Cannabis might be legal in California, and increasingly everywhere else too, but there are still occasions where drug tests might be necessary. Court orders, employer screening: These are some examples. If you need to put marijuana delivery on hold to pass a drug screening for weed, then it might help tremendously to understand just what these tests are and how they work.
Length of Stay in Your Body
Several factors will determine how long cannabis will remain in your system. This timeline will differ between people, as age, metabolism and body mass, frequency of use, length of exposure, and even potency all play deciding roles. For most, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, takes as long as six weeks to leave your body completely on its own. Unlike other “drugs,” it is fat-soluble. Your body stores it.
The more weed you use, coupled with the more weight you carry, the slower it will take to leave your system. The less, the faster. There are different types of drug tests, some in wider circulation than others are. They also detect traces of THC for differing timeframes. Some tests will find weed long after other tests no longer will. This is the consensus for existing testing methods:
- Urine Test: Up to 45 days – Most common method
- Hair Test: Up to 120 days – Fast-growing method
- Blood Test: Up to 60 days – Less popular method, for sanctioned or specialized tests
- Saliva Test: Up to 7 days – Least popular method, by government agencies for roadside tests
How Drug Tests Work
Urine tests are cheaper than other testing methods. They are also more convenient for drug testing laboratories and employers. However, because hair tests are able to detect drug use for much longer than others typically can, they are rising quickly in popularity, particularly among the government and related employers. Big companies, some state agencies, might want blood. By the road, they want spit.
Cannabis, as mentioned, stores well in fat cells. Cannabinoids can stay there several months. These fat stores gradually wither via minute deposits into the bloodstream, where they travel to your hair, urine, and saliva and drug tests pick them up. This can make it possible to fail drug tests even if you have not used cannabis in weeks. How then do these drug tests work?
To test positive for weed in a urine test, your urine must contain at least 50 nanograms of THC per milliliter. There are two ways to test this. The most common way, and the cheapest, is an immunoassay test. However, these have a tendency to give false positives, which is a major disadvantage. For this reason, those with positive test results typically undergo another test to confirm the initial result.
This might sound roundabout, but gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, or GC/MS, tests are very pricey and take a long time to produce results. Still, these results are usually accurate. They rarely give false positives. Further, diluted results are inconclusive in urine tests. They require redoing the next day. You get more time to detox, and since these tests are often unreliable, they are easy enough to contest.
There are also two ways to test hair for cannabis use: ELISA, the enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, and the abovementioned GC/MS. Most test the first inch and a half from the root. Since hair grows roughly half an inch monthly, these tests can detect THC used as long as 90 days prior. That is three months ago, which is a long time. However, there are some real downsides to these methods.
Hair tests are frankly not ideal. THC can take a week to show up in hair, which means it cannot determine if you used any in the last week, certainly not this morning at work. It can tell that you used weed, but not if you did recently. Further, some medications trigger false positives, making it important to discuss this if you are on any prescription drugs, or even just taking over-the-counter ones.
Blood tests are the most accurate at determining if you used cannabis recently. It will identify any THC in your system at the time of testing, even if you used just a few minutes ago. For this reason, blood tests are best for determining THC levels while driving or at work this morning, but only under certain circumstances. One needs a qualified professional to administer these tests. Such is not always around.
Even if you just puff once with a friend, blood tests can pick it up. They can detect THC in your blood for a full week after use and, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, even longer for heavier users. Similar in its fashion to testing urine, THC can remain in your blood for up to two months after your last puff, where it is easily detectable in your blood.
Mouth swabs, or saliva tests, are extremely easy to administer. They are quick, accurate, and able to detect recent use, which is ultimately the goal of these tests. As such, they are growing in popularity. They have only one drawback, which is that they can only know if you used pot recently. For many, and especially in a legal market, this should be the gold standard and really the only point of concern.
Because of the ease, speed, and accuracy of saliva tests, law enforcement agencies are increasingly using them at roadside checks. They offer a reliable method of knowing if someone is driving under the influence of weed, which can be a punishable offense in some instances. They are also becoming the test of choice for employers screening employees for operating heavy machinery under the influence.
Fortunately, there are few reasons to need drug screening in California. Cannabis delivery is legal here, as is usage of the plant. Nobody cares if you use it, but if you do find yourself in need of a good detox, there are safe and healthy ways to lower your risk of a fail. Of course, it always helps to know which test you will face. Try to find out beforehand. That way, you can better prepare for it.