Drug Testing – Marijuana Testing Tips
Dealing With Urinalysis on Short Notice
While NORML strongly opposes drug use on the job, we think no one should be forced to submit to urine testing, especially for marijuana. Aside from launching a legal challenge, your best defense against urine testing is to be clean. Unfortunately, this may be difficult since urine tests may detect marijuana 1-5 days after an occasional use, 1-3 weeks in regular users, and 4-6 weeks in multiple daily users. Since urine tests do not detect the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, THC, but rather other, nonactive metabolites, they in no way measure impairment; nonetheless, this fact is of no account to employers in today’s anti-drug hysteria. If you are on the job market, it is prudent to expect being tested and avoid marijuana. However, recognizing that many of you may face drug testing on short notice, we offer the following advice for emergencies with our best wishes (but no promises!).
DON’T RELY ON EXCUSES:
Although urine tests are far from infallible, it is difficult to challenge positive test results. “False positives,” in which workers are wrongfully accused of marijuana use, are highly unlikely so long as labs exercise proper care (however, not all labs do this). The standard procedure is to first screen the samples with an immunoassay test (e.g., EMIT® or RIA®), then confirm positive results with the more accurate gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS). This virtually eliminates the chance of false positives in exchange for a relatively high rate of “false negatives,” where drug use is not detected. The sensitivity of the test is determined by the concentration of metabolites it is set to detect: for the Dept. of Transportation, the standard cutoff is 50 nanograms/milliliter (ng/ml).
No substance is known to produce a false positive for marijuana. It used to be that ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) interfered with the marijuana test, but this problem has been fixed. A variety of over-the-counter medicines can cause false positives for amphetamine and other illicit drugs on the EMIT test, but not on the GCMS.
“Passive smoking” of marijuana is not an acceptable excuse at the 50 ng/ml level, since only in extreme circumstances can a non-smoker absorb enough pot to test urine positive (e.g., being stuck in a closet full of heavy smokers for hours). However, passive exposure may result in positive tests at 25 ng/ml or lower.
WASH YOURSELF OUT:
The general strategy for passing urine tests is to increase your fluid intake and urine flow so as to dilute the concentration of drugs in the sample below the threshold of detection. An hour or two before the test, you should fill your bladder with fluids – as much as you can drink. Water is fine – contrary to popular rumor, there is NO evidence that goldenseal, vinegar, niacin, or vitamin C help. However, high-dosage aspirin may reduce the sensitivity of the EMIT urine test for pot (only). Many people wash themselves out for several days in advance by drinking a lot and exercising, but there is no reason to think this is useful. In no case should you give your first urine of the morning, since drug metabolites tend to build up during your sleep.
While you’re loading up on water before the test, you may also want to take a large dose (50-100 milligrams) of vitamin B-12, available in B-complex multivitamins. The purpose of this is to color your urine yellow, since otherwise you are likely to produce clear, watery urine, which makes some collectors suspicious (contrary to rumor, vitamin C won’t help). In rare instances, some labs will reject a sample for being too watery; in this case, however, they will typically give you a second chance. Wait until your test results have been confirmed before indulging in compromising behavior.
You can boost your fluid output by taking diuretics, which stimulate urination. Weak diuretics include coffee, cranberry juice, certain health food products and over-the-counter pills for pre-menstrual water retention.
If you’re taking the test on very short notice, you may wish to resort to more potent diuretics, which are widely prescribed to treat high blood pressure. Although strong diuretics, such as furosemide (Lasix®), are available only on prescription in the U.S., they can be had over-the-counter in Mexico and other foreign countries. Beware that they can be dangerous for certain persons, such as diabetics or pregnant women, and can cause problems if taken over extended periods. Diuretics can be detected in urine, but are rarely checked except for athletes. The following regime has been suggested by a former army drug testing officer (Robert Freeman, “How to ‘Beat’ a Drug Test,” High Times, Aug. 1988): Take an 80-milligram dose of Lasix; take a hefty drink of water; piss two or three times, then take the test. If you’re lucky and didn’t smoke too much pot, a good washout may get you past a test on a couple days’ notice. However, regular smokers should allow at least a week or two if at all possible.
It has been suggested that the ingestion of certain substances might alter body chemistry so as to disguise drug use. Although many products are currently being marketed as drug screens in head shops, High Times ads, etc., few have any solid scientific basis. Activated charcoal, a common detoxifier, might help lower metabolite levels a bit in long-term users if taken over the course of some days or weeks. It has been suggested on theoretical grounds that lecithin, a food emulsifier, might also be useful if taken over extended periods, but this hasn’t been proven. A number of high-priced herbal teas and powders are promoted as urine cleansers, with no good medical rationale. While some users have reported remarkable success with them, many others have not. Independent experiments suggest that it may be water dilution, not the screen itself, that accounts for success.
