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Is a faint line on a drug test negative? Read the Definitive Answer (2019 Update)

Until you’ve anxiously eyed a drug test, this won’t make sense: FUCK FAINT LINES
When your future depends on one or two purple lines, the last thing you want to see is a barely visible line. Especially when all other lines are solid as hell. 

Facing a drug test, regardless of why, is stressful. As we all know, a stressed mind can transform a mole hill into a mountain, or makes a big deal over absolutely nothing.

But this isn’t “absolutely nothing.” 

In many ways, pissing into a cup is the most important potty break of someone’s life. No wonder we obsess over drug test line intensity. 

Drug test faint lines ruining your day? You’re not alone…

From personal experience, questions about line intensity are everywhere. This is a good and bad thing. 

The good

  • There’s a shitload of answers

The bad

  • There’s a shitload of answers

Because of the subject, hear-say is preferred over facts. I don’t know why. But it’s true. More times than not, if your pothead mentor told you one thing, a necromancer could raise Albert Einstein from the beyond to explain why it’s not true, and you’d still question. 

And since everyone’s an expert on forums and blog comments, arguments dilute what actual information exists. 

Let’s cut that shit out. 

Here’s the truth about drug test faint lines:

Any line (no matter how thick/intense) is positively negative

Shit, that’s confusing. Lemme try again…

Any line – regardless of intensity, thickness, personality, intention – means you PASSED. 

Drug tests, specifically urine-based tests, are actually quite binary/bland/standard. As much as our brains try to demonize this little piss stick, it’s only purpose is to measure drug metabolites. 

In other words, it has two outcomes:

  • Drug Metabolites Exceed Cutoff Level = failed test
  • Drug Metabolites Under Cutoff Level – passed test

Unfortunately, this straightforward definition rarely calms the anxious mind of someone who’s sitting in their bathroom squinting at the faint line of destiny. 

I feel you. Been there. Even after months without herbal medicine (aka, that good shit), I was as nervous as…well…as nervous as someone who hasn’t felt the calming fingers of Mary Jane in far too long. 

I heard someone say they still failed even with a faint line…

This is a favorite response of internet dwellers who enjoy sipping on a tall glass of Haterade (lemon fart flavored). 

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely browsed the conflicting reports found on Reddit, Quora or one of the other digital lounges for those desperate for information. 

Even if a person hasn’t personally experienced this situation, people looooove bringing it up. I get it. They’re wanting to stop the spread of misinformation. Of course, this typically means they spread their own brand of misguided info. 

Here’s what you need to know about the classic, “so-and-so failed after getting a faint line” stories:

  • Cannabis metabolite concentrations fluctuate. Meaning, based on physical activity, diet and other personal factors, your body can experience sporadic influxes of metabolite excretion.
  • Home drug tests aren’t 100% fool-proof. It’s possible, though increasingly rare, to use a malfunctioning test.
  • The person in question was required to take a drug test with lower cutoff levels, which is common for DOT drug tests, for example. The industry standard THC cutoff level is 50 ng/mL and 15 ng/mL for confirmatory drug screens, which happens when the initial screening tests positive for drug metabolites. 

Okay. I have to say it. Drug testing – specifically for cannabis – is fucked up. Take this delicious gem directly from the Federal Register document Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs: 

Basically, after review from nameless “commentators,” the cutoff level for deadly drugs was raised. Not only does oxycodone and oxymorphone leave the body significantly faster than cannabis (1 to 2 days compared to 2-5 days for one-time users or up to 30 days for chronic users, though it’s typically much quicker than a month), but now the Feds increased the acceptable metabolite levels for these toxic, yet necessary (sometimes), drugs.

Anyway, back to the topic of drug test faint lines…

Whenever you read about the horrific outcome of a failed drug test even with a faint line, try and keep your peace by remembering this mantra:

  • Everyone is different.
  • THC Metabolites aren’t released simultaneously.
  • There’s no blanket statement when dealing with biology and technology.

“That’s cool…but my drug test has a faint line. Will I pass?”

Hilariously, no amount of information will ever satisfy this question. The only way to quench this thirst, is to simply take your drug test and see. 

For those of you who refuse to accept my short answer, I feel you. During this time, it’s easy to feel out of control. And the easiest way to attempt some semblance of control is to learn as much as possible. Ever wondered why so many people seem to have earned a master’s degree in urine analysis? Hours of panic-induced Googling, my glossy-eyed friend. 

Faint Line FAQs for the Worried and Skeptical

I figured the best way to close this topic is to give information how I like to receive it (from behind and with a lot of lube, BOOM, I’m nasty).

No, no, no, just kidding (kinda). I thrive on facts. Verifiable, referenced and current facts. So let’s thrive together (mutual thriving? maybe?) and stroll down Fact Alley:

Excellent question, which will soon be followed with a riveting article explaining how home drug tests work and which are best. Until then, you get the watered-down answer: yes. 

In Objective Testing – Urine and Other Drug Tests, published in the July 2016 issue of Child Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, all home drug tests follow the SAMHSA-5 immunoassay (IA) panel, which was established in the 1980s (fuckin’ Regan).

There’s no difference between the drug test bought on Amazon and the one used by Labcorp, Quest Diagnostics or any other testing facility. As long as you purchase from a reputable supplier, and don’t fuck up the testing process, the results you see at home will be the same as the “official” drug test results. 

There I go again with my ridiculous wordplay. I’m not going to answer this myself. Instead, I’m gonna let the actual manufacturers of drug tests answer for me:

Rapid Detect: “…faint lines mean the result is negative…” and my favorite, “…drug tests aren’t the same as pregnancy tests…”

uTest Drug Testing: “…a faint line is a negative result….typically means there’s some drug in your system…not enough to trigger positive result…”

Phamatech Laboratories & Diagnostics: “…Yes, faint lines do indicate negative results…”

I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. 

This is an awesome question, and one that’s highly debated. In short, NO. IA screenings aren’t designed to suggest someone “almost” passes or fails. As the U.S. Food & Drug Administration reports in Drugs of Abuse – Home Use Test, screenings are qualitative tests. Meaning, they indicate if a particular drug is present, not how much is present.

Essentially, you either have more than the allowed THC metabolites or you don’t. There’s no middle ground. 

Pee and Be Merry

I hope this answers your question. Or at least gives you new research ideas. Remember, ANY line regardless of intensity means you passed the test. But that sentence doesn’t likely help everyone.

My advice: purchase as many home drug tests as you need/can afford and take them throughout each day. Consistent proof of a strengthening/present line is the only way to calm your worried head. 

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