Drug Testing in the workplace in South Africa
So you’ve been using cannabis/dagga in South Africa for medicinal reasons and you’ve just been informed by your employer that you will be subjected to a random drug test.
Is drug testing allowed in companies in South Africa? Is this legal?
The short answer is yes. Firstly, there has to be mention of it in the employment contract, or a separate Substance Abuse Policy needs to be set up and circulated to staff. There are also two laws that are on the side of the employer, Act 140 of 1992 (Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act) and OHSA (Occupational Health and safety Act).
This is why we encourage South Africans who are using or seek to use medical cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis capsules, cannabis tinctures or cbd oil to consider legally applying to use these products.
CBD oil has been made a Schedule 4 substance in South Africa which means that your doctor can legally prescribe it and you can legally use your CBD Oil as long as it was dispensed at pharmacy level. The problem is many people buy CBD oil online in South Africa from a self-appointed medical cannabis dispensary, of which there are many, and unfortunately these products do often also contain THC which will give a positive result for any drug test.
So putting the above mentioned facts about legal cannabis in South Africa is there a way to detox fast and get THC, dagga, cannabis out of one’s system to pass a drug test in the workplace?
Workplace drug tests typically involve urinalysis (testing your pee) for metabolites. Metabolites are a byproduct of a substance after it has been processed by your body. When you consume cannabis or cannabis oil, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in your blood stream will immediately increase. As your body cleanses the THC out of your blood stream, metabolites are left behind.
Having said this, both THC and the non-psychoactive metabolite, THC-COOH, will remain in your body’s fat tissue for varying lengths of time depending on a variety of factors.
How long does THC stay in my body?
Typically speaking, psychoactive THC cannabinoids can be found in the system for 1-2 days after consumption for very infrequent users, while those who consume everyday can expect it to remain in your body for longer. The half-life of THC metabolites is 7 days. Meaning every 7 days, the amount in your body will decrease by 50%.
With this number in mind, most people can assume their body will be clean of THC metabolites within 3-4 weeks — more or less depending on frequency, body weight and amount consumed.
THC is fat soluble and as a result, it gets stored in your fatty lipid tissue. Because of this, your fat cells will secrete THC metabolites into your bloodstream at a constant rate. As a result, many different cleansing techniques are ineffective, as your fat cells will continue to release THC metabolites into your system over time.
What’s the fastest way to get THC out of your system?
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to detox cannabis from your system in a hurry. The best way to get THC, the primary psychoactive in cannabis, out of your system is to simply abstain and wait.
However there are shortcuts out there you can use to pass your test like synthetic urine, detox drinks, and detox pills.
Heavy consumers likely face a substantial risk of not passing some types of tests without at least a week, if not more. THC is stored in your fat, which means that it takes some time to purge the cannabinoid from your system.
As you burn fat, there is evidence that THC is re-released back into the bloodstream. Depending on how much cannabis you consume and how often, you can test positive for THC and THC metabolites several days after consuming.
For chronic consumers, metabolites of the herb have been detected in urine for up to 77 days after last consumption. Though, taking over two months is not common.
On average, here’s how long you’ll have to abstain from cannabis to pass the standard drug test:
- Urine: 3 to 77 days (10 to 30 days for regular consumers)
- Blood: 1 to 7 days
- Hair: 90 days
- Saliva: 1 to 7 days
There are a few factors that influence the amount of time it takes to detox. These include:
- Your individual metabolism
- Frequency of exercise
- Body mass index (BMI) (the higher the number, the longer it will take)
- How often you consume cannabis
- The potency of the cannabis consumed
- The amount of cannabis consumed
- The parameters of the test
Detoxing is serious business. Everyone’s body responds differently to the various possible detoxing methods. It’s important to pay attention to how your body responds to your efforts and use natural materials that you know are safe. Always consult a medical professional if you run into any complications, or are considering trying a vigorous detox regimen.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the perfect solution if you’ve got a drug test in the near future. If this is the case, you may want to try a store-bought detox plan. There are plenty of options out there, some of them claiming to cleanse your body in less than 1 week.
If this isn’t a feasible option, you may want to try a same-day cleansing product. Unlike regular detoxes, these cleansers claim to temporarily flush your urinary tract and clear it of toxic metabolites like THC-COOH. Both regular detoxes and same-day cleansers are available at pharmacies and health stores.
For those looking to detox in a hurry, here are a few of the fastest ways to get THC out of your system:
- Drink plenty of water
There is no reason to start drinking excessive amounts of water weeks or days before your test. It’s a waste of time as it only temporarily dilutes your urine. Your best bet is to drink 2-3 liters throughout the day before your test, and then around 1-2 liters several hours before your test. Don’t drink too much water though, as it can be dangerous. Start with 2 liters max and be sure to know your limits.
After drinking this much water, your pee will be colorless and have low levels of creatinine. These are both red flags for any testing lab to indicate diluted urine, so there are some additional steps you need to take.
If you have a week or so before a drug test, some exercise earlier in the week can help you burn through fat cells that are holding on to THC.
Exercise is perhaps one of the best ways to detox from THC for those hoping to get clean without facing a drug test, as it burns the very cells that contain THC.
