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Getting Tested for THC? Here’s What You Need to Know

Pursuing a new job can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience, but for cannabis users or anyone considering using cannabis, it can also induce the gut-wrenching fear of an unexpected drug test followed by a frantic search for quick ways to do a marijuana cleanse.

Even in states with medical or adult-use cannabis legalization in full swing, some jobs still maintain stringent drug policies that forbid employees from consuming cannabis on their own time.

Having advance notice of an upcoming drug test may give you enough time to take a tolerance break and abstain from consuming, regardless it’s important to understand how THC operates throughout the body and how to healthily and effectively move cannabinoids out of your system.

How Does THC Move Through the Body?

You might have heard rumors that cannabis can stay in your system for days, weeks, or maybe even months, but the way THC travels and interacts with the body paints a slightly more complex picture.

If cannabis is smoked or vaporized, THC enters the bloodstream from the lungs and goes directly to the heart, where it is then pumped throughout the body to the two types of cannabinoid receptors found in the human body.

“THC travels in the blood to the CB1 receptors located in the brain and central nervous system, and the CB2 receptors located in the spleen and immune system,” said Itzhak Kurerk, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Cannformatics, a Northern California biotech company researching improvements to medical cannabis.

THC molecules binding to the cannabinoid receptor.

Every time the blood circulates throughout the body, a certain portion of THC passes through the liver. When THC is broken down in the liver, it forms at least 80 different metabolites, including 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC) and 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THC-COOH), both of which are inactive forms of THC that remain in the body far longer than active THC. Some of these metabolites, such as THC-COOH, are stored in body fat and gradually eliminated from the body through urine and feces.

“Tests for cannabis consumption mainly detect a metabolite of THC found in urine,” Kurek explained. “This metabolite [THC-COOH] is a result of the detoxification process in the liver by cytochrome P450 enzymes and further oxidation.”

When cannabis is ingested in the form of an edible or capsule , THC enters the bloodstream through the walls of the stomach and intestine. THC will travel directly to the liver where a substantial amount is eliminated or metabolized before the cannabinoid receptors are activated. After that, the remaining THC and its corresponding metabolites are put into circulation by the heart, where they both reach the brain.

So, contrary to what some might think, most cannabis drug tests aren’t only specifically looking for THC, but also metabolites such as THC-COOH that are created as the cannabinoid is rapidly broken down in the body.

Types of Drug Tests

Currently, there are drug screening methods designed to detect the presence of THC and THC metabolites in urine, blood, saliva, and hair.

Urine

A urine test is the preferred method used to screen for cannabis use, as this is the recommended test by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services that creates drug testing standards for government employees.

A 2012 study published in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry explained why urine tests are more effective than blood, saliva, or hair. “Urine is the preferred sample because of higher concentration and longer detection time of metabolites in it. Moreover, urine can easily be sampled,” the study stated.

Urine drug tests have a specific sensitivity regarding the cutoff concentration of THC-COOH, the benchmark used to determine the results of the test. While the cutoff point can generally range from 15 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) to 100ng/mL, the most common cutoff used for urine tests is 50 ng/mL, which is the value recommended by SAMHSA. This cutoff concentration determines the timeframe that a drug test will show up positive or negative for cannabis use. To fully grasp the finite scope of this cutoff limit measurement, consider that a nanogram is one-billionth of a gram, while a milliliter measures fluid volume equal to 1/1,000 of a liter. In the case of a marijuana drug screening, the test results would be positive if the amount of THC metabolites in the sample exceeded 50 ng/mL.

Blood

The researchers from the same 2012 study also stated that blood tests can only detect cannabis use a few hours after consumption.

“Maximum delta-9-THC plasma concentration was observed approximately 8 minutes after onset of smoking, while 11-OH-THC peaked at 15 minutes and THC-COOH at 81 minutes. This delta-9-THC concentration rapidly decreases to 1-4 ng/mL within 3-4 hours,” the study stated.

