What you will learn in this post:
- How long can weed be detected by a drug test?
- How do marijuana drug tests work?
- Your best option is abstinence and a natural cleanse
- Types of drug tests
- Other reported ways to pass a drug test
- Excuses for positive results are unlikely to work
- Concerned? You can get yourself tested beforehand
- Drug testing in the workplace — your legal rights
- The takeaway
For the modern-day cannabis user, the infamous “drug test” can pose a daunting challenge. The truth is, company-sponsored drug tests can force you to make difficult decisions about your health and/or career. Unfortunately, private corporations and federal organizations still test for marijuana despite convincing research showing that marijuana use reduces opiate use.
Sadly, this is a reality for both recreational users and medical users in many states. Even the few states that have passed workplace protections for cannabis patients still allow marijuana drug testing for parolees, federal workers and specific job categories. Passing a planned drug test is simple; just stop using marijuana for long enough to eliminate the remaining traces of THC. But we can’t all have the luxury of knowing about a drug test months in advance, so here are some methods that other people have tried.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, understand that the methods of passing a drug test listed below have successfully been used in the past by some, BUT the only sure method of passing a drug test is abstinence.
Editor’s notes: NuggMD does not endorse any of the products or methods listed in this article. The content herein is for informational purposes only. If you have concerns about passing a drug test, you should consult your attorney as there can be legal consequences for tampering with a drug test. If you attempt to significantly change your diet and/or exercise routine, you should talk to your doctor. Abstinence and time are the only proven way to pass a drug test.
How long can weed be detected by a drug test?
Marijuana can be detected up to 120 days after consumption. It can also become undetectable as soon as one day later. How long it can be detected depends on:
- how much you consume cannabis,
- how often you consume it,
- your Body Mass (BMI),
- your metabolism,
- whether you had THC in your body already, and
- what kind of drug test you’re taking.
In this article, we’ll break down how long marijuana is detectable for each type of drug test and some of the tricks used to get weed out of your system a little faster. We’ll also take a keen look at which methods work and which are simply hype.
How do marijuana drug tests work?
When we metabolize THC, we create a byproduct called THC-COOH, the primary substance tested for cannabis use. This substance is easily absorbed by fat cells and stored, and fat cells can store cannabis for weeks or even months! This is why cannabis is detectable for longer than any other drug.
As we naturally burn fat, we release the THC back into our bloodstream for filtration and removal from the body. Even simple activities like exercise can cause these metabolites to transfer from our fatty tissues back into our bloodstream. This doesn’t mean you’re actually getting high from these small releases, it just means that it’s detectable.
It’s unknown whether any impairment accompanies these small releases of THC from your fat cells, but anecdotal evidence indicates that it doesn’t.
How much THC accumulates and how long weed stays in your bloodstream depends on the factors listed above. The more you consume, the more THC accumulates in general, but a person with a slow metabolism and a lot of fat cells will show detectable levels of cannabis long after a lean athlete with a high metabolism. It’s just another of many reasons marijuana drug tests are unfair and discriminatory.
But, we’re pragmatists, so we’ll break down the basic science of THC detection in your urine, hair, blood, saliva, and breath below.
Your best option is abstinence and a natural cleanse
It can’t be stressed enough. The BEST method for passing a marijuana drug test is abstinence for 30 to 60 days while completing a natural cleanse. Natural methods require intense lifestyle changes, but it’s necessary to eliminate THC from your system.
Note that while normal daily cannabis users can completely detox THC in a month or two, some very heavy users may need to detox for a bit longer. Heavy daily users have shown THC in their urine as much as 90 days after any cannabis use completely ceases, although this is rare.
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of time. Other methods are available, but none are guaranteed, and some don’t work at all. For instance, you’ll notice posts circulating for how to pass a drug test with Jello and water. The instructions, in their basic form, are to:
- Mix an entire package of REGULAR (not sugar-free) Jello with a bottle of water
- Drink it on an empty stomach one hour before the drug test,
- Urinate at least once, if not twice
- Drink more water
- Take the urine test within four hours.
The theory behind this method is that the excess sugar will stop you from metabolizing fat for a few hours. A package of Jello has eight servings of sugar, so drinking it all at once on an empty stomach will indeed cause a blood sugar spike. But this method is dubious at best and potentially dangerous for people with diabetes. Deliberately causing blood sugar spikes is harmful to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics, and many Type 2 diabetics have no idea they have the disease.
