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How To Eliminate THC From Your System: A Complete Guide

Drug tests are never fun, especially when you’re a regular cannabis user. But fear not; if you’ve got a drug test coming up, here are some simple ways to help flush THC from your body.

Use this guide to help eliminate THC from your system!

  • 1. How long does cannabis stay in your system?
  • 2. Factors that affect how quickly you metabolise THC
  • 2.a. Dosage and frequency of use
  • 2.b. Body fat and overall metabolic rate
  • 2.c. Sensitivity of the drug test
  • 3. Drug tests and detection times
  • 3.a. Urine testing
  • 3.b. Saliva testing
  • 3.c. Blood testing
  • 3.d. Hair testing
  • 4. How to get THC out of your system
  • 5. How to ingest activated charcoal
  • 5.a. Charcoal bread recipe
  • 6. Wrapping up: How to eliminate THC from your system
  • 1. How long does cannabis stay in your system?
  • 2. Factors that affect how quickly you metabolise THC
  • 2.a. Dosage and frequency of use
  • 2.b. Body fat and overall metabolic rate
  • 2.c. Sensitivity of the drug test
  • 3. Drug tests and detection times
  • 3.a. Urine testing
  • 3.b. Saliva testing
  • 3.c. Blood testing
  • 3.d. Hair testing
  • 4. How to get THC out of your system
  • 5. How to ingest activated charcoal
  • 5.a. Charcoal bread recipe
  • 6. Wrapping up: How to eliminate THC from your system

Good news! You just got your dream job. But, your new career comes with a catch—a zero tolerance drug policy. Do you give up weed? We know that might be intolerable or even impossible. There are many reasons why people choose to use cannabis, and we don’t judge; we just puff, puff, pass.

So, you make your best choice and continue to partake. But, you suddenly find yourself facing a drug test. Eep! What to do!? Read on to find out how to get THC out of your system.

HOW LONG DOES CANNABIS STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM?

The length of time cannabis stays in your system is affected by your unique biology and habits. While everyone is different, cannabis is usually detectable in fluids like urine and saliva from 1–30 days after last use. It may be detectable in hair for months.

THC is metabolised in the liver, where it gets broken down into over 80 metabolites. Eventually, THC and its metabolites are excreted, leaving your system. However, many of these compounds linger in your system longer than THC itself. Most drug tests are designed to detect certain metabolites, like tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (THC-COOH).

FACTORS THAT AFFECT HOW QUICKLY YOU METABOLISE THC

So, how long does it take for any trace of weed to leave your system? Your own THC timeline relies on numerous factors, including:

• How much/how frequently you consume cannabis
• How much body fat you have/metabolic rate
• How sensitive the drug test is/type of drug test

DOSAGE AND FREQUENCY OF USE

The amount (and frequency) of cannabis you regularly consume is perhaps the biggest factor. This one really is a no-brainer: The more cannabis you consume, the more metabolites there are knocking around in your body. Cannabis taken orally, like edibles, may also linger in your system longer than smoking.

Consumption rules apply to both individual doses and long-term habits. Two grams of weed will take longer to leave your system than one. Weed that’s more potent will take more time to clear out too. If you’re an occasional user, your system will eliminate THC faster. So, take note! If you’re a chronic user of cannabis, you may need extra time to abstain before you can pass a drug test.

BODY FAT AND OVERALL METABOLIC RATE

THC is detectable for longer in chronic users because THC metabolites get stored in fat cells (they are lipid soluble). A person with less body fat will store fewer of these molecules, and a person with more body fat will store more. That’s why sex can sometimes be a factor as well. Females tend to have more body fat than males, so women may metabolise cannabinoids more slowly.

A person’s overall metabolic rate also plays a large role. Some people can burn calories just by sitting around, while others struggle to lose weight even with an active lifestyle. Those with a faster metabolism will process and eliminate cannabinoid metabolites more quickly. Just be aware, if you exercise heavily before a drug test, the fat you burn could release more THC metabolites into your system, causing a temporary spike.

SENSITIVITY OF THE DRUG TEST

Different drug tests—urine, hair, saliva, blood—have different detection windows. Many, like hair and urine screenings, measure the THC metabolite THC-COOH, while blood tests measure levels of THC itself. Of all the standard testing methods, urine testing is by far the most common [1] . If you’re being drug tested at work, it’s almost always going to be a urine test.

Test sensitivity refers to the cutoff concentration of THC or its metabolites, above which a test is considered positive. The cutoff for most cannabis urine tests is 50ng/ml of THC-COOH. However, it is possible for the cutoff to be set as low as 15ng/ml. The more sensitive the test, the longer the detection window is.