Saliva

Cannabis use can also be detected in saliva, but this also has a more limited window. A 2014 review on cannabinoids in oral fluid found that THC could be detected in occasional users one to three days after use, while saliva in chronic users could be detected up to 29 days after use.

Hair

Hair tests are the most sensitive type of drug tests, and can detect THC and THC-COOH up to 90 days after consumption. But these tests have proven to be inaccurate, and even non-consumers could trigger a false positive if they come into contact with a cannabis user. A 2015 study published in Scientific Reports, bluntly titled “Finding cannabinoids in hair does not prove cannabis consumption,” stated: “At first glance, differentiation of the route of THC-COOH incorporation into hair seems irrelevant as long as positive THC-COOH findings in hair require THC uptake by the individual under investigation. However, considering the presence of THC-COOH in sebum/sweat, a transfer to other persons’ hair is possible.”

How Long Does it Take for THC to Move Out of Your System?

As for the question of how long THC can be detected in your system, it depends not only on the type of drug tests, but also relies on a variety of individual factors, such as the consumer’s metabolism and amount of cannabis used.

“How long cannabis stays in your system is still an open question, and depends on many factors,” Kurek explained. “Experiments on frequent cannabis users have found residual THC can be detected for 5-13 days post-consumption.”

There are a variety of factors that might impact the amount of time that THC will stay in your system, including:

    • Dosage: The greater the amount of THC, the longer it will take the body to detoxify and excrete THC and its metabolites.
    • Frequency of use: How much and for how long does a consumer use marijuana?
    • Genetics: People inherit different variants of the cytochrome P450 superfamily of enzymes, which modify THC in the body resulting in excretion in the urine, according to Kurek.
    • Sex:Some studies have shown that men who smoke marijuana may have higher circulating levels of THC than women.
    • Weight: The more body fat the cannabis user has, more THC metabolites are stored in the body and for longer periods.
    • Metabolism: What’s the rate at which the body can eliminate the presence of cannabis from the system?

Although we’ve established that there’s no clear cut answer on how long it takes to get THC out of your system, past research on THC detection methods allows us to estimate the time it takes to cleanse the body of marijuana.

A 2005 review by Paul Cary, director of the Toxicology and Drug Monitoring Laboratory at the University of Missouri, found that while detection times in excess of 30 days do occur in some cases, they are largely an exception. The study acknowledges the various factors that determine how long THC metabolites remain in the body, but also provides “practical cannabinoid detection guidance” to offer a general idea of how long marijuana will stay in an individual’s system.

“Based upon recent scientific evidence, at the 50 ng/mL cutoff concentration for the detection of cannabinoids in urine (using the currently available laboratory-based screening methods) it would be unlikely for a chronic user to produce a positive urine drug test result for longer than 10 days after the last smoking episode,” the study stated.

At a lower 20 ng/mL cutoff concentration, the study also states that it would be uncommon for a chronic marijuana smoker to produce a positive urine drug test result longer than 21 days after consumption. For those who only use cannabis occasionally, the review states that it would be unusual for cannabinoids to be detected in urine three to four days after consumption at the 50 ng/mL cutoff level. For one-time marijuana use, the most stringent 20 ng/mL cutoff concentration point shouldn’t detect cannabinoids after 7 days.

Using a specified cutoff concentration point and time frame, drug testing laboratories are essentially able to look at levels of THC metabolites and figure out the last time the subject used cannabis.

“If the lab quantitates how much THC-11-hydroxy or THC-11-carboxy is found, that can be used to date when your last use of THC was, approximately,” explained Dr. Joseph Morgan, Senior Medical Director at Onconova Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing small-molecule drug candidates to treat cancer.

“In other words, somebody who tests for no THC, no 11-hydroxy-THC, and a small amount of 11-carboxy-THC [THC-COOH], they can reliably say they were not stoned at the time of the test, and most likely their most recent use was at least a week before, possibly even one or 2 months before,” he added.

