Since THC molecules are stored in our body’s fat cells, these metabolites can literally trickle out of us for weeks — up to 100 days for some heavy daily users. The rate at which you completely metabolize THC varies according to age, size, body weight, body fat percentage, the amount of physical activity you do, your diet, how often you consume cannabis, your typical consumption method and so on. Even still, it takes the body at least three to four days for most people to break down all the THC in their system, and that presumes they are a very light user.
Exercising can encourage our bodies to break down fat, which metabolizes the THC within the cells. If you were to stop using cannabis a few weeks away from your test, you could potentially reduce the amount of THC in your body by putting your metabolism into overdrive through rigorous aerobic exercise. The THC will not come out in your sweat, mind you, but it does get broken down after you burn sufficient calories.
Urinalysis drug tests, the ones most people tend to worry about, do not actually test for THC. Instead, they test for THC-COOH, which is a metabolite indicating that THC has been broken down in the system.
Second-hand smoke is really hard to get THC out of in most normal situations. Unless you are in a small room with really poor ventilation surrounded by people smoking heavily — a “hot box” — then you are not going to be putting nearly enough THC-rich smoke into your lungs to cross the typical 50 ng/mL urinalysis testing threshold. Even if you do have an accidental “bake” session this way, the resulting THC levels are likely lower compared to if you had taken a single toke any time the week before.
If you have a sample that has been diluted through drinking copious amounts of water or a diuretic substance, your sample will be marked as compromised, in which case you will be asked to take the drug test again.
Even with all these practices, you have no guarantee of passing, so make sure to think ahead before you consume any cannabis if you have a drug test coming up in the next month or so. You can also look into policies for medical users since many workplaces make exemptions if you have an MMJ prescription.
Additionally, working out right before a urinalysis test might actually be the last thing you want to do. When you break down all those fat tissues at once, your kidneys filter out a lot more THC-COOH into your urine. You should consider taking it easy the day before and the day of your test just to make sure you are not flooding your system with metabolites and making it look like you spent the night at Tommy Chong’s house.
Urinalysis tests do more than look for THC-COOH presence. To rule out the possibility of tampering, they also test for color, pH, specific gravity and the presence of creatinine, a typical metabolite that occurs as a byproduct of muscle use. If you use a diuretic substance like cranberry juice to attempt to “pee away” all your THC-COOH, you are really just flooding that urine sample with water as opposed to the normal balance of substances. Even worse, your next sample after the diuretic effect wears off is likely to have an even higher concentration of metabolites within it.
So, no, quitting for just a handful of days is not enough to be “clean” in time for your test. The average person would have to quit for at least three weeks if they were a regular cannabis user, and even then they have no guarantee.
Debunk the most common drug testing myths that can actually hurt your ability to pass an important test, including why you can put the cranberry juice back.