THC Testing: Frequently Asked Questions

You’re applying for a new job and it looks like it’s in the bag. Out of the blue, they request a drug test. Standard procedure, they say. Maybe for them, but for you, standard procedure is a nightly sesh. What do you do? Even though you’re sober, you know THC testing is risky.

Questions race through your mind. How long does THC stay in your system? What are the laws around drug testing in California? What is the most accurate type of drug test?

Is this job worth it?

This post can’t answer that last question, but it will help you understand THC testing.

What is THC Testing?

The main mind-altering cannabinoid in cannabis that employers care about is THC. Most cannabinoids are stored in fat and have a long elimination half-life relative to other drugs. This means tests can’t determine your degree of impairment. However, the concentrations can often distinguish active use from passive exposure, how much time has passed, and how long you use it.

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Since 1986, U.S. federal employees have been prohibited from using cannabis except prescription synthetic THC, like dronabinol. Private employers can determine their own policies. If you’re taking a prescription form of THC, make sure to let the lab know.

How Long Does THC Stay in Your System?

Marijuana can stay in your system for up to 45 days, according to the California Chamber of Commerce. “There is no method to determine if an individual is impaired at the time the drug is found in that individual’s system or if it was consumed at an earlier time and the individual is no longer impaired.”

What Are the Laws in California?

California restricts employers from monitoring your off-duty time. Pre-employment testing is allowed if conducted fairly to all applicants. So employers can test for illegal drugs, but marijuana isn’t “illegal” under state law anymore. However, if you work for a federal agency, it’s another story.

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What Is the Most Accurate Method for THC Testing—Blood, Saliva, Hair, or Urine?

  • Urine Tests are the most common and least invasive. Home drug tests are available, but toxicologists warn the results aren’t always reliable. They usually detect drug use within the past week.
  • Saliva tests are cheap and useful for detecting use within the past few hours or days. Because they’re unintrusive and easy to administer, they’re common.
  • Hair tests are most appropriate for detecting long term drug use, up to 2-4 months.
  • Blood tests are the most expensive and invasive, but also the most accurate. THC normally disappears from the bloodstream within six hours.

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If you’re worried about inaccuracy, or your employer thinking you’re going to be high on the job, a blood test is the way to go. Unfortunately, it’s usually not your call and employers generally go for cheaper methods like urine and saliva. Still, employers are caring less and less about cannabis.

If you have more questions about cannabis use and drug testing, our staff at Green Goddess Collective will answer any questions you have. Stop by today!

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