a false positive hurting your job prospects is pretty low. But, drug tests are only one part of the employee background check process. How can you ensure all your background checks come back clean?

At Trusted Employees, we can help you run a background check on yourself. We’ll help you dispute anything incorrect and show you what your potential employer will see. Contact us to learn more about running a background check on yourself.

Robyn Kunz is the Chief Compliance Officer at Trusted Employees. She has worked in the background screening industry for over 15 years and holds Advanced Certification in the Fair Credit Reporting Act from the National Association of Professional Background.

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