Does Delta-8 THC Show Up in Drug Tests?

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Added 15 November 2022

Drug tests — two words that can send shivers down the spine of cannabis users. Even though cannabis is legalized in many countries, stigma still revolves around the use of cannabis, especially in big corporates.

Yes, drug tests are necessary in various industries that deal in sensitive work, like the military, transport, or medical, but in other cases, it is an outdated tactic that was used to weed out employees under the pretext of illegal substances. 

Cannabis is no longer illegal, though, but if you fail a drug test because of delta-8 THC, you may face consequences. 

So, are you are wondering whether delta-8 THC shows up in drug tests? Next, you're probably thinking about how to prevent failing drug tests, right?

Read on to know more. 

How is Delta-8 THC Different From Delta-9 (or Regular) THC?

Delta 8 THC vs. Delta 9 THC

THC is the main psychoactive compound of cannabis. More accurately, THC is known as delta-9 THC. A similar compound to that is delta-8 THC, which occurs in the plant in a lot smaller amounts. However, it can have a psychoactive effect on your mind and body, which is different from that of THC. 

For instance, delta-8 THC is popular in the user community for causing less paranoia and anxiety than its delta-9 counterpart. 

While delta-8 and delta-9 are similar cannabinoids, they still differ in their chemical structure. Here are some of the common differences between the two:

  • Delta-8 THC is usually made synthetically since it is present in small amounts in buds 
  • Delta-8 THC is not specified in the Farm Bill (2018) that made hemp legal to produce and use 

But just like regular THC, delta-8 THC also shows up in drug tests. However, before getting into how delta-8 is metabolized by the human body and detected by drug tests, let’s understand more about this cannabinoid.

Delta-8 THC’s Effect on the Body

Delta-8 THC, like regular THC, is psychoactive and it can get you high, albeit in a slightly different manner. As per a 1973 study, Delta-8 THC can have the following effects on the user:

  • Relaxation
  • Euphoria
  • Visual distortions
  • Along with a risk of hampered cognitive functions 

For the majority, delta-8 THC is a terrific alternative to THC — it isn’t as potent and can benefit the user in various ways. According to a 2021 study, about half of delta-8 users are reported to consume the cannabinoid for medicinal reasons, such as the following:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Bipolar disorder (BPD)
  • Chronic pain, and inflammation 

While there is a lack of significant research on the benefits and risks of this cannabinoid, anecdotal evidence and minor studies suggest that it is safe and even beneficial to use. However, such small studies should be taken with a grain of salt, and you should exercise caution if you decide to use delta-8 THC for medical reasons.

Can Drug Tests Detect Delta-8 THC?

Is Delta-8 THC Detectable in Drug Tests?

The short answer is that, yes, delta-8 THC does show up in drug tests. This is because drug tests are designed to look for metabolites, not a particular cannabinoid. 

Metabolites are tiny molecules your body produces when it metabolizes a substance, and these molecules can stay in your body a lot longer than cannabinoids. This is why drug tests can detect drugs in your system even after you have stopped using them for some time. More on this in the next section.

Additionally, drug tests look for a baseline concentration of metabolites. Thus, a frequent user will have a higher baseline concentration of the cannabinoid as opposed to someone who only smokes cannabis once in a while. And the higher the baseline, the longer it will take for the body to excrete all the metabolites. 

That’s not the only problem with delta-8 THC when it comes to drug tests. While this cannabinoid falls in the legal grey area, some impure delta-8 THC products may contain trace amounts of delta-9 THC — which can show up in drug tests and make you fail them. 

How Do Drug Tests Work?

How Do Drug Tests Work?

Let’s take a look at how drug tests work so we can understand more about how delta-8 THC is detected by the tests. 

When you consume delta-8 THC or any other substance for that matter, your body metabolizes it — the liver metabolizes the compounds and the metabolites remain in your blood, saliva, sweat, urine, hair, and lungs for a long time. 

Think of it as browsing the internet. Your history and cookies still stay in your browser even after you close a tab until it is cleared automatically or manually at a preset time. 

Drug tests detect these “history and cookies” of delta-8 THC in your system. They don’t look for a specific type of THC and its levels in your body, but for the metabolites left behind by its use. 

In the case of THC, the metabolite is usually THC-COOH that the drug tests look for, and this compound can stay in your system for multiple weeks after your last cannabis session, and longer, if you are a heavy user. 

Essentially, drug tests are designed to simply prove that you use drugs, in this case, TH. But, they cannot check how much you have used. 

Which Type of Drug Tests can Detect Delta-8 THC?

Which Type of Drug Tests can Detect Delta-8 THC?

If you are (not) looking forward to a drug test at your workplace, you need to know that some tests can detect delta-8 THC. Now, there are various types of drug tests that your employer or the drug tester may use — the most common ones include saliva, blood, urine, and hair follicle tests

Technically, delta-8 THC can show up in all of these types of drug tests, but a urine test is what you need to be more cautious of since it can detect delta-8 THC a lot better than other tests. 

