So you have a drug test coming up, and you’re looking for ways to pass. Friends, you’ve come to the right place. As more states make cannabis legal for medical or recreational use, many people are still stressing about how to pass a drug test. Therefore, we updated our guide to help.
Marijuana is still on most drug testing substance lists, though that is starting to change as states like Nevada, Maine, and New York ban employment discrimination against cannabis consumers. That said, many employers in states without legalization programs will still test you for pot.
Cannabinoids, like THC, are fat-soluble molecules, meaning they dissolve in fats and oils, not water. When we consume cannabis, THC and its metabolites don’t rapidly pass through our systems like sugar or salt (which both dissolve in water). Instead, all those weed compounds deposit into our fat cells, where they remain until the fat cells are burned. This is why weed can stay in your system for as long as 60 days. In other words, you could still test positive in a drug test, even if you haven’t smoked for weeks.
So, what can you do when you are faced with a drug test? The more you know about the type of test, your timeline, and your cannabis consumption habits, the better.
What Types of Drug Tests Are there?
- Urine Test
- Blood Test
- Hair Test
- Saliva Test
By far the most common drug test in the workplace is a urinalysis, aka a “piss test.” For this reason we see a wide variety in detox products and drinks to flush your system of THC metabolites, particularly 11-COOH-THC, which is created in the liver after consuming cannabis products.
However, urine analysis looks for a lot more than just 11-COOH-THC. The urine’s temperature, color, odor, pH level, creatine level, and salt contents are usually assessed, too, mainly to ensure you didn’t tamper with the sample, or that the sample is actually human urine and not some fake, synthetic pee sold to beat these tests.
Urine tests are usually performed by a trained lab technician, and can be one of two types. Immunoassay (IA) tests are more common because they provide quick results. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) tests are often used when a follow up test is needed, as they are more comprehensive and reliable, but also more expensive and take longer for results.
Urine drug tests use certain cut-off levels to indicate a specific amount of the tested substance. Drug test results are typically in nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), and the cut-off level for THC is 50 ng/ml.
Taking a urine test is pretty straightforward. The technician will usually instruct you to urinate in the provided container and then return it. Sometimes the technician will also supervise the urination to make sure there is no tampering.
Many are turning to hair drug tests because they can detect drug use over a longer period of time than a urine test can. Hair typically grows about half an inch per month, so hair tests will often require a 1.5 inch hair sample to test for drug use over the past 90 days.
Often, the tester will simply remove the required hair sample from your scalp and it will be processed in a lab for testing. The testing process is similar to urine tests, with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test, followed by a GC-MS test to confirm positive results.
Shaving your head doesn’t help, as they can take a hair sample from somewhere else on your body. So pretty much time is your best bet for beating a hair test. There are a couple detox shampoos that can help remove traces of THC in your hair, but just using your normal shampoo and scrubbing extra hard doesn't work.
Cannabis is detectable in the bloodstream almost immediately. Since we have receptors specifically designed to interact with the compounds that make up the marijuana plant, it comes as no surprise that cannabis can be detected so rapidly via blood.
Blood and urine tests for weed both detect THC and its metabolites. But their windows for detection vary due to the tests’ fluid sources. Blood screens can detect THC much earlier than urine screens because THC, when inhaled, immediately enters the bloodstream. In fact, the highest levels of THC will be detected shortly after inhalation and up to an hour or two afterward. Both blood and urine tests can detect THC up to a month after the last puff in frequent users. One 2009 study found that blood tests still detected THC in frequent tokers one week after they last smoked.
Blood tests are the most accurate option for detecting drugs, however they aren’t very common for a few reasons. As you can imagine, it’s more of a medical process to draw blood, and it requires a medically trained administrator using specific equipment. On top of that, blood tests are the most expensive type of drug test and take up to a week for results.
Mouth Swab Test
Saliva testing is becoming increasingly common in the workplace and with authorities, as it’s one of the least intrusive methods to test someone. All that’s required is the administrator to place a swab in the cheek for a couple minutes for saliva to be absorbed. Then it registers a result within minutes. Most statistics online state saliva can only show traces of drugs from the last 12 hours.
What Are the Best Ways to Pass a Drug Test?
Clean out your system in 5-10 days. Permanent Cleansers will clean out your urine, blood, and saliva for an upcoming drug test. Sites like PassYourTest.com offer permanent detox kits that come with two THC home drug test kits to verify your urine is clean. So, if you have around a week and want to be 100% sure you are clean before taking a drug test, stop smoking and take a detox kit.
Permanent cleansers, such as the detox kits from Nutra Cleanse™, address the detox needs for various levels of exposure, from moderate to extreme. Smoking just one joint could potentially stay testable in your system for a week, with daily users needing as much as 60 days to completely detox their system and pass a drug test without using a detox kit or natural methods.
There are a range of detox drinks out there that can increase your chances of passing a drug test. An in-frequent user will test positive up to 10 days after an occasional use, but a daily user and those who consume cannabis concentrates could have traces of THC in their urine for at least 1-2 months after their last cannabis intake.
