I have quite a few friends myself who would smoke cannabis regularly if they weren’t getting drug tested at work. The new Delta-8 craze has many people wondering if they can get away with smoking this milder version of marijuana and still keep their jobs. Will a drug test detect Delta-8 THC the same way it detects Delta-9? Let’s investigate.
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To understand the difference between Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC, you’ll have to think in terms of chemistry. Admittedly, science never my best subject in school, but some basics stuck with me. For instance, you likely know that when we make minor chemical changes to a compound, we can create something entirely different.
Take into account the air around us, O2 vs O3. When we breathe, we are breathing in O2, or molecular oxygen, comprised of two oxygen molecules held together by a covalent bond. If you simply add one more oxygen molecule to the mix you now have O3, or ozone, which is a highly reactive gas, a form of pollution, that can cause serious health complications if we breathe it in.
Thankfully, the differences between D8 and D9 don’t break down to healthy vs deadly. Delta-8 THC only has some minor chemical differences from Delta-9, as well as some differences in effects. It’s mildly psychoactive, although it’s less intense than D9. Delta-8 is only present in trace amounts in cannabis plants, so to utilize it, this compound needs to be extracted and isolated.
As far as medical benefits of Delta 8 THC, there are many of particular interest. Numerous studies dating back to the early 1970s indicate that Delta-8 has extremely powerful effects on the immune system. It has also been observed shrinking tumors and completely eliminating nausea in patients who were sick from other medications. Much of the research was conducted by Prof. Raphael Mechoulam and his team.
When it comes to cannabis, standard urine tests are used to detect use ranging from 1 to 45 days, roughly. Occasional users will typically be clean after 1-5 days, regular light users will take about 1-3 weeks, and for heavy daily users, expect 4 to 6 weeks to get clean.
Contrary to popular belief, standard urine tests don’t screen for the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in cannabis, but rather, they detect the metabolites created by the human body when we are exposed to THC. This class of metabolites is known as THC-COOH. These metabolites are nonactive, so drug tests are only measuring exposure, NOT impairment. Marijuana impairment cannot be detected through any kind of test.
THC-COOH is the most common name for this metabolite, and it’s read “carboxy THC”. It’s the second THC-metabolite formed in our bodies, following hydroxy-THC, immediately after exposure. THC-COOH is lipid-soluble, meaning it’s stored in our fat cells making it detectable in our systems for much longer than other substances, those that are water soluble for example.
Yes, the above section refers to Delta-9 THC, however, Delta-8 produces these same metabolites in the body. How they get picked up by a drug test is the question, but presumably, when testing for metabolites, one can assume the test will be activated by Delta-8 as well. After all, the compounds are very similar chemically.
After a bit of research looking at the descriptions of numerous different multi-panel drug tests, I found one that specifically claims to be able to detect Delta-8 THC use. As a matter of fact, according to the package insert, this test can detect Delta 8 metabolites at lower levels than Delta 9.
The drug test description states that “Marijuana metabolite / 11-nor-Δ8-THC-9-COOH, 11-nor-9-carboxy-delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol, 11-nor-delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid, delta(8)-Tetrahydrocannabinol-11-oic acid, delta(6)-Tetrahydrocannabinol-7-oic acid can be detected at 30ng/mL cutoff,” compared to 50ng/mL for Delta 9.
There are a lot of products out there claiming to clean any trace of marijuana from your system fast, but do they actually work? Some brands say it only takes one use, others say up to 7 days. There are capsules, beverages, and even synthetic urine. Some people claim that certain vitamins and foods will do the trick. Let’s take a look at some of the most common methods and analyze their effectiveness.
I’ll start with a quick story though. Back when I was in my early 20s, I was taking a road trip from California to New Orleans with a bit of pot for my own personal use (less than 1 ounce), when I ran into an unavoidable checkpoint near the Juarez border in Texas. They had dogs, so needless to say, my weed was found, I was arrested, and after some fines and court dates, I was luckily able to avoid jail time and get 6 months of probation.
At one point during my probation period, it was New Year’s weekend and I decided to smoke a blunt with my friends. Not the brightest idea but I figured that I could just use this stuff I saw at the local headshop called Royal Flush to clean out my system and all would be fine and good. Well, that was definitely not the case.
As per the instructions, I drank the full bottle on an empty stomach 1 hour before going to my probation meeting. It was completely disgusting but I begrudgingly finished the whole thing and confidently went on my way. Fast forward to the actual drug testing, which was supervised by a female parole officer so there was no way to pull off the synthetic urine. Well, right in front of the P.O., my urine came out completely purple, the color of the drink! Now whether it tested positive or not, I will never know because she looked at me and immediately knew that I used a system flusher.
So, head shop products, mostly a no-go. I will say from personal experience again, that synthetic urine does work, at least it did when I used many years ago. Now, certain more high-end test can detect synthetic urine as well.
Anther semi-common method is using niacin, also known as Vitamin B3. This has actually been scientifically proven to work, but if you’re consuming enough niacin to clear your urine of any drugs, you will likely also experience symptoms of niacin toxicity which include vomiting, fever, chills, and general sickness.
Drinking a lot of water, doing rigorous exercise, and even a natural cranberry juice cleanse all can be helpful, but of course, that depends entirely on the individual’s physiology and how much cannabis they consume.
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Honestly, if you want to be 100% sure you won’t fail a drug test, your best bet is to just refrain from consuming any cannabis products – including hemp AND delta-8 – for about 30 days. It’s not ideal, but sometimes it’s the only way.
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