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Marijuana — Regular Use days days Months Amphetamines days 24 hours Cocaine days days Heroin, Opiates days days PCP days days The most popular kind of drug test is the urine test, which can detect marijuana for days or weeks after use. Note that urine tests do not detect the psychoactive component in marijuana, THC deltatetrahydrocannabinol , and therefore in no way measure impairment; rather, they detect the non-psychoactive marijuana metabolite THC-COOH, which can linger in the body for days and weeks with no impairing effects. Blood tests are a better detector of recent use, since they measure the active presence of THC in the system.

Because they are invasive and difficult to administer, blood tests are used less frequently.


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They are typically used in investigations of accidents, injuries and DUIs, where they can give a useful indication of whether the subject was actually under the influence. Hair tests are the most objectionable form of drug testing, since they do not measure current use, but rather non-psychoactive residues that remain in the hair for months afterwards.

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These residues are absorbed internally and do not appear in the hair until days after first use. Afterwards, they cannot be washed out by shampoos though shampoos may help remove external smoke particles that get stuck in the hair. Hair tests are more likely to detect regular than occasional marijuana use. Ingested cannabis was less likely to be detected than smoked marijuana [ 01 ]. It is doubtful whether hair tests are sensitive to one-time use of marijuana.

Saliva testing is a newer, less proven technology. The sensitivity of saliva tests is not well established in the case of marijuana. In theory, they are supposed to detect recent use, but this may range from several hours to over a day. They are supposed to detect secretions from inside the oral tissues that cannot be washed out with mouthwash.

Because they are less intrusive than blood or urine tests, the industry has been eager to develop saliva tests. Due to reliability problems, they have yet to gain acceptance in the U. An international study of various onsite saliva tests concluded that no device was reliable enough to be recommended for roadside screening of drivers Rosita Project, How long marijuana is detected in the urine depends strongly on frequency of use. The situation is different for occasional users no more than once a week , who often clear up in a couple of days.

This would typically be the case for the occasional user who indulges a couple of times per month. All subjects received a dose of one standard NIDA cigarette [02]. Note that urine levels of metabolite fluctuate throughout the day. For example, Subject G fell beneath the 50 ng threshold around 24 hours after smoking, but rebounded above it a short time later. Thus it is possible to flunk a drug test despite having passed one a while earlier. This illustrates the high degree of individual variation in urine testing. Occasional use can sometimes be detected much longer, as shown in Fig.

This represents a subject who was given a strong oral dose of 20 mg of THC, equivalent to a strong brownie or two high-dose Marinol pills. California NORML has heard unconfirmed reports of occasional users testing positive for as long as two weeks in exceptional cases. In most cases, however, one-time users are likely to pass after a couple of days. Drug metabolites take time to reach the urine. This is similar to the period of impairment after smoking.

Therefore, in the case of one-time users, a positive urine test is a sign that the user is most likely NOT currently impaired by marijuana! Many days or weeks of abstinence are required to clear out, as illustrated in the following graph of metabolite levels in test subjects who were regular users [04A]. Detection times over three months have been reported in extreme cases.

As shown in the following graph, detection times for chronic users typically range from one to three weeks but can extend much longer. Unlike urine tests, blood tests detect the active presence of THC in the bloodstream. It then declines quickly to single-digit levels within an hour. High THC levels are therefore a good indication that the subject has smoked marijuana recently.

In chronic users, detectable amounts of blood THC can persist for days. In one study of chronic users, residual THC was detected for 24 to 48 hours or longer at levels of 0. Note: THC blood levels can be measured in two ways. Most labs used by U. Therefore 0.

Unless otherwise stated, whole blood concentrations are reported here. Unlike urine, blood test results can give a useful indicator of whether one is under the influence of marijuana. Studies have shown that high THC blood levels are correlated with impaired driving.

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An expert panel review of scientific studies on driving under the influence of cannabis concluded that THC levels above 3. The same review found no increased driving hazard at low levels of THC. Others have fixed, per se limits above which DUI is presumed, often with no scientific basis. Although high blood THC is a fairly good indicator of being under the influence, it is not infallible. No similar phenomenon is known for alcohol.

Oral ingestion produces a much different THC blood profile than smoking. Instead of peaking sharply, THC rises gradually over a couple of hours to a plateau of around 2. Blood metabolites In addition to THC, blood tests can detect cannabinoid metabolites. As shown in Fig.

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They may be detectable for a couple of days after a single use or weeks in chronic users, and are therefore not a valid indicator of being under the influence. Another blood metabolite not shown in Figure 5 is hydroxy-THC, a psychoactive byproduct produced when THC is processed by the liver after oral ingestion. While not detectable at appreciable levels in smoked marijuana, hydroxy-THC shows a similar blood profile to THC after oral consumption. The presence of hydroxy-THC may therefore be used as an indicator of recent oral use.

A-B Smoked dose based on data from M.

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