Delta 8 THC Drug Test: Will It Show Up On A Drug Test?

illustration of a doctor and a drug test result with Delta 8 THC products
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: September 3, 2021

Delta 8 THC is one of the most talked-about cannabinoids in the cannabis space. If you’re a regular cannabis user — taking CBD or THC (or both) — you’ve probably heard of delta 8 by now.

It’s less potent, more stable, and more easy-going than delta 9 THC.

In theory, it’s also legal on a federal level.

Considering the above, delta 8 THC has quickly made many people make a switch from delta 9 THC.

However, there’s one question that follows the popularity of this cannabinoid: “does delta 8 THC show up on a drug test?”

Can you fail a drug screening when you take delta 8 THC?

In this article, we provide a definite answer.

Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 THC: Two Faces of the Same Compound

Delta 8 THC belongs to the group of the so-called minor cannabinoids that can be found in hemp and marijuana plants. There are no specific high-delta 8 THC cannabis strains; this compound is the byproduct of delta 9 THC’s degradation over time.

Delta 8 THC is more stable and less potent when it comes to the intoxicating effect. It gets you high, but the feeling is nowhere near the buzz provided by delta 9.

The cognitive effects of delta 8 THC can be elevating and mildly energizing in lower doses, while higher doses can produce a sedating effect.

The risk of getting anxious or paranoid is also low with delta 8 THC, which is why so many people are turning to it now.

As an analog compound, delta 8 THC has an almost identical chemical structure to delta 9 THC. However, they are different in terms of the arrangement of their atomic bonds.

In delta 8 THC, there’s a double bond at the 8th carbon chain, while delta 9 THC has this bond at the 9th chain.

This subtle difference makes delta 8 THC about half as strong as delta 9, meaning you’d need to take twice the amount to experience a similar kind of high.

People who are buying delta 8 THC oil tinctures or even gummies and vapes, claimed that this cannabinoid has many similar benefits to delta 9 THC when it comes to easing pain and stress, enhancing focus, improving mood, and protecting neurons in the brain against damage. It can also control nausea and vomiting, and stimulate appetite. That is why people are turning to delta 8 than delta 9. To look for the best type of d8 products, check the reputable delta 8 THC company reviews from reliable websites. This will help the users to check the companies that offer high-quality products.

How do Drug Tests Work?

When you take a particular substance for medical or recreational use, your body metabolizes it to notice the effects of these substances. As they get metabolized by your liver, the residual metabolites remain in your blood, urine, saliva, sweat, hair, and lungs.

Even once the noticeable effects of delta 8 THC have dissipated, its ‘track’ stays in these locations and can be detected during a drug test.

Workplace drug tests are designed to look for the metabolites of illegal drugs. Whether you’re a professional driver, a corporate employee, or a public service officer, drug testing can give you sleepless nights if you’re a cannabis user.

Drug tests can easily detect delta 9 THC.

However, they don’t actually check for your THC levels. Instead, they look for the metabolites produced by your body when the liver is done processing THC. 

This metabolite is usually THC-COOH, which can stay with you for days or even weeks after the actual date consumption — and even longer if you’re a heavy consumer.

Since THC dissolves in fats, your body doesn’t get rid of it as easily as water-soluble compounds.

To sum up, the goal of drug testing is to prove that you’ve been using drugs, but they’re not interested in how much you have consumed.

What Substances Do Drug Tests Look For?

hand with blue gloves checcking the results of a drug test

Most drug tests can detect the following substances:

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana (Delta 9 THC)
  • Opioids

Different Types of Drug Tests

Drug tests can detect illicit substances with two types of urine tests:

  • The Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) – this test uses both gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, ensuring more accurate results but also requiring more time and precision.
  • The Immunoassay (IA) Test – this is a quick biochemical test to check if there are any macromolecules in a tested sample; it often produces inaccurate results.

Other types of drug tests include hair follicle tests and blood tests. THC can be detected in your hair for a period beyond 90 days. Blood and saliva tests are usually used to check for the presence of illicit drugs in drivers during road control or after an accident.

Does Delta 8 THC Show Up On a Drug Test?

Yes.

Delta 9 and delta 8 are built very similarly. Delta 8 THC is simply a less potent analog of delta 9. Both of them have intoxicating properties, and both can show up on a drug test because the human body processes them in a similar way.