While these guidances help construct a framework for the court system and employers to follow, random drug screenings have a tendency of catching cannabis users by surprise. In the event you have a surprise drug test coming up and you’re unsure whether you still have THC in your system, it’s possible to give your body a marijuana cleanse that is legal and healthy.

Easy, Ethical Ways to Do a Marijuana Cleanse

It might be hard to admit, but the most effective way to give your body a marijuana cleanse is simple: Don’t consume any cannabis for one to three months. If abstaining from THC is not an option for you, know that because the most common type of drug test is a urine screening, the terms “marijuana cleanse” or “detox” typically refer to cleaning THC metabolites out of urine until they’re undetectable.

First, don’t try to cheat a drug screening under any circumstances, especially not by purchasing fake urine or other strange products that could get you into trouble,” Morgan warns of the risk of using products that supply fake chemical urine. “If you’re found doing that, then they’ll know you’re obviously guilty of something,” he said.

There are plenty of detox products that claim to assist with a marijuana cleanse, but keep in mind that these detox methods may not be 100% effective. One popular way to detoxify the body is by using bentonite clay, a clay made from volcanic ash that is purported to absorb toxicants, chemicals, and other impurities from the body. It can be used internally by mixing some into a glass of water.

Outside of detox formulas, there are other effective practices you can integrate into your daily routine. Focus on things like physical health, vitamin and food intake, while also recognizing how THC metabolites enter the urine. Morgan added an important caveat, explaining that exercising a day or two before a drug screening could cause THC-COOH to be released from fat cells into the urine stream.

“Try to be healthy and not fat, be well-hydrated, but don’t exercise vigorously the day before or the day of your drug test,” Morgan explained.

FAQs:

How Long Do I Have to Detox if I Just Took One Puff?

Research has shown that someone who infrequently smokes marijuana will have THC in their system for anywhere from five to 13 days, and for a frequent marijuana smoker, THC could remain as long as 30 days. The duration of time that cannabis is detectable in the body depends on a lot of individual-specific factors, including weight, age, sex, genetics, metabolism, and more.

For example, if you have a high metabolism, little body fat, have not smoked recently, and are not a frequent marijuana user, then “one puff” of cannabis would likely remain in your system for around three to five days. However, it’s important to note that the exact answer will vary depending on factors such as dosage size and physical health.

How Accurate Are Home Drug Tests Compared to Lab Tests?

At-home drug tests are usually relatively accurate, but there are a lot of external factors that could alter the result. In addition, many at-home drug testing brands will differ in their sensitivity. In 2015, 90% of the 55 million drug tests performed were urine tests. There is a possibility a person will fail a drug test at home if they have certain levels of THC in their system, and there is also the possibility that the test will be inaccurate due to external factors including temperature and time.

In general, at home drug tests are as accurate as lab tests, as long as the external factors at home are controlled, but the lab test is not as complex as a blood analysis. At-home kits from reputable brands that analyze urine, mouth swabs, and hair follicles, have been found to be as accurate as in-lab tests.

The most common drug screening method used both at home and in the lab setting is called an immunoassay (IA) panel, which includes the SAMHSA-5, a standard established by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The types of tests range in their sensitivity to certain drugs in the person’s system. Some more expensive tests will be more sensitive, but at-home tests often reflect what will appear in the lab. The “more sensitive” test means a test at a lab may have lower “cutoff levels” of substances, which refers to the amount of a substance that is in a person’s system.

Does Alcohol Help Cleanse the Body for a Drug Test?

It is a myth that alcohol can help “cleanse” the body or fat cells of THC. At best, alcohol is known as a diuretic , which means it will help a person excrete more urine than one would otherwise. Research shows alcohol could prolong the detoxification of the body because alcohol has been found to further dehydrate the body . Currently, there is no research that suggests alcohol can cleanse the body any faster than drinking water or liquids over the course of a week.

Can I Use a Sauna to Help Detox From THC?

