CEO of tea company responds to women’s claims that beverage led to fail drug tests

BOSTON — In May, Boston 25 News shared the stories of women who claim a tea they drank to lose weight caused them to fail drug tests and lose their jobs.

Several of them joined a class action lawsuit against Total Life Changes, or TLC, the maker of the tea.

RELATED: Women blame weight-loss tea for positive drug tests

A reporter with Boston 25′s sister station WSOC in Charlotte recently tracked down the company’s CEO, Jack Fallon, to push for answers about those claims. She asked point blank if he knew there could be trace amounts of THC in the tea, and what his company was doing about the customers who claim drinking it ruined their lives.

Fallon said the company would help those customers

“Absolutely -- like I said, we are in constant communication with them,” Fallon said. Fallon was scheduled to meet with a group of customers along with a mediator in New York on August 2.

No word on any fallout from that meeting.

TLC’s raspberry lemonade tea was marketed on the company’s website, and on the label, as having 0.0% THC -- the chemical found in marijuana.

But samples taken to a Durham, North Carolina lab for testing showed trace amounts of THC according to the lab’s director. The director said -- with repeated consumption – that could build up in a person’s system, potentially causing them to fail a drug test.

Fallon was asked about those findings, and if he knew there could be trace amounts of THC in the product.

“No. We use third party manufacturers all over the world. We trusted them and obviously we got let down in some of these instances,” Fallon said.

‘It’s tarnishing for me’

Fallon said that TLC stopped working with one of those manufacturers, but some customers, like Jennifer Montgomery, say that’s not enough.

“I’m very upset and disappointed,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery lives in St. Louis and is the latest TLC customer to reach out. She claimed she had used TLC’s raspberry lemonade tea for nearly five months to lose weight.

She then got a new job as a truck driver in July but failed the drug test before she could even start.

“They don’t want to hear it. They have taken my license. Now they’re saying I have to go through some type of drug classes,” Montgomery said. “I’m a mother and I promote to my children, don’t do drugs, this, that or whatever. I constantly do that. And then to have a false drug use case on you. I’ve never been the type to do drugs -- it is tarnishing for me.”

Montgomery’s story is similar to those of dozens of customers now suing Total Life Changes, claiming they trusted the 0.0% THC advertising on the label.

“I would have never purchased that tea,” Montgomery said.

MORE: Plaintiffs on tea lawsuits

Fallon defended his product, though, saying that TLC’s own tests did not detect THC, before insinuating that the customers’ surroundings could be the source.

“The world is changing in the U.S. This is all legal,” he said. “So, be aware if you’re at a cookout. Be aware if you’re in a cafe. Does that make sense?”

TLC no longer advertises its raspberry lemonade tea as having 0.0 percent THC, and the company website now includes a disclaimer, saying people subject to drug testing shouldn’t drink it.