Also, using Jello to pass a drug test won’t prevent a daily or heavy user from testing positive because THC can remain in your circulatory system for two to 15 days. So stopping fat burnoff for a few hours won’t clear out the THC any faster. It just prevents more from entering the bloodstream for a bit. The THC already present in your blood filters out at the same rate. If you had too much THC in your blood to start, pausing lipolysis won’t get you under the testing threshold.
Types of drug tests
Now, let’s take a look at the five most common types of marijuana drug tests you’re going to come across. Since each one is so different, we’ll cover everything you need to know for each type so you’re as prepared as you can be.
Urine drug test
The most common marijuana drug test is the urine test. 90% of employers that do pre-employment drug testing use this method. While it’s difficult to beat, understanding the procedure and the science behind it will give you the best chance.
How does a urine drug test work?
Urine drug tests use a dipstick that’s saturated with an antibody that reacts with THC. The dipstick is inserted into the urine specimen. The urine moves up the dipstick through absorption (capillary action), and if there is any THC present in the urine, the antibody on the dipstick changes color.
Most urine drug tests are set to a sensitivity level of 50ng/mL, although some tests can be more sensitive. A urine drug test usually requires at least 30mL/urine and is more than 99% accurate, so there’s little hope of fooling this test if you have a detectable amount of THC in your urine.
What drugs can be detected by a urine drug test?
Urine drug tests can detect:
- oxycodone, and
How long can you test positive for marijuana in urine?
Most people can test positive for up to 2 weeks for casual use and 30 days for extremely heavy use. This depends mainly on the frequency of use and sensitivity of the test. In general:
- Most casual marijuana use, once or twice a week, is detectable for up to two weeks after consumption with a test set to detect 50ng/mL.
- Daily users occasionally test positive for up to 30 days at 50ng/mL.
- Extremely heavy use, multiple times a day, is very rarely detected for up to 60 days at 20ng/mL.
- In the rarest cases, a heavy person with a slow metabolism who uses cannabis several times a day may have positive urine tests for 90 days or longer at 20ng/mL, but this is almost unheard of.
A popular fact sheet written for drug court practitioners asserts that even heavy cannabis use is only detectable for two weeks, and detection at 30 days is extremely rare. But this argument is written by an author who believes a few extreme examples of longer detection times are used as an excuse to mask recent drug use.
While this argument may be true, taking only two weeks to cleanse isn’t the best approach if you’re trying to pass a drug test. Detection times of more than 70 days have been recorded at 20ng/mL. So, if you have the luxury of time and are a heavy user, it’s best to abstain and cleanse for 30 to 60 days to ensure your urine is truly clean before you test.
Marijuana drug test cutoff level for urinalysis
Federal guidelines have two cutoff levels for a positive urinalysis–the initial screening cutoff and the confirmation cutoff. The initial screening is usually 50ng/mL and the confirmation is usually 15ng/mL. If either test falls below the threshold, then the test will be negative.
How to pass a urine drug test
Again, the only guaranteed way to beat a urine drug test is to abstain. If your livelihood or freedom depends on a clean urine drug test, don’t use marijuana. If you find yourself in a pickle because you didn’t follow this advice, there are methods people try, but nothing is guaranteed.
The most common method used to beat a drug test is to dilute the urine. This is done by increasing fluid intake to the point of frequent urination. First-morning urine samples are avoided because the metabolites will build up in the urine overnight.
Proponents of this method usually load up on B vitamins while pushing fluids because B vitamins color the urine, giving it a less diluted appearance. This won’t make a difference with a high-quality lab test that measures the specific gravity of urine to check for dilution. Still, it does help with simple dipstick tests that rely on visual confirmation only.
If a lab does reject a sample because it’s too diluted, they usually provide a second chance to give a new sample, so you shouldn’t use any cannabis before you get the test results.
Aside from the risk of failing a drug test, there are health risks to pushing large amounts of fluids or taking diuretics to increase urine output. Believe it or not, you can actually overdose on water. This is called water intoxication, and it’s fatal if untreated because it disrupts the metabolites that keep your heart beating.
A healthy adult can flush out about 20 liters of water per day, but only at a rate of about 1 liter per hour. So, drinking any more than a liter of water per hour can become dangerous, even more so for young or older people whose kidneys are less efficient. So, no-brainer, talk to your doctor before pushing fluids or taking diuretics, especially if you have any health conditions that can affect metabolite levels.
