If you are curious about trying the trendy, new forms of legal THC cropping up on the market, you may be wondering: will Delta 8 make you fail a drug test? Delta 8 is an increasingly popular way to enjoy THC. If traditional marijuana (Delta 9 THC) is illegal in your state or results in a high that is too intense for you, Delta 8 can offer you a legal, less harsh high. Additionally, Delta 8 offers all the same health benefits that you receive from using traditional marijuana or CBD. However, if you use Delta 8 and take a drug test that screens for THC, you will likely test positive. So, yes, Delta 8 can make you fail a drug test. Read on to learn more about Delta 8 drug tests with our comprehensive guide.
What is Delta 8 THC?
Most of us are familiar with traditional marijuana, which is Delta 9 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Marijuana typically contains around 20% to 30% D9 THC, which is responsible for the psychoactive effects that you experience while using it. Federal law limits the amount of Delta 9 THC present in CBD or hemp-derived products to 0.03%, which applies to Delta 8 and explains its milder high. Users enjoy it in a variety of forms, including gummies or vapes.
How Is Delta 8 Different from Delta 9?
Delta 8 is about half as strong as Delta 9. Different chemical structures account for the variation in their potency. You can distinguish Delta 8 from Delta 9 by the location of the double bond in their respective molecular makeup. Delta 8’s double bond occurs on the eighth carbon atom while Delta 9’s is on the ninth.
The location of the double bond causes them to act differently on your body’s endocannabinoid system. Delta 8 works mainly on your CB1 receptors, but researchers are uncertain about how they interact with your CB2 receptors. Delta 9 acts on both these receptors.
How Is Delta 8 Made?
Delta 8 THC occurs naturally in cannabis plants in low quantities, but harvesting it is cost-prohibitive. It is possible to make it from CBD derived from legal hemp through a process called isomerization. This process that converts CBD into Delta 8 has been around for decades. To ensure that you get a safe and legal product, chemists extract any byproducts and excess THC that results from the isomerization process. The only way to know that this extraction has occurred and that you are getting a safe, pure, and legal product is to purchase from companies that do independent lab testing. Companies should post the certificates of analysis issued by the third-party lab for every product in an easily accessible place like their website.
For anyone concerned about passing a drug test, a certificate of analysis provides added reassurance that the product contains the stated ingredients on the label. Unfortunately, some disreputable companies sell Delta 8 products that contain illegal amounts of Delta 9 THC, which may increase your chances of testing positive for THC.
Is Delta 8 a CBD?
Yes. Delta 8 and CBD are both cannabinoids. Delta 8 produces psychoactive effects like Delta 9, but it is often derived from CBD. Some people say that Delta 8 is in between Delta 9 and CBD. Delta 8 products frequently contain CBD.
Does Delta 8 Show Up on a Drug Test?
Delta 8 is legal at the federal level and may be legal in your state. Still, it can make you test positive on a drug test for marijuana use. Unfortunately, drug tests do not look for specific types of THC. Instead, they test for THC metabolites. When you use THC, your body breaks it down and converts it into molecules called metabolites. The metabolites are stored in body fat and eventually excreted from your body as waste.
Delta 8 THC becomes the urinary metabolite Delta 8 THCA, and Delta 9 THC becomes Delta 9 THCA. Drug tests cannot distinguish between Delta 8 THCA and Delta 9 THCA.
Quest Diagnostics, a leading provider of workplace drug testing, explains it this way on their blog:
“For presumptive testing, which uses an immunoassay, the structural similarity between the two metabolites leads to high antibody cross-reactivity. Thus, a presumptive test for a person who has used a delta-8 product (which may be legal in the state where he or she resides) may give a false positive for delta-9-THC. The two metabolites also have the same molecular weight and very similar chemical properties, meaning delta-8-THCA can interfere with detection of delta-9-THCA, leading to a false negative on definitive testing.”
Even definitive testing, more reliable than presumptive testing, cannot distinguish between the two metabolites. Drug tests for THC may test your urine, saliva, or hair. Urinalysis is the most common method used by employers and the only one that is federally approved.
How Long Does Delta 8 Stay in Your System?
How long Delta 8 stays in your system can vary from individual to individual. Factors like your weight, gender, age, metabolism, hydration level, and frequency of Delta 8 usage may impact how long THC metabolites remain in your body. A more urgent concern for anyone facing a drug screening is how long the testing method can detect THC in your system. That can vary depending on the type of test in addition to the variation among individuals. Here is how the timeline breaks down for the different kinds of drug tests:
- Urinalysis: a urine test can detect use within the past two weeks, but heavy users may need to abstain for a month or two to get a negative test result.
- Saliva Tests: expect a saliva test to detect usage for up to 30 days.
- Hair Follicle Tests: a test of your hair follicle may cause you to test positive if you have used it within the past 90 days.
Since the window for detecting THC can vary from person to person, some people think you can improve your chances of passing a drug test by making short-term lifestyle changes before the screening.
How Can You Minimize Your Chances of Testing Positive?
People want to know how to pass a drug test as a Delta 8 user. Unfortunately, if you have consumed Delta 8 THC before a drug test, there is no way to guarantee negative results. Marijuana users have techniques for flushing out their systems, which they believe reduces their chances of testing positive for THC, but the methods are far from foolproof. However, these methods may be helpful to Delta 8 users who want to give themselves every opportunity to get a negative result. Users report that the following tips help them reduce their chances of testing positive for THC usage:
- Immediately stop using any THC products.
- Drink plenty of water to help your body flush out metabolites and dilute any that remain in your system.
- Eat healthy, high-fiber foods to encourage your body to rid itself of waste, including THC metabolites.
- Exercise vigorously to improve your metabolism and sweat out metabolites.
Researchers have not verified these methods, and they may not work for everyone. However, since these behaviors will not harm you, they may be worth trying if you’re facing an impending drug test.
What Should I Do If I Test Positive for THC after Using Delta 8?
Some users choose to let their employers know in advance of a drug test that they use Delta 8, providing that it is legal in their state. You could also try explaining your Delta 8 use to your employer after a positive drug test. The lab your employer hired to perform the drug test may even have information on their website about how Delta 8 usage can cause you to test positive for THC metabolites, which you can share with your employer. Employers, however, are not required to accept this as a valid excuse, but if the alternative is losing your job, it may be worth trying.
The Department of Transportation (DOT), a substantial source of workplace drug testing in the U.S., will not even accept CBD as an excuse for a positive result for THC use. DOT agencies are required to implement drug and alcohol testing of all safety-sensitive employees across the transportation industry, which they define as anyone who works to maintain the safety of travelers. They test for THC metabolites and will not accept CBD use as a “legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive result.” Positive results from Delta 8 THC, derived from CBD, would likely also be verified by DOT. As a leading source of workplace drug testing, DOT policies may influence other employers outside of the transportation industry.
To make an informed choice about whether Delta 8 is suitable for you, weigh the benefits against the risks. People who are randomly drug tested are most at risk of failing drug screenings. The only foolproof method for passing a drug test is to abstain from the substances it screens. If you must indulge, immediately after you have passed a screening is likely the least risky time for using Delta 8.