If you have to pass a drug test fast, products like the Fail Safe Kit from Nutra Cleanse™ are a mix of pills and a drink designed flush out your system on the day of use, taking effect in 90 minutes and providing you with a clean result for up to 6 hours.
So what are detox drinks? Each detox drink brand will vary in their make up slightly, but all serve to rid the body of suspicious THC metabolites in order to reduce the chance of failing a drug test. It is worth noting, these detox drinks are not miracle cures. You can’t expect to smoke 10 joints the night before work and drink a bottle before bed and expect to pass a test in the morning. You must be prepared to stop consuming cannabis before your scheduled drug test. Most manufactures have guidelines about how long you should be abstinent to make sure you pass. Follow them for the best results!
If you have to pass a hair drug test, there are shampoos that can help depending on your situation. Since the chemical residues of drug metabolites are stable in the core of the hair shaft, no conventional shampoos will simply scrub them away, regardless of how many times you rinse and repeat. Some detox shampoos like the Nutra Cleanse™ Folli-Clean Detox Shampoo and the Hair Follicle Shampoo by Clear Choice offer solutions for cleaning out your hair, though.
Synthetic urine is often used to beat drug tests. This involves ordering fake urine and then heating it to the proper temperature at the right time for your drug test, and then bringing the bottle in and using that for your sample.
Synthetic urine products like Clear Choice Sub Solution offer a kit to make your own synthetic result.
Clear Choice's Incognito Belt come with pre-mixed synthetic urine within the discreet device, preventing any spillage or accidental self-narcing
Clear Choice's Incognito belt with disposable heat pads, available to purchase here
Thankfully, with the rise of legalization, fewer companies are testing piss for pot. Maine even recently passed legislation that will institutionally protect employees from unfair hiring and firing practices due to cannabis use. That said, as long as marijuana is federally illegal, drug testing will still be the norm for the millions of Americans. In case your ability to feed yourself rests on a paycheck from a job that's not 420-friendly, the products above should help you breathe a sigh of relief. We have also listed some other methods to help you clean out your system below.
Naturally Rid Your Body of THC Through Diet and Liquids
You can flush THC out of your body a bit faster than normal with these natural methods.
Eating really lean and losing some fat helps reduce the chances that THC will linger in your system. The more fat you have, the longer traces of THC can remain.
Sweating out the toxins with daily exercise can help flush out THC, but some say sweating it out too close to your test could have the opposite effect. Exercise in the weeks leading up to your test, but don’t expect a sauna sesh on the morning-of to change your drug test results.
That's right, drinking lots of mineral water remains one of the best methods to detox your urine over time. Upping your water intake can help flush your out your system faster; but won’t flush you out all by itself.
Famous for its alkaline state, Lemon juice is widely known as a detox drink. Many report that lemon juice flushes THC metabolites in small quantities. As a rule of thumb, mix one tablespoon of organic lemon juice with half a liter of water. For best results, drink several of these lemon-water mixes a day for the weeks before your drug test. The beauty of lemon juice is that you can drink it anywhere without raising suspicion.
Cranberry juice is known in the alternative medicine industry as a natural antioxidant famous for flushing out kidneys of toxins. Cranberry juice can lead to a reduction in THC metabolites in as little as a week. Like coffee, for best effects it is best to drink the juice with water and other drinks rich in electrolytes and B-Vitamins. Expect to be going to the bathroom frequently!
It is well known in the cannabis industry that coffee is a stimulant and an effective way to get rid of those annoying THC metabolites lingering in your system. Coffee dehydrates your body and thus reduces the amount of metabolites in your system. Be sure not to drink coffee without drinking water and isotonic drinks to flush out your system.
Although these natural methods can help, the only way to know is to test yourself. At-home drug tests allow you to confirm your urine is clean of marijuana. These can be purchased online or at your local drug store. With your own home drug test kit, you could use detox or flush your system naturally and then test your urine to see if you are clean.
Home Remedies for a Drug Test You Should Avoid
Avoid: Urine Substitution
It is highly suggested that you avoid trying to use someone else's urine for the test. Depending on your test setting and time, this could prove problematic as the sample needs to be at the proper temperature when you hand it in.
Avoid: Taking Niacin Pills
Some claim that high doses of niacin can flush and dilute your urine to hide toxins. Niacin is commonly sold as a supplement in most health food stores.
Niacin is made up of Vitamin B-3 and has a wide range of applicable uses, such as cleaning your liver, breaking down proteins, and treating nausea. The evidence for niacin help pass a drug test are questionable, but it makes sense that it could help speed up the detox process.
Avoid: The Certo Method
Certo — a.k.a fruit pectin — is most commonly used in the production of homemade jams and jellies. The theory goes that the fruit pectin will coat your stomach, absorbing all the toxins.The results are varied here; some people swear it works, with many others reporting it doesn’t.
Avoid: Drinking Vinegar
This is an urban legend, thanks to the internet and TV shows like HBO’s Entourage where Vince tries drinking vinegar to pass a test. Spoiler alert it did not work in Hollywood either...