DRUG TESTS AND DETECTION TIMES

According to available research, these are the most common detection windows for different drug tests. Keep in mind, the timeline varies according to your unique physiology and personal habits.

URINE TESTING

Cannabis and its metabolites are detectable in urine [2] for varying amounts of time after last use, depending on how frequent of a user you are:

Occasional user (one to three times per week): 3 days
Moderate user (four times per week): 5–7 days
Chronic user (daily): 10–15 days
Heavy chronic user (multiple times per day): 30+ days

This is, of course, assuming the test sensitivity cutoff is a standard 50ng/ml.

SALIVA TESTING

Roadside saliva tests may be used to detect impaired driving in some jurisdictions where cannabis is legal. According to a scientific review [3] , cannabis can typically be detected in saliva for:

Occasional users: 1–3 days
Chronic users: up to 29 days

BLOOD TESTING

Blood testing is relatively costly and invasive, making it less common than other testing methods. However, blood tests may be used in some clinical or emergency settings. Unlike urine tests, which detect metabolites, blood tests typically look for the presence of THC itself. THC is almost instantly detectable in the blood upon inhaling cannabis, making blood tests ideal for determining recent drug use.

Research shows [4] that cannabis remains detectable in blood for 1–2 days. However, in certain cases it has been detected up to 25 days later. Heavy, chronic use of cannabis can increase the length of the detection window.

HAIR TESTING

Following consumption of cannabis, THC reaches the hair follicles through small blood vessels. Trace amounts can be detected in hair for up to 90 days, as confirmed by a 2015 study [5] . Typically, a 4cm section of hair taken from near the scalp indicates cannabis use over a three month period (hair grows at an approximate rate of 1.2–1.5cm per month).

If you’re required to take a hair follicle drug test, around 100 hairs will be taken from near the crown of your head. Washing, dyeing, or styling your hair with products will have no effect on the accuracy of the test.

HOW TO GET THC OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM

So, you’ve got a drug test coming up and you’re feeling uneasy. Don’t get defeated! Here’s how you can try and beat it.

STOP CONSUMING CANNABIS

This may seem obvious, but the first thing you should do if you have a drug test coming up is stop using weed. The aim here is to purge any trace of THC or its metabolites as thoroughly as possible. The longer you cease smoking beforehand, the more likely you are to pass the test. Depending on the type of test and your smoking habits, you may need to take a longer break to fully flush your system.

DRINK LOTS OF WATER

Speaking of flushing your system, there’s nothing better than good ol’ H₂O. Of course, drinking water is most effective for passing urine tests. Luckily, that’s the most common type of test.

To help cleanse your system, pee as much as you can 24–48 hours before your test. Keep hydrating on the day of your drug test. The goal is to dilute your urine, making it harder to detect any residual metabolites.

Just don’t overdo it. Drinking too much water will result in an obviously diluted sample, potentially leading to a retest or increased suspicion. You need to drink plenty of water, but not so much that it becomes obvious. This is indeed a balancing act.

TAKE ZINC

A 2011 study [6] found that zinc is an effective urinary adulterant, with the potential to produce a false negative test result. Research suggests that oral consumption of zinc supplements after light cannabis use could interfere with detection of THC metabolites in urine for between 12 and 18 hours.

Zinc supplements are widely available over the counter in pharmacies and health food stores. So, if a drug test gets sprung on you or you need some extra assurance, you might want to swing by the vitamin aisle. Just make sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist first if you take any regular medications.

DETOX DRINKS

If you want to kick it up a notch from water, try a detox drink. Detox drinks work on the premise of expelling or masking the presence of THC and its metabolites. Many of them use diuretic substances to make sure you are passing urine frequently.

Consumer detox products can be quite expensive. If you don’t have the cash, focus on simple detox drinks you can make at home, like coffee or cranberry juice.

ACTIVATED CHARCOAL

Another method to prepare your body for a drug test is activated charcoal. Charcoal is often used to medically manage overdoses; it binds to different substances and helps the body eliminate them. That’s because charcoal molecules have a negative electrical charge; they bind with positively charged molecules in different drugs, trapping them.

The binding process works with THC metabolites. THC metabolites circulate many times through your system via a process known as “enterohepatic recirculation”. They move from blood to liver to bile and into the intestines, before being reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. The cycle then repeats, with a portion of the metabolites excreted as waste each time. Eventually, after many cycles, all metabolites are flushed from your system.

