Delta-8 is the new hype in the cannabis world. Anyone, who has tried weed or any cannabis product, would have heard of Delta-8 THC – the milder, more stable isomer of Delta-9 THC.
But what is delta-8? Is it different from delta-9? Does it differ in its reaction to the body?
Does it show up on a drug test?
Well, delta-8 THC is a minor cannabinoid found in all cannabis plants. There are no specific delta-8 THC-rich plants. You can even call it the regular THC’s younger sister, as it can be derived from delta-9. In fact, delta-9 is a highly unstable compound that can easily break down to delta-8 THC.
Imagine Delta-9 THC breaking down and getting worn out – and you have the more stable and milder analog of Delta-8 THC. It gets you high, but not as high (or stoned) as delta-9.
According to many scientists (and people who’ve tried it), this compound has many health benefits – quite like regular THC. For example, it is claimed to have antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.
So, if it is so similar to delta-9, will it show up on a drug test? If so, what do we do?
Before we get into that, you must first know what a drug test looks for.
What Do Drug Tests Entail & Reveal?
When you consume any drugs – prescription, OTC, or illicit – your body registers the effects of those drugs. As it is metabolized by your body, its residual metabolites make their way to your urine, hair, blood, lungs, sweat, and saliva.
Even after all perceivable effects of those drugs subside, the drugs’ telltale signs remain in these locations and can be detected with the right kind of equipment and chemicals.
As for any standard drug test, the devices are designed to detect traces of only illicit drug metabolites. Whether you are a driver on a road rampage or a high-performing athlete grateful to steroids on the sly – these tests can easily find illicit drugs, including delta-9 THC.
Unlike common belief, these tests don’t actually look for the drug itself, but the metabolites produced by your body when exposed to THC. In the case of any THC, this metabolite is usually THC-COOH, which will remain tucked away in your body’s fat cells days after the actual date of consumption.
Since it is the nature of these compounds to be lipid-soluble, they won’t get flushed out of the body as easily as water-soluble compounds.
So, a drug test testifies to drug usage (from the metabolites remaining in the body) and doesn’t try to establish the actual compound or the amount consumed.
In most cases, one’s urine testifies to whether or not you are on any illicit drugs. The drugs that are on the radar of these tests include:
- Marijuana (delta-9 THC)
Two varieties of urine tests have been devised to detect the presence of “illicit” drugs in the body.
- The immunoassay test (IA) is a quick biochemical test to measure the presence of any macromolecule (small molecule) in a solution. But it’s often inaccurate in its results.
- The gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) test is a combined analytical test involving both gas-chromatography and mass-spectrometry. This fortifies the results of the former test. This is a slower, more tedious test, but its results are more definitive and accurate.
Apart from the ever-dependable urine test, hair follicles may also be tested to look for the presence of drugs in the system beyond a period of 90 days to detect the time frame of usage.
Will Delta-8 THC Show Up On A Drug Test?
Short answer: Most likely.
Delta-9 and Delta-8 aren’t that much different when it comes to how they break down in the human body. The latter is simply a milder isomer of the former. Both of them are psychotropic compounds, and both can be detected on a drug test – of course depending on the duration for which it has been in your body. Then again, it is also an isomer of CBD – a non-psychoactive compound.
A urine test isn’t as smart as your body. Since both Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC break down to the same group of metabolites, primarily the non-active THC-COOH, the test would show the same results in both cases.
That means that you will most likely fail a drug test if you have consumed D-8 very recently.
But then, there is a catch. 11-Nor-9-carboxy-THC or THC-COOH isn’t the only compound the test can detect. The IA tests also recognize traces of other metabolites, such as Cannabichromene (CBC), Cannabigerol (CBG), and Cannabinol (CBN). Interestingly, CBN, too, is a degraded form of Delta-9 THC, a structural look-alike of delta-8.
It is this propensity of Delta-8 that prevents it from passing the test undetected.
The cut-off mark to pass a urine test for THC-COOH metabolites is 50nG/ml. However; it identifies traces of delta-8 THC metabolites at a mark as low as 30nGml.
So, if you undergo only the IA test, you could easily fail the test. However, as a delta-8 user, the gas chromatography test would act as your savior. This test can spare you from the humiliation and risk of losing your job, as it recognizes only and the exact set of Delta-9 metabolites, leaving out the combination of results that should show for a delta-8 user.