A person can increase sweat excretion by using a sauna. THC is stored in fat cells, so sweating is one of the major ways to speed the process up. But sitting in a sauna does not guarantee that that drug test results will change, because there are so many other individual-specific variables at play.

How Much Urine is Needed for a Drug Test?

The average amount of urine in milliliters needed for a drug test is 30 milliliters. This amount can vary, for example, tests done for employees of the U.S. Department of Transportation require 45 milliliters of urine for a test.

Is 14 Days Enough Time to Prepare for a Drug Test?

The amount of time needed to prepare for a drug test depends on a person’s metabolism, age, sex, weight, and most importantly, how much they consumed. For instance, if a highly concentrated THC product is consumed, it will likely remain in one’s system longer than a low-dosage THC product would. Furthermore, frequent marijuana users will take longer for THC to fully leave their system, possibly twice the amount of time depending on other factors.

How Will Water Fasting Affect a Urine Test?

While drinking water helps cleanse the body by increasing urination, it is not recommended to fast using water before taking a drug test. One reason is that water fasts could further dehydrate you . One 2016 study published in the journal Nutrients found about 20% to 30% of your daily water intake comes from the foods you eat.

The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice.

Here's everything you need to know about how to get THC out of your system, along with advice on how to give your body a marijuana cleanse.

Marijuana Detox: 10 Quickest Ways to Get the Weed Out

Marijuana Detox: 10 Quickest Ways to Get the Weed Out

Sometimes, you need to get the weed out of your system and fast. Here are the 10 quickest ways to a full marijuana detox so you can pass your tests.
Keyword(s): marijuana detox

From treating medical ailments to simply providing a relaxing night, marijuana can be beneficial for so many things. But how do you quickly go through a marijuana detox? Read on to find out.

Though legalization and destigmatization are well on its way, you may still be faced with encountering one of the 57% of employers who drug test upon hiring potential candidates. it’s important to learn how to get the weed out quickly.

With that said, it’s important to learn how to get the weed out in an efficient and stress-free manner. With the following hacks, you’ll be well on your way to fast marijuana detox.

Let’s get into it!

Marijuana Detox: What You Need to Know

Urinalysis (testing your pee) is the most common method of drug testing within workplaces. These tests determine metabolites, which determine the THC levels in your bloodstream.

Other test methods include a blood test or hair test, though these are more expensive and intensive. As a result, workplaces are much less likely to use them in testing.

THC, the main ingredient tested in marijuana, can remain in your body’s fat tissue for differing amounts of time depending on the following elements:

  • Type of test required to take
  • Testing levels measured
  • Overall amount of THC in your system

You should note that the following methods are all suggestions. Inherently, they are not absolute. Like it or not, the best way to successfully achieve marijuana detox is to abstain from using marijuana.

Abstain from Marijuana

If you know you have an upcoming drug test or you’re actively looking for employment, here’s what you need to know in terms of how long marijuana stays in your system.

Most companies use the standard pee test. THC can be detected in urine between 3 to 80 days, depending on frequency and amount of use.

If you know you’re having a blood test, THC levels typically last between 24 hours to 1 week.

Hair follicle tests, which tend to be the most strict, can detect THC for up to 90 days.

Natural Detox

No fancy pills or test kits here. This is the safest, proven method for marijuana detox.

All you need to do is exercise regularly, maintain a healthy nutrition, and quit using marijuana for approximately 4-6 weeks (though this number can vary depending on your overall health).

In a nutshell, people in good shape with lower weights and BMI should be able to successfully achieve detox within about 30 days.

A Winning Diet

You can achieve effective and rapid marijuana detox simply by making a few dietary changes.

You’ll want to focus on reducing anything that can cause temporary bloat and water retention. The worst contenders for this include sodium and sugar.

This means avoiding fatty and sugary foods, such as chips, pizza, ice cream, and candy. However, you’ll also want to look out for hidden salt and sugar in ordinary or seemingly healthy foods (condiments, cereals, soups).

