Drug testing is the process of checking if a person has ingested illicit drugs and if he or she has it in the system. This works by taking a sample from the person, like urine, blood, or even hair, and testing it for drug traces. See, when a person takes drugs, his or her body cannot metabolize all the chemicals immediately. Rather, it stays around the body for a while until the body can push it out. Drug testing works by trying to detect these drug traces before the body has a chance to completely metabolize them. Of course, the next question now is, how long before the body can do this and how much time do you need before a drug test can pick it up? It depends on a few factors and you have to be specific about which drugs. So, let’s discuss on of the most popular and controversial drugs – marijuana. Exactly how long until a marijuana drug test detects THC in your sample? Let’s take a look.
Marijuana in the System
Marijuana actually doesn’t stay too long in the system but there are many factors you have to consider, including: frequency, dosage, and last time of use, as well as invidual genetic makeup and metabolism. Sometimes, even how the type of test matters, as some tests can pick up THC in a few days, while others in a few hours. If you have only used the drug once, a marijuana drug test’s detection time could be anywhere from two to three days, even after a week. If it’s a blood marijuana drug test, then the detection time is considerably shorter, up to 24 hours. Saliva tests on the other hand, can detect only up to 2 to 24 hours. Now, if you are a more frequent users, then the detection times are significantly higher. Some tests can detect it up to two weeks, others up to 100 days. Again, it all depends on your metabolism and the type of test.
Now, the one thing you really won’t be able to predict is the sensitivity of the test the lab plans to use. Most places use the 10-panel urine screen, which, aside from THC, tests for 10 other commonly-abused drugs, and also the SAMHSA-5. Most labs in the US use a 50 ng/mL cutoff for THC. If you are an occasional or one-time user, than you probably wont’ test positive after 3 to 4 days and for frequent users, about 1 week. Now, tougher labs have a higher sensitivity marijuana drug test. They use a 20 ng/mL concentration and can detect drug use for occasional users up 7 days and 21 days for more frequent users. But, in some extreme cases, when it comes to the urine marijuana drug test, it might be able to detect use in very frequent users for more than 30 days. Believe it or not, some types of dietary supplements, like zinc, can mask THC so it cannot be detected by marijuana drug tests.
One misconception people have about drug tests is that it detects THC in the system. The more accurate depiction would be that it detects THC-COOH, which is the non-psychoactive metabolite. This metabolite can stay in the system for long periods of time without harming the person. This is why marijuana is so easy to detect in a person, because of the THC-COOH’s tendency to stay in the body.
Other Interesting Facts
There are a few interesting facts you might want to know about marijuana. First, registered weed researchers are allowed to grow marijuana for science. In 2014, the NIDA projects that they need about 600 kg of weed to conduct their research. Surprisingly, the government is the largest grower of marijuana in the US, about 1400 pounds. The federal government of the United States has a pot farm in Mississippi where they grow all this marijuana for research purposes.