With the recent passage of Amendment 64 and employers still choosing to administer drug testing based on their company’s policies, this is one of the most commonly asked questions. The simple answer is that marijuana, or more specifically the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, can stay in the one’s body for as long as forty-five days! The drug metabolite (as your body processes the THC through excretion), which is commonly tested for on drug tests is THC-COOH. Unlike THC, THC-COOH is inactive and does not cause any feelings of being “high.” Also, depending on the individual’s history / usage of the drug, their preferred method of administering the drug, and several body factors such as resting metabolism, exercise, and diet can affect the drug’s half-life in the body to stay in one’s system.
Common tests used to check for marijuana use, look at the current amount of THC-COOH found in the sample. These tests include saliva, urine, blood, and hair samples as the drug can be expressed and found within these bodily fluids and within hair follicles. Also, each test has its Pros and Cons based on obtaining the sample, as well as how long THC-COOH will be present in the certain bodily fluid or hair sample. For example, the Oral Saliva Test is becoming a popular test for “random” Colorado workplace drug tests, as it is relatively non-invasive and quick to administer. Also, you will test positive for a Saliva Test almost immediately after smoking marijuana up to 12-24 hours depending on the individual. Stating the obvious, the best way to pass a saliva test is to stop smoking at least a day prior to your oral saliva test. In addition, remember to floss, brush your teeth, and use mouthwash thoroughly to help excise any residual toxins that may be lingering in your mouth.
The most common drug test administered by most workplaces across the United States is still the dreaded Urine Test. A common misconception related to Urine Testing is that the test is checking to see if you are high at the time of the sample. The reality is that Urine Testing is actually testing for non-impairment drug metabolites that reveal a user’s past consumption at an unspecified point in time. Unfortunately for regular marijuana users, the metabolite THC-COOH is fat soluble – meaning that it stores itself nicely in all of your fatty deposits throughout the body. In addition, because of its properties and being fat soluble, the drug is excreted out of the body at a much slower rate. For first and one-time users, THC-COOH can be detectible on a Urine Test up to a couple hours after the initial intake. For regular users, THC-COOH can still show up days and even weeks later after stopping usage!
A lesser-known test to check for marijuana usage is the Hair Follicle test, which can reveal a user’s drug history for the past ninety days! With marijuana, THC binds to hair follicles and can show up around seven days after usage. *Keep in mind that THC doesn’t always bind to the hair and is not a very accurate method of testing for marijuana usage because of this.
Last and certainly not least, is the Blood Test, which tests for both THC and THC-COOH. The Blood Test is commonly used to test for driving under the influence. Under Colorado law, if a driver tests at 5 nanograms or more of THC, they may be presumed to be under the influence. Immediately after smoking, THC blood levels will likely rise to 100 nanograms or higher depending on the dose. Within one to two hours after smoking, THC levels should dissipate to near zero (again depending on the dosage). However, many regular smokers can test at 5 nanograms several hours and even days after they stop smoking! Fortunately, most individuals (even regular smokers) should be below 5 nanograms after a few days of no smoking.
If you have been pulled over for DUID, you will be asked to take blood test. This test is optional. If you decline to take a blood test, you may face more severe consequences at the DMV than if you take the test. On the other hand, without a blood test, it may be difficult for the government to prove that you recently consumed marijuana and that you were impaired. Regardless of what decision you make, immediately after your arrest you should contact a DUI lawyer who understands how marijuana is metabolized and how to interpret different test results. Contact attorney Jared Adams at 720-333-9490 to set up a free consultation.