I'm sure you guys are acutely aware that in spite of all of the areas in the U.S. where marijuana is finally legal, there are still places it isn't. I
I’m sure you guys are acutely aware that in spite of all of the areas in the U.S. where marijuana is finally legal, there are still places it isn’t. If you happen to live in one of those places, drug tests are no bueno. If a drug test looms in your future and you like to puff tough, you’ll pose the eternal question. How long does cannabis stay in your system?
We’ve always heard there is a 30 day window before THC leaves the body because it’s fat soluble. Your love handles are hanging on to some cannabinoids for later and your new boss isn’t going to like it. But, is that really true?
Plus, there are several different types of drug tests. We need to break this down.
THC and The Body
Remember that time at summer camp where the stupid kid in the next cabin over threw you into the lake? That’s how THC feels about water. It’s hydrophobic. So, other substances in the body have to break it down.
This one survives the fact check. THC is stored in fat. As THC breaks down, it splits into bits called metabolites.
If THC were a piniata, the metabolites are the candies and goodies that come flying out. Kind of.
How Drug Tests Work
You are either about to get hit with a historical test (urine, hair follicle) or present test. Historical tests are actually looking for metabolites that result from THC breakdown. Five metabolites can show up historical drug tests, and THC-COOH is the most prominent. Present tests (breath, blood, saliva) detect active THC in the system.
Essentially, a present test will identify if you’re stoned and an historical test cannot prove current intoxication. It will, however, disclose use in the recent or distant past.
How Long Does Cannabis Stay In Your System According To Each Test
The historical tests operate similarly.
You pee in a cup. The lab tests the cup. That’s pretty basic. What you may not know about urine testing is that there’s a magic number.
In other words, you can have a little THC-COOH floating around. As long as your level is under 50 ng/mL, you’ll pass. If you don’t pass, it’s time for a second round of testing.
In phase II, the Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometer comes out. This device tests for a threshold of 15 ng/ml which is much lower than you began with. If this test finds what it’s after, it declares “Test Positive for Marijuana” and you’re done.
While it’s hard to estimate how long THC- remains in someone’s system, chronic smokers are in danger. If you suspect you, yourself, might be the chronic, you could fail a test 12 weeks after you stop cold turkey. If you just tried cannabis at a friend’s party, you could beat the test in a week.
It turns out that 30 days is the old standby for a reason. Even if you can use the details here to dial down on your exposure, do you really want to risk it? This is up to you, intrepid explorer.
The hair follicle test strikes terror in the hearts of citizens. It does have a larger exposure widow, 90 days or more, but it’s expensive. It also isn’t going to tell an employer anything they want. If you test positive, it could be because you literally tried it once at a party.
So you’re less likely to ship off for a hair follicle test.
Blood tests are present intoxication screenings. They are generally associated with accidents on the job or DUI incidents. These results are terrifying. A blood test will indicate positive for 7 or more days for chronic smokers. Occasional smokers are at risk for 6 to 24 hours.
Don’t smoke an operate heavy machinery, kids.
The Spit Test
Saliva tests are one of the newest ways to ruin a hard working smoker’s life. They aren’t terribly common yet, but read 24 hours from the time of intoxication. These are also present tests.
I know you probably want a hard and fast list of times for each test. It doesn’t quite work that way. In the same way people metabolize alcohol differently, THC hangs around differently for everyone.
You do have some guidelines, though. Use them to calculate your risk for going dirty on the test.
Who doesn’t love a good story about passing a drug test? Let us know yours on social media!
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