While urine dilution is useful, it isn’t 100% reliable, especially for heavy daily users. Another tack used by some people is to tamper with the sample by adding adulterants or substituting clean urine for their own. Ethical issues aside, tampering is risky since subjects may be observed or made to disrobe beforehand, and cheating isn’t forgiven. For the adventurous, Abbie Hoffman’s book Steal This Urine Test has full instructions on how to rig yourself up with a plastic bag to substitute clean urine. You can buy clean, dehydrated urine from Byrd Labs. Beware however that labs check to make sure the temperature of urine samples is right (around 91-97ƒ).
Another trick to foil the test is to spike the sample with an adulterant. This approach should be used only as a last resort, since any adulterant can be chemically detected if labs take the trouble to do so. A number of adulterants cause negatives on the commonly used EMIT test, but not necessarily other tests. In an emergency, you might fool an EMIT test by adding a few drops of Visine® to the sample. Other common adulterants include detergent, bleach, salt, and the cleaning solution glutaraldahyde, but most of these are easily detected by smell or visual inspection. A host of commercial adulterants are on the market (for advertisements, see High Times). Among the more popular are Klear® and Whizzies®. No additive is 100% reliable, and all involve a substantial risk of detection. Many drug testing companies claim to test for adulterants, though it isn’t clear how carefully.
Many drug testing aids are advertised with money-back guarantees if you test positive. BEWARE: guarantees do not assure good test results! Vendors often exaggerate product reliability and ignore customer complaints.
In some situations, including accidents and roadside sobriety checks, blood tests may be used. Blood tests detect the actual presence of THC in the system; however, they can be sensitive to other metabolites as well. Blood tests generally register positive for just a few hours after smoking, though heavy chronic smokers may be positive for up to seven days. Less sensitive are saliva/oral fluid tests, which register positive for about 2-4 hours after smoking.
An ominous technology is hair testing, which is supposed to detect drug use for months, or however long one’s hair has been growing (Skinheads note: samples can be taken from any part of the body!). While hair tests are highly sensitive to cocaine, their sensitivity to pot is not well established. Not all employers who use hair tests check for marijuana. Hair testing is racially biased against Africans, being much more sensitive to thick, dark hair than to light, fine hair. Although the FDA and scientific community have been critical of hair testing, that hasn’t stopped employers from using it. Hair tests may be influenced by shampoo: one test found hair treated with Head & Shoulders® (Fine/Oily), Neutrogena®, and Rave® displayed lower drug concentrations than with Pert® (Oily/Fine) or Prell® (Normal, Normal/Oily).
Prospective employees have no legal right to challenge pre-employment drug screens. However, workers who are already employed may be able to challenge their employers’ drug testing plans in certain situations depending on labor law and local regulations. Avoid signing anything that gives your boss the right to arbitrarily test you; by stating your objections, you will strengthen your right to refuse a test. If you think you are being unjustly tested, you may have cause for legal action. San Francisco, Berkeley and some other jurisdictions forbid on-the-job drug testing except in safety-sensitive positions.
We are sorry having to mention these devious techniques, but feel it is necessary to defend innocent people against wrongful accusations of drug abuse. California NORML urges you to use this information responsibly and not as a way of hiding irresponsible marijuana use.
Many drug abuse clinics offer urine testing for a fee. Home test kits are available from companies such as Liberty Research and Instant Diagnostics. Beware: drug urine levels can fluctuate up and down during the day.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH DRUG URINE TESTING?
Privacy: Urine tests intrude on intimate bodily privacy. Mass drug screening violates the privacy of the majority of responsible employees in order to spot a minority of alleged drug abusers, many of whom are in fact not drug abusers at all. Government-imposed drug testing may be restricted by the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids unreasonable search and seizure and requires “probable cause” for search warrants. However, the 4th Amendment does not generally apply to tests by private employers.
Accuracy: No test is infallible. Surveys of drug testing labs have found remarkably high error rates from poor quality control. While good labs have added safeguards to minimize the risk of “false positives,” even if error rates are only one in 10,000, the extension of drug testing to tens of millions of workers as proposed by the government means that many workers will be falsely accused of drug abuse.
The most common misconception about drug urine testing is that it detects drug-impaired workers, whereas it actually detects evidence of past drug use that need have no relation to on-the-job performance. Because drug tests are highly sensitive to marijuana, random testing can promote use of other, more dangerous drugs such as cocaine and opiates, which wash out in 2-3 days, or LSD, which is rarely tested. At the same time, most drug tests totally disregard alcohol, the nation’s leading drug of abuse. Urine testing is thus an inherently flawed technology: it rules out the most innocent off-the-job marijuana use, while permitting flagrant on-the-job alcoholism.
