At a recent board meeting, we we’re discussing the complicated issue of employer drug testing thresholds and which of our products should carry warnings about testing positive for THC. Currently, you can legally use cannabis in most of the country, but can still be fired by your employer for testing positive. This discussion led us to examine how drug tests work, how to trick them, and causes of false positives and negatives.
Upon outlining our drug test research, we noticed a fact that vexed all of us since our 20s:
All the really bad drugs clear from your system in 24-72 hours, while cannabis, a healthy and benign botanical, stays in you for weeks and months.
This seemed like more than a coincidence so we decided to dig deeper. We started by quantifying data.
How do drug tests find the chemicals in your body and how long are different chemicals present?