The science behind cannabis drug testing
The most common issue for medical marijuana patients is how to pass drug testing for employment purposes.
Drug testing typically involves a test of your urine for metabolites. Metabolites are a by-product of processing compounds such as cannabinoids in the body.
In the case of cannabis, the levels of THC in your blood stream will immediately increase.
THC is highly lipophilic (basically dissolves in body fats) so is distributed in adipose (fat storing) tissue, liver, lung and spleen.
Hydroxylation (introduction of hydroxyls) of THC generates the psychoactive compound 11-hydroxy ▵9_Tetra hydrocannabinol (11-OH-THC) and further oxidation generates the inactive 11-nor-9-carboxy-▵9-tetrahydrocannbinol (THC-COOH).
THC-COOH is the compound of interest for testing purposes. It is excreted in urine mainly as a glucuronic acid conjugate.
Both THC and the non-psychoactive metabolite, THC=COOH, can remain in your body’s fat tissue for up to 28 days.
Drug testing for THC in your system
Your fat cells will secrete THC metabolites into your bloodstream at a constant rate. As a result, many different cleansing techniques are ineffective, as your fat cells will continue to release THC metabolites into your system for up to 4 weeks depending on consumption and your body fat content.
Therefore you need to be able to determine the amount of THC and its metabolites in your system, the type of test you’ll be required to take, as well as the testing levels for your drug screen.
How much THC is in my system?
1. How often you consume
When determining how much THC is in your system, you must take frequency of consumption into consideration. Obviously, the more you consume, the more THC and THC-COOH will be stored in the fatty tissue throughout your body.
2. Total body fat
The more body fat you have, the more THC and its metabolites will be stored. Reducing your body fat will not only benefit your overall general health but also reduce the available fat reserve used for storage and detecting with drug testing.
We all have varying metabolisms that break down THC metabolites at different rates. Although exercise is beneficial it can also potentially release metabolites into your blood stream at a faster rate, this means you need to moderate your exercise regime prior to a test.
4. How much cannabis do you use?
What you consume and its cannabinoid content will greatly effect how much THC and THC-COOH are released into your body. The aim for medical marijuana users is to saturate the body with cannabinoids so medical cannabis oil consumption will show for longer than occasional recreational smoking on any drug testing.
The half-life of THC metabolites is 7 days. Meaning every 7 days, the amount in your body will decrease by 50%. Most people can assume their body will be clean of THC metabolites within 3-4 weeks depending on frequency, body weight and amount consumed.
Types of drug testing
Urinalysis tests account for about 75% of drug tests; hair tests and blood tests make up for the other 24 % with about 1% of tests being saliva based.
This is the most common type of drug test. It’s used in many businesses because it’s less expensive than other modes of testing and is fairly accurate.
Urine drug tests detect THC-COOH (metabolized THC), not THC itself.
This identifies THC in your bloodstream but because they are invasive and difficult to administer, blood tests are used less frequently. Cannabis is detectable in the blood for approximately 12–24 hours. Heavy or frequent use is detectable in the blood for up to 7 days.
Are a less common form of testing but are getting more popular with higher paying jobs and bigger employers. Because it measures THC-COOH remainders in the hair follicle over the past several months, it’s often difficult to get around this one.
Marijuana can stay in your hair for 6-12 months but labs only test for the last 90 days worth of hair growth. Labs can’t test your head or body hair if your head hair is too short.
Oral Fluid (Saliva)
Compared to other drug test specimen types like urine, and especially hair, oral fluid generally detects drugs sooner after use. It takes time for marijuana, to metabolize and pass through your system, but an oral fluid test will often detect the presence almost immediately after use
How to pass a urinalysis drug test for cannabis
There are ways to mask THC and its metabolites in your system.
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 primary method of passing a drug test is to dilute your urine enough by hydrating,so that it will be below the 50 ng/mL threshold.
Cranberry juice, goldenseal, niacin, bleach, vinegar, sure jell, ginger root tea, Certa Plus or zinc pills WILL NOT work, these are myths that circulate online.
Drug testing labs are on the lookout for diluted urine samples. So in order to be effective you need not only to dilute your urine, but to mask the fact that it is diluted.
Tips to mask diluted urine
Drinking large amounts of water only temporarily dilutes your urine. Try to drink 2-3 liters throughout the day before your test, and then around 1-2 liters several hours before your test. Your urine will now be colorless with low levels of creatinine.
These are both red flags for any testing lab and indicate diluted urine.
Make your urine yellow by using vitamin B. Vitamin B-2 or B-12 are the most effective so take 50-100mg several hours before your test.
You can buy creatine supplements from almost any health food store. Creatine then gets broken down into creatinine by your body and is flushed out in your urine. Creatinine is a chemical waste product produced by muscle metabolism.
Creatinine is naturally occurring in the human body and is one way labs determine if your urine is diluted. It has a half-life of three hours, so only start taking it a day or so before your test.
There are many detox drinks on the market. They use the same dilution technique and contain creatine as well as vitamin B.. While they are more expensive they do ensure you are ingesting the correct amounts of vitamin B and creatine before your test.
Exercise will break down your fat cells, which will release any THC metabolites into your system. As a result, you should not exercise for at least 24 hours before your test. Failing to do so can cause a spike in THC metabolite levels in the blood.
If you have a couple weeks before your test, exercise will break down fat cells and release the THC metabolites, but make sure you stop a couple days before testing.
Only supply sample mid stream!
The first and last parts of your urine stream will contains the highest amount of metabolites. You want to provide urine from the middle of your urine stream. Simply start urinating in the toilet, stop and provide a sample in the cup, and then finish as normal.
Substitution of your urine sample
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.
Another option is substitution. In other words, substituting your urine with either fake urine, which is commercially available, or with the urine of somebody who is a non-user.
The advantage of substitution over other techniques is that you know the sample you provide to the lab will be clean. The disadvantage is you need to conceal the clean urine when entering the testing facility, and then add it to your sample cup during the testing process without detection.
If its a pre-employment drug screen, they will provide you with a private bathroom, during which you can pour the synthetic or clean urine into the sample cup.
Be aware that labs take the temperature of your urine, so you need to ensure that it registers close to normal body temperature otherwise it can be flagged. Keeping the sample close to your body before testing will give the correct reading.
If you need any further advice or help on cannabis drug testing or any related matter please use the contact form provided. We try to answer all emails within 24 hours and are happy to help and advise on all aspects of medical marijuana treatments in complete confidence.