More women are coming forward saying that drinking a tea promoted for health benefits caused them to fail workplace drug tests.
Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos broke the nationwide story last month and continues to hear from women across the country who claim the Raspberry Lemonade Iaso Tea from a company called Total Life Changes is the reason they failed drug tests.
‘I went ballistic’
Pam Johnson said she’s been working as a city bus operator in Pennsylvania for 18 years and has submitted numerous drug tests and has never failed.
Then, she was called for a random drug screening and a few days later, the results came.
She had failed.
(WATCH BELOW: Pam Johnson explains how she felt when she heard about the failed drug test)
“I went ballistic. There is no way. It had to be a mistake. I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink,” Johnson said. “I haven’t been around people who smoke weed. It is just devastating.”
Johnson immediately suspected TLC’s Raspberry Lemonade Iaso Tea, a product she had seen on social media and was using for weight loss. She said there isn’t anything else that could have caused her to fail that drug test.
Johnson contacted Channel 9 after her brother, who lives in Charlotte, saw our initial report about other women who Allison Latos they too had used the tea and failed drug tests.
After seeing Channel 9′s report, Johnson said it is a shame that this is happening to people.
“It’s embarrassing because I am not a drug user,” Johnson said. “This whole thing has been so humiliating.”
‘I thought for sure that it was fine’
Tina Hills said she started drinking TLC’s Raspberry Lemonade Tea for weight loss too, never thinking it could impact her job as an airport regional manager in Syracuse, New York.
She even became an official distributor of the tea and encouraged her employees to try it. But after a round of random testing for her and other workers, the phone rang and it was the lab with the results.
“I was personally thinking that one of my employees had somehow failed their drug test,” Hills said. “Because I’m the manager. I’m going, ‘Oh my god, this is horrible. Who and how? How did they do it? How did they fail?’ And it was me? The label says 0.0 THC so I thought for sure that it was fine.”
(WATCH BELOW: Tina Hills says she believed it was one of her employees who had somehow failed a drug test and not her)
Hills said she has never taken drugs.
“100% it was the tea,” Hills said.
Hills was fired and said she lost the federal clearance needed to work in the airline industry. Then, she said she contacted TLC, which makes the tea.
“TLC told me that long-term use of the tea could possibly result in a positive testing,” Hills said. “I explained to them, you know, it is a little late to find this out now. Had I known this in the beginning, I would have never risked drinking this tea.”
Channel 9 puts tea to the test
Last month, Channel 9 took two samples of the tea for testing at Avazyme Incorporated, a lab in Durham. CEO Dr. Volker Bornemann said that in both samples they found trace amounts of THC -- the ingredient in marijuana that produces a feeling of being high.
He said one sample measured at 8.2 parts per million and the other showed 17.3, which is a low amount but it is “exact and measurable.”
Allison Latos asked if those amounts were enough for someone to fail a drug test, and he said, “Potentially, yes.”
TLC still advertises and sells the tea on its website, but it no longer states “0.0 THC” and it now includes a warning that says, “We do not recommend use if you are subject to drug testing.”
In a statement to Channel 9, TLC said as they continue to investigate the allegations, they have advised persons subject to drug testing to not drink the tea.
“At Total Life Changes, we care deeply about our new customers and are committed to their well-being. We also are committed to providing top quality products. Out of an abundance of caution and while we investigate the allegations, TLC has advised persons subject to drug testing, to not drink Iaso Raspberry Tea.”
We also found the same tea for sale on Amazon, Poshmark and Etsy. So, Channel 9 contacted all three companies.
Poshmark said it is removing the tea from its website, saying, “The product in question is prohibited from Poshmark. It is not compliant with our guidelines.”
Poshmark does not allow the sale of food products.
Etsy said it is also removing the tea because its platform is for handmade products and the tea violates its reselling policies.
‘I want to see that tea taken off the market’
“Be careful,” Hills said. “Know what it is, truly, that you’re putting in your body.”
Hills is still unemployed and said she wants her story to serve as a warning for others.
“This just really made me look really bad,” Hills said.
Hills said she felt like all her years of service meant nothing.
“It was almost like everything that I said, and everything I did no longer matter,” she told Channel 9.
Johnson didn’t get fired, but she was ordered to attend rehab classes at her own expense to keep her bus driving job. She doesn’t know when she will be allowed back behind the wheel.
“This has left a mark on my driving record,” Johnson said. “I want to see that tea taken off the market.”