Efficacy: Urine testing has never been scientifically shown to be safe or effective at improving workplace safety or productivity, and studies indicate that the great majority of drug-positive workers are just as reliable as others (John Horgan, “Test Negative,” Scientific American, March 1990; Dr. John Morgan, “Impaired Statistics and the Unimpaired Worker,” The Drug Policy Letter, May/June 1989). Medically, the consensus of expert opinion is that drug tests are an inherently unreliable indicator of drug impairment (Consensus Report, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 8, 1985). Dr. George Lundberg of the American Medical Association has called them “Chemical McCarthyism” (editorial, Journal of the American Medical Association, Dec. 5 1986).
Alternatives: The shortcomings of drug testing can be avoided by performance tests that measure actual concentration and reaction time instead of chemical residues. Computer video game tests that detect impairment due to drugs, fatigue, stress, or illness are now available on the market (Performance Factors, Denver, Col.).
Drug Testing – Marijuana Testing Tips Dealing With Urinalysis on Short Notice While NORML strongly opposes drug use on the job, we think no one should be forced to submit to urine testing,
How to Flush Marijuana Out of Your System
Friday September 18, 2015
M arijuana can be good for a lot of things, but helping you pass a drug test isn’t one of them. Many people ask us how to flush marijuana out of your system. Well, it starts with a bit of knowledge and a marijuana detox.
How can I clean weed out of my system?
There are many reasons why people want to ‘flush’ their system of marijuana. The most common situation is a drug test for employment purposes.
Workplace drug tests typically involve urinalysis (testing your pee) for metabolites. Metabolites are a byproduct of a substance after it has been processed by your body. When you consume marijuana, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in your blood stream will immediately increase. As your body cleanses the THC out of your blood stream, metabolites are left behind.
Note that THC, the cannabinoid known for its psychoactive effects, is responsible for getting you “high.” Having said this, both THC and the non-psychoactive metabolite, THC-COOH, will remain in your body’s fat tissue for varying lengths of time depending on a variety of factors.
To figure out if you are ‘clean’ for a drug test and how to get weed out of your system, you need to be able to determine the following:
- The amount of THC and its metabolites in your system
- The type of test you’ll be required to take
- The testing levels for your drug screen
How Much THC is in My Body?
There are a handful of factors that will help you determine how much THC and THC-COOH are in your body after any length of time, post-consumption.
How often you consume:
When determining how much THC is in your system, you must take the frequency of consumption into consideration, first and foremost. Do you smoke once a month, once a week, everyday? When you do smoke, are you only taking one hit or enjoying an entire joint (or two)? Obviously, the more frequently you use (and the actual amount you consume), the more THC and THC-COOH will accrue in the fatty tissue throughout your body.
Total body fat:
As we just mentioned, THC and THC-COOH store itself in fat cells, no matter how often or little you use. As a result, the more body fat you have, the more THC and its metabolites will be inevitably stored.
Metabolism & overall health:
It makes sense that the healthier you are, the better off you’ll be (in all aspects in life). When it comes to THC and its metabolites, they have less of a chance of storing themselves in your body fat, if there isn’t a lot of body fat in the first place! Having said this, everyone has varying metabolisms that break down THC at different rates. Although exercise can potentially push THC back into your blood stream at a faster rate, this doesn’t mean that you should throw away healthy habits into the wind. Simply maintain a healthy lifestyle and don’t work out too much before a test.
What you’re consuming:
Depending on what you consume (flower vs. concentrates) and even the quality of what you consume (top shelf flower vs. schwag) will greatly effect how much THC and THC-COOH are released into your body.
How Long Does THC Stay in My Body?
Typically speaking, psychoactive THC cannabinoids can be found in the system for 1-2 days after consumption for very infrequent users, while those who consume everyday can expect it to remain in your body for longer.
The half-life of THC metabolites is 7 days. Meaning every 7 days, the amount in your body will decrease by 50%.
With this number in mind, most people can assume their body will be clean of THC metabolites within 3-4 weeks — more or less depending on frequency, body weight and amount consumed.
THC is fat soluble and as a result, it gets stored in your fatty lipid tissue. Because of this, your fat cells will secrete THC metabolites into your bloodstream at a constant rate. As a result, many different cleansing techniques are ineffective, as your fat cells will continue to release THC metabolites into your system over time.
