MMJ also known as weed, pot, ganja, herb, joint, etc., is a derivative of Cannabis plant family. It can be found in the bodily fluids for up to 30 days and in the hair for several months after last use. It contains an active chemical called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive substance, which induces euphoric effects in people who consume MMJ.
People consume MMJ formulations by chewing, snorting or smoking through pipes, joints or bongs. Some people consume by adding it to their food or drink after brewing it as a tea. In United States, MMJ has become one of the most abused substances and a survey from 2018 shows about 11.8 million young people using this drug.
The detection period for MMJ depends on how much you consume or smoke and how frequently you use. If you are using it very frequently and in higher doses, the detection period will lengthen. MMJ can be detected, in people who consume it on a daily basis, for several months after last consumption.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information survey, nearly 14.4 percent of the younger population was involved in drugs in the year 2015. It is also observed that almost 18.7 percent of the working population faced occupational injuries due to the consumption of MMJ and cannabis during working hours. These statistics demonstrate the threatening situation that we live in and drug abuse is becoming one of the dangerous crimes that can lead to fatal consequences.
With these alarming situations, many employment centers and private employers have made drug testing as one of the selection criteria. In the world of chemicals, people knowingly or unknowingly get involved into some drugs, which can in turn further the possibility of deteriorating the future of many youngsters.
Table of Contents:
- How Long Does MMJ & Cannabis Stay in Your System (World’s #1 Resource)
- THC Concentration Levels After Consumption
- Likelihood of Being Drug Tested by Ethnicity
- MMJ Detection Times
- Urine Drug Testing
- Hair Follicle Drug Testing
- Blood Serum Drug Testing
- Saliva Drug Testing
- Cannabis Vs MMJ - What Is The Difference?
- CBD and THC
- Cannabis Energy Drink And Drug Test
Most companies screen their employees for the presence of drugs, among which THC is one of the common substances. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is an organic compound that is extremely hydrophobic in nature. It is a primary chemical compound present in MMJ and cannabis. Moreover, this compound is the reason why people get high after consuming cannabis products. During metabolism, it gets broken down into 80 different metabolites in the body.
Due to the hydrophobic nature, the metabolites do not attach or dissolve with water like other substances do such as alcohol or other drugs. Rather, they combine with body fat, alkane and oils where the THC and its associated molecules get stored that get metabolized and broken down subsequently.
THC gets metabolized and is converted into THC-COOH, one of the primary secondary chemicals. THC is a psychoactive substance, but the metabolized THC-COOH is a non-psychoactive substance that helps in identifying the usage of cannabis by the drug testers. Drug testing industries target this metabolized THC-COOH (11-nor-9-Carboxy-THC) to identify cannabis or MMJ users.
Another interesting fact is that drug testing is one of the best weapons for companies to circumvent some of the employee’s benefits such as insurance coverage, pensions or retirement plans, workers’ compensation claim, etc., for eligible people. Many eligible candidates get their job offers revoked due to the presence of THC during drug testing. MMJ drug test discrimination is increasing and many social organizations are filing petitions against this injustice.
It is crucial to know that it takes significant amount of time for the THC to go below detectable levels for people who use cannabis on a regular basis.
THC Concentration Levels After Consumption
Concentration levels of THC can become high in a person’s body if regularly consumed cannabis or MMJ. These two illicit drug compounds can get into the body through smoking. People mostly consume cannabis through smoking.
Once a person smokes the drug, the THC compounds get into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. The fast circulation of blood leads to the instant spread of THC along with other innumerable number of compounds including cannabidiol into the body. THC that is present throughout the body interrelates with the CB1 and CB2 receptors present in the endocannabiniod system of the body. The endocannabiniod system is an endogenous lipid-containing biological system that comprises of neurotransmitters, which connect to the central nervous system of the brain.
Studies have established that THC in the blood can rise to a peak within a short period of time after smoking. If the consumed cannabis dose is low, the THC levels will drop within 3 to 12 hours, but if the consumption level is high, it may take 6 to 27 hours to drop below the detection level.
THC gets absorbed into the tissues and organs after consumption. The liver breaks down the THC into metabolites that is released by the tissues into the bloodstream. THC gets accumulated in the fatty tissues in chronic users and the elimination process gets prolonged. It is because the remaining THC residues that get stored in the fatty tissues leach into the bloodstream again. The liver again detects the presence of psychoactive substances and converts them into non-psychoactive chemical (THC-COOH). This kind of cycle-based metabolic process leads to an increased detection window for blood and urine. Many chronic MMJ and cannabis users fail their drug test even if they quit using for many days. The metabolites mostly get eliminated through urine.
