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So you’ve got a drug test coming up, and your job is at stake; and you get the feeling that you aren’t going to get a passing grade.
Not a great situation.
Thankfully, there are ways to clean up and pass drug tests. They’ll take a bit of work, but it’s well worth the effort.
In this guide, we give you a comprehensive overview of what goes into a drug test and how to beat them.
What Is THC?
Before we get into how to pass or dodge a drug test, we first have to understand how they work. We thus start with what they look for, and in the case of weed, that’s THC.
That acronym shakes out to tetrahydrocannabinol, for the curious. It’s one of the many compounds found in marijuana (you’ll hear the term ‘cannabinoid’; THC is one of these), and it’s the primary psychoactive component of cannabis. Basically, THC is what gets you high. Once THC reaches the brain and arrives at the receptors there, you get your usual effects: euphoria, relaxation, introspection, anxiety, the munchies, etc.
THC, and a few other cannabinoids, are easily fat-soluble. As you can imagine, if your own body’s fat cells have THC, it’ll take a while for detox to have any measurable effect. Heavy weed users can still test positive for one to three months after stopping.
And since everything you do to your body leaves marks on it, that’s what drug tests look for. Hence the usual suspects: urine, saliva, hair, and blood. They’ll look for the presence THC or its derivatives to check if someone’s been on drugs.
How Is THC Absorbed?
There are two main avenues: Inhalation (via smoking or vaporization) and ingestion (eating or drinking). The main difference between the two is in onset and duration.
Inhalation is the most common way to consume marijuana. Both smoking and vaporization give you an almost-immediate effect that lasts for a short while.
Ingestion is less common, and you most usually see it as hash cakes and brownies. Onset is much delayed when ingested, taking about an hour or two, but the duration is much longer.
How Long Will THC Stay in My Body?
Unfortunately, there’s no quick answer to this question, as it’s based on a bunch of factors.
- Potency and purity: There’s weed, and there’s weed that’s cut with things other than weed, and there’s stuff masquerading as weed. This all affects the amounts of cannabinoids that get into your body, as not all weed is the same.
- Half-life: That’s around seven days for THC. After those seven days, metabolites are down to half the level previously. This does not mean you’re in the clear. Remember, THC takes a while to get out of the house, so for the occasional user, you’re looking at around 3-4 weeks before you’re completely clean.
- Amount used: Or, how much you took in one session. After all, the more you use, the more THC gets into your system.
- Frequency of use: If you have a regular weed habit, you’ll have more THC in your system than someone who just took their first hit ever. Plus remember how long THC stays in your body.
- Lifestyle: And by that we mean your diet, how active you are physically, your metabolism, and a few other factors. Your friend who looks like a stick and exercises regularly will be clearer of THC quicker than your friend with the dad bod who doesn’t move much.
- Detoxification: There are ways to hasten the natural process of cleaning THC from your body, and as you can expect, interest in such products has driven a healthy market.
Drug Testing Methods
You’ll encounter drug tests mainly in two ways: either as a pre-employment requirement, or as a random test once you’re already employed. Other situations are likely rarer. Here are the tests you’ll usually encounter.
It’s inexpensive and it’s easy to collect, and a lot of urine drug tests can return results immediately. Is it any wonder that urine tests are the most common? Strictly speaking, urine tests don’t look for THC itself, but for one of its byproducts, THC-COOH. Urine tests will be your main opponent, all thanks to the detection window. As you can observe:
- A first-time user will still have detectable THC-COOH 5 to 8 days after use.
- An occasional user will still have detectable THC-COOH 11 to 18 days after use.
- A regular user will still have detectable THC-COOH 33 to 48 days after use.
- A daily user will still have detectable THC-COOH 90 days after use.
Saliva tests are fast, cheap, very efficient, and they don’t involve the embarrassment of dealing with urine. And they’re very hard to cheat; how do you fake out a cotton swab in your mouth? If they have an onsite test, they’ll only need lab confirmation of the results. However, saliva tests are far from perfect. Some states limit or outright forbid onsite testing, so even if a company wanted to use them, they may be legally unable to do so.
Even for those capable of using them, they have their own problems. They have a very short detection window of only a few days at most. With weed, most tests can only see use within 24 to 72 hours. Basically, saliva tests are good for catching anyone who’s a chronic user, but if you’re informed in advance and you don’t have much of a habit, it’s easy enough to pass a saliva test the natural way.
It’s difficult to beat hair tests in terms of detection window. Urine tests go out to maybe a week, saliva tests a few days. Hair tests? They can see drug use for over three months. Plus it’s hard to get around them, as the collector directly observes what they pick out.
