You’ve spent countless hours tweaking your resume and applying to jobs. You finally get called in for an interview and pass it with flying colors! But the company who hired you wants you to go through a drug test.
You’re a regular user of marijuana. Although you stopped smoking in anticipation of being hired, you’re not sure if you can pass the drug test. Before you apply to your job, the fact that there will be a drug test should be clear from the start. But you might’ve overlooked the tiny fine print. What do you do?
It’s not unheard of for people to pass up on their dream job because of the fear of failing their drug test. Although 23 states have legalized medical marijuana and 4 states and Washington DC legalized it for recreational use, there isn’t a uniform standard for companies regarding marijuana policies.
In other words, even if you live in a state where smoking pot is legal, the company you want to work for might not hire you if you fail their drug test. It’s estimated that about 40% of all companies in the United States give drug tests to their potential employees. It’s in your best interest to assume that all major companies as well as government jobs will require you pass their drug test.
Why Companies Give Drug Tests
The reasons depend on the type of jobs companies employ for. Federal government guidelines require that companies who hire commercial drivers have a testing system in place.
While it’s widely known that testing positive for marijuana doesn’t indicate much about impairment on the job, drug tests do look for other substances like opiates, cocaine, and amphetamine.
Types of Drug Tests
Although “peeing in the cup” is the most common image you conjure up with the words “drug test,” that’s not always the case. Besides urine, companies give tests for saliva, sweat, blood, or hair.
The most prevalent drug test given is urine. Urinalysis is relatively inexpensive, can accurately test for recent marijuana use, and less invasive than a blood test.
Ways to Pass a Urine Drug Test
Should you pass up a dream job because you’re afraid of failing your drug test? Furthermore, if you test positive for marijuana in a state where it’s illegal to use it recreationally, you might face certain penalties.
The best way to pass a urine drug test is to actually quit smoking for weeks before the test, but for many, that’s not really feasible. Not to worry; there are several methods people swear by anecdotally. Some are more effective than others but all of them are worth a try, provided you don’t harm your health.
Before you go on, it’s important to know what you’re trying to achieve. The only surefire way to flush out marijuana from your system is to not smoke it. The other methods listed here simply mask or help “trick” your system into passing a urine drug test. That might be good enough for you.
Also know that the methods below don’t discuss any unsavory ways of passing your urine drug test. Those include turning in someone else’s sample as your own or diluting the test sample itself (instead of what comes out of you) by adding bleach or vinegar. Drug testers have seen it all, plus they’ll be looking for substances that commonly mask the traces of marijuana.
A lot depends on your body fat, weight, speed of metabolism, how often you smoke, and how much you smoke. If you’re a frequent user of marijuana, your test will most certainly read positive.
But your test result will be more encouraging if you’re just an occasional user. So before you try anything, do a self-test on how much marijuana you have in your system.
- Urinate More
Urine tests measure the metabolites (substance produced while metabolizing). THC-COOH is the metabolite of THC. People often speak of THC and THC-COOH as if they’re the same thing, but strictly speaking, drug tests only measure THC-COOH, the non-psychoactive chemical.
So logically, if you urinate as much as possible, you can somewhat flush the metabolites out of your system. Your metabolites build up in your body while you’re sleeping, so you should urinate a lot on the day of your drug test so your sample will contain less of them.
Fluids are cheap (usually). With the right amount, some of them are even good for you! To help you urinate more, you can drink water, coffee, sports drinks, cranberry juice (a known diuretic), or actual diuretics.
There are some things to be mindful of when trying this method. Too much water can harm your system through water intoxication. Too much diurectics can cause dehydration. So find a balance in between. 8 to 12 eight ounce-glass of fluid per day is enough.
One caveat: urine samples can get rejected if they’re too clear. Clear urines are a dead giveaway to a technician that you’re trying to flush out your system. To add some yellow tint back into your urine, try adding 50 to 100 mg of vitamin B or B12 in your drink.
One easy method when you’re peeing in the cup for your test is to capture your urine mid-stream, since the higher stream of your urine will likely contain more metabolites.
- Detox Kits
The market is flooded with detox/flush kits that supposedly help you get rid of marijuana in your system. Avoid such marketing language because as mentioned earlier, you know the only way to actually flush marijuana out of your system is to not smoke it for several days.
The detox kits worth a look are the ones who don’t promise marijuana will be out of your system, but they can help you mask the traces of it. Those typically avoid ingredients like goldenseal, vitamin C, or niacin because when they show up on the drug test, your sample will be discarded.
Detox kits are supposed to be only temporary. They require you to take them on the day of the test and the results last up to 5 hours. They’re good for last-minute urine tests, but you might get too nervous to have to wait until the day of your drug test.
These kits are not safe for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have gall bladder or kidney conditions.
This is called a drug screen, which works similar to detox kits; it masks the traces of marijuana. Taking 4 aspirins a few hours before your drug test can interfere with the EMIT (Enzyme multiplied immunoassay technique), a common method for determining the presence of drugs.
4 aspirins a day won’t kill anyone. But because aspirins also work as a blood thinner, people on other blood-thinning medications or with gastrointestinal bleeding shouldn’t take them.
People sometimes think aspirins are the same as general painkillers like ibuprofen (e.g. Advil) or acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol). Those drugs do contain some aspirin, but if you want to use aspirin as a drug screen, you’ll want to try other brands like Ecotrin or Bayer Aspirin.
What Doesn’t Work
All of the methods mentioned above are case-by-case, but there are many people claiming they do work. There are some that aren’t as effective, and even if they are, drug tests routinely look for those ingredients. Once that happens, your urine sample becomes invalid.
So avoid trying:
Goldenseal: It’s a common ingredient in many detox kits and herbal supplements. California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) actually advises against using goldenseal. It’s unreliable in masking the traces of your marijuana, and even when it works, labs are reportedly testing for it.
Zinc sulfate: There was a rumor that zinc sulfate bonds with THC-COOH and it’s solid, so it gets passed as stool instead of urine. There is no concrete evidence to support that claim.
Niacin: Niacin or vitamin B3 is a common ingredient in detox kits or herbal supplements, but there is no conclusive evidence that it’s effective in masking the traces of marijuana. More importantly, taking too much niacin can cause skin redness and constant stomachache.
Again, the only way to pass a urine drug test with flying colors 100% of the time is to quit smoking for at least a few weeks. There is a very limited number of detox kits that boast high ratings from their users, but they’re a rarity. They also come with a caveat that you can only try them on the day of your drug test, since their results are short-lived.
Methods like urinating a lot by drinking fluids, detox kits, and taking aspirins have anecdotes supporting their effectiveness. There are also other methods like exercising and taking herbal supplements that have contradicting reviews.
Whatever you do, avoid trying extreme methods that can permanently damage your internal organs. Drinking too much water falls under this category. Water intoxication throws off the balance of sodium and water in your body and is potentially fatal. You’d be sure to agree death is not a preferable way to avoid failing a drug test!