Research [7] shows that activated charcoal binds to metabolites like THC-COOH and THC-COO-glucuronide, preventing their reabsorption into the bloodstream and speeding up their elimination. That means charcoal could help you pass a drug test faster.

HOW TO INGEST ACTIVATED CHARCOAL

So, what’s the best way to take activated charcoal? Thanks to its purifying properties, charcoal has gained popularity as an addition to cosmetics, health products, and even food. The simplest way to take it is via capsules. But, let’s be honest, it’s more fun to do a little baking! The recipe below for charcoal bread results in a unique, black loaf that looks badass and still tastes great.

Please note that you should be careful when ingesting activated charcoal—it could interfere with absorption of medications and vitamins. If you have concerns or take regular meds, check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying it.

CHARCOAL BREAD RECIPE

This gothic dough will turn any sandwich into a conversation piece.

INGREDIENTS

• 240g plain flour
• 7g dried yeast
• 50g caster sugar
• ½ tsp. salt
• 2 tsp. activated charcoal powder
• 140ml warm water
• 30g butter

HARDWARE

• Large bowl
• Cutting board/breadboard
• Bread tin
• Kitchen towel
• Roasting tray
• Wooden spoon

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Add flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and charcoal powder into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

2. Add water to the bowl and continue to mix until the mixture becomes dough.

3. Sprinkle flour over a breadboard and knead the dough whilst adding the butter one small piece at a time. Knead until all of the butter has merged with the dough and it becomes soft and stretchy.

4. Add the dough to a greased bread tin and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Place a roasting tray underneath the bread tin and pour boiling water into it. Place tin and tray into the oven. Return 30 minutes later to add more boiling water.

5. Once another 30 minutes have elapsed (1 hour total), carefully separate the roasting tray from the bread tin and bake alone in the oven for a final 15 minutes.

6. Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool.

WRAPPING UP: HOW TO ELIMINATE THC FROM YOUR SYSTEM

Here’s a quick recap of the main points:

THC gets broken down into metabolites like THC-COOH by the liver, and this is what many drug tests look for.
Different drug tests have different detection times, which are also influenced by body fat, metabolism, and how much/how often you use cannabis.
Urine tests are by far the most popular method, especially among employers.
If you have a drug test coming up, you should stop using weed immediately.
To speed up excretion of THC or to help mask its presence, drink lots of water (but not too much!).
You can also try: zinc, detox drinks, and activated charcoal.

Ultimately, there’s no fool-proof formula to flush THC out of your system quickly. There are just too many variables. But, that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. Research shows that the methods we discussed could help speed up the process. With knowledge on your side, and a little bit of luck, you’ll be flying high in your free time and nobody will be the wiser. Because, let’s be honest, it’s nobody’s business.

Drug tests are a stoner's worst nightmare, and can mess with even casual users' lives. Here are some tips and tricks to help you beat the THC heat.

Drug Testing – Marijuana Testing Tips

Dealing With Urinalysis on Short Notice

While NORML strongly opposes drug use on the job, we think no one should be forced to submit to urine testing, especially for marijuana. Aside from launching a legal challenge, your best defense against urine testing is to be clean. Unfortunately, this may be difficult since urine tests may detect marijuana 1-5 days after an occasional use, 1-3 weeks in regular users, and 4-6 weeks in multiple daily users. Since urine tests do not detect the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, THC, but rather other, nonactive metabolites, they in no way measure impairment; nonetheless, this fact is of no account to employers in today’s anti-drug hysteria. If you are on the job market, it is prudent to expect being tested and avoid marijuana. However, recognizing that many of you may face drug testing on short notice, we offer the following advice for emergencies with our best wishes (but no promises!).

DON’T RELY ON EXCUSES:

Although urine tests are far from infallible, it is difficult to challenge positive test results. “False positives,” in which workers are wrongfully accused of marijuana use, are highly unlikely so long as labs exercise proper care (however, not all labs do this). The standard procedure is to first screen the samples with an immunoassay test (e.g., EMIT® or RIA®), then confirm positive results with the more accurate gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS). This virtually eliminates the chance of false positives in exchange for a relatively high rate of “false negatives,” where drug use is not detected. The sensitivity of the test is determined by the concentration of metabolites it is set to detect: for the Dept. of Transportation, the standard cutoff is 50 nanograms/milliliter (ng/ml).

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No substance is known to produce a false positive for marijuana. It used to be that ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) interfered with the marijuana test, but this problem has been fixed. A variety of over-the-counter medicines can cause false positives for amphetamine and other illicit drugs on the EMIT test, but not on the GCMS.