Adultering urine involves putting bleach, vinegar, baking soda, or other substances in your urine after it’s in the cup. First, this is very difficult to do with a direct observation test. Second, it’s not a very reliable method.
EMIT drug tests are sometimes thrown off by a few drops of Visine. Some testees use bleach, detergent, salt, or glutaraldehyde (a cleaning solution), but these substances are usually detected by visual inspection or smell.
Klear and Whizzies are commercial adulterants that are harder to detect but still detectable by a good lab. Also, they aren’t 100% reliable, and they don’t help at all for those who are forced to urinate as someone watches–barbaric, we know.
In addition, major labs like Quest Diagnostics have figured out how to detect the most common adulterants in urine. They even have a chart of common adulterants used to cheat drug tests that they can catch.
This leaves those in genuinely dire situations considering a more drastic option — substitution.
In truly desperate situations, cannabis users have rigged themselves up with bags containing clean urine. IF they’re allowed to urinate in privacy, they can then substitute the clean urine for their own. Some companies even sell dehydrated urine and synthetic urine to be used for this very purpose.
There are a couple of significant problems with this method:
1) Drug testers usually observe a person’s body before they’re allowed to provide their sample. Yes, it’s creepy, and it’s also a very effective way to tell if someone is wearing a rig.
2) The samples are almost always tested for temperature. This is an easy way to tell if you’re providing your own urine or not. That being said, there are ways to warm the urine first.
The Whizzinator has several models that are designed to be warmed against your skin. They also sell synthetic urine.
The Urinator electronic test device by Testclear has a small heater that keeps synthetic urine warm for about 4 hours, although it seems difficult to hide since it requires two 9 volt batteries.
Hair follicle test
Hair follicle tests don’t provide reliable results. A 2015 study showed that these tests detect cannabis use only 52% of the time and are even less accurate in detecting opiate use, reporting accurate results only 2.9% of the time.
Although they’re all but useless when it comes to accuracy, some agencies prefer hair drug tests because they can detect past marijuana use for around 90 days. This allows the tester to dig further into the testee’s past since urine tests can only detect past use for about two weeks to a month in most cases.
How does a hair follicle drug test work?
The test is performed by collecting between 100 and 120 hairs from the crown of your head. For those with little or no hair, they can be collected from any part of your body. The hair is then sent to a lab. The test will detect drug use over the past 90 days, but it can’t determine exactly when the drug use occurred because everyone’s hair grows at a different rate. It is possible to have a false-positive result. It’s also possible for a hair test to detect one-time drug use if the use was long enough ago for the hair to grow out and show it–usually about a week.
What can be detected by a hair drug test?
The most common drugs tested for in hair are:
- amphetamines, and
- opiates, all tested for together by a five-panel assay.
How long can you test positive for marijuana in your hair?
Marijuana is detected in hair about one week after use. Hair will continue to test positive for roughly 90 days. Hair follicle tests have been shown to have racially biased results because marijuana is more easily detected in thick dark hair than thin light hair and for longer.
Some men try to avoid hair follicle tests by shaving their heads bald. Shaving won’t help since hair follicle drug tests can be taken from hair anywhere on the body. If the hair sample is taken from body hair that grows more slowly, drugs can be detectable for even longer — in some cases, up to 12 months.
Cutoff levels for hair follicle marijuana tests
Hair follicle tests are measured in picograms. An initial cutoff level is usually measured at 1.0 pg/mg, with the confirmation level at 0.1 pg/mg.
How to pass a hair follicle drug test
The best way to pass a hair follicle drug test is to stop using cannabis for several months and then get a nice haircut so the only hair on your head is clean. This obviously isn’t an option for a test on short notice.
There’s no way around this other than shaving every hair on your body, including your eyebrows. If you show up to a drug test in this condition without a medical explanation, you’re probably going to be presumed to be using drugs. And you’ll look weird too.
Some people have had success with special shampoos to pass a hair follicle test instead. Neutrogena, Head & Shoulders (Fine/Oily), and Rave have been shown to cause lower drug concentrations in hair than Pert or Prell.
Commercial shampoos are designed to rid the hair of drug traces like Toxin Rid, but they’re costly and not guaranteed to work. Some have better success using Toxin Rid with the Macujo Method, which is a specific way of washing the hair with several different products to eliminate traces of THC in the hair and scalp:
- Wash and rinse hair, then add vinegar and work it around on the scalp.