This is because delta-8 THC is metabolized unlike THC, and it produces THC-COOH, a compound that urine tests are specifically designed to detect. 

Here are the most common types of drug tests and their efficiency in detecting delta-8 THC in your body.

1. Urine Test

A urine test is the most common type of drug test that most organizations use, and it is by far the most notorious test for delta-8 THC users. Generally, it can detect delta-8 THC in your system for up to a month after the last use. 

Also, even if you have stopped using for a month, urine tests can still give a false positive for up to a few weeks. 

Since delta-8 THC is similar to delta-9 THC, drug tests can detect delta-8 THC even if they are hunting for regular THC. Additionally, these tests aren’t advanced enough to differentiate between the two since they both end up as THC-COOH metabolites. 

Typically, organizations use one of two types of urine tests to detect drugs in the system, which are as follows:

Immunoassay (IA) Test

This is a quick urine test that detects macromolecules in a sample, but it is prone to give inaccurate results because of its broad target. 

Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry

On the other hand, this is a slower test that vaporizes the sample, separating it into various compounds, followed by ionization and fragmentation. The result is far more accurate compared to IA testing. Fortunately, this test only looks for delta-9 metabolites.

If you have a drug test coming up, it is wise to know what kind of urine test it will be. If it's a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry test, you need to be warier. At the same time, it is recommended to steer clear of any THC product before the test.

Even consuming a little bit of delta-9 THC can cause you to fail the test.

And if you have used delta-8 THC, you can try convincing the testing organization to conduct a chromatography test since it won’t show up in it. 

According to a 2017 study, delta-8 THC can be detectable in urine for up to the following timeframes:

  • Single-use: three days
  • Four times per week: 5 to 7 days
  • Daily or chronic use: 10 to 15 days
  • Chronic heavy use: more than a month

Plan your delta-8 THC break depending on how often you use it as per the timelines given above. 

2. Saliva Tests

A saliva test is the next most common way to test drug use in employers and is usually employed as a roadside test. In most cases, THC can be detectable in your saliva for up to 24 hours after the last use, but for heavy users, it can be present in the saliva for up to 72 hours after the last use, according to a 2020 study. 

Saliva tests are swab tests, where a saliva sample is gathered and combined with a chemical indicator or placed in a machine to check the presence of specific drug substances. And since delta-8 THC is similar to delta-9 THC, it can show up in a saliva test just the same. 

Saliva tests are common for police forces, athletic events, and some employers because they are quick and convenient. And they can’t detect any substances if you stopped using them a few days prior. 

So, if you know your drug test will be a saliva test, stop using delta-8 THC a few days prior and your test will show up negative. Hooray! But still, if you are a regular user, consider stopping the usage a lot earlier. 

3. Hair Tests

Hair tests are perhaps the worst kinds of tests for cannabis use because THC can be detectable in your hair follicle for up to 3 months after the last use. That’s a long time. This is because cannabinoids travel through the blood vessels and end up in the hair follicles. 

But your chances of encountering a hair test are also low — usually, only the military or enforcement institutions use hair tests to check if the employees are using drugs of any kind. And it makes sense, given the sensitivity of their job, that they stay off any kind of intoxicating products. 

When it comes to delta-8 THC, it can be detectable in the hair for three months, but if you have only used a couple of doses, it will likely not show up in a hair test. But if you have regularly used delta-8 THC in the past three months, start preparing to remove THC from your system, as we have described in another article. 

4. Blood Tests

Blood tests are not so common but they are usually the go-to choice for sporting events to check if the athletes have been taking any drugs. So, unless you are an athlete, you likely won’t face a blood test for delta-8 THC use. 

If you face a blood test, you are lucky (kinda?) because it is used to detect cannabis use in the past 12 hours. However, delta-8 THC can stay in your blood for a lot longer than 12 hours. 

Generally, for regular users of delta-8 THC, the cannabinoid can be detectable in the blood for up to two weeks, and for heavy users, it can be detectable for up to a month. Fortunately, if you have only taken a couple of doses, it will be out of your blood within 2 to 3 days. 

How Long Does Delta-8 THC Show Up in Drug Tests?

How Long Does Delta-8 THC Show Up in Drug Tests?

To sum it all up, delta-8 THC can stay in your system for the following timeframes, depending on the drug test:

  • Urine test: up to 30 days
  • Hair follicle test: up to 90 days
  • Saliva test: up to 2 days
  • Blood test: up to 3 days

But remember, these figures depend on various factors like your weight, age, metabolism, health, usage of cannabis, and hydration routine. Plus, the potency of the products you use also plays a role — products with higher potency will stay longer compared to less potent ones.

If you only use delta-8 THC sometimes, it will stay for a short time, but if you are a chronic user, you'll have to start preparing immediately to find ways to eliminate THC from your system. 

How to Prepare for a Drug Test as a Delta-8 THC User?

How to Prepare for a Drug Test as a Delta-8 THC User?

You may be facing a drug test for several reasons, but the most common ones are workplace policies that prohibit the use of drugs, especially if you work in a sensitive work environment like law enforcement, transport, or medical. On the other hand, drug tests can also be required by colleges and legal courts. 