Where they fall short is in cost, drug panel (the number of drugs they can detect), and it doesn’t show immediate or sporadic use. Rather, hair testing can detect drug use over a certain period. Stronger traces mean more sustained use in that period, though they can’t tell you the precise date of when use occurred.
Just 1.5 inches of hair is needed. It’s taken from the scalp most commonly, but hair from anywhere else like the arms, armpits, legs, or chest is usable, as long as it’s long enough.
Just about the only good news is that there’s a possibility of false positives coming from secondhand exposure to marijuana. If your habit is occasional enough, you may be able to get away with claiming your roommate likes his weed.
Blood tests are the most accurate of drug tests and are the hardest to fool, but they’re also expensive, they have a long turnaround time, and they have a short detection window. Occasional users will test positive in a window of 6 to 24 hours, after which there isn’t enough THC in the bloodstream. Frequent users will test positive in a window of around a week.
Thanks to the expense, time taken, and the short detection window, blood tests aren’t commonly used by employers; you more often see it after an accident or drawn by court order. Basically, if you’re undergoing a blood test, you’ve got bigger problems than just your weed habit.
How to Pass a Marijuana Drug Test
So, you know what you’re up against. Now, how do you get around them?
The important thing is to get below the detection limit for a test. With THC and urine tests, that’s usually calibrated to 50 ng/ml. As long as you are below that level, you’re home and safe. This is how detox methods work; remove enough THC from the body and you’ll pass.
We’ll detail how to do this both naturally and with a little extra help.
Natural Detox Methods
THC-Free In One Day
Here are a few ways you can even the odds with the test:
- Water intake will help, but the labs are wise to the trick, so chugging water endlessly isn’t going to work. Better instead try it spread out: two to three liters on the day before the test, then a few hours before the test, one to two liters.
- Exercise does help flush THC from your body, but it has to go into your bloodstream before it goes out. Avoid exercise in the 24 hours before testing.
- Your increased water intake will lighten your urine color, which may raise suspicions. 50 to 100 milligrams of Vitamin B2, B12, or B complex will give your urine some color back and assuage suspicions.
- Don’t give them your first pee of the day, as it’s the ‘dirtiest’ one in terms of drug presence. Try your best to give them the third of the day, or better yet even later. When you’re giving your sample, give the middle of the stream, not the start.
How to Flush Marijuana out of Your System in One Month
If you have time, and by time we mean ‘a month’, you can try and detox the natural way. This is useful in case you want to clean up for job interviews and pre-employment screening, or perhaps you have other reasons. Either way, this will take time and effort. We won’t be using any detox products (we’ll cover those later); just lifestyle changes.
First: Cease all substance use in every form. Absolutely no weed, whether you smoke it or eat it or whatever else you think to do with it.
Stay hydrated. Regular water intake is a pretty basic detox method, and you can spruce it up a little with vitamin C: lemons, oranges, and anything else in the citrus family. Tea and other juices are fine as well. Keep caffeine, alcohol, and soda to a minimum.
Diet also helps, and you’ll want to look for antioxidants to help the process along. For you, that means most berries, pecans, kale, spinach, artichoke, red cabbage, beans, etc. Don’t worry, it’s not all berries and leaves; dark chocolate is also rich in antioxidants.
You’ll also want fiber. Fortunately, most of the foods also listed previously are rich in fiber, even dark chocolate. So load up on your berries, other fruits, and vegetables. Your mother definitely had a point when she told you to eat your veggies.
Keep your vitamins and electrolytes up. Avoid junk food, because that slows your metabolism and increases water retention, pretty much what we don’t want to happen.
Exercise. Sweating is also another way the body removes toxins, and what better way is there to work up a sweat than to exercise? Even if it’s just basic cardio, anything that gets you sweating and burns fat is worth it. Remember, THC likes your fat, so giving your fat a workout gives them a little push to go on and clear out.
Same-Day Detox Products
If, however, you don’t have time and need to pass on a test that’s within the next few days, you still have options. We’ve got fuller guides on detox drinks and detox pills, and here we’ll give you the highlights of the best ones.
Toxin Rid 1-day detox is the thing for when you’ve got a drug test coming up soon and need to pass. It’s formulated for light users, using an all-natural formulation to eliminate toxins from your system.
It’s a three-part solution, using pre-rid tablets, liquid detox, and dietary fiber. The package itself comes with detailed instructions for you to follow. As a summary, it improves on the hydration method with the tablets, and the program itself recommends high-fiber foods and lean protein as well to speed the process along.