What should you focus on? Whole, natural, and unprocessed foods. We’re talking about vegetables, fruits, lean meat and protein, and lots and lots of water. Try to avoid any processed junk foods or fast foods the days leading up to your test.

Look at it this way: eating healthy is never a bad thing. In fact, this may kick start that New Year’s diet resolution you haven’t been able to keep!

Focus on fiber, as this speeds up your digestive tract. Gross or not, bowel movements help excrete THC and its metabolites. More poop= faster detox.

Supplements can also help. A few days before your test, look into taking Magnesium and B Vitamins. These assist with your digestive tract and can actually provide a laxative effect.

As always, before taking any supplements, be sure to clear with your doctor. You want to make sure that you don’t have any potential drug interactions, especially if you are taking prescribed medication or have any special medical conditions.

Get Sweaty

The motivation to successfully achieve marijuana detox may just be the winning ticket to finally get you back into the gym.

Exercise is one of the best, proven methods to pass a drug test. This is because higher levels of body fat and extra weight actually increase how long THC stays stored within fat cells.

Not to mention, exercise is just plain good for you (and for maintaining a healthy weight, which is GREAT for eliminating THC staying longer in your fat cells than it needs to).

You don’t have to be conditioning for hours and hours on end, though. Simply focus on some hard cardio (running, swimming, or biking is great for this) and strength training (weight lifting or plyometric exercise) every day.

Don’t have a gym nearby? Consider taking a jog through the park or riding your bike to pick up groceries.

Bodyweight exercises can be done at home. Think push-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, squats, and planks.

No gym membership or equipment needed!

Get Really, Really Hot

Although this may sound like a strange myth, the sauna method does actually appear to have some grains of truth to it.

The theory is simple: sweat excretes THC. Roasting in a sauna is not only relaxing for you, it provides incredible health benefits.

These include eliminating sodium, water retention, and lactic acid. Essentially, the heat and sweating help flush out toxins, which can be stored in your fat cells.

In conjunction with natural marijuana detox, this can be a great tool for rapidly assisting getting that THC out of your system!

Here’s what’s recommended: after your workout (because we know you took our advice to engage in regular exercise), engage in a 10-20 minute sauna session.

You’ll want to leave feeling really sweaty! Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after to avoid dehydration and overheating.

One final note: if you feel like you are at risk of passing out or you’re taking special medication, proceed with caution. Saunas do present inherent safety risks, and this is not something you want to mess around with!

To be extra cautious, you may want to clear regular sauna use with your primary care physician before beginning this regimen.

Same Day Cleansers

Just like when you had a pop quiz in school, sometimes life happens, and you’re faced with needing to take an unexpected drug test.

Although this may psychologically stress you out, we promise we have a solution for you! It comes in the form marijuana detox kits. Purchasing a same-day cleanser addresses the urinary tract and produces a clean urine sample.

Purchasing a same-day cleanser addresses the urinary tract and produces a clean urine sample.

With this method, you induce rapid marijuana detox and could pass a drug test within 24 hours. Talk about a win-win!

And, there are marijuana detox method cleansers for all kinds of tests, ranging from urine to hair to saliva.

They come in the form of pills, drinks, body cleaners, and home test kits.

How To Find Them

Be sure to check out a reputable seller before purchasing. You can ask your local head shop employees for assistance. Ask them what they recommend. This is their job, after all, and they should be able to refer you to safe and efficient sellers.

Don’t have a head shop near you? Need something fast and efficient, but maybe don’t feel comfortable walking into a place like that and asking around? Look no further than the Internet! There is an abundance of companies just waiting for your business.

If you order online, most companies ship in discreet packaging, which is obviously beneficial. This is not something you just want to cheap out on!

Remember, if you go this route, this is not something you just want to cheap out on! Invest in quality ingredients for the greatest success in your marijuana detox process.

The Water, Vitamin B, and Creatine Cocktail

No, we’re not talking about chugging insane amounts of water here. In fact, that can actually be dangerous. Not to mention, it can dilute your urine (which tends to be a red flag).