Although this is a more accurate test, it will most likely not be used in most cases, as it is tedious and time-taking. So, make sure you don’t consume delta-8 right before a drug test or days before that.
That brings us to the next question:
How Long Does Delta-8 THC Remain In The Human Body?
The body retains the metabolites produced by THC exposure even after its effects are long gone.
Although Delta-8 THC is a less psychotropic analog of delta-9 THC, the body still retains it for a significant duration. Depending on whether, the user is undergoing a saliva test, blood test, or urine test, the drug’s registry varies.
While the blood or saliva test may register it for up to two to three days at most, the urine test is a complete game-changer. It registers your drug intake for up to 2 to 7 days for single use. With prolonged or chronic use, however, THC could remain detectable in the urine for 1 to 2 months after consumption, or even longer.
According to some experts, Delta-8 could remain in the blood for 30 – 60 days, following regular or alternate consumption for a prolonged period.
But then it is not the same for everyone or in every case. Numerous variables can affect the duration for which the drug remains detectable in the urine or other biological samples. They include:
- The drug’s half-life
- The user’s level of hydration & his/her body’s fluid balance
- Frequency of drug use (acute use of chronic use; as mentioned earlier)
- The delivery method (vaped THC doesn’t remain in the body for as long as consumed THC)
- The drug testing lab’s benchmark for the drug’s detectability
When Delta-8 THC is ingested orally or sublingually, it is metabolized by the body and retained in the form of its metabolites in different parts of the system for days. The biological processes involved in metabolism gradually reduces the cannabinoid’s strength by around 80-90% of the ingested THC.
It’s only the remaining traces that linger on in your system and get you into trouble. The retention of these biological footprints of the drugs varies depending on various factors. First-time users can get rid of its traces within a few days, whereas the chronic user needs to wait longer to get completely clean.
The blood test and saliva test usually give a green chit to users tested after 2 – 3 days of consumption. However, the hair follicle has a longer memory span and can testify to drug abuse even after a couple of months of consumption.
Regular consumption of large quantities of water could help flush out the cannabinoid through urine, as water helps dilute the THC concentration in the body.
If you’re convinced and ready to give this cannabinoid a shot then check the list of our comprehensive reviews for the best Delta-8 THC tinctures. Or if you don’t like the earthy taste of tinctures then you can get yourself a vape cartridge or edibles like D-8 gummies.
Drug Test FAQs
Q: Is Delta-8 similar to Delta-9 THC?
A: Delta-8 is an isomer of delta-9 THC found in all hemp plants. It is much less psychoactive than Delta-9 THC, owing to its minor difference in the molecular arrangement. Essentially, it bears more resemblance to its sister compound Delta-9 THC than all other cannabinoids.
Q: Will I pass a drug test if I use Delta-8?
A: It is quite likely you won’t pass the drug test soon after consuming Delta-8 THC, as it shares a lot of resemblance in the way it interacts with the body. However, if you are allowed to the second level of testing, which involves gas-chromatography and mass-spectrometry, you could still pass the test. This specialized and elaborate drug testing method looks specifically for the combination of metabolites produced from delta-9 THC by the body.
Note: It’s a minute molecular difference between these two compounds that prevent them from being the same compound.
Q: How does drug testing work?
A: Standard urine drug tests don’t necessarily look for THC in your body. It looks for the metabolites produced on exposure to THC. These metabolites are non-active and are measured just for the effects of THC exposure and not for impairment caused by it. The metabolites produced due to exposure to delta-9 aren’t quite that different from those produced by delta-8 by the body. Some tests are swift but less accurate and can make you fail the test, even if the product you consumed had 0% delta-9 THC and 100% delta-8 THC. Only if you underwent both the quick and the longer, more accurate tests, can you expect to see a different result.
Q: Besides the urine test, what drug tests may be carried out by employers?
A: Besides urine tests, drugs may also be detected in your system by testing your saliva, blood, and hair, all of which have their specific testing method and device.
Q: Which companies carry out these drug tests?
A: Labs that conduct such drug tests include Laboratory Corp of America Holdings (LabCorp), Quest Diagnostics Inc., National Toxicology Labs, Inc., and Phamatech, Inc. The names of several other companies, hired by federal workplaces, are available on SAMHSA’s official website (SAMHSA.gov).