If you’re THC-limited, Delta-8-THC may seem like a worthy alternative. It is legal, after all, and offers many of the same psychoactive benefits, with fewer drawbacks than traditional THC products.
But does Delta-8-THC show up on a drug test? And if so, how long will it stay in your system after ingestion?
Here’s what you need to know about Delta-8-THC drug testing:
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In short, yes, Delta-8-THC will show up on a drug test if you have not given adequate time for all trace amounts of THC byproducts to leave your body. Of course, the test results will differ depending on the type of test used.
Generally speaking, drug tests look for THC metabolites, or a byproduct of THC that is created by the body and stored in the body’s fat. These metabolites exist in our body for longer periods of time than the cannabinoids themselves, which makes the drug screen “more effective” at detecting previous substance use.
The primary Delta-9-THC metabolite is 11-nor-delta-9-THC-COOH (also known as THC-COOH or carboxy-THC), and most drug tests are rigged towards looking for this compound.
However, many drug tests, especially urine tests, will look for other cannabinoid metabolites, which are generally present in smaller amounts. This is called cross-reactivity.
All forms of THC, including Delta-8-THC, break down into these various forms of THC metabolites when processed by the body. Because most drug panels check for a broad range of THC metabolites, Delta-8-THC’s metabolites will also trigger a positive drug test result.
There haven’t been many recent studies to investigate Delta-8-THC, and no research currently exists to evaluate the probability of failing a drug test due to Delta-8-THC.
Still, we have some information to help us understand the incidence of cross-reactivity and how it may apply to Delta-8-THC. A recent report published in The Journal for Applied Laboratory Medicine investigates the phenomenon of cross-reactivity in THC immunoassays, the most common type of urine drug test.
The results verified urine testing cross-reactivity with various cannabinoids, but the cross-reactivity of CBN was most significant. When CBN and THC were used together in a urine sample, the drug test picked up larger amounts of THC than when THC was used on its own.
It’s important to note that CBN is a degraded form of THC just like Delta-8-THC. Plus, Delta-8-THC is almost structurally identical to Delta-9, meaning there’s a high probability that Delta-8 metabolites will produce significant cross reactivity on THC drug tests.
This report concerning the Emit II Plus Cannabinoid Assay, which is the most common urine drug test given in the U.S., confirms the same concepts. The report lists a variety of cannabinoids that may produce a “false positive,” or positive THC levels that reach the cut off for THC-COOH metabolites. One of the compounds listed is 11-hydroxy-delta-8-THC, which is Delta-8-THC’s metabolite.
In some cases, a drug test may read Delta-9 metabolites and Delta-8 metabolites separately. Some drug tests, especially those with 6 panels or more, look for both 11-nor-delta-9-THC-COOH and 11-nor-delta-8-THC-COOH.
However, the cutoff level for Delta-8’s metabolite is often lower than the cutoff level for Delta-9 metabolites. In other words, some tests are more sensitive to Delta-8, and smaller amounts of Delta-8-THC will produce a positive result.
After ingestion, Delta-8-THC is turned into THC metabolites, which are stored in the body’s fat for long periods of time. The amount of time Delta-8 is detectable in your system depends greatly on biological factors, like body fat and metabolism, as well as the type of drug test used to detect THC metabolites.
For instance, THC remains in your saliva for approximately 48 hours after ingestion, and in your blood for up to 36 hours. However, THC generally sticks around in your body for much longer, up to a month or more for some people.
The amount of time it takes your body to completely process and remove all trace amounts of THC (which can show up in your urine) differs for every person based on factors like body fat and metabolism.
Additionally, THC takes longer to be eliminated from the body if it’s used frequently. In other words, a person who does one time may have THC-free urine much sooner than someone who has ingested THC consistently for extended periods of time.
A person who uses Delta-8-THC (or other THC products) between two and four times per week may have detectable THC in their urine for up to 3 weeks afterwards. Those who use THC daily may test positive for 1-2 months, sometimes even longer.
Many people try to seek out ways to cut corners to avoid testing positive after THC use. Understand that the best way to avoid a positive THC drug test result is to abstain from THC use entirely, and abstaining is always a good idea if you are subject to random or unexpected drug tests.
The most common way that people try to "fool" a test after using THC is by using one of the many trendy detox drinks or pills available, but that may not be the best idea.
There are various detox beverages and other detox systems on the market that promise to help you pass a drug test even after recent THC use. Still, relying on these detox kits may come at a risk. There is no way to be sure that you can remove all THC or THC metabolites from your body except through its own natural elimination methods, which take time.
The formula and ingredients used to make these detox products also vary, and some of them may be unsafe, especially when used in excess.
Still, there are a few things you can do to help avoid any surprising test results:
It may go without saying, but abstain from Delta-8-THC use as soon as you learn about the test. The more time you have to clear your system before your test, the better your chances are.
Drink plenty of water and eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, which may help support the body’s natural elimination process. Avoid processed foods, lots of meat, or other foods that may be hard to digest as they may slow down the elimination process.
Be sure not to drink too much water the day of a urine test, or the test may read that your urine was diluted. In some cases, a diluted test will be counted as a positive/failed test. In other cases, they may just schedule a retest at a later date.
Take an at-home test so you know what to expect. Just keep in mind that at-home varieties are not always as thorough as the tests given by businesses or law enforcement.
Delta-8-THC, a legal alternative to traditional THC, can still result in a positive drug test for THC. Drug tests typically detect THC metabolites, which are byproducts of THC stored in the body's fat. Delta-8-THC breaks down into THC metabolites and can cause a positive result on most drug tests, including urine tests. The time Delta-8-THC stays in your system depends on biological factors and the type of drug test used.
A drug test may detect Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC metabolites separately, with some tests being more sensitive to Delta-8. It is important to give adequate time for all trace amounts of THC byproducts to leave the body before taking a drug test.
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