- Then work Clean and Clear through the scalp.
- Put on a shower cap and let the chemicals work for half an hour.
- Shampoo hair twice with Toxin Rid.
- Wash hair with a tiny amount of Tide (Note: Tide can cause skin reactions! It’s not advisable to do this. This is just a recitation of the method.)
- Shampoo hair again with Zydot Ultra Clean
- Repeat the process three times a day before the test and once more the morning of the test.
This method is very hard on the hair, and it could also result in scalp irritation, allergic reactions, and even hair loss! But the point is to damage the hair so the THC leeches out. This is why bleaching hair can reduce THC concentration in the hair by up to 30%. Perhaps using this in combination with other products might produce better results. But if the tester suspects that the hair has been over-treated, they’ll just pull a sample from body hair instead.
Understand that hair drug tests aren’t as sensitive for cannabis as other methods. Hair follicle drug tests can be so inaccurate that family courts in many states don’t even allow them! If you’re facing one of these tests, your better alternative may be a lawyer, not Tide.
Blood drug tests
Blood tests are considered an invasive procedure because it involves puncturing the skin. The main risk of blood testing is bruising, which usually resolves in days, but infection and death can happen in extremely rare circumstances.
You’re unlikely to face a marijuana blood test unless you’re in a clinical setting since urine tests are far more convenient and have a longer detection window.
How does a blood drug test work?
A blood drug test is a simple test that only requires a small vial of blood. A blood test is invasive, and as with any blood draw, it does carry a small risk of infection or bruising, so blood tests are not commonly used to detect cannabis. This is usually done in the case of traffic accidents, work injuries, or when the physician is unsure which drug was taken.
Cutoff levels for marijuana blood tests
THC cutoff levels for positive blood tests are different from the cutoff levels for a positive urine test. Most positive urine tests have a cutoff of 50ng/mL because they’re testing for the accumulation of metabolites. For blood tests, the cutoff is usually measured at around 2ng/mL to 5ng/mL. Recent studies indicate that this cutoff may be too low, though.
What can be detected by a blood drug test?
As with the other types of tests, blood drug tests are looking for the metabolites of:
- benzodiazepines, and
How long can you test positive for THC in blood?
Blood tests for casual marijuana use, meaning a joint or two a week, only detect THC for 1 to 7 days after consuming. Those who smoke more often or consume large amounts of edibles can show THC in their blood for several weeks.
Still, studies about THC metabolism can give us insight into reducing the possibility of THC showing up in blood after abstinence. A 2009 study repeatedly injected rats with THC for ten days. They then induced lipolysis, which is the process where your body breaks down fat cells, either by injecting ACTH or depriving the rats of food for 24 hours. They then measured THC levels in the blood. Lipolysis increased the amount of THC in the blood.
So, whether THC is detectable in your blood depends on how much fat you have, how quickly your body metabolizes THC, how much you consume, how much you exercise, and even how much you eat.
How to pass a blood drug test
There are only two ways to pass a blood drug test: detox or abstain. There is nothing you can eat, drink or use to clean your blood of cannabis.
Naturally detoxing (aka, abstinence) can take between 30 and 60 days to eliminate all traces of cannabis in your system and up to 90 days if you’re a very heavy user with ample fat cells for storage of THC-COOH. Most people who have fair warning to detox will:
- eat a very clean diet (veggies, veggies, and MORE veggies),
- drink plenty of water (NOT sugary drinks because they increase FAT!),
- exercise to work up a good sweat daily,
- try to lose a few pounds if they are heavy, and then
- eat well in the days leading up to the test to avoid lipolysis.
But detoxers are careful not to lose too much weight when detoxing because this could slow down the body’s metabolism to the point that it slows down THC elimination. The main focus is on having the healthiest nutritional input possible, exercising to work up a sweat and increase metabolism, and drinking plenty of healthy, non-sugary fluids.
Sadly, there isn’t a way to clean the blood of THC on short notice. In these cases, a person might be tempted to try detox aids to speed up metabolism, but these tend to work by diluting your urine and increasing your urine output. You can’t dilute your blood. They don’t work for blood tests at all.
So, naturally detox and abstinence are your only effective ways to eliminate THC for a blood test. Luckily, blood tests for THC aren’t that common.
