Despite the fact that legal weed is gaining significant traction, you will still see employers handing out drug tests for THC on the regular. As these have continued, new methods of testing have been introduced to the masses. Specifically, saliva testing has become more and more accepted.
These tests are fairly new and very different from the standard urine drug test. Some believe they are more accurate, but others say they are much easier to pass. Either way, it is a quick, cheap, and easy testing method, so you can expect to see more of it in the workplace. That is why it is more important than ever to know how saliva tests work and what you can do to minimize your chances of failing.
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast answers to the question of how long THC stays in your saliva. The exact number will depend on several different factors, including things like body mass index, metabolism, and age. However, by far the most important thing to take into consideration is how often and how much you smoke.
What is saliva drug testing?
Drug testing is mostly reliant on blood or urine samples. However, some companies are turning to faster and cheaper alternatives such as saliva drug testing for marijuana. This screening technique is used by employers, athletic associations, and even police units to identify the presence of illicit substances.
In a functional sense, saliva can be used to test for drug use in the same way that blood and urine can. Saliva drug tests require the subject to provide a sample such as spit or a mouth swab. The advantage of cannabis saliva testing over blood and urine testing is that it is quick, convenient, and non-invasive; it can be done practically anywhere without infringing on the subject’s privacy.
Another advantage of saliva testing for marijuana is that, since the tests can be done in the presence of another person (unlike urine testing), the possibility of cheating is basically non-existent.
How does saliva testing work?
Your mouth contains three glands that can produce as much as several milliliters of saliva per minute. The amount of saliva you produce increases or decreases throughout the day by various factors. These factors include hunger, certain drugs and medications, and even emotions like stress and anxiety.
In most instances, it takes about 1–3 minutes to collect enough of a sample to perform an accurate saliva drug test for cannabis. It can sometimes be challenging to get an adequate amount since many people feel anxious before taking a drug test which can cause dry mouth.
This makes it harder to collect enough saliva to get accurate results. If you need to take a saliva drug test but have a dry mouth, you may be asked to suck on a citrus candy first to help stimulate natural saliva production.
Once a sufficient sample has been collected, the saliva can be tested for metabolites of alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, opioids, anabolic steroids, and certain prescription medications. The levels of these substances found in saliva are similar to the levels seen in blood during the elimination phase.
The marijuana compound which is most often tested for in saliva is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the chemical that possesses psychoactive properties and produces a high in cannabis. The cut-off point for the presence of THC as deemed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is 50 ng/L for initial testing, and 15 ng/L for confirmation tests.
How long does THC stay in your saliva?
The collected research suggests that weed is detected in the saliva from anywhere to about 24-72 hours for occasional users and up to 13 days for chronic users.
Compared to urine tests, this time frame is quite short. To put things into context, depending on your body type and how often you smoke, THC can be found in urine well over 30 days after consumption. In fact, for chronic smokers, this period of detection can stretch to around double that.
Cannabis contains hundreds of different compounds that are all metabolized by the body at different rates. When someone smokes cannabis, THC enters the bloodstream almost immediately and peaks 3-10 minutes after inhalation. With edibles, it can take 1-2 hours for THC to enter the bloodstream because it has to travel through the digestive tract first.
One can feel the effects of cannabis for a few hours as the liver slowly breaks down active compounds known as phytocannabinoids. This complex process changes THC into various metabolites, one of the most common being THC-COOH (11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol).
One study on the detection time for THC in oral fluid after regular cannabis smoking cited a maximum of 8 days. The study also found that levels of THC-COOH in the urine were not consistent with levels of THC found in saliva; while THC-COOH levels decreased steadily over time in urine, examiners found negative salivary THC samples interspersed amongst positive samples. This suggests that THC levels can rise and fall over the course of a few days after smoking.
Which jobs do saliva tests for THC?
As you venture through the job market, it is important to remember that drug tests are standard at many major companies. If you are in charge of heavy machinery, sensitive information, or otherwise important assets, your employer will want to know that you will be doing the job safely.
Yes, weed is legal, and it is safer than many other drugs out there, but it is still a drug. Use and overuse can still affect one’s job performance and create significant risk in certain situations. Virtually any government job will have you tested before hiring, and likely periodically afterward.
Jobs in the healthcare industry are also likely to drug test before and after hiring, especially if you are dealing with patients or handling medicine. You can also expect to be tested if you are working in the service or retail industries. This, however, can vary depending on what company you are working for or what sort of position you apply for.
How to clean THC out of your saliva
If you are subject to a saliva test, it might become necessary to brush your teeth thoroughly at least three times daily. This has been said to be very helpful in the past. Pay particular attention to the gums, cheeks, and tongue. Drink lots of water to help flush your mouth and your system. This will also dilute the saliva.
Another possibility is to use mints and other breath suppression products in order to mask the presence of weed. Eat high-fat foods just prior to the test. This will help absorb the THC. If desperate, try lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar.
Other methods for erasing the trace of cannabis in your saliva might require that you purchase distinctive products like detox mouthwashes such as Ultra Wash or Stinger Detox. Keep this on yourself at all times if you have one of those jobs with a reputation for surprising you with a random test.
These products are the best in the market when it comes to cleansing your mouth of THC with a small, compact, fast-acting remedy. It contains the active ingredients of aloe vera, peppermint, magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride, and witch hazel. Do this at least 15 minutes prior to your test. You can begin to immediately remove all evidence of marijuana if you use these products.
Do saliva tests check for CBD?
Thankfully, CBD is not tested for in the United States or Europe since it is a non-psychoactive component. There is currently no standard for measuring quantities of CBD in the body. Furthermore, hemp-based CBD products available on the market should legally contain no more than 0.3 percent THC in them anyway. So, it would be very unlikely for a drug test to detect THC in your system if you are solely a CBD user.
If you are smoking a high-CBD strain, though, the amount of THC in those varieties varies greatly. Depending on how much you smoke it is possible to fail a THC urine test, and possibly a saliva one as well. There simply are not enough studies or anecdotal trials available yet to know for sure.