The results shocked us!
Photo on left from Getty Images. Right and all other photos via the author
When it comes to balancing a professional life with even a casual weed habit, American stoners have a delicate line to walk. Despite being recreationally legal in nine states and medicinally legal in 29, the federal ban on marijuana consumption means employers across the country have the right to refuse or terminate the employment of anyone who fails a drug test for THC.
While Jeff Sessions seems to believe otherwise, countless studies have shown marijuana to be significantly less dangerous than other Schedule I drugs like heroin and cocaine and much safer than legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. To add insult to injury, when it comes to pre- or post-employment drug testing—which most often takes the form of a urine test—marijuana is the substance that takes the longest to get out of your system.
According to a poll released by the Society for Human Resource Management, about 57 percent of American companies subject employees to drug tests. That’s down significantly from 81 percent in 1996, possibly because employers are finding it increasingly difficult to find quality candidates who are able to pass.
Luckily for them, and those of us who enjoy the occasional after-work blunt or who use marijuana to treat otherwise unmanageable chronic illnesses, there’s an entire industry devoted to beating the dreaded piss test. With enough advanced notice, there might be several ways you could go—quitting outright, subbing your dirty pee with a straight edge friend's. But if your boss springs the news on you with only hours to spare, you’ve got pretty much one viable option: the detox drink.
There are several of these on the market, “cleansing supplements” that, at a glance, seem to be nothing more than herbal energy drinks. On the back of each bottle, the language used is deliberately vague.
“Drink the entire bottle 60 to 90 minutes before your desired time.”
“Frequent urination indicates that you are experiencing optimal cleansing.”
These drinks can be expensive—up to $60 a pop—but that’s a small price to pay when your job may be on the line. They all offer the same thing: a same-day, temporary fix for your THC-tainted piss, so long as you use ‘em exactly as directed.
But do they actually, like, work? This is a question even the most diligent Googler is wont to find. As it stands, all the available information on these detox drinks seems to be either an obvious paid promotion for one brand or another, or come from anons with usernames like Stoner4Lyfe420 on eight-year old marijuana message board threads.
As such, we decided to put three brands to the test:
- Detoxify Xxtraclean Herbal Cleanse ($13.93)
- Rescue Detox Blueberry Ice Instant Cleansing Energy from Applied Sciences ($22.99)
- Stinger Detox ‘The Buzz’ Deep System Cleanser ($18)
Our test was simple. We ordered a 10-pack of THC pee tests from Amazon for $7.99, and recruited a regular recreational weed smoker—a 28-year-old woman we’ll call “Jolene”—to test out these drinks over the course of a week without altering her normal weed habits. She’d try out one drink every two days, and take a control test before starting each one to make sure she was still testing positive before drinking them. Then she’d follow the directions on each bottle and see whether she could piss herself clean.
In the photo above you'll see Jolene's first pre-drink test. It is very positive. The C on the test stands for Control The line next to it appears whether the test is negative or positive. The T stands for Test. If a line appears in T, the test is negative. If no line appears, the test is positive. As you can see above, Jolene was not able to produce a T line because she is high af.
The drug tests we purchased are pretty standard pee tests. Basically you wee into a cup, take the cap off the drug test, then submerge the little rectangular piece at the end for about 10 seconds. Results take about five minutes. The test we bought for the purposes of this experiment are used specifically to detect THC and nothing else.
For context, Jolene’s marijuana consumption is probably slightly, but not much, below average for stoners. She smokes a bowl most days after work, and blazes up two to three times a day on the weekends. Occasionally she’ll have an edible or do a dab, but says she usually sticks to traditional smoking methods—bowls, bongs, and joints. Most of these drinks caution “heavy” users to double their dosage, or go with a more concentrated version, so if you smoke more or less than Jolene, you’re likely to have different results. And none of the results we got here should be considered scientific or at all conclusive.