It works well enough that the manufacturer even has a money-back guarantee, though the bottle is very clear in that it’s for people with light toxin exposure. For those who have a bit of a larger weed habit, we’ll cover your detox needs further along.
Toxin Rid Rescue Mouthwash
As we noted earlier, saliva tests aren’t really much to worry about unless they’re sprung on you on the same day you had a hit off your bong. However, if you want to be absolutely sure of passing, there’s a mouthwash for that. Not only does it leave your breath smelling fresh, it’ll also take care of those pesky toxins in your saliva.
Your Toxin Rid mouthwash bottle is an ounce, and usage is nicely simple. Just put a third of the mouthwash in and hold for three minutes, then spit it out. Do it again twice, then rinse your mouth out. And then toss in a few breath mints of your choice. No, really, the instructions include the bit with the breath mints. With this, you should be fine with the swab test.
Mega Clean Cleansing Drink
When you’ve got a drug test coming up in a few days and need to show clean for it, that’s when you reach for the Mega Clean. It may be a bit pricey, but it’s effective, and you only need a day before the test itself.
It comes with a liter bottle of the cleansing drink and a set of six pre-cleanse supplement tablets that you’re supposed to take the day before your test. One an hour, washed with water, will see you through. The cleansing drink is taken on the day itself. It’s a lovely tropical fruit-flavored drink, not some gag-inducing medical choke-juice, so you’ll be fine.
Best effectiveness is in two and a half to three hours after drinking. Time your chug as best you can to get in that window.
Be THC-Negative in Ten Days or Less
Natural detox is a pretty good solution against anything but hair tests, but it could be a bit faster. Fortunately, remember our old friend Toxin Rid? Their one-day formulation gets rid of light amounts of toxins, but they have longer-term programs that deliver much more significant effects. The one with the longest duration is the ten-day program, but the duration is well worth it: once you’ve completed that ten-day course, you are free and clean. Not ‘clean enough to pass’—outright clean.
You can combine this with the methods we detailed above for best results. And of course, remember to suspend your substance use in the days leading up to the test.
If all else fails, if you don’t have enough faith in the detox routine, or if you believe you use enough that detox really won’t help, then you have another option: Dodging the urine drug test entirely using synthetic urine.
Thing is, not just any fake pee will do. A lot of those aren’t enough like real urine, and the labs are wise to that trick already. They’ll catch the low-quality stuff easily, and that’s even worse than testing positive. If you test positive; you may get enforced rehab at the lightest, or lose your job at the most. If you get caught faking out a urine drug test with fake pee, you could face jail time at the worst. So if you’re going this way, you have to make it good.
Quick Fix is the best synthetic urine on the market for that, and that’s because it’s the same product they use to calibrate urinalysis equipment. We’ve got an article on it covering a full review and directions of use.
Just as you can detox your urine, you can detox for hair. The difference is that, since hair is already grown and already incorporates drug traces, you’ll need to use different methods. We’ve got two articles already covering hair detox: here’s a general guide, and here’s one focusing on what shampoos you can use.
As a guideline: Remember that the heavier your habit, the more effort you’ll need to put in to cleanse, whether it’s your body or your hair. Light users may be able to get by with just a detox shampoo alone, but if you’re using more than that, the later methods in the general guide are a better bet for you.
Note that any hair will do, so long as it’s the correct length. This means that if you want to try and dodge a hair test by shaving your hair off, you have to get rid of every possible hair on every inch of your body, which is going to look mighty suspicious.
Here’s a few things you can do to improve your chances.
- After you’ve made a few friends at work, or when the subject arises, ask about how often drug tests come up. Check if there’s a pattern, or if it really is random. If there is something, that gives you that much more time to prepare. And keep it low-key; if the wrong ears find out you’re particularly curious about how the company goes about drug testing, you may attract unwanted attention.
- Practice moderation in your substance use. Not to say that you should give up weed entirely, just a little reminder that too much of a good thing may not always be good. Besides, the less THC you have in your system, the easier it is to detox. Consider it a little compromise between you and work.
- Incorporate the foods we mentioned above into your diet. It’ll help with detoxification, and overall they’re quite good for your health.
Cannabis generally takes a long time to flush from your system, so it will take some effort for you to appear clean on a drug test. Thankfully detox methods do work if you’re diligent, and synthetic urine will work if you’re confident in sleight of hand. I hope this guide has let you know that a drug test isn’t the end of the world, and with care and attention, you can both keep your job and your weed.