Likelihood of Being Drug Tested by Ethnicity
Drug testing is not done based on any discrimination. These ethnicity-based comparisons are drawn to create a clear understanding of the various forms of people and their drug testing variations. The drug testing and its results vary based on ethnicity. The fact is racial or ethnic drug testing differences do happen because of their genetic differences and their response to the particular drug.
According to recent studies conducted, the ethnic differences do happen due to the genetic variations, the occupation they involve in and the ambiance they reside in. According to the study, Black people are drug tested during all sorts of drug testing requirements. During probation, Black people are more likely to get drug tested compared to Hispanic, White or other people. This is not done merely based on race, but also due to the ambiance. Hispanic people are also drug tested. Whether it is pre-employment, random or probation, they are also drug tested for cleanliness.
It has been determined that African-Americans are more likely to be drug tested than Whites or others for any reason.
MMJ Detection Times
MMJ drug testing is one of the priority tests done during pre-employment, random, probation, etc. Drug testing involves the detection of THC levels in the biological specimen during the testing process. MMJ drug testing is done to determine the past and present use of the drug.
- Past MMJ and Cannabis Use: Urine drug test and hair follicle test can determine the past use of MMJ. The THC-COOH molecule (non-psychoactive substance) is targeted to determine if someone has used this substance in the past, irrespective of their way of usage - personal or during working hours. The hair drug testing gives a more complete drug use history with a detection window of 90 days.
- Present MMJ and Cannabis Use: Blood and saliva drug tests can detect the present drug use. These tests can indicate the presence of active THC molecules. Also, these tests are used to identify the addiction to the particular drug, despite the tolerance levels. It should be noted that the tolerance levels of drugs like MMJ or cannabis is different from alcohol.
These tests need to be taken within a couple of days to find the intoxication levels except for the blood test because of the variations in the amount of drug level. This is due the stored THC in the fatty tissues leading to the reinjection of THC into the blood. Therefore, a healthy, chronic MMJ smoker can retain THC in the blood for longer periods compared to saliva. According to the national standard, the THC levels in the blood should be less than 5 ng/mL.
THC metabolites detection varies from one testing to another. Other factors that can influence detection period include:
- THC amounts present in MMJ and cannabis
- Usage frequency
- Length of time after last use
- Individual’s metabolism and body fat
- Sensitivity of the test
MMJ can show up on the following drug tests:
- Saliva Drug Test: About 34 to 48 hours after last use
- Urine Drug Test:
- Infrequent users – 1 to 3 days after last use
- Moderate users – 7 to 21 days after last use
- Heavy users - a month or longer after last use
- Hair Drug Test: Up to 90 days
- Blood Drug Test: Up to 36 hours
Urine Drug Testing
This is one of the traditional, yet the most common type of drug test. This is the easiest form of drug testing. The tester collects urine specimen from the donor. It is then taken to a certified laboratory and tested for the threshold sensitivity level. Threshold sensitivity level or immunoassay is a procedure to determine the presence of certain proteins or substances through their antigen or antibody based properties. Here, the substance in question is THC-COOH. If the levels of the targeted THC-COOH metabolites are below the standard cut-off level of 50 ng/mL, then the sample is considered as negative. This means the candidate has passed the test.
This is the preliminary level of testing for drug presence. A tester cannot determine the candidate’s eligibility only by urinalysis. If the candidate has failed the urine test, i.e., if the presence of metabolites crossed the level set by national standards of 50 ng/mL, then the sample will be marked as positive. The tester will do a second confirmatory test to verify the presence of metabolites through Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) technique.
Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometer is an advanced equipment used for confirmatory purposes during drug testing. This test is very accurate and stereoselective (differentiates between closely related elements). This test is set to a threshold of 15 ng/mL. If the substance level is more than the threshold, it is marked as positive for MMJ or cannabis according to the identified metabolites.
For chronic MMJ users, the THC metabolites are present in the blood to a maximum of 3 months. It varies from one person to another. It depends upon the usage frequency and the quantity of the drug consumed. It may take anywhere from 10 to 12 months for chronic users to get free of MMJ traces in urine. For light smokers, the period may vary from 2 to 4 weeks. If you are a new user and stopped MMJ immediately, then the THC metabolites will be eliminated from urine in 7 to 10 days.
