So you need to pass a drug test? Well, you’re not alone. Whether applying for a new job, getting a random screen from your current employer, or ordered to take one by the court – most people will end up taking a drug test at some point. And for cannabis smokers, that can be a bit of problem.
Despite the fact that marijuana is completely natural, completely harmless, and now completely legal in many states, it can still get you in a lot of trouble. Employers can refuse to hire you. They can fire you, and even use your cannabis use as grounds to deny unemployment or workman’s compensation claims. Testing positive for pot on a court-ordered test can land you in jail, or lose you custody of your kids. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, marijuana has the inconvenient quality of sticking around in your body’s fat cells long after you smoke – so you can test positive days or even weeks afterward.
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll dispel the rumors and give you the straight truth about what works and what doesn’t – so you can pass your test, and get on with your life.
Types of Drug Tests
There are several methods which may be used to test for the presence of drugs in your system:
- Blood Test – while rare, blood tests are much more accurate at determining whether or not a person is currently high. Unlike other methods, which test for non-psychoactive metabolites, the blood test actually measures the level of THC in the bloodstream – which means they usually only test positive a few hours after smoking.
- Hair Test – a hair test is perhaps the most difficult of all to pass, and will supposedly test positive even months after your last use. Luckily they’re also fairly rare. And before you go shaving your head to try to fool a hair test, know this: the sample can be taken from anywhere on your body. So if you’re gonna shave, you’ll have to be pretty damn thorough.
- Saliva Test – more common than either the blood or hair test, the saliva test is usually administered with just a simple mouth swab. They are less sensitive than other methods, and will usually only detect marijuana use within the last few hours.
- Urine Test – by far the most frequently administered drug test is the urine test, favorite of employers and probation officers everywhere. As you probably guessed, this test requires you to submit a urine sample to a lab for examination. Most labs use what’s called a “5 panel” test, which screens for 5 commonly abused substances: opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, and of course cannabis. Some do a more rigorous “10 panel” test which also tests for barbituates (sedatives), benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety meds like Xanax, Valium, etc.), methadone, methaqualone, and propoxyphene (Darvocet). For more info, check out this video where a lab tech walks you through the process in detail:
Because it’s the most common, and also the most troublesome for cannabis users, our article will focus primarily on how to pass a urine test.
Before we reveal the best way to pass a drug test, let’s first clear up what not to do. There is a lot of misinformation out there – because, you know, the internet. A little digging will turn up many methods which will supposedly help you pass your test, many of which aren’t reliable or simply don’t work at all. For instance:
- Drinking niacin, vinegar, fruit pectin (Certo), etc.
- Taking Goldenseal or other herbal cleansing supplements
- Throwing off the test with a high dose of Aspirin or Ibuprofen
- Adding bleach, vinegar, water, etc. to your urine sample
None of these methods are proven or reliable. Nowadays labs test for and can detect all kinds of tampering. And the old Aspirin trick no longer works, either. I’ve even heard a rumor going around online that drinking bleach will help you pass! That’s not only wrong, it’s stupid and dangerous. Don’t. Just… don’t.
Many people swear by Detox drinks, many varieties of which are sold at head shops everywhere. These drinks supposedly give you a window of a few hours after drinking it, during which you will piss clean. However, there are no studies or reliable evidence to prove that these really work. So, use at your own risk.
How to Pass
So, how do you pass a urine test? Your best bet is to flush your system with a ton of water. The more water you drink, the more the metabolites in your urine sample will be diluted – hopefully to the point of being below the threshold.
Drink lots of fluids the day of your test, as much as you can hold. You might want to take a big dose of vitamin B along with it, to darken the color of your urine (labs can get suspicious if the sample is too clear and watery, and may even reject it). You’ll want to piss a few times before you give your sample, so never schedule a test early in the morning if you can avoid it. The metabolites build up in your bladder overnight, leaving a rich deposit in your first whiz of the day.
When it comes to passing a urine test, time is your friend – so put it off as long as possible. Quit smoking and use that time to flush out your system — drink lots of water, exercise, sit in a sauna. Diuretics like coffee, tea and cranberry juice can help. You can also buy diuretic pills over the counter. Natural detoxifiers, like activated charcoal, may also help lower you’re metabolite levels. If you’re only an occasional smoker, your body can clean itself out in as little as a few days. A heavy user can still test positive 3 – 4 weeks after quitting, maybe even longer. So the more time, the better.
Testing On The Spot
But what if you don’t have the luxury of time? Some employers require employees to take a drug test immediately after a workplace injury or other accident, or even submit to random screens with no advanced warning. In that case, if you’re a relatively light user, you might still pass simply by chugging water and diluting your sample. Regular, heavy users, however, don’t stand much of a chance.
So the only way out in that case is to swap your sample. Admittedly this requires some foresight. But if you work for a company that does random screens, or have other reason to worry that you might be tested, then planning ahead might just save your job. You can keep a clean sample in your car, your backpack, etc. You can borrow urine from a friend who’s clean, but remember that samples don’t keep much longer than a day. You can buy synthetic or powdered urine (powdered is better) online, but some labs do test for synthetic samples. So, again: use at your own risk.
Keep in mind that the sample must measure close to body temperature (about 90 – 98°F or 32 – 36°C) or it might be rejected. Some synthetic and powdered samples come with a heating element for this purpose. But if you tuck it under your armpit, your breast, or your scrotum for long enough, it should work. Or you can use a hand warming packet (like Hot Hands, etc). Then the challenge becomes to get it into the sample cup unseen. If you are allowed to go to the bathroom in private, then it’s not a problem. But sometimes the lab will insist on observing you collect your sample. In which case, you better hope you have some impressive sleight of hand, or a “first day on the job” lab tech who’s still shy about other people’s genitals.
Maybe one day the law will catch up with morality and common sense, and cannabis users will be free to partake of their herb of choice without fear of unjust punishment. Until that day, though, remember: no method is 100% guaranteed. If you choose to smoke, you always run the risk of failing a test and suffering the consequences.
But if you’re smart, and follow our guide – and steer clear of sketchy internet quick fixes – you have a better than average chance of passing your drug test. Good luck, and thanks for reading!