While great strides have been made toward legalizing and decriminalizing cannabis use in the U.S., not every stoner is lucky enough to live in a legal state.
That can put them in a sticky predicament when it comes to their usage—and how it’s monitored by employers and other parties.
But even in legal states, cannabis users aren’t completely immune to the possible repercussions of smoking a little weed. While it may be incredibly easy to stroll into a dispensary and buy some bud, in most legal states, employers can still require pre-employment drug testing or random drug testing after you’re hired.
This is often cited as a way to encourage job safety, but it can be completely devastating for any employee who’s subject to these work requirements. After all, you can be completely sober on the job but still have THC in your system when you’re randomly tested. It’s just how it be sometimes.
It’s not worth risking a job loss due to THC use, but who wants to quit using that magical plant? Not I, said the cat. So what steps can you take to rid your system of THC and reduce the risk of failing a drug test? We have you covered. Here’s what you need to know.
Understanding the halflife puzzle
All drugs have what is referred to as a half-life, or the amount of time it takes for a drug to lose half its strength inside the body. Typically, THC has a half-life of 2 to 10 days, depending on how much you ingest. After that period, the amount remaining in your system continues to divide in half until it can become undetectable. It usually takes anywhere from 7 to 90 days for THC to become completely undetectable in your body, depending on which test you are administered, how potent the drug is, and how much you ingested.
Because THC is stored in fat, your metabolic rate and weight also play an important role in determining how fast it leaves your body.
Know which test you’re taking
There are several different kinds of drug tests you could be required to take. Each one has a different rate of detection that will determine at which stage of the half-life you could safely test. The test you’ll be required to take will almost certainly depend on what sort of job you have and how much an employer is
willing to spend on drug testing. After all, some tests are more expensive to administer than others.
— A saliva test is one of the cheaper tests you may be asked to take. It has a very short detection time table, usually only going back as far as three days. It’s easily the most convenient, though it isn’t widely used since results aren’t very telling.
— Urine tests are fairly common and can detect THC in your system up to 60 days after you use it. However, it depends on how frequently you’ve ingested THC and how potent the drug was. There are two types of urine tests you may be required to take. You may be asked to take an off-site test at a health facility where you’ll need to pee in a cup, which is sealed and taken to a lab for testing. Alternatively, you could be subject to an on-site urine test, the results of which are nearly instantaneous but less reliable.
— Hair follicle tests are the most expensive and most accurate drug screenings available. They can detect THC usage up to 6 months prior to the test, sometimes even longer. These tests are usually administered to those who work in a highly sensitive environment, such as hospitals or casinos.
How to reduce the risk of detection
If you’re worried about passing a drug test, there are a few different methods you could use to reduce the risk of detection.
Sweat it out
Because THC is stored in fat cells, it is possible to sweat out detectable amounts through the use of a sauna or exercise. The heat in a sauna will cause your capillaries to open up, bringing blood to your fat tissue and allowing the THC stored there to be excreted.
Wash it away
If you’ll be taking a hair follicle test, there are shampoos that claim to completely eliminate the presence of THC in hair. They are expensive and results vary, but this is the only method available to pass a follicle test short of shaving your entire body.
Dilute that shizzzzzzz
The dilution method can be used to pass a urine test. Testing facilities and kits will take urine dilution into account, so this can get tricky. If your urine is too diluted, you may be asked to take the test again at a later date. But if your urine lacks a substance called creatine, a compound absent in heavily diluted urine, you will likely fail the test completely.
To avoid this problem, you should begin taking creatine-rich vitamins or eating a lot of red meat at least three days before you begin diluting your urine.
Couple this with drinking lots of cranberry juice to flush toxins out of your system.
To begin the dilution process, start by taking a B vitamin an hour or two before your test. This will give color to your diluted urine.
From there, you should drink a glass of water every 15 minutes or so. A liter of water altogether should be more than enough.
During your actual test, take the sample midstream if possible. Pee a little into the toilet, and then use the rest of your flow to pee into the cup, lowering the risk of a high concentration of THC metabolites.
Disclaimer: There are no guarantees in this realm
It’s important to understand that none of these methods will guarantee you pass a drug test. There are many factors that determine how long THC is detectable in a person’s system, so success in one individual’s case doesn’t promise success in yours.
New tests have been developed that can detect how long it’s been since a person used marijuana, making it possible to tell if THC was present during a certain time period. However, those tests are still unreliable.
While it ain’t fun, the best thing you can do is to be mindful of this—and the other risks you’re taking when indulging— if you suspect you could be subject to drug screening.