Types of Drug Tests
Similar to the variety of factors that can define how much THC is in your system, there are a number of ways your (future) employer can test you. They include urine, blood and hair.
- Urinalysis (UA) is the most common type of drug test. It’s used in many businesses because it’s less expensive than other modes of testing and is fairly accurate. Note that urine drug tests detect THC-COOH (metabolized THC), versus THC itself.
- Blood Test identifies THC in your bloodstream. Unlike urinalysis, a blood test will show impairment. For those who rarely consume, THC might not be measurable several hours afterwards, however for those who use everyday, THC could remain in your bloodstream for a much longer period of time.
- Hair Test is a less common form of testing, however does take place in some work places. Because it measures THC-COOH remainders in the hair follicle over the past several months, it’s often difficult to get around this one. Don’t worry though, you do have options available which we address below.
How Do I Pass a Drug Test?
The best way to pass any drug test is to not consume at all. Having said that, don’t worry if it’s “too late.” There are ways to mask THC in your system, so do your best to follow our tips below – and think about a backup plan in case you might need the extra help.
Typically, random drug tests are delivered with short notice, which means you won’t have as much time as you’d like to prepare for a drug test. It may sound silly, but as soon as you know that you’re going to have to take a marijuana drug test, stop consuming cannabis in any form! Whether you’re a heavy user or casual user, do yourself a favor and stop all cannabis consumption.
Note that the longer you have before your drug test, the better your chances will be of actually passing.
It’s important to realize that marijuana cannot be flushed out of your system using cranberry juice, niacin, vinegar, large amounts of water, creatine pills, ginger root tea, surejell, bleach, etc. In fact, most of these products continue to remain top of mind due to incorrect drug testing myths but they won’t actually help you pass modern drug testing techniques.
Instead, here are three ways to pass a drug test:
Forget detox pills, detox programs or detox kits! A normal healthy, in shape person can rid their body of toxins in 4-6 weeks with a great diet, water and plenty of exercise. Obviously, those with a fast metabolism, lower water retention and overall low BMI will be able to do this faster.
Detox in 3-6 days, with detoxification products.
If you’re on a tight time frame, then you probably just received notice about a marijuana drug test and need answers now. Thankfully, there are many detoxification products available (which we cover below) to help your body rid itself of harmful toxins in approximately a week. They’re successful by leveraging herbal supplements to cleanse your body. Be sure to use a home drug test kit after to ensure you’re fully clean of THC.
Detox in 24 hours, with same day cleansers.
If you’re truly panicking a day or two before your test, it might be worth your while to try a same day cleanser from a company like TestClear.com (available online). Such products temporarily target the urinary tract to flush metabolites to give you a brief period for which to give a clean urine sample, meaning you could technically pass a drug test in 24 hours.
Tips to Pass a Urine Drug Test:
As we mentioned, piss tests are more common than a hair drug test. To pass a marijuana urine test, also known as a urinalysis test, you don’t need to be 100% free of THC metabolites. Rather, you need to have levels below the threshold for the test. Typically the threshold is 50 ng/mL, which is higher than you may think. As long as you register under this value, your test result will be negative.
The primary method of passing a urine drug test is to dilute your urine enough where it will be below the 50 ng/mL threshold. It’s a simple as that, but with a hitch. Drug testing labs are on the lookout for diluted urine samples. So in order to be an effective technique, you need not only dilute your urine, but to mask the fact that your urine is diluted.
There is no reason to start drinking excessive amounts of water weeks or days before your test. It’s a waste of time as it only temporarily dilutes your urine. Your best bet is to drink 2-3 liters throughout the day before your test, and then around 1-2 liters several hours before your test. Don’t drink too much water though, as it can be dangerous. Start with 2 liters max and be sure to know your limits.
After drinking this much water, your pee will be colorless and have low levels of creatinine. These are both red flags for any testing lab to indicate diluted urine, so there are some additional steps you need to take.
You’ll need to make your pee yellow, and the best way to do this is by using vitamin B. Vitamin B-2 or B-12 seem to be the most effective for this purpose, so stop by your local drug store and take 50-100mg several hours before your test.
Creatinine is a chemical waste product produced by muscle metabolism. Creatinine is naturally occurring in the human body and is one method labs use to determine if your urine is diluted. It has a half-life of three hours, so no reason to start taking it more than a day or so before your test.
You can buy creatine supplements from almost any health food store. Creatine then gets broken down into creatinine by your body and is flushed out in your urine. You should take an above-average dose several hours before your test.
Whether you’re applying for a new job or trying to hold on to the one you’ve got, passing a marijuana drug test can be an important step. Here are several tips on how to clean THC out of your system, starting with a weed detox.