Exercise is a little tricky, however. As mentioned above, THC is re-released into the bloodstream as you burn fat. If you have an impending drug test, it is not recommended to exercise 24 hours or so before the test.
- Fruit Pectin
The fruit pectin method is a simple DIY detox often used by those facing blood, urine, or saliva tests. Fruit pectin is a type of fiber that provides the gel consistency to jams and jellies. For this method, people mix a packet of fruit pectin with an electrolyte drink the day of a test.
The idea here is that the high-fiber pectin prevents THC metabolites from passing into the urine or bloodstream. Rather, the fiber is supposed to force THC out of the body through bowel movements. While people often try fruit pectin to boost their odds before a test, this method will not likely be strong enough for heavy consumers.
This method is also likely to cause digestive distress, such as constipation. Human digestive systems cannot break down fibers, so fiber is excreted in stool. While this is a trick that people use to pass drug tests, this is certainly not healthy or perhaps even safe.
- Detox drinks
Detox drinks are the most popular ways to pass a drug test. Detox drinks will basically help dilute urine and theoretically remove toxins from the body. Basically, like most of the common detox methods, these drinks are fancy diuretics and laxatives.
Some detox drinks may be more effective than others, and everyone’s body will respond differently to the materials. These drinks are often used for several days prior to a drug test, pending package directions.
Enquire at your local health shop to see what detox drinks they may suggest.
This tip is more of a wise tale, but hey, sometimes it helps to explore all of your options. There is no evidence that sweating will efficiently detox you from THC.
However, trace amounts of THC are excreted in sweat. In heavy consumers, cannabis can be detected in a sweat test for up to one week after consumption.
Saunas and sweating considered healthy for detox all around. Early studies have shown that routine sauna use can help eliminate the build up of harmful compounds like uric acid, sodium, and lactic acid.
Yet, there are some major caveats to using a sauna. Saunas may aggravate a heart condition, and it can be difficult for people to develop a tolerance to intense heat. Always stay hydrated and be cautious with the sauna. It would be beneficial to drink an electrolyte drink like coconut water after sitting in the sauna.
If you are going to sauna do it in moderation taking into account the above information.
- Healthy Diet
One way to clear THC from your system? Go for lots of high-fiber leafy greens several days before a drug test. Eating a high-fiber diet is essential for clearing THC out of your system.
Fruits and vegetables are natural sources of fibers like pectin. This natural fiber helps get your digestive tract moving and cleans you out.
Fruits and vegetables are also nutrient dense foods that contain micronutrients that may aid in the detox process. When picking quality sources of dietary fiber, it’s better to opt for vegetables over something like a breakfast cereal. Some additional helpful supplements to try a few days before a test include:
- B vitamins (especially niacin)
- Psyllium husk
- Activated charcoal (only if the THC is still in your digestive tract)
It’s important to note that these supplements do not mask any THC in your system. B vitamins are helpful for the body’s natural detox process and add color to urine. If you are looking for a guaranteed way to pass a test you can always use synthetic urine.
The rest of these items more or less alter the way you digest THC. For example, eating activated charcoal may be helpful shortly after eating an edible. But, it won’t help you detox from THC that has already been digested and is hanging around in your fat cells. Magnesium and psyllium can help you poop.
Hair follicle tests are considered the most accurate and rigorous type of blood tests. They are much harder to cheat than urine tests, and tend to test for long-term use rather than a single use of a drug.
The only surefire way to beat a hair follicle test is to shave every hair on you body (the test can be conducted with both hair from your head or body). However, doing so will likely arouse suspicion.
Hence, if you’re facing an upcoming hair follicle drug test, you may want to try specialized shampoos designed to help you get a negative reading. These products don’t guarantee a negative reading, but they may be worth a try.
- Drink tea and lemon juice.
Needless to say, tea is a natural detoxing agent. From green tea to jasmine, to black tea to white tea, be sure to drink a few cups a day to get incredible amounts of antioxidants, electrolytes and even vitamin c. All of these varieties will increase your metabolism and help you detox your body from cannabis, naturally.
Remember, none of these methods are fool-proof, and all of them come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the best one depends largely on your preferences and the amount of time you have to prepare for a test.
Also, note that there is a lot of misinformation circulating the internet about how to pass drug tests. To round off this article, here are some final tips to help you pass an upcoming drug test and flush cannabis from your system:
- Don’t exercise prior to a test: If you’re a regular user, exercise can help raise THC levels in your blood. Don’t be fooled by sources telling you to exercise heavily before a test in order to “sweat” out any THC from your body.
- Don’t provide the beginning or end of your urine stream: The first and last parts of your urine sample are said to contain the highest concentrations of drug metabolites.
Lastly, to save your time, save your job, and so that you don’t have to stress about using cannabis for medicinal purposes we strongly suggest you consider applying legally for cannabis and/or cannabis oil in South Africa.
You will need a completed Section 21 application form and a valid reason for needing medical cannabis oil.
To view the Section 21 application form please see the medical cannabis application forms above.
If you have any other further questions please see our FAQ.