In the past, a positive cannabis test could carry hefty consequences for professional athletes and sportspeople. However, as the global approach to cannabis continues to become more liberal, the stigma associated with the drug is beginning to be erased.
Some sporting regulatory bodies, such as the UFC, have announced that they will stop testing participants for cannabis use. But how does cannabis testing work outside in the real world, and how long does cannabis stay in your system?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can and usually does stay in your system for days, and sometimes even weeks. However, the duration does vary as it depends on a number of factors, including body weight, body fat, frequency of use, and the method of consumption.
When it comes to testing, authorities are able to use a wide range of methods available. Cannabis – more precisely, cannabinoids – can be detected in urine, hair, saliva, blood, and even fingernails. In fact, as technology improves authorities have more and better tools for the detection of these compounds – for example, EGG, an electro psychological method.
Typically, drug testing methods are designed to detect just one chemical associated with cannabis – THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most common cannabinoid produced by the cannabis plant and is also responsible for the intoxicating ‘high’ caused by cannabis use.
Urine and saliva samples are most commonly tested for cannabis use, with blood and hair samples being used less commonly. These tests detect the presence of THC or its metabolites (usually THC-OOC) in the sample. This means that the use of CBD and hemp products that contain no THC will usually not result in a positive drug test.
How Long can THC be Detected?
Essentially, a study cited by Medical News Today claimed that the chemicals of “a single cannabis cigarette” could stick around in our bodies for around three days. However, in reality, the time will vary between each user, as a frequent cannabis user (3-4 times a week) could produce positive test results for up to a week – also, cannabis could stay in the system for almost a month if someone consumes the drug at least once a day.
While other drugs tend to vanish from our body in hours, cannabis has something that won’t allow it to disappear that fast: THC.
Nicolas Rossetti, manager of clinical services of Mobile Health, told Healthline: “Compared to other drugs, cannabis has the longest detection time, up to months, because the detectable chemicals stay in the body’s fat cells.”
He told the paper that testers would find out if someone tries to trick them as some of the methods said to eliminate THC on a faster space have a displayable impact on the system.
He said: “Cleanses and teas can lower THC levels through their diuretic properties. They make individuals urinate a lot, which technically washes out the kidneys.
“This flushing of the kidneys can lower the specific gravity or density of the urine, and a low specific gravity indicates contamination on the test, and the specimen could be discounted.”
At the end of the day, people consuming cannabis have to accept that the body needs time to metabolise the drug. Experts say there is not a 100% reliable method to get rid of the drug faster. However, healthy eating, exercising and staying hydrated might eventually speed up the process.