Unfortunately, drug testing is a reality that many employees have to face. And as unfair as it is, a positive test could cost you your job, even if you only enjoy the occasional toke. The plus side is that most companies have to give you sufficient notice of a drug test. This should give you enough time to detox either using natural methods or one of the many detox products on the market.
How long does THC stay in your system?
Passing a drug test depends on many different factors. First off, how much weed you use, and how often will influence how long THC and its metabolites stay in your system.
First-time smokers could be free from THC metabolites in as little as 5 days. However, if you are a heavy user, its metabolites can be detected for upwards of 30 days after your last smoke session.
What is THC-COOH?
Contrary to popular belief, standard drug tests don’t actually test for the THC in cannabis. Rather, they screen for a metabolite THC creates within the human body known as, THC-COOH. The main reason is that it stays in your body way longer than THC does.
THC-COOH is the most common name for this metabolite, but its official name is 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol and it is read “carboxy THC”.
It is also commonly referred to as 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC or THC-11-oic acid. It is the second metabolite of THC that is formed in the human body after cannabis is used, regardless of the consumption method. Hydroxy-THC is the first metabolite formed.
THC-COOH is not water-soluble; it is lipid-soluble and stored in our fat cells. Because of this, it stays in the system much longer than other substances. The THC itself leaves the system relatively quickly, within hours usually. However, THC-COOH is detectable for much longer.
How much THC is in my body?
There are a handful of factors that will help you determine how much THC and THC-COOH are in your body after any length of time, post-consumption.
- How often you consume: Frequency of consumption is amongst the most important factor. Whether you smoke once a day, week, or month, and if you are enjoying just a hit or smoking up to one or more joints. The more you smoke up, the more THC and THC-COOH you will accrue in your body’s fatty tissues.
- Total body fat: THC and THC-COOH store themselves in fat cells of the body. So, if you have more body fat, you will have a higher amount of THC and its metabolites stored in your body.
- Metabolism and overall health: If you have less body fat, then less THC and its metabolites will be stored in your body. Your metabolism also plays an important role in breaking down the THC. Exercise over time can help breakdown your fat cells and release THC metabolites which then can be expelled through urination. Because of this, you should never exercise right before your drug test!
- What you are consuming: The quality, as well as the type of cannabis you are consuming (flower vs. concentrate), will affect the level of THC and THC-COOH released in the body significantly.
Types of drug tests
Similar to the variety of factors that can define how much THC is in your system, there are a number of ways an employer can test you. They include urine, saliva, blood, and hair.
- Urinalysis: The most common type of drug test; It is used in many businesses because it is less expensive than other modes of testing and is fairly accurate. THC-COOH can be detected through urine samples roughly between 5-30 days.
- Saliva test: 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. Weed is detected in the saliva for about 24-72 hours.
- Blood test: It identifies THC-COOH in your bloodstream. Unlike urinalysis, a blood test will show impairment. Blood tests can only detect THC for 3-4 hours.
- Hair test: A less common form of testing, however, it does take place in some workplaces. Hair tests are the most sensitive tests, detecting THC-COOH for up to 90 days after use.
How to pass a drug test at short notice
If you get hit with an on-the-spot drug test, there may not be much you can do to pass it. This is especially true if the test is done on your saliva, blood, or hair. Urine tests may be slightly easier to pass, providing you have at least a little advance notice.
There are numerous detox products on the market, and some of them claim to work in as little as 24 hours. If you do not have time to order online, you could always try your local head shop, which may stock certain detox brands.
There are a few other tricks and tips you can use to try and pass a drug test in one day. However, you should note that none of these are guaranteed to work. The only way to pass a drug test for sure is to abstain for the appropriate length of time.
How to pass a urine test
To pass a THC urine test, also known as a urinalysis test, you do not need to be 100% free of THC metabolites. Rather, you need to have levels below the threshold for the test. Typically the threshold is 50 ng/mL, which is higher than you may think. As long as you register under this value, your test result will be negative.
The best method of passing a urine drug test is to dilute your urine enough where it will be below the 50 ng/mL threshold. However, drug testing labs are on the lookout for diluted urine samples. So in order to be an effective technique, you need to dilute your urine but also mask the fact that it is diluted.
1. Drink plenty of water
By diluting your urine as much as possible, you will make it harder to pick up THC metabolites. Dilute your urine by drinking plenty of extra water (4-6 pints) on the day of your test.
You should not try to do this by adding water to your sample as labs are wise to this technique and will be able to tell. The temperature of your sample when you hand it over is also a dead giveaway. It should be between 91 and 97 degrees Fahrenheit, or 32 and 36 degrees Celsius.
The key to this hack is to take a vitamin B supplement alongside your extra water. This will give your urine a more natural yellow color and avoid arousing suspicion by it being much too clear. And whatever you do, do not use your first pee of the morning as a sample. It will contain higher levels of THC metabolites and make it much less likely that you will pass your test.
2. Use a diuretic
Diuretics are substances that stimulate urination and help you to flush out toxins. Common house-hold diuretics include caffeine and cranberry juice, but you can also buy over-the-counter remedies designed to help women with premenstrual water retention.
Stronger diuretics are available on prescription and may be the most reliable option if you need to take a drug test at short notice. However, these are not readily available and may be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions. For this reason, natural and over-the-counter options are much safer.
3. Avoid exercise
Some research suggests exercising can increase the amount of THC in your urine by releasing it from fat cells. Although the evidence is not conclusive, it is a good idea to avoid exercise in the hours leading up to your test.
4. Do not give the beginning or end of your urine stream
When peeing into a cup, the first and last parts of your urine stream contains the highest amount of metabolites. As a result, you want to provide some urine from the “middle” of your pee stream.
Simply start urinating in the toilet, stop and provide a sample in the cup, and then finish as normal. This has not been back by science, however, lots of people swear by this method so it cannot hurt to try. Also, be aware that early morning urine will typically contain the highest level of toxic metabolites, so never give your first urine of the day.
5. Synthetic urine
If you are a heavy consumer or have a high-fat level in your body, then dilution may not be an effective method for beating your test. In this case, another option is substitution with synthetic or powdered urine. In other words, substituting your urine with either fake urine, which is commercially available or with the real urine of somebody who is a non-user.