Mouth swab drug tests are the least invasive procedure available for drug testing. They don’t involve showing one’s genitals to a third person or urinating while a third party watches. There’s no venipuncture risk and no need to remove hairs. They’re 98% accurate and more likely to show current intoxication, rather than past use, since the detection window is so short.
They’re also almost impossible to fake or switch samples since the test administrator can directly watch the sample given without privacy concerns. This is why saliva drug tests comprise over 80% of all workplace drug testing.
How does a mouth swab drug test work?
Oral marijuana tests work by detecting delta-9 THC in your saliva, as opposed to other tests which detect metabolites like THC-COOH. When we eat or smoke THC, small amounts remain in our mouth lining. This THC slowly leaches into our saliva for up to 24 hours.
There are several different test designs. Some involve spitting a small amount of saliva into a tube, while others use a cotton swab to collect saliva from your mouth.
What can be detected by an oral swab drug test?
An oral swab drug test can detect:
- PCP, or
How long can a mouth swab test detect marijuana?
Mouth swabs, aka oral fluid or saliva drug tests, have the second shortest window of detection times from ingestion and are only up to about 98% accurate. Most tests can only show cannabis use within the past 24 hours. In rare cases, THC can be detected for up to a week. The short testing window, in addition to the lack of invasiveness (unlike urine and blood tests), makes saliva drug tests an increasingly popular option for both testers and testees.
How to pass a mouth swab drug test
If you’re in a pinch and have the opportunity, some find that it can help to clean the heck out of your mouth before providing a sample. They will brush thoroughly, using a Waterpik or floss if possible to get between gums and teeth. Rinsing repeatedly seems to help.
Some have found that heavy rinsing with mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide is also helpful in a time pinch. NEVER SWALLOW HYDROGEN PEROXIDE OR MOUTHWASH. Diluted hydrogen peroxide rinses are often preferred because they won’t lead to false-positive alcohol tests as mouthwash does.
Keep in mind that an antiseptic rinse only alters your saliva for up to 30 minutes. It’s also not a foolproof method. Like all other methods here, it’s still very possible to fail your drug test. Antiseptic rinse is more of a desperate hail mary. You’re better off just avoiding situations where you would be forced to submit to such a test while high on short notice. In other words, don’t drive or operate heavy machinery while high and don’t go to work high.
Marijuana breathalyzers are a brand new technology. Although you may find a few types on the market available for sale and use, they haven’t gained trust as a reliable drug testing method just yet.
You may never encounter a marijuana breathalyzer test, but in case you do, here are the basics as they stand now.
How does a breath drug test work?
Marijuana breathalyzers detect THC in your breath much the same way alcohol is detected with a breathalyzer. These tests have the shortest detection time for marijuana consumption and are much less likely to yield false-positive results for intoxication. Since marijuana breathalyzers are so new and therefore of unknown reliability, they are still very rare but may become more popular in the near future.
What drugs can be detected by a breathalyzer?
Breathalyzers can detect:
Of course, most commonly, breath tests are used to detect alcohol.
How long can you test positive for?
Hound Labs has created a THC breathalyzer that they say can only detect THC use within the past four hours. They say this allows them to differentiate “between the person who smoked cannabis legally and responsibly at a BBQ on Friday night, versus their colleague who smoked Monday morning on the way to work.” The tests are commercially available now, with mass production ramping up throughout the year.
However, they don’t seem to be able to detect edible consumption accurately. So, if you see these tests in the near future, they may be used in conjunction with saliva tests. They’re also, as yet, unproven in the field, so should you fail one of these tests on the road or at work, a legal challenge should be possible with an excellent lawyer. Court approval is required to use these tests as evidence for arrests.
How to pass a marijuana breathalyzer drug test
These new tests won’t be ready to use as solid evidence for a while yet. The jury is still out as to whether they work. There aren’t any methods available to beat one of these tests yet, but detection times are so short that there’s less concern over past use being detected.
Other reported ways to pass a drug test
If you search long enough on the internet, you’ll probably find more purported ways to pass a drug test than could ever be printed in this guide. Indeed, you could probably find an encyclopedia’s worth of information.
Most of these methods don’t work. Still, here are some of the most common purported methods to pass a drug test and the science or pseudo-science behind them.
How Exercise Affects Blood THC Levels
It’s been shown that exercise can cause a statistically significant increase in blood THC levels. This demonstrates that lipolysis (burning fat cells for energy) causes you to detox from THC faster. The caveat here is that you don’t want to do this right before a test because you’ll end up with elevated THC levels in your blood instead of less.