“Passive smoking” of marijuana is not an acceptable excuse at the 50 ng/ml level, since only in extreme circumstances can a non-smoker absorb enough pot to test urine positive (e.g., being stuck in a closet full of heavy smokers for hours). However, passive exposure may result in positive tests at 25 ng/ml or lower.

WASH YOURSELF OUT:

The general strategy for passing urine tests is to increase your fluid intake and urine flow so as to dilute the concentration of drugs in the sample below the threshold of detection. An hour or two before the test, you should fill your bladder with fluids – as much as you can drink. Water is fine – contrary to popular rumor, there is NO evidence that goldenseal, vinegar, niacin, or vitamin C help. However, high-dosage aspirin may reduce the sensitivity of the EMIT urine test for pot (only). Many people wash themselves out for several days in advance by drinking a lot and exercising, but there is no reason to think this is useful. In no case should you give your first urine of the morning, since drug metabolites tend to build up during your sleep.

While you’re loading up on water before the test, you may also want to take a large dose (50-100 milligrams) of vitamin B-12, available in B-complex multivitamins. The purpose of this is to color your urine yellow, since otherwise you are likely to produce clear, watery urine, which makes some collectors suspicious (contrary to rumor, vitamin C won’t help). In rare instances, some labs will reject a sample for being too watery; in this case, however, they will typically give you a second chance. Wait until your test results have been confirmed before indulging in compromising behavior.

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You can boost your fluid output by taking diuretics, which stimulate urination. Weak diuretics include coffee, cranberry juice, certain health food products and over-the-counter pills for pre-menstrual water retention.

If you’re taking the test on very short notice, you may wish to resort to more potent diuretics, which are widely prescribed to treat high blood pressure. Although strong diuretics, such as furosemide (Lasix®), are available only on prescription in the U.S., they can be had over-the-counter in Mexico and other foreign countries. Beware that they can be dangerous for certain persons, such as diabetics or pregnant women, and can cause problems if taken over extended periods. Diuretics can be detected in urine, but are rarely checked except for athletes. The following regime has been suggested by a former army drug testing officer (Robert Freeman, “How to ‘Beat’ a Drug Test,” High Times, Aug. 1988): Take an 80-milligram dose of Lasix; take a hefty drink of water; piss two or three times, then take the test. If you’re lucky and didn’t smoke too much pot, a good washout may get you past a test on a couple days’ notice. However, regular smokers should allow at least a week or two if at all possible.

DRUG SCREENS?

It has been suggested that the ingestion of certain substances might alter body chemistry so as to disguise drug use. Although many products are currently being marketed as drug screens in head shops, High Times ads, etc., few have any solid scientific basis. Activated charcoal, a common detoxifier, might help lower metabolite levels a bit in long-term users if taken over the course of some days or weeks. It has been suggested on theoretical grounds that lecithin, a food emulsifier, might also be useful if taken over extended periods, but this hasn’t been proven. A number of high-priced herbal teas and powders are promoted as urine cleansers, with no good medical rationale. While some users have reported remarkable success with them, many others have not. Independent experiments suggest that it may be water dilution, not the screen itself, that accounts for success.

TAMPERING:

While urine dilution is useful, it isn’t 100% reliable, especially for heavy daily users. Another tack used by some people is to tamper with the sample by adding adulterants or substituting clean urine for their own. Ethical issues aside, tampering is risky since subjects may be observed or made to disrobe beforehand, and cheating isn’t forgiven. For the adventurous, Abbie Hoffman’s book Steal This Urine Test has full instructions on how to rig yourself up with a plastic bag to substitute clean urine. You can buy clean, dehydrated urine from Byrd Labs. Beware however that labs check to make sure the temperature of urine samples is right (around 91-97ƒ).

Another trick to foil the test is to spike the sample with an adulterant. This approach should be used only as a last resort, since any adulterant can be chemically detected if labs take the trouble to do so. A number of adulterants cause negatives on the commonly used EMIT test, but not necessarily other tests. In an emergency, you might fool an EMIT test by adding a few drops of Visine® to the sample. Other common adulterants include detergent, bleach, salt, and the cleaning solution glutaraldahyde, but most of these are easily detected by smell or visual inspection. A host of commercial adulterants are on the market (for advertisements, see High Times). Among the more popular are Klear® and Whizzies®. No additive is 100% reliable, and all involve a substantial risk of detection. Many drug testing companies claim to test for adulterants, though it isn’t clear how carefully.