TEST ONE: Rescue Detox Blueberry Ice Instant Cleansing Energy
First up we had Jolene try out a 17 ounce bottle of Rescue Detox. According to Karen, the very sweet Applied Sciences customer service lady we reached at the “LIVE SUPPORT” number listed at the bottom of the bottle, Jolene had to avoid eating for five hours before she did the cleanse. Luckily, it was Sunday, so Jolene had just woken up from a four and a half hour nap after spending the morning smoking and eating an entire large portion of Popeye’s mac and cheese, as one does.
Karen told her to drink Rescue an hour before “cleansing time,” then refill the bottle with water twice and drink that within 30 minutes. She was then supposed to pee three times, after which she should be good to go for three to five hours. Quite a lot of work!
The drink itself was a bright, neon yellow that looked slightly radioactive. Jolene said it tasted like synthetic blueberries and had a distinct aftertaste. She chugged it down over the course of 10 minutes, then refilled the bottle twice, choking down gulp after gulp of weird-tasting water until her stomach was bursting with 1.5 liters of liquid.
After three pees that, in Jolene’s words, “looked like I drank highlighter ink,” she took the test. It actually fucking worked. While the line was thin, it counted. Jolene tested negative for THC, despite having smoked several pre-noon bowls just hours before. We were both pretty shocked by this turn of events.
Final grade: B. If you follow the instructions, you might pass your test, but the extreme color of your pee might raise some alarm bells in a clinical setting. Plus, the amount of water you need to drink is a little excessive.
TEST TWO: Detoxify Xxtraclean Herbal Cleanse
Two days and a positive drug test later, we circled back to try out the 20 ounce bottle of Detoxify Xxtraclean. We’d seen mixed reviews of this one online, and Jolene’s partner had tried it before without success, so neither of us had high hopes.
Unlike with the Rescue Detox, Jolene wasn’t instructed to abstain from eating, but was supposed to stop using marijuana for as long as possible beforehand. Instead, she decided to smoke a bowl while she drank. It should go without saying that this would be an inadvisable move for anyone whose job actually depended on passing a drug test.
This drink was “tropical flavored” and a bright, syrupy red. Jolene drank the bottle down (“it tastes like Five Hour Energy mixed with fake blood.”), then refilled it—just once this time—and drank that 15 minutes after her initial chug.
According to Ben, the monotone host of Detoxify’s ‘Back2School’ YouTube series, which teaches viewers how to best utilize their products, after three to four initial pees, you should test clean for up to five hours. Jolene followed his instructions and peed (“a totally normal yellow color!”) three times, and took the test.
Despite having smoked while trying to cleanse her body of weed… Jolene passed the test. No THC detected. The line was still light, but again, it was there.
Final grade: B+. You don’t have to drink as much water and your pee isn’t a suspicious color, but it left Jo with a stomach ache that lasted a full day. Probably worth it?
TEST THREE: Stinger Detox ‘The Buzz’ Deep System Cleanser
The 8-oz bottle of Stinger proved much easier to get down. Jolene said it tasted like a flat, thick grape soda. This isn’t exactly a glowing review, but it was apparently the best of the bunch flavorwise. After quickly drinking the bottle, Jo had to fill it up with water four more times and chug that for a total of 40 ounces of liquid, then pee the standard three to four times before taking the test.
Apparently this lil guy is supposed to be five times stronger than Stinger Detox’s other products, and after taking the final pee test of this experiment, it seems that claim is well-founded. Where the other detox drinks presented barely-there negative results, Stinger’s delivered the first solid double red line of the game. Bra-fuckin-vo.
Final grade: A. Not only was this the most definitive negative result, it also tasted the best, included the least amount of chugging and came with zero intestinal issues or nausea.
Again, this obviously wasn't a scientific test, and someone with different smoking habits or who is bigger, smaller or more or less active than Jolene could achieve different results. These drinks work by diluting your urine to the point where THC won’t show up, then replacing the vitamins, minerals and color that are also lost in the dilution process so it doesn’t raise any red flags. While drinking something like this should be relatively undetectable, it’s likely not a foolproof way to pass a drug test. But it's better than nothing! It's up to consumers whether or not losing the money you spend on them is a better option than potentially losing a job.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.