The above discussed timeframe is based on average data. It may vary based on other various factors like a person’s weight, body fat, gender, metabolism, etc. All of these play a crucial role in the elimination of THC traces from the body. Whether you are a routine smoker or a new smoker, the drug metabolites will take a minimum of 30 days to 3 months to get eliminated completely out of the body system.
Hair Follicle Drug Testing
Historical prediction works well if we go for hair follicle drug testing. It can trace back the usage of drugs for months. To be precise, the hair follicle drug testing can predict the usage of drugs or the presence of THC metabolites for a maximum of 90 days. It is because the drug residues travel to all the parts of the body and hair being connected to the nerves is not an exception.
A small amount of hair from the head is adequate for the hair follicle test. About 1.5-inch hair close to the scalp is taken as a sample and this can provide drug use for the past 90 days. If any candidate does not have hair on the head, then hair from other parts of the body can be collected for the testing process.
Hair follicle drug testing is considered to be accurate compared to other drug testing methods, but the fact is it is expensive. It is also considered unreliable if any person has very sparingly used MMJ or cannabis.
Blood Serum Drug Testing
Blood testing is usually employed to screen for current usage of drugs, especially for MMJ and cannabis. This test is also utilized for investigational purposes such as workplace accidents or motor vehicle accidents.
After consuming MMJ, the drug substance THC will spread immediately into the blood and stay for a considerable amount of time, say for about 6 to 24 hours. So, the blood serum test can trace the levels of THC in the blood immediately after inhalation. For chronic and regular users, the blood may carry the THC metabolites for more than 7 days based on the usage frequency.
Based on certain studies, the THC levels in the blood can remain as long as it is detectable in the urine. It is because blood is the primary source of transportation of all drugs. So, all the drug metabolites can remain in the blood serum for nearly 30 to 90 days based on the frequency of use.
Saliva Drug Testing
Saliva drug testing is new and not necessarily used as part of drug screening. MMJ and cannabis can linger in the saliva after smoking or if exposed to smoke. The metabolites can only be found in saliva if MMJ and cannabis is consumed or smoked.
Saliva drug testing is used to test for immediate consumption of MMJ and cannabis during the time of accidents as well as roadside testing. It can track the presence of THC metabolites in the saliva within 24 hours of consumption.
The tester uses a collection stick to collect the saliva from the donor. The sample is collected from the cheek, gums or in between them. This test is mainly administered to find if a person is under the influence of drugs.
MMJ and cannabis can be detected in the oral fluids within 1 to 3 days for occasional users and 1 to 29 days for chronic users after last use.
Cannabis Vs MMJ - What Is The Difference?
As the popularity of MMJ is progressively increasing, there has been a lot of confusion about the differences between cannabis and MMJ. The Drug Enforcement Administration wing of the United States Government had indicated these two drugs - MMJ and Cannabis as illicit drugs. We would have also overheard about their ill-effects, their retaining capacity in the body, etc., but whether these two drugs are the same or different always pops up in our minds. Of course, they are different and their characteristics differ botanically and culturally.
Cannabis is referred to the entire genus of flowering plants of the family Cannabaceae that contains about 170 plant species. It actually contains both hemp and MMJ plants. The principal strains of the plant are Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, and Cannabis ruderalis.
At the present time, most cannabis varieties are used for medicinal and social purposes. Cannabis indica and sativa plants are cross-bred to suit many intended requirements. Some modern pharmaceutical companies have produced medicines from Cannabis ruderalis including Cannabis Americana.
MMJ is the only plant that contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that causes intoxicating effects when consumed. It also contains CBD (cannabidiol), which has been noted to be beneficial in alleviating pain and relaxation. Different breeds of MMJ will have different CBD and THC concentrations. These can have different effects when consumed.
MMJ products are most commonly sold as dried leaves and cured flowers. It is also pressed out to get the concentrated extracts which are used in the extract forms and also used in edibles, topicals, etc.
MMJ has been declared illegal federally and THC is classified as Schedule I substance. Considering the medical benefits, many states have disapproved the prohibition on MMJ. MMJ has been cultivated and dispensed for medical purposes as well as for other specific uses.