Many drug testing aids are advertised with money-back guarantees if you test positive. BEWARE: guarantees do not assure good test results! Vendors often exaggerate product reliability and ignore customer complaints.

BLOOD TESTS:

In some situations, including accidents and roadside sobriety checks, blood tests may be used. Blood tests detect the actual presence of THC in the system; however, they can be sensitive to other metabolites as well. Blood tests generally register positive for just a few hours after smoking, though heavy chronic smokers may be positive for up to seven days. Less sensitive are saliva/oral fluid tests, which register positive for about 2-4 hours after smoking.

HAIR TESTS:

An ominous technology is hair testing, which is supposed to detect drug use for months, or however long one’s hair has been growing (Skinheads note: samples can be taken from any part of the body!). While hair tests are highly sensitive to cocaine, their sensitivity to pot is not well established. Not all employers who use hair tests check for marijuana. Hair testing is racially biased against Africans, being much more sensitive to thick, dark hair than to light, fine hair. Although the FDA and scientific community have been critical of hair testing, that hasn’t stopped employers from using it. Hair tests may be influenced by shampoo: one test found hair treated with Head & Shoulders® (Fine/Oily), Neutrogena®, and Rave® displayed lower drug concentrations than with Pert® (Oily/Fine) or Prell® (Normal, Normal/Oily).

LEGAL CHALLENGES:

Prospective employees have no legal right to challenge pre-employment drug screens. However, workers who are already employed may be able to challenge their employers’ drug testing plans in certain situations depending on labor law and local regulations. Avoid signing anything that gives your boss the right to arbitrarily test you; by stating your objections, you will strengthen your right to refuse a test. If you think you are being unjustly tested, you may have cause for legal action. San Francisco, Berkeley and some other jurisdictions forbid on-the-job drug testing except in safety-sensitive positions.

We are sorry having to mention these devious techniques, but feel it is necessary to defend innocent people against wrongful accusations of drug abuse. California NORML urges you to use this information responsibly and not as a way of hiding irresponsible marijuana use.

TEST YOURSELF:

Many drug abuse clinics offer urine testing for a fee. Home test kits are available from companies such as Liberty Research and Instant Diagnostics. Beware: drug urine levels can fluctuate up and down during the day.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH DRUG URINE TESTING?

Privacy: Urine tests intrude on intimate bodily privacy. Mass drug screening violates the privacy of the majority of responsible employees in order to spot a minority of alleged drug abusers, many of whom are in fact not drug abusers at all. Government-imposed drug testing may be restricted by the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids unreasonable search and seizure and requires “probable cause” for search warrants. However, the 4th Amendment does not generally apply to tests by private employers.

Accuracy: No test is infallible. Surveys of drug testing labs have found remarkably high error rates from poor quality control. While good labs have added safeguards to minimize the risk of “false positives,” even if error rates are only one in 10,000, the extension of drug testing to tens of millions of workers as proposed by the government means that many workers will be falsely accused of drug abuse.

The most common misconception about drug urine testing is that it detects drug-impaired workers, whereas it actually detects evidence of past drug use that need have no relation to on-the-job performance. Because drug tests are highly sensitive to marijuana, random testing can promote use of other, more dangerous drugs such as cocaine and opiates, which wash out in 2-3 days, or LSD, which is rarely tested. At the same time, most drug tests totally disregard alcohol, the nation’s leading drug of abuse. Urine testing is thus an inherently flawed technology: it rules out the most innocent off-the-job marijuana use, while permitting flagrant on-the-job alcoholism.

Efficacy: Urine testing has never been scientifically shown to be safe or effective at improving workplace safety or productivity, and studies indicate that the great majority of drug-positive workers are just as reliable as others (John Horgan, “Test Negative,” Scientific American, March 1990; Dr. John Morgan, “Impaired Statistics and the Unimpaired Worker,” The Drug Policy Letter, May/June 1989). Medically, the consensus of expert opinion is that drug tests are an inherently unreliable indicator of drug impairment (Consensus Report, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 8, 1985). Dr. George Lundberg of the American Medical Association has called them “Chemical McCarthyism” (editorial, Journal of the American Medical Association, Dec. 5 1986).

Alternatives: The shortcomings of drug testing can be avoided by performance tests that measure actual concentration and reaction time instead of chemical residues. Computer video game tests that detect impairment due to drugs, fatigue, stress, or illness are now available on the market (Performance Factors, Denver, Col.).

Drug Testing – Marijuana Testing Tips Dealing With Urinalysis on Short Notice While NORML strongly opposes drug use on the job, we think no one should be forced to submit to urine testing, ]]>