Suppose you’re going to add exercise to your plan, good! It’s vital for health. Just don’t do this as a last-minute measure. Logic dictates that if you’re going to exercise to detox from weed, you’ll want to start a couple of weeks beforehand at least and remain sedentary the day before your test. But again, this is no guarantee that you’ll pass a drug test.
Maintain a healthy diet
Those with higher body fat levels might retain higher THC levels simply by the sheer volume of available space for storage. Maintaining a healthy weight would lower the amount of available body fat for THC storage. But everyone stores fat and burns it, even thin people with lower body fat levels. So don’t count on detoxing faster if you’re skinny. Incidentally, people who use cannabis are less likely to be overweight.
Toxin Rid is often recommended for THC detox. The problem with Toxin Rid is that the detox times recommended coincide with the natural detox times. For instance, the one-day detox program is recommended for very light use only. Most of the time, very light use is already undetectable after one day. Trying to use the one-day detox for very heavy use won’t work.
Also, their site mentions a 100% money-back guarantee, but the product agreement requires consumers to hold them harmless for any claims of damages, including “defamation for wrongful allegations of toxin use or fraud for using our toxin kits to corroborate fraudulent claims by you that you have not used toxins within a certain period of time.”
That’s not much of a guarantee.
Like detox pills, most detox drinks rely on inducing diarrhea. Toxin Rid has a detox drink subject to the same conditions listed for their pills, meaning they aren’t guaranteed to work at all, and in some cases, detox kits have even caused medical problems for the users.
Detox kits will usually include detox pills and detox drinks, along with fiber for inducing bowel movements. Just as the pills and drinks don’t come with guarantees that they will work separately, these kits won’t either. Most kits contain a mixture of herbs and digestive stimulants that can cause allergic reactions or harm some users.
Therefore, if you’re determined to use a detox kit, take these three vital steps first:
1) Check the list of ingredients for potential allergens or ingredients that could react with your medications.
2) Talk to your doctor about any potential reactions and what to expect.
3) Check the manufacturer’s warranty and any liability waivers presented with the product. You may find that it comes with no guarantee to work at all. You may also notice that any instructions for detox time limits coincide with the natural clearance times for marijuana without the use of detox kits listed in the sections above.
Lemon juice and water
Fasting while drinking lemon juice and water is a common THC detox method. Fasting with lemon juice induces lipolysis. Lipolysis releases THC from fat cells. So it’s logical to conclude fasting will eliminate THC from the body faster. But the key here is fasting and not the lemon juice. There’s no evidence at all that lemon juice will help you clear THC out of your system on its own.
Lemon juice fasting has been shown to reduce body fat, insulin resistance, and serum hs-CRP level, which reduces the risk of heart disease. So it probably won’t hurt to try a lemon juice fast with the proper medical guidance. (Diabetics, for instance, shouldn’t fast without direct medical supervision.) But the lemons aren’t necessary for helping to eliminate THC faster because they don’t speed up lipolysis. They do seem to have other ancillary benefits, however.
In the study linked above, the subject who received a placebo drink instead of lemon juice and water had less benefit than those given the lemon juice and water. Specifically, “serum high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels were also reduced only in the Lemon-D group. Hemoglobin and hematocrit levels remained stable in the Lemon-D group while they decreased in the Positive-C and Normal-C groups.” So, it could be beneficial to add lemons to the fast. But remember, fasting for more than a day should be done under physician supervision.
There’s no evidence that cranberry juice helps to speed the elimination of THC from the body. Increasing fluid intake, in general, helps to flush your system a bit faster. However, cranberry juice is a poor choice if you’re drinking a lot of fluid because it has a LOT of sugar.
This is like the Jello detox listed above. It relies on sugar overload to supposedly stop lipolysis and thus prevent the re-release of stored THC into the bloodstream. But overloading on sugar is dangerous for your health, and this method is unlikely to work. Anecdotal evidence is more likely related to people who used small amounts of cannabis and metabolized it quickly.
Apple cider vinegar
As with lemon juice and cranberry juice, apple cider vinegar may have some small health benefits, but it’s unlikely to help THC detox for the same reasons listed above.
Go to a sauna
Saunas have been shown to help induce lipolysis, which might help eliminate THC from the system faster. However, they should be approached with caution because there are both risks and benefits to using saunas. When combined with fasting, these risks are markedly increased. Most people tolerate saunas well, but sudden deaths have occurred due to cardiac arrhythmia or myocardial infarctions.
