Women blame weight-loss tea for positive drug tests

BOSTON — A drink advertised to detox your body, improve your mood and lose weight is the subject of a class–action lawsuit now. Several women say after drinking the tea they were fired from their jobs for failing a drug test.

Tina Hills said she started drinking TLC’s raspberry lemonade iaso tea for weight loss. Total Life Changes is a company that sells various vitamins and supplements for weight loss, hair and skin care and increased energy.

“The label says 0.0 THC, so I thought for sure that it was fine” Hills said.

Hills said she even became an official distributor of the tea and encouraged her employees to try it. But after a round of random drug testing for her and other workers, Hills said she learned she had failed and was fired from her job as an airport regional manager in Syracuse, New York.

She said she lost the federal clearance needed to work in the airline industry too. Hills said she called Total Life Changes.

“TLC told me that long-term use of the tea could possibly result in a positive testing. 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” Hills said.

Women across the country have reported drinking the company’s raspberry lemonade iaso tea and failing drug tests by testing positive for THC, the chemical found in marijuana that makes you high.

“I was clueless, devastated, and I was like, ‘are you sure you have the right person?’” said Belinda Granger, a nurse in Florida.

Granger said she started drinking the TLC raspberry lemonade iaso tea on her weight loss journey in January 2020. But last October when she applied for a new nursing job, Granger said she was shocked to learn she failed the required drug test.

“I want to see that tea taken off the market” said Pam Johnson.

>>>MORE: Kids in mental health crisis: Families speak to Boston 25 News

Johnson was a city bus operator in Pennsylvania for 18 years and said she had submitted numerous drug tests and has never failed. But she said that ended when she tested positive after drinking the tea.

“I felt like the whole room was closing in. I was in shock. Total shock,” said Marilyn Williams of Minnesota.

Williams said four days after drinking the tea she was called for a random drug test. She had a high-profile job in the nuclear industry in Minnesota requiring federal clearance. Williams said she tested positive for THC and was fired immediately, losing her federal clearance.

“I ended up going and buying at-home test kits. I tested the tea and sure enough, the tea came up positive,” Williams said.

Still unemployed, Williams is now fighting TLC in court in a Minnesota class-action lawsuit.

A TLC spokesperson sent us this statement:

“We are aware of the allegations about our iaso raspberry tea product. At TLC, we care deeply about our customers and are committed to their well-being. We are in the process of learning more about the relevant facts but are not in a position to report more fully at this time. The iaso raspberry tea product remains available for sale in the United States.”

In the United States, hemp-derived products are legal if they have 0.3% THC. The packaging for TLC’s raspberry lemonade iaso tea those women bought said the product contained hemp extract and 0.0% THC.

Our sister station in Charlotte had an independent lab run tests on two samples to see if the tea contained THC. The lab’s CEO, Dr. Volker Bornemann, said that in both samples they found trace amounts.

“This measured at 8.2 parts per million and the other showed 17.3, which is a low amount, but it is exact and measurable,” said Bornemann.

He added that’s just enough to show up positive on a drug test.

On the Total Life Changes website, the packaging for the tea no longer advertises 0.0% THC and there’s also a new disclaimer at the bottom stating:

“We do not recommend use if you are subject to drug testing.”

Hills is still unemployed and said she wants her story to serve as a warning for others.

“This just made me look really bad,” she said.