The THC concentration in MMJ is greater than 0.3 percent and some strains can have THC up to 20 percent. It is considered illegal if any cannabis product has THC greater than 0.3 percent. Hemp-derived products are considered legal unless it contains less than 0.3% THC. This is believed to lower the chances of side-effects and addiction.
The US law has defined different parts of the cannabis plant as hemp and MMJ. Hemp is defined as the stems, stalks and sterilized seeds of cannabis sativa whereas MMJ is defined as the flowers, leaves and viable seeds of the same plant, cannabis sativa.
Botanically speaking, Cannabis belongs to a genus whereas MMJ belongs to the species. As we all know that Genus is the largest ecological group, we can understand that MMJ and another plant “Hemp” belong to the same genus - Cannabis. In other words, we can say that all types of MMJ are cannabis, but not all cannabis belongs to MMJ.
CBD and THC
CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are cannabinoids that are commonly found in cannabis products. These two cannabinoids are found in hemp and MMJ. MMJ contains more of THC, which is a psychoactive substance, than hemp. Hemp contains more of CBD, which helps in relieving pain and mood relaxation.
Both CBD and THC have precisely the same subatomic structure: 21 carbon molecules along with 30 hydrogen and 2 oxygen molecules. The varying impacts in your body depend upon the slightest distinction on how the particles organize themselves.
Both CBD and THC work with the neuro-receptors of the brain. CBD and THC don’t produce similar psychoactive effects. CBD doesn’t create any feelings of euphoria such as THC, but helps in treating conditions like seizures, arthritis, depression, anxiety, painful sensations, etc.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are always a threat as they can settle in body fat a little longer. They can appear on drug tests for a few days or weeks after you use them.
Most drug tests screen for THC, whereas CBD does not show up on most of the tests. There are CBD-sensitive tests available if CBD needs to be specifically tested. Hemp-derived CBD products may contain THC even if labeled THC-free.
If you have any forthcoming drug test, it is recommendable to stop using any CBD or THC products at the earliest possible.
CBD and THC are both considered to have medical benefits. Though medical MMJ is allowed to use in many states, it is still illicit under the federal law. Some states have legalized recreational MMJ with THC for adult use, though it is prohibited by US law.
Cannabis Energy Drink And Drug Test
Cannabis energy drink is one of the demanded products in the market. The energy drink is made exclusively from the hemp seed extract, which doesn’t contain THC, caffeine and other synthetic ingredients. The Cannabis energy drink contains vitamins, minerals and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids from the hemp oil.
Cannabis energy drink has been promoted as being developed for “those who want to have a clear and focused mind and live an active and fun lifestyle.” The product also states it improves concentration, increases alertness, mental performance and reduces fatigue. It is also stated the drink can be consumed while working, driving, working out or leisure activities.
People under the age of 18, pregnant women and nursing mothers are advised to limit the use of Cannabis Energy Drink.
As per national standards, the permissible levels of THC compounds in the product that contains hemp seed extract are 10 ppb (parts per billion). Since this is considered non-measurable, people who consume Cannabis energy drink are less likely to test positive for THC.
MMJ and Cannabis are plants that are used for medical activities and clinical rejuvenation. It is categorized as threatening drugs since people get addicted to it due to repeated usage. MMJ has high levels of THC which cause intoxication after consumption.
Cannabis plants that have greater than 0.3 percent THC concentration is considered as MMJ and is federally illicit. Hemp is another species of cannabis plant that contains higher CBD concentrations and does not cause intoxicating effects such as THC.
CBD and THC both have medicinal properties. CBD is used in the treatment of various medical conditions. The CBD products are regulated to contain less than 0.3% THC. Any product that contains more than 0.3% THC is considered illegal under United States law. Some states have allowed the use of medical MMJ for specific medical conditions. Though the laws have been unstable regarding the legalization of MMJ, it is still considered federally illicit.
People consuming any products of cannabis should look for the CBD and THC concentrations on the labels. They should also be cognizant that MMJ and cannabis do not have a specific time to stay in the system, but may vary according to dosage and frequency of consumption.
Routine drug tests can detect THC, but not CBD. There are tests specifically designed to target CBD if it is mandated. One must be aware that consuming cannabis products frequently or infrequently can lead to false positive results. Using CBD products that is THC free may also sometimes result in positive results. This can occur due to contamination or mislabeling.
It’s advisable to stop consuming cannabis products before any upcoming drug tests and be cautious about the concentrations provided by reading the labels and researching on the products before purchasing.