Here’s a safe way to try this: drink about 2-3 liters of water the day before your test. Supplement with 50-100 mg of Vitamin B-2 or B-12 and take creatine a few hours before your test.

Why the creatine? It’s essentially a chemical waste product that can get flushed out of your urine.

This is the winning combo for fast and nearly foolproof marijuana detox.

Special Detox Drinks

If the DIY water, Vitamin B, and creatine combination seem too complicated or you’re crunched for time, check out some of the many marijuana detox drinks available.

They essentially work the same: creating creatine and vitamin B to “hide” your diluted urine.

Though they may be more expensive than doing it yourself, convenience and efficiency do play a significant role in your marijuana detox process.

Check out a reputable vendor before buying. We also recommend stocking up some of these drinks just in case. After all, you never know if a surprise test is just around the corner!

Look into drinks that work on all kinds of drug tests instead of just urine, as you may be required to pass a hair follicle or blood test.

Synthetic Urine

We’ve all heard the saying desperate times call for desperate measures, right? If this is the case for your marijuana detox, there’s still hope for you!

You may not have time to work out some of the holistic, dilution methods. No problem. This is when fake urine comes in.

Most of the time, employers simply require a drug screen. However, with that said, they won’t actually be in the restroom watching you pee. This is great news for you: all you need to do is use synthetic urine for the sample cup.

Obviously, you will need to be discreet in carrying in the urine (under a coat or in a small handbag will typically work fine).

Make sure you keep the urine sample warm, as labs will likely measure the temperature levels to make sure it matches normal, human body levels.

Microwave the urine and keep it warm with a sealed hand warmer until your testing window. Then, simply urinate as normal into the toilet (as you never know if someone is out the door listening). Swap in the synthetic urine into the sample cup.

It’s important to consider the following situations where fake pee will not work:

  • the sample is too hot or cold
  • you’re being observed
  • you can’t conceal the fake urine
  • the test isn’t a urine test!

Stay Calm and Marijuana Detox On

Even if you’ve followed all the instructions regarding safe marijuana detox, it’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed or stressed about your upcoming drug test.

That’s okay! Stress and anxiety are normal reactions to feeling pressured.

But, you don’t want to psych yourself out and make it obvious how anxious you look (this can be a dead giveaway, after all!).

Consider the following tips for keeping a clear mind and positive outlook for your marijuana detox:

  • Practice meditative breathing exercises
  • Visualize your negative drug test!
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before
  • Eliminate as many stressors as possible
  • Plan something fun to look forward to after the test
  • Be courteous to any medical staff/employees

Remember, marijuana detox has plenty of proven methods. You are certainly not the first, last, or only individual to take a drug test!

And, you are certainly not the only one who is worried about having a positive result.

Remember to breathe. Remember to visualize positive thoughts. And, most of all, remember, if you’ve done what you’ve needed to do to safely engage in marijuana detox, you should be absolutely, 100% good to go!

Final Thoughts

Whether you smoke daily or use occasionally, whether you use marijuana for pain management or just to kick back, there’s no reason a planned or surprise drug test should scare you.

Simply following those easy instructions will have you well on your way to an efficient and stress-free marijuana detox.

Remember, if you’re looking for top-quality, top-notch consulting on all things marijuana, we’re here for you!

Contact us here for all questions and comments!

About Quantum9

Quantum 9, Inc. is a Chicago, IL-based cannabis consulting firm. We specialize in getting high net worth individuals and private equity cannabis business licenses to cultivate, manufacture and dispense marijuana. We have over 50 marijuana consultants that work for the company, and we have practiced in 12 countries. Our areas of expertise include permit acquisition, team building, employee training planning, and process planning. We help clients fully maximize the potential of any cannabis cultivation, processing, and dispensary business.

The Experts at Quantum 9 give our 10 quickest ways to get weed out of your system. We even give suggestions on which products to use for marijuana detox. ]]>