Urine tests aren’t advanced enough to tell the difference between delta 9 and delta 8 THC. Since both compounds end up as the same metabolite (THC-COOH), the test will find both drugs.

Long story short, delta 8 THC can show up on a drug test upon recent consumption.

A fun fact?

Drug tests can also detect metabolites of other cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBN, and CBC, which is why professional athletes are only allowed to use CBD isolate powder if they don’t want to be disqualified from the important competition.

The top limit for the amount of THC-COOH in your blood is 50 ng/ml. However, delta 8 THC and its metabolites have a lower cut-off mark (30 ng/ml).

So, taking the IA test can make you easily fail it. Fortunately, you can ask your employer to repeat the test using the gas chromatography method, as it only looks for the exact type of delta 9 metabolites.

How Long  Does Delta 8 THC Stay in Your System?

Your body can show signs of substance use even for several weeks. Despite a lower strength, delta 8 THC can still be stored in the body for a significant duration.

Depending on which type of drug test you’re taking, the drug’s track can stay with you from as little as 2 days up to a few months.

Some experts report that heavy users of delta 8 THC products could have their metabolites in the urine for 30-60 days. However, this range can vary between individual users. Many factors, such as your age, weight, metabolism, the drug’s half-life, the frequency of use, and the level of hydration can affect the time delta 8 THC metabolites linger in your body.

Learn more: How Long Delta 8 THC Stays in Your System?

How to Pass a Drug Test as a Delta 8 User

If you’re looking for a way to speed up the metabolism of delta 8 THC, regular consumption of large amounts of water could help.

That being said, it’s better to abstain from delta 8 THC until you know you’ll be safe if you know of an upcoming drug test.

It’s generally believed that delta 8 THC should leave your system within 3–4 weeks, but as we said, the actual time delta 8 THC will stay with you depends on your habits and metabolic rate.

You can purchase an at-home drug testing kit to check for the presence of THC-COOH in your urine before the actual drug test, but be aware that such tests may produce inaccurate results.

Delta 8 THC & Drug Testing FAQ

Medical laboratory container with urine sample rests on a green hemp leaf

What’s the Difference Between Delta 8 THC vs. Delta 9 THC?

Delta 8 is an analog of delta 9 THC. It can be found in both hemp and marijuana and is roughly half as strong as delta 9 THC, owing to it to a subtle difference in its molecular structure. To put it simply, it’s a mirror-like version of delta 9 THC, but with milder psychotropic effects and a lower incidence of anxiety and paranoia.

Will I Pass a Drug Test If I Use Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 THC can show up on a drug test because it has many similar features to delta 9 THC. However, if you fail a standard urine drug test, you can ask your employer to test you again, this time using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. This test will yield more accurate results because it looks specifically for the metabolites unique to delta 9 THC.

What Types of Drug Tests Can Detect THC?

Delta 8 THC can be detected using the following tests:

  • Urine test
  • Saliva test
  • Blood test
  • Hair follicle test

Each of these tests has a specific procedure and requires different equipment.

Is Delta 8 THC Legal?

As we speak, delta 8 THC is legal on a federal level because it can be extracted from hemp — at least theoretically speaking. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp by removing it from the list of controlled substances. You can legally purchase delta 8 products in the USA as long as your d8 THC product contains less than 0.3% of delta 9 THC.

However, some states have already banned the sale of delta 8 THC; you can check our delta 8 THC legal guide for exact information on the legality of delta 8 in your state.

Key Takeaways on Delta 8 THC and Drug Testing

Delta 8 THC has quickly grabbed cannabis users by the throat due to its more laid-back character and a much lower likelihood of causing anxiety and paranoia. There are many reputable websites where you can buy D8 products near you as you can see a wider range of items. 

It’s also federally legal, making it a good alternative for people who live in states where cannabis is illegal.

However, if your job involves regular drug testing, you should be aware that delta 8 THC can make you fail a workplace drug test. That’s because these tests aren’t designed to distinguish between different analogs of THC — they just look for its metabolites, which are practically the same for both versions.

If you want to save your job after failing the first screening, ask your employer for secondary testing with a method that can pick out the delta 9-specific metabolites from those left by delta 8 THC.

Still, the best practice to keep your position is to abstain from all types of THC and enjoy the herb once you’ve passed the screening.

Have you taken a drug test after using delta 8 THC? Please share your story with us in the comments section!

Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

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