Excuses for positive results are unlikely to work
There are three common excuses used for positive marijuana drug tests:
- Passive exposure (“I don’t smoke marijuana, my friends do!”),
- False-positive due to lab error, and
- False-positive due to a non-narcotic substance.
Each of these is unlikely to succeed as an excuse for a positive marijuana drug test. Here’s why.
Most marijuana drug tests are set to a sensitivity of 50ng/ml. This won’t allow a positive test due to passive exposure under any but the most extreme circumstances. For instance, being trapped in a car with chain smokers for several hours. If you’re taking a more sensitive test, such as one set to 20ng/ml, this can happen, though.
A 2014 study exposed six non-cannabis users to cannabis smoke in sealed chambers. Three sessions were conducted. The chambers were unventilated in the first two sessions, while the third session was ventilated. Session 1 was conducted with 5.3% THC cannabis, while sessions 2 and 3 were conducted with 11.3% THC cannabis.
This allowed them to examine three different scenarios:
1) No ventilation with 5.3% cannabis.
2) No ventilation with 11.3% cannabis.
3) Ventilation with 11.3% cannabis.
The higher concentrations of cannabis produced a single positive result over 50mg/mL via passive smoke and several positive results at 20ng/mL.
However, so much smoke was added to the chambers that many participants opted to wear goggles for eye irritation. The authors agreed that marijuana users were unlikely to recreate such an extreme environment in the real world.
False-positive due to lab error
It’s nearly impossible to beat a positive urine test these days. Testing now involves a two-step process:
1) The specimen is screened with an immunoassay test like EMIT.
2) If the result is positive, it’s submitted for further testing via a gas chromatography-mass spectrometer.
This two-step process virtually eliminates any possibility of a false positive.
False-positive due to other substance
Marijuana tests have been improved to the point that no substance will be mistaken for cannabis. If you hear rumors circulating about Motrin or Advil causing false-positive cannabis results, this used to happen, but testing has advanced enough that this is no longer a risk.
Concerned? You can get yourself tested beforehand
It’s easy to purchase at-home drug test kits these days, and they can be as affordable as $1. These tests are nowhere near as accurate as gas chromatography, but you’ll at least be able to get an idea of where you stand.
Drug testing in the workplace — your legal rights
Several states and jurisdictions are adopting laws to protect medical or recreational cannabis users. Several cities are restricting pre-employment drug screening to safety-sensitive jobs as well. Therefore, you should check your state drug testing laws here.
Understand that most of these prohibitions only apply to pre-employment screening, not testing in response to a workplace accident. Employers for federal drug-free workplaces are usually exempt from testing bans as well.
Jurisdictions that have testing bans in place only control the actions of employers in their jurisdiction. They can’t prevent employers from other jurisdictions from testing residents that live in there but work elsewhere.
If you’re concerned that your employer is discriminating against you due to medical marijuana use, you should contact a lawyer and see if any available protections apply to you.
- Urine tests can show cannabis use from a few days to several weeks.
- Hair follicle drug tests can show consumption one week after use for up to 90 days.
- Blood tests can show cannabis use for between a few days to several weeks.
- Saliva tests have the shortest current detection window, from 24 hours to a week.
- Breathalizers may be able to cut that detection time to 3 or 4 hours in the near future.
In all cases, casual users are much less likely to have a false positive test for impairment. In contrast, sedentary, overweight users are most likely to have a false positive test for impairment.
The inaccuracy of THC testing leaves plenty of room for legal challenges in the case of a positive test, but positive tests can and will still cost you. So, the safest and most effective way to pass a drug test for marijuana will always be abstinence. Abstinence is the only good advice to give a person who is facing a drug test. Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you a product that has an unproven success record or doesn’t work at all.
Your freedom isn’t worth risking. So, never drive while high. Never use cannabis if doing so could endanger your freedom, for instance, if you’re on parole and not approved by your parole officer to use it. Note that mere physician approval won’t protect most parolees. They must get permission from the parole board or a court order to be legally protected. And never use cannabis if your job, child custody, or any other aspect of your life could be endangered by detection of your use. It’s simply not worth the risk considering the highly likely outcome of a positive test.
Unfortunately, this is the world we live in for now. Still, attitudes toward cannabis are changing, and we’re likely to see testing for past cannabis use end in the future as tests that detect actual impairment become available.