29 March 2023


 March 29, 2023
Urine Based Drug Test

An Introduction

In 1971, the unofficially named “Operation Golden Flow” required soldiers returning from Viet Nam to submit urine samples for testing. It was the first test for recreational drugs of a mass population in US history. Since then, drug testing has become commonplace in a wide variety of environments including workplaces, schools and the military.

The Problem With Cannabis

Cannabis presents a tricky problem in employment drug testing. Imagine a hiring manager with zero-tolerance outlook on the test. Let’s say Bill, an otherwise sober daily smoker with a master’s degree in finance, is going up against Wayne, a coke-snorting alcoholic with a GED, for an actuarial position. Looks like win for ol’ Bill—until the drug test! All Wayne has to do is keep his nose off the mirror for a long weekend and he’ll test clean. Cannabis is detectable in blood for a week or so and in urine up to several months. Because THC is a fat-soluble molecule, cannabinoid metabolites are retained within fat cells. Since fat cells replace themselves slowly and Bill saw Jimmy Buffet last week, Wayne’s got himself a sweet gig.

The state of California has joined New York and New Jersey in banning employers from discriminating against workers for legal cannabis use on their own time. Amazon no longer screens. A conversation about impairment versus responsible use on personal time is beginning to happen, but forces that still believe a cannabis edible on the weekend ought to stand between a clinician and her patient wield some decision-making clout. A lot of people want to know if there’s a way to make that weekend gummy disappear.


Various formulations are available that will accelerate the metabolizing of the big enemy here, cannabinoid metabolites. These are the clingy little devils that snuggle into your fat cells and ride that lightning for a month or two. A high BMI portends a naturally slower shedding of these metabolites. Exercise accelerates the process, and an already active metabolism promises a relatively rapid detoxification. One imagines Michael Phelps passing a urine test while holding in a toke. There are quite a few herbal cocktails available in capsule and liquid form that offer two, five and ten-day courses appropriate to different use profiles, heights and weights, and metabolisms. Popular formulas include PassYourTest, TestClear, and others.

Rapid Drug Tests

Of course, a lot of drug tests are on-the-spot, so these regimens don’t apply. Same-day detox drinks and capsules that block THC results for about six hours are available for those who need to dodge a bullet quickly. Two hours before your drug test, take the dose and keep the faith. According to some successful results that have filtered to the Pot Advisor mailroom, the stuff works. Many labs are sufficiently advanced, however, to detect if not the metabolites themselves, other attributes of the sample that point toward a cover-up.

What are they going to do me?

The available testing methodologies are: blood, saliva, urine, fingernails, and hair. Urine testing is most common. It’s relatively inexpensive for the tester and its results are respected.

With a saliva test, the inside of the mouth is swabbed, and the swab is placed in a solution that detects THC. Invasive and brusque. These are commonly used in case of workplace accidents. THC remains detectable in saliva for up to three days.

Blood tests are expensive and mostly good for detecting recent use, so they are almost never used in workplace and military screening. They are used in traffic accidents and other criminal proceedings for their accuracy and their reliability as evidence in courts of law.

Hair tests are about as expensive as blood tests, but they tell a different tale. More than 100 compounds can be detected inside and around a shaft of hair, and they can be detected for up to a year. Bald people can even be tested with their body hair. It’s got a real creepy feel to it on top of the expense, so most employers avoid it. Same with fingernails. Just, yuck. Hardly anyone does it in the employment space anymore.

The future

This area is evolving rapidly. The company that makes the sale to their state police on a cannabis breathalyzer that can tell the difference between stoned and stoned yesterday—and make it hold up in court—is going to make a fortune. For now, alongside putting it down for the time being of course, over-the-counter remedies do a mostly reliable job of doing in less than a week what it takes time and exercise more than a month to accomplish.

Good luck on the interview. Wear a clean shirt and don’t say, “Um.”

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