Avoid: Drinking Bleach
WARNING: DO NOT DRINK BLEACH. EVER. It does not work to help pass a drug test and can literally kill you. Drinking bleach to pass a drug test is another dangerous myth on the internet fueled by people who claim bleach cures everything. But it doesn’t, and people have died drinking bleach.
THC generally stays in your system the longest of any of the tested drugs. Depending on many factors, including body mass, frequency of use, and metabolism, traces of marijuana can show up in your urine from 2 days to 3 months, with the average time being 30 days for most users to be clean after cessation.
Sometimes we're still in disbelief that companies drug test their employees for weed. Given that cannabis is used by all sorts of people to successfully treat anxiety and depression — among countless other ailments — patients and consumers will function better at work if they're allowed to use their medicine. It seems cruel that addictive pharmaceuticals such as benzodiazepines are chill if they're doctor-prescribed, but for those who prefer a natural route to treat anxiety or pain, one piss test could leave you unemployed.
By drug testing employees for cannabis, federally-funded companies and prohibition-friendly organizations are filtering out some the most qualified job candidates. Even former FBI director James Comey joked about this in 2014, stating that the bureau should re-evaluate its drug-testing policy to attract better hires. And as legalization spreads, more Americans are using cannabis to enhance their life and improve their health. The result? According to a 2017 report, positive drug tests for marijuana are at a 12-year high.
To avoid testing positive and losing a job offer, many cannabis users go through some extreme measures to make sure they pass a pee test, or even worse, the dreaded hair follicle test. We spoke to a handful of marijuana enthusiasts who've unsuccessfully tried to deceive these drug tests through a variety of gambits, from buying BS cleanses to basically moving into the gym with hopes of sweating out the THC.
Follow the steps we provided above on how to pass a drug test for the best chance to pass your next test! And to get a chuckle, read the stories of would-be employees who attempted to deceive drug tests using some DIY methods — bless their herb-filled hearts for sharing their tales with MERRY JANE so you don't have to repeat the same mistakes.
Drug Test Fail Horror Stories
New York City
I was up for a finance job in New York when I graduated college, and there were rumors that they drug tested there. I had spent my entire college life stoned, so I quit smoking for the entire summer, which made me awful to be around — as I use cannabis to treat depression and anxiety. Oh, and I shaved my head, too, in case they did a hair test. So I basically transformed myself into someone who looked and acted like a psychotic police officer. I got the job, and I kept up the no smoking for my first six months, but they never tested me. To this day, I am surprised I didn't get fired for being such an intense nervous wreck during the interviews.
I worked at this awful country club that drug tested its employees. I was there working in the pro shop, but I also was up for a lifeguard position. I heard that if you worked out, you could sweat traces of drugs out your system, so I obsessively hit the gym and stopped smoking for two weeks. It didn't work, they took my pee, and I failed. That said, my body was insanely hot during this time period. I lost my job, but at least I looked good.
I was working at a school district and found out that they were going to test my piss. I knew when my drug test was, so I had my little brother, who was still in high school and straight-laced as hell, pee into a condom. I taped the condom to my leg, brought a safety pin with me, and my plan was to poke a hole in the pee-condom, so it looked and sounded like I was peeing. I smoke so much weed that there was no way I'd ever pass. But, the tester creepily came with me into the bathroom, which was lined with urinals in a totally open area and watched. I poked the condom in a panic and the whole thing exploded. The broken condom fell on the floor right in front of the person looking over my shoulder. I never even got a chance to take the second test; they fired me for that.
During my first summer as a beach lifeguard job, my employers called me in for the test… right as I was hitting a joint on the beach. I asked to be able to take it a few days later and got a detox drink, and I guess I passed. The second summer I had to take another drug test, and this time I used a different detox drink. I didn't give myself the right amount of time for it to work, though. I got a call that something came up on my test, but I was hired with a "pending" qualifier. I'm pretty sure the only reason they gave me the job again was because they didn't have anyone else to hire.
One summer, I was doing an intensive internship with a company that was supposed to lead to a full-time position. At the end of busting my ass for three months, they told me I would have to take a drug test if I wanted to come back and work for them after I graduated. They didn't tell me when exactly it would be, but they vaguely suggested it'd go down in the next week or two.
I'd been smoking a quarter of flower every week for years, and even upped my intake because it was the summer! So I panicked — I needed to get the job — and immediately went to the closest headshop I could find. I bought roughly $80 of all these suspicious-looking detox drinks, ones with the same type of flashing labeling as those bootleg Viagra pills they sell at bodegas. You know, the types of products that are definitely not FDA-approved and don't even list the ingredients inside these cutty potions.
I drank them all immediately, and they each tasted terrible — as bad as drinking piss, if not worse. For the next 24 hours, I had to pee non-stop, and my urine was neon orange! I kid you not, it was like an electrical current was flowing through the stream. I was terrified about what was going on inside me. Anyway, after all this, they did make me take the drug test. But they gave me a hair follicle test, despite me asking (maybe too enthusiastically) to take a urine test. Anyway, they took some of my locks and guess what? I didn't pass. Not worth the urological nightmare. I should have kept smoking and said fuck it.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.