2.6 Drug and Alcohol Use and Testing Policy

Regardless of the laws of the state or nation in which a medical student may permanently reside, the University of Washington prohibits the production, distribution, possession, and use of illicit substances, including marijuana, and the misuse of controlled substances on university property or during university-sponsored activities. Medical students are subject to the same requirements as the UW Medicine workforceand as such may be required to undergo drug and alcohol testing.  

Compliance with Federal Laws
It is still a federal crime to possess and use even small amounts of marijuana on or in any university facilities or vehicles. Failure to comply with federal laws and regulations related to illicit or controlled substances on campus jeopardizes the University of Washington’s continued receipt of federal funds.

University of Washington
The University of Washington is committed to maintaining a campus environment that is free of illegal drugs, and of drugs and alcohol that are used illegally. Accordingly, the University prohibits the consuming of alcoholic beverages on University property, except in accordance with state of Washington liquor license procedures per the requirements of University policy. The University also prohibits the unlawful possession, use, distribution, or manufacture of alcohol or controlled substances that are illegal under federal, state, or local law on University property or during University-sponsored activities. Violation of the University’s alcohol and drug prohibitions is cause for disciplinary or other appropriate action.

Drug Testing
Medical students should be cognizant that many clinical training sites throughout the WWAMI region require drug screening, including testing for marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinol), as a prerequisite for participation in a clerkship or clinical elective. Clinical training sites may ask students to complete a drug test with little or no notice. Medical students may face negative consequences for a positive test result. A positive drug test for marijuana or other substances may preclude students from participating in clinical activities within the clerkship site, clerkships, preceptorships, shadowing experiences, and college tutorials.

While the School of Medicine does not require routine drug testing of medical students for its own purposes, the School generally contracts with clinical training sites requiring drug screening so that the testing can be managed by the School to protect students’ privacy. For this purpose, the School uses CastleBranch services, which provides industry-standardized drug screening service through Quest Diagnostics and Lab Corp laboratories in the WWAMI region. CastleBranch drug testing screens for the following drugs through a urine screening test:

  • Amphetamine (methamphetamine)
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Methadone
  • Methaqualone
  • Opiates (codeine & morphine)
  • Phencyclidine
  • Propoxyphene
  • Oxycodone

Information obtained from drug testing of medical students is not shared with the clinical training site other than to verify that the test results were negative. The School of Medicine cannot verify drug test results from other agencies. Students may access their drug test results on their MyCB account on the CastleBranch website. The School maintains access to the drug test results via the CastleBranch website. While the School records compliance status in Evalue, the drug resting results are not posted to protect students’ privacy.

Process for Positive Results for Prescribed Medications
Confirmed positives for a prescribed medication will be reviewed by a CastleBranch Medical Review Officer. Once CastleBranch has reviewed the supporting documentation for the prescribed substance, the results will be reported to the School of Medicine as “negative” and no information about the prescribed substance will be shared with the School.

If there is a positive result for a prescribed medication/s, a Castlebranch “Medical Review Officer” (MRO) will contact student to ask for documentation of their prescription. Once the review is completed, the results will be reported as negative and the School of Medicine will not have any information about the student’s medication/s.

Students will have three days to respond to the MRO. If the MRO does not hear from the student within three days, Castlebranch will report the positive result to the School.

Process for Positive Results for Controlled or Illicit Substances
In the event that a student is confirmed positive for a controlled (Schedules II-V) or an illicit substance, the medical student will be referred to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs for further inquiry, assessment, management and a misconduct hearing may be initiated. Depending on the circumstances, the student may be referred to the Washington Physician’s Health Plan (WPHP).


Effective: Current
Last updated: August 11, 2020
Policy Contact: UW School of Medicine, Compliance Office, lbellis@uw.edu, Education Quality Improvement Office, eqi@uw.edu