Understanding Drug Testing & Detection

Since the 1980’s, drug testing has become a common requirement for the job recruitment process. Despite the growing legalization of Marijuana, companies fear the workplace may just be infiltrated by the pot industry. Even so, with little evidence that marijuana affects job performance, company heads still subject employees to a range of drug testing.

Screening for Drug Use

There are different types of drug tests and all are used for the same purpose: to detect drug users. Depending on what kind of test is used for analysis, the sample will be analyzed for the presence of a drug metabolite.

Screening tests are conducted using a biochemical test that measures the concentration within the biological fluid. Samples that give a negative response are discarded and reported as such. Those that give a positive result are sent to the next level for further testing (confirmatory method).

If the test is used as a screening for a job or for legal purposes, the testing has to be done within a specified period of time after taking the drug while any metabolites can still be detected in the body.

• Alcohol: 3 to 10 hours
• Amphetamines 24 to 48 hours
• Barbiturates: up to 6 weeks
• Benzodiazepines: up to 6 weeks with a high level of consumption
• Cocaine: 2 to 4 days and up to 10 to 22 days if consumption is excessive
• Codeine: 1 to 2 days
• Heroin: 1 to 2 days
• Hydromorphone: 1 to 2 days
• Methadone: 2 to 3 days
• Morphine: 1 to 2 days
• Phencyclidine (PCP): 1 to 8 days
• Propoxifeno: 6 to 48 hours
• Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): 6 to 11 weeks with excessive consumption

Testing for Marijuana is different because THC remains in the body for different periods, depending on usage and body fat percentage. For example, if you’ve only smoked pot once, it will typically stay in your system up to 7 days. However, if you’re a regular user, smoking pot 5-6 times a week, it can remain in your system for up to 90 days, and even longer for medical marijuana patients.

Commonly Testing For Marijuana

Marijuana is the most commonly tested drug for urinalysis. Tests detect a residue of THC in your sample.

When you smoke pot, your liver breaks down THC and THC-COOH stores this substance in your fat cells, where it can remain for a long time. Shortly thereafter, the THC-COOH begins to slowly release back into your body. Urine tests measure the number of nanograms of THC-COOH per milliliter of the sample. Most of the tests will be negative if they give a result less than 50 ng / per milliliter, but some margins reach up to 100 ng/ml.

While urine tests are the most commonly used tests, there are a few others that employers use:

Saliva Test: THC can be detected almost instantly in your saliva, but begins to disappear and leaves no trace once you passed the 12 to 24-hour mark. If you smoke pot and have a choice, this is the easiest way to pass a test. Unfortunately, usually, this test is commonly used in police roadside checks. Breathalyzers check derivatives of THC from your saliva.

Hair follicle test: THC takes about five days to get to your hair, and then can be detected in a drug control for months because the metabolites are stored within the hair shaft. Since hair grows an average of 1.3 centimeters each month, most tests use a sample of 1.5 centimeters from the root. Shaving your head and waxing the body thoroughly eliminates the possibility of completing this test.

Blood testing: Rarely used because THC does not adhere well to red blood cells. The tests are still utilized for legal purposes, and it typically is rendered in combination with urine analysis. For regular users, THC can remain in the blood for 3 to 5 days.

Eliminating THC Metabolites From The Body

In order to pass drug tests, you have to rid your body of all derivatives of THC. To speed up the process, the more popular path is to detox the drug from the body. Also, drinking plenty of liquids combined with exercise can help flush metabolites from the system, but this all depends on your level of usage. If you’re a frequent user of marijuana, and drug testing is in your immediate future, a detox kit will probably make more sense.