If you are expecting a drug test, there are various ways you can prepare for it. Here are the most effective ones (and ones that you should avoid at all costs).

1. Stop Using Delta-8 THC Immediately

The most obvious step in preparing for a drug test is to stop using delta-8 THC immediately. Even if you are expecting a saliva test after two weeks, it is wise to stop using it right now. Consuming it two days before the test is not worth the trouble because the cannabinoid can still show up in the drug test in unlucky circumstances. 

Plus, you don’t always know what kind of a drug test it will be. So, preparing for the worst type of test — a hair test — is your best bet. 

If you are a regular user, it will take up to five days for the cannabinoid to clear your system, and for a chronic user, it can be longer than six weeks. Plan your tolerance break accordingly. 

2. Drink More Water

One of the most effective ways of clearing cannabinoids from your system is to hydrate yourself. The more water you drink, the more cannabinoids get filtered from your system. So, drink more water. 

Keeping yourself hydrated will not only help you pass a drug test but also improve your health — it’ll keep you fresh, make your skin healthy, regular your body temperature, and a lot more. 

3. Eat Healthy Food 

Similarly, you should eat more healthy food as it will improve your body’s metabolism, which will result in the cannabinoids flushing out of your system a lot faster. Reduce eating red meat, dairy, port, sugar, and other processed foods. Typically, you should stick to leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables, but if you prefer non-vegetarian food, you can eat grilled fish or basic poultry. 

4. Get Sweaty

Another terrific way to detox your body from cannabinoids and toxins is to get moving and sweat it all out. When you are burning fat, you are also burning delta-8 THC. So, try out some cardio routines like running, cycling, swimming, etc. — anything that gets your heart pumping and skin pores sweating. 

5. Ask for a Different Kind of Test

If you learn about the drug test on short notice, you don’t have much choice but to ask for a different kind of test. Your safest bet is a saliva test because it can only detect delta-8 THC for two days. 

6. Get Urine from Somewhere

The Internet is a wonderful thing, and one of its gifts is that it lets you exploit loopholes of all kinds. There are various websites nowadays that sell urine samples for this exact reason — to let people pass drug tests. 

Do note that you shouldn’t just trust any website as they may sell fake urine that the labs can spot easily. 

If you can’t find a reliable dealer online, a better alternative — albeit awkward — is to ask your friend for a sample, as long as they don’t use THC or any other drugs. 

This idea sounds simple enough but executing it is a little difficult. If the lab requires you to produce a sample there, you need to be a little creative. You can use a urine bag filled with clean urine and strap it to your leg. And use a nozzle that can dispense the urine from the bag and into the container. 

Protip: use an “anatomically inspired” nozzle so the tester doesn’t see a plastic pipe coming out of your pants. 

7. Be Wary of Detox Kits or Remedies

You will find various websites selling cannabis detox kits to help your body clear off delta-8 THC faster. But many of these products won’t work. There is no research to back these products, either. 

The biggest reason why many of these detox kits are pointless is that delta-8 THC (and other cannabinoids) are fat soluble — they are stored in the fatty tissues. And they can't flush the cannabinoids out of the fatty tissue unless they physically remove the fat cells from your body. 

Not only are they not so effective, but they may also be unsafe to use. This is because some detox kits use herbal supplements, which are not regulated for quality and purity by the FDA. Some detox kits also contain laxatives to purge your body, but this can cause diarrhea and dehydration.

However, some detox kits really work, according to many user reviews. It's best to give them a try and take a drug test at home to check if they are working. 

Apart from detox kits, many forums also recommend detox remedies, such as the following:

  • Cranberry juice
  • Goldenseal herb
  • Mouthwash
  • Baking soda
  • Bleach 
  • Overhydration 
  • Green tea

Again, these products are not effective — no research backs these remedies — and in some cases, they may even be harmful to you. For example, even drinking excess water can create health complications. 

People try a lot of things as a last-ditch effort, but never try things like shaving your head, for example. It simply won't work. And your employer is probably not dumb enough to think that you suddenly felt the need for a makeover. 

Truth is that shaving your head is like painting a neon sign over yourself, inviting them to conduct a hair test pronto. And you can bet they will. 

Summary: Does Delta-8 THC Show Up in Drug Tests?

Delta-8 THC is a terrific cannabinoid that helps many users get through their life easily (and of course, helps others have some fun), but drug tests can be a buzz-kill for delta-8 THC users. Literally. 

But with the right mindset, knowledge, and some precautions, you can pass the drug test like you did your second-grade drawing class — with flying colors. 

Use the article as a guide to understand what kind of drug test you are facing and the precautions you should take to purge your body of delta-8 THC before the test. In any case, avoid detox remedies that sound too good to be true.

And even if you fail a drug test, it’s not the end of the world. Delta-8 THC exists in a legal grey area, and in most cases, you can say that it is legal. If it shows up in a drug test, you can talk to your employer. In most cases, they will be understanding, given the legal status of delta-8 THC. 


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