The consumption of psychoactive cannabinoids has skyrocketed ever since the passing of the Agricultural Act in 2018. Thanks to the wonders of modern science, now you can enjoy the mind-altering benefits of the hemp plant and its many cannabinoids on a federally legal level. Whether you enjoy getting high as a recreational pastime or choose to consume it for mental health reasons, sinking into a smooth and euphoric buzz has become a lot easier in the past few years. The stigma behind getting high has radically shifted in the past few years, but one thing that hasn’t quite caught up with the times is drug tests. If you have an upcoming drug test, there are several things to consider before your big day. In our last article, we went over a lot of information on how drug tests work and whether or not you can fail them. In this article, we’ll be going over the five standard types of drug tests, as well as how far back they can test.
Common Drug Tests Used Today
At some point in your life, you’ve probably been subjected to a drug test. Drug tests are commonly used by law enforcement and probation officers, hospitals and EMTs, potential and current employers, and even home users. You’ll remember from our last article that drug tests only test for the presence of THC metabolites and unfortunately do not take into account which drug (legal or not) was used. We’ll start with the two forms of drug tests that are the most common and take a closer look at three other drug tests that may be less familiar to you.
The majority of those taking a drug test have had to pee in a little cup in a nondescript lab and wait patiently for the results in order to gain employment. Urine tests are budget friendly options for employers and usually have the best results. They are simple to conduct and specifically target the THC-COOH metabolite. This particular THC metabolite lingers in the body for weeks after initial consumption, a fact that appeals to employers to see how frequently a potential employee consumes any form of THC.
You may have heard stories of frantic consumers who try to use extreme methods to rid their body of the THC toxins. Drinking gallons of water right before a test or smuggling in “clean urine” are the most common, and there are some misleading home purge kits who guarantee a passing score. If you’re that worried about passing a drug test, you may be in the wrong line of work! To prevent tampering of true results, you may be required to have an official observer present or be asked produce the test with only a thin curtain separating you and the administrator.
Hair tests are unique in that the THC metabolite is found in the hair follicle; since hair usually takes quite a while to grow, this method helps detect THC usage from several months past. This method is used occasionally on law enforcement candidates but is primarily reserved for autopsies. Hair drug tests are extremely expensive and time-consuming (usually taking several weeks or even months) but have one of the highest accuracy readings. Those subjected to this form of drug testing will have hair from either the head or arms removed.
Those subjected to this type of test may think that shaving/laser hair removal or being bald can help them avoid this type of testing, but in reality, these extreme subversions may prevent a candidate from gaining employment altogether. There are hair scrubbing tests on the market that promise an easy pass, but certified hair tests may be able to detect tampering which will ultimately result in lost monies and a failed test result.
Law enforcement such as police and probation officers will resort to rapid drug testing methods such as saliva tests. A cotton swab is used to scrape the inside of a candidates cheek; the bacteria on the swab will reveal if any THC has been consumed in the last 10 hours. Similar to sobriety tests, saliva tests are usually performed on persons suspected of driving under the influence.
Saliva tests do not have the greatest accuracy, but given the mind-altering effects of THC, it’s best not to drive or operate machinery while under the influence of a THC-infused product. Thanks to modern technology, you have other transportation options that do not require you to get behind the wheel.
If you’ve been admitted into a hospital and the caregiver suspects you are under the influence, you may be subjected to a blood test. Blood tests are unique in that they do not test for THC metabolites; rather, they test for any THC that is currently in your system. Remember that the effects of THC start once they enter your bloodstream; some products enter your bloodstream quicker than others. Edibles can take between 30-90 minutes, tinctures can take 45-60 minutes, and inhalables can take 5-10 minutes. The effects of each product will have different time durations; depending on when the blood test is administered from when you first consumed a product containing THC, you may get lucky or fail instantly. Again, if you’re consuming a THC-infused product, don’t get behind the wheel for at least 12 hours.
It is quite likely you’ll never be subjected to a perspiration test. This type of test requires the individual to wear a patch for two weeks without removing it (this includes showering and sleeping). Due to its invasive nature, these tests are typically reserved for clinical studies and specifically test for THC-COOH metabolites. Since the same THC metabolites can be detected using the less-expensive urine tests, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever need to wear a perspiration patch aside from voluntary reasons.
Words Of Warning
If you find yourself in a situation that requires drug testing, whether it be for employment or vindication, it’s important to plan ahead. Many employers are doing away with drug tests altogether, but others staunchly require them both before and during employment. You may consider informing your employer that you consumed THC recently in hopes that if the test does come back positive, at least your employer will be aware. Unfortunately, this can backfire as your employer may dismiss you before the test has even been administered. Employers want to protect their investment, whether it be their reputation or to reduce the risk of injury from intoxicated users that could very well end up in a lawsuit.
Despite marijuana and legal psychoactive cannabinoids changing the world as we know it, many employers may disagree. It’s easy to say “just don’t consume any THC products for a few days” and think you’re in the clear. But what happens if you have a legitimate reason for consuming THC? The sad answer is that many employers don’t care. Marijuana and hemp-derived cannabinoids that contain THC are legal in many states, but this does not give you free reign to consume and enjoy as you please. You’ll have to make some hard choices when it comes to consuming your preferred psychoactive cannabinoid, choices that you’ll have to live with.
If you decide to continue your psychoactive cannabinoid consumption, you should always confirm that the product in question has been tested by third-party independent labs. The results of these tests, commonly referred to as a Certificate of Authority (CoA for short) will confirm which cannabinoids were found and in what amount. There are many products that incorporate multiple cannabinoids into the final product, but the total amount of THC should never rise above 0.3%. It might seem like such a small amount, but keep in mind that even trace amounts of THC can be detected in any one of the five drug tests we outlined.
Some users swear that HHC and broad spectrum CBD products won’t be detected, but why risk your future on the words of others? More research is needed to prove which cannabinoids will show up versus ones that won’t, and perhaps modern science will one day be able to show which THC products were consumed. Until then, there are many reasons you may be subjected to a drug test. Whether it be a urine, hair, saliva, blood, perspiration test, if you’re worried about a failed result, perhaps it's best you abstain from any form of THC until you are confident that you can pass. Stay safe out there, fellow cannabinoid lovers! Until we meet again!