A wavy blue background with a winking eye in the foreground and text that reads "does delta-9 THC show up on a drug test?"

Will Delta-9 THC Show Up in a Drug Test?

So, you've been enjoying a few of our delta-9 THC gummies, but now you're wondering if they could lead to a failed drug test. In short, yes— and other forms of THC might too. In this article, we'll break down everything you need to know about delta-9 THC, how it interacts with drug tests, and how long it sticks around in your system. So does delta-9 THC show up in drug tests? Here's what you need to know. 

A wavy blue background with a winking eye in the foreground and text that reads "does delta-9 THC show up on a drug test?"

What is Delta-9 THC?

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of drug tests, let's quickly recap THC. Delta-9 THC, more simply known as THC, is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants, including hemp. It's the chemical responsible for that euphoric feeling, also known as the high, that you're undoubtedly familiar with if you've been enjoying any of our THC products. If you want a more in-depth explanation, don't forget to check it out in our Cannabinoid Education Series. 

The gist is that delta-9 THC is the cannabinoid that causes you to feel high, and it can be found in both legal cannabis products and legal hemp products. To make it easy on you, cannabis and hemp are the same thing, but hemp and cannabis are terms used to identify a plant based on how much THC it contains. That said, hemp is the stuff that can legally only have up to 0.3% THC by dry weight, while cannabis is the stuff that contains anything over that.  

Even though the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp products as long as they contain less than 0.3% THC, the cannabinoid itself is still illegal on a federal level. That said, there are a lot of organized sports or workplaces that won’t allow you to have THC in your system or states where even federally legal hemp-derived THC is illegal. It’s complicated— we know! But all that is to say that the last thing you want is to test positive for THC while working somewhere with a zero-tolerance policy. 

Does Delta-9 THC Show Up in Drug Tests?

Absolutely, THC does show up on drug tests. But what exactly are these tests detecting? They're after THC metabolites, which are the byproducts of your body processing THC. THC on its own isn't detectable, so they're testing for the byproducts left behind when your body processes THC that last in your system for a longer time to pinpoint how long ago you used THC and how much of it you used. 

These tests pick up metabolites, so remember that other forms of THC, such as delta-8 THC, delta-10 THC, THCp, and even HHC, may potentially cause a failed drug test. [1] These compounds are structurally similar to THC and follow the same metabolic pathways, so even though they're not delta-9 THC, they might still cause those metabolites to appear and flag you positive. 

a THC joint on a green background

How does the body process THC?

When you consume THC by smoking, vaping, or eating an edible, THC quickly enters your bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, THC is carried throughout the body to various organs and tissues, including the brain, heart, liver, and fat cells. THC is primarily metabolized in the liver, where it undergoes "oxidation" or "metabolization." [2] THC is transformed into various metabolites during this process, the most notable of which is 11-hydroxy-THC. This metabolite is more potent than THC itself and contributes to the overall effects of cannabis when consumed orally.

One unique characteristic of THC is its affinity for fat cells. [3] THC and its metabolites are lipophilic, meaning they are attracted to and might be stored in fat cells throughout the body. This is one reason why THC may remain in the body for an extended period, especially in people with higher body fat percentages. With that in mind, research also suggests that the more you use THC, the more likely it is to be stored in your fat cells. Daily users, for example, may have a buildup of THC in their fat cells, which takes longer to completely purge from their system. On the other hand, someone who only takes a hit or two once in a while may process THC faster since it doesn’t stick around in their fat cells. 

After metabolism, THC and its metabolites are eventually eliminated from the body. The primary routes of elimination are through urine, feces, and, to a lesser extent, sweat and breath. The kidneys filter THC and its metabolites from the bloodstream into urine, which is then excreted from the body.

What influences a positive THC drug test? 

There are a lot of factors that might determine how effective the test will be at detecting THC in your system. 

  • Test Sensitivity: The sensitivity of the test matters; more sensitive tests can detect lower THC doses, and various tests like blood, urine, hair, and saliva have different thresholds.
  • THC Dose: The amount of THC consumed is crucial. Frequent use and higher THC concentrations in each dose increase the likelihood of testing positive.

  • Body Fat: THC is stored in fat cells, so individuals with more body fat may metabolize THC more slowly. 

  • Sex: Generally, females have more body fat than males, potentially leading to slower THC metabolism.

  • Hydration: Dehydration may concentrate THC in the body, although excessive water consumption is unlikely to affect a drug test significantly. Still, the lab technicians processing your sample may ask you to retest if you were overhydrated since drinking too much water will dilute your sample and render the test ineffective. [4]

  • Exercise: While regular exercise doesn't notably alter THC metabolism, exercising just before a drug test might increase THC levels temporarily due to the release of stored THC from fat cells. [5]
  • Metabolism: People with faster metabolisms typically eliminate THC and associated metabolic chemicals more quickly, which might influence the outcome of a drug test.

THC and Drug Tests

Drug tests, such as urine, blood, saliva, sweat, and hair tests, typically target THC metabolites rather than the parent compound itself. These tests may identify the presence of THC metabolites in bodily fluids or hair, indicating recent or past cannabis use.

The time it takes for THC and its metabolites to be eliminated from the body varies from person to person. It depends on several factors, including frequency of use, metabolism, body fat percentage, and the sensitivity of the drug test being used. We covered that a lot more in-depth in our last article

However, one study found several estimates for the time THC is detectable by test type. [6] Everything we're breaking down in the following sections is an estimate, so keep in mind that it's always best to avoid all forms of THC if you're getting drug tested in the near future. 

A drug test designed to detect delta-9 THC in urine on a table.

How Long Does Delta-9 Stay in Your Urine?

Urine tests are the most popular test for THC since those metabolites might show up in your pee weeks after you use it. [7] The duration of delta-9's presence in your urine depends on how often you consume cannabis along with the other factors we mentioned above. Here's a rough breakdown. Remember, this is just an estimate. [8] Cannabis can be detected in urine for longer or shorter periods of time based on a ton of different biological and physiological aspects that are unique to you and your body. Always err on the side of caution and avoid THC if you're being drug tested. 

  • Occasional Delta-9 User (3x per week) – up to 3 days
  • Moderate Delta-9 User (4x per week) – 5 to 7 days
  • Frequent to Heavy Delta-9 User (daily user) – 15 days or more
  • Extremely Heavy Delta-9 User (multiple times a day) – 30 days or more

Keep in mind that if you're an extremely heavy user, it might take even longer for all traces of delta-9 to clear from your body, thanks to those fat cells.

How Long Does Delta-9 Stay in the Blood?

Evidence suggests that blood tests might only detect cannabis for a few hours, so it's not usually a test used for THC. However, some tests may be able to detect it for up to 7 days. A good rule of thumb is to avoid it altogether if you're taking any drug test. 

How Long Does Delta-9 Stay in the Saliva?

Like blood tests, saliva tests aren't often used for THC detection since THC might not be traced for very long. Normally, THC may be detected in your spit for up to 24 hours. However, higher doses or concentrated forms of cannabis may be detectable for 30-45 hours after use. [9]

How Long Does Delta-9 Stay in the Hair?

Hair tests are expensive, so they're not often used for standard drug tests. They're also notorious for false positives since these tests look for the oils in the skin that transfer to hair. [10] That said, you could theoretically test positive on a hair test just by coming into contact with someone who used THC. Regardless, hair tests might detect THC up to 90 dys after use. 

How Long Does Delta-9 Stay in the Sweat? 

THC can be found in your sweat, too. Sweat tests are harder to collect, so they aren't often used for flagging THC, considering the convenience of urine tests. However, THC may be found in sweat for up to two weeks. 

How to get THC out of your system faster 

If you've got a drug test coming up and you're sweating bullets— keep up the good work. The more you hydrate, urinate, and sweat before your test, the better. While it's impossible to tell how long it will take to flush THC from your system based on your biology and your THC habit, you may help expedite the process by drinking water and exercising. 

Drinking water might help dilute urine, potentially lowering THC metabolite concentrations. The more water you consume in the days and weeks leading up to your test, the easier it becomes for your body to flush the system naturally. 

A woman preparing to help her body get THC out of her system faster by drinking water, eating crunchy green vegetables, and going for a run.

Incorporating exercise into your routine may aid in the breakdown of fat cells, where THC metabolites are stored while sweating, and increased water intake further facilitates the natural detoxification process. You can also opt for a fiber-rich diet of foods like leafy green vegetables, which may assist in metabolite elimination through bowel movements. 

A lof of people might also try vitamins like B2 and B12 to mask THC metabolites, or use a detox kit like the ones we sell here at Destino. Detox kits may help the body flush out THC metabolites, but it’s important to keep in mind that they’re not foolproof and you might still fail a test after using one. However, it's crucial to remember that the most reliable way to pass a drug test is abstinence from cannabis. Avoiding THC altogether is your best bet if you can't afford to fail. 

Final Thoughts:

To wrap it up, while enjoying THC can be a pleasant experience, it's essential to understand the potential consequences of drug tests. Remember that the duration of delta-9's presence in your system varies based on your usage patterns and the type of test you're facing. Delta-9 THC metabolites might linger in your system for up to 90 days, so if you see drug tests in the future, it's best to avoid THC for the time being. At Destino Farms, we're dedicated to informing you on all things hemp-derived cannabis. Be sure to check out our blog for more information on all of your favorite cannabinoids and products. 


1 https://www.testing.com/tests/marijuana-thc-testing/ 

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570572/ 

3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782342/
4 https://www.usdrugtestcenters.com/drug-test-blog/187/how-much-water-causes-diluted-drug-test-results.html 

5 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24018317/ 

6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4920965/ 

7 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556062/ 

8 https://ntcrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/DCRVolume5.1-2_The_Marijuana_Detection_Window.pdf 

9 https://aaafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/19-0297_AAAFTS_Oral-Fluid-Research-Brief_r2.pdf 

10 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4595642/ 

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.