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Will Hitting the Gym Help You Pass a Drug Test?

PHOTO Ivan Samkov


Will Hitting the Gym Help You Pass a Drug Test?

Cannabinoids are stored in fat, but exercise can actually increase your chance of failing a drug test.

Marijuana is slowly beating the odds against decades of prohibition and, in turn, it’s becoming one of America’s favorite feel-goods. But some companies still require their employees to pee clean, while most places will not even hire an individual who has weed coursing through their veins. It’s a situation that has forced desperate people to employ some insane methods to pass those pesky drug tests. One of the latest methods is to actually try sweating it out in the gym. But this bro tactic, at least according to science, can have the opposite effect by making THC more prevalent in a person’s bloodstream.

Drug testing experts say those people who believe they can escape the wrath of a marijuana test through strenuous exercise are only fooling themselves. This method is known for its ability to increase the THC levels in the body, therefore creating a situation where the subject is probably going to fail more miserably than before. In other words, the average cannabis consumer is more likely to get nailed for a positive result after spending hours on a mad dash to sweat out the THC.

“When the sedentary person decides, ‘I wanna beat this,’ then goes to a sauna or starts doing a bunch of jumping jacks, it won’t really do much,” Rafael Landeiro of Mobile Health, a lab testing service, explained in an interview with Inverse. “Ironically, for the people who are doing that, as your body metabolizes the body fat, [and] you’re releasing more THC than you normally would.”

Most experienced cannabis users are under no illusion when it comes to their chances of beating a drug test. They know that without plenty of time to clean up (and that can mean backing off the smoke for around a month or more), that test is going to show positive before they even get their hands on the pee cup. The difficulty of flushing pot from one’s system is the reason there are so many rapid cleanses on the market, all of them promising to wipe the THC from the body of even the most dedicated toker. Some people swear by these products, while all anyone else has ever experienced is unemployment and probation violations.

Over the years, there have also been some truly bizarre methods show up on the Internet for how to pass a drug test. Drinking bleach, using animal urine, the list goes on. But none of these have ever proven effective.

Sweating it out, however, is the latest trend. Just like some people think sweating more equates increased weight loss, some folks have formed the opinion that this method will also rid their bodies of THC. So they are hitting the gym with rabid enthusiasm, bumping up the cardio in hopes of producing a clean pee. Yet, according to a study published back in 2013, exercise permits more THC to trickle into the bloodstream — increasing a person’s chances of failing a drug test.

Research shows that even when low amounts of THC are present in a person’s system, exercise actually allows more of the THC compound to show up. Scientists say this is because physical activity forces dormant THC stored in fat to start flowing rapidly through the body. In fact, anything that burns fat will have the same result. Another study from 2014 shows dieting can produce a spike of THC.

“Fasting is going to burn fat, which is going to release more cannabinoids,” researchers explained. “If you have more fat, then there is more tissue for the cannabinoids to get stored in so you might get a little bit longer window of detection.”

The cold hard fact is there are not any tried and true, 100% guaranteed methods for passing a drug screen for marijuana. If you have a test coming up, your best bet is to stop using cannabis for a while. For some folks, this could be a week. Others with a heaver BMI might have to wait around 90 days to get the green out. But whatever you do, don’t try burning it off in the gym before a test.

You will probably fail.

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