If you’re reading this, you might have a drug test coming up. Employers typically test for the breakdown product of THC, a well known psychoactive substance in marijuana. A worker who fails a urine test will usually get fired, including in states where adult-use marijuana is legal.
So, you need to get an idea of the likely outcome of the test, and what steps you can take to prepare. The first thing is to know why, and for how long, weed is detectable in your urine.
Why Is Weed Detectable in Your Urine?
Marijuana’s active ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Its short-term effects on mental activity, concentration, and time and distance perception usually last for an hour or two. Some effects can linger into the next day. The National Highway Safety Administration deems it an influence on drivers for up to three hours.
Long after the marijuana high (related to delta-9 THC molecules) has faded away, the breakdown products linger in your system. The employment drug tests look for those breakdown products, which your body creates as a waste product after metabolizing THC.
That breakdown product is a the metabolite called THC-COOH, which is what’s left of THC that’s processed by your liver.
The process goes like this: You inhale THC. The high begins as your body starts metabolizing it. It is broken down and will turn into inactive THC-COOH. The THC-COOH gets stored in fat cells. Part of your body’s natural cleansing functions breaks it down so that it leaves your body in the natural ways. Some of it will leave as excrement, especially if you are on a high-fiber diet. Otherwise it will mostly be released from the body through urine.
As it leaves the body, it shows up in tests on urine or hair follicles. These tests for marijuana metabolites just show your employer whether or not you’ve recently or fairly recently used pot. They are not looking for impairment, which only has that one-day window.
OK, that’s the overview. Now, let’s deal with the burning question. How long are these metabolites detectable?
How Long is Weed Detectable in Your Urine?
Say it’s been 3-4 weeks between the time you last smoked and the coming drug test. Are you in the clear?
First, it depends on the rules set by your employer. The testing point of THC-COOH in your urine could be anywhere from a very low 20 nanograms per milliliter to an allowance of 100ng. Most employers impose a 50ng/ml cap.
The more potent the pot, the more metabolites will show up in the urine. So some of this depends on what you smoked. That said, there are average times we can lay out.
The average time between smoking and a clean test for most regular smokers is 7-12 days at the common 50 ng/mL cutoff. But the test can flag you up to 21 days later at the more sensitive 20 ng/mL cutoff. Longer still for the heavy smokers.
Cannabinoids may pass through the urine more quickly for a first-time smoker. For those who have smoked once or smoke only occasionally, the urine should test clean in about 72 hours if the test is set at the 50 ng/mL cutoff. The more sensitive 20 ng/mL setting may be able to detect cannabinoids in the infrequent smoker for about a week.
NeonJoint.com offers a chart with rough time scales based on the number of pot uses per month:
|Marijuana Detection Time Based on Usage|
|Usage at 1 time only||5-8 days|
|Usage at 2-4 times per month||11-18 days|
|Usage at 2-4 times per week||23-35 days|
|Usage at 5-6 times per week||33-48 days|
|Daily Usage||49-63 days|
But the above guidance will assist you only in making an educated guess. Everyone’s body is unique, and exercise preferences or eating habits can change the amount of time it takes to pass a test. Generally, the more fat in your body, the longer you’ll hold cannabinoids in your system. There are documented instances of detection going as far back as 77 days for users who smoked daily and very heavily.
And finally, all of this assumes that only the urine test is involved. Hair samples hold detectable traces longest—up to a whopping three months since the last use. But many employers rely on urine tests, which have the backing of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Can You Trick the Drug Test?
The short answer is no. Tricks are for kids. Sure, flushing out your system with water and urinating several times before the test will help, and it’s good for you. But handing over a sample of overly diluted urine isn’t smart. Some people take vitamins to color washed-out urine. This method by itself won’t clear the stored THC metabolites from your system; and heavily diluted urine may raise red flags.
Neither juices nor the common herbal tea-style cleanses on the market will take all the traces of marijuana out of your system. Many of the herbal cleansing products have suggested directions informing you they’ll take days and even weeks to work. Well, your body is already cleansing itself over that time period for free.
Tampering with the test is a recipe for failure. Don’t try to contaminate a urine sample with any type of chemical. The urine test will find you out. Even commercial urine test adulterants can be spotted by today’s lab professionals.
The lab staffers weren’t born yesterday. They know the tricks, and they test for them. (Tip: No one who works in a lab is going to recommend that you buy synthetic urine on the internet. They are probably selling you on a product, or just repeating something somebody else said, with scant interest in giving you decent, science-based advice.)
As for putting synthetic urine into a specimen container during the test, good luck. Stories abound of people dropping items when fumbling with the temperature strips and so forth. And for so many reasons, it’s about the last thing you ever want to be caught doing.
A Way Forward: Finding Effective Support
Knowing the likely level of cannabinoids in your system is important if you are facing a urine test you cannot afford to fail. And the main influence on that level is time.
Your body has great natural cleansing power. Yet reality doesn’t always put time on your side, so if you’re worried about being in a time crunch on detoxing, consider how many days you have left until test day, and consider safe, appropriate detox products. A successful outcome may be within reach. PassYourTest.com offers a range from 5- and 10-day kits to a same-day cleanse.
The reason Nutra Cleanse products are safe is that they work with your system to do its job. They support your own physical ability to rid your body of toxins. Pair them up with a commitment to making healthy choices during your detox period.
When it comes to passing a urine test, there are no tricks to learn. But there is support available. Have more questions? If you need to talk with a detox advisor, get in touch. The number is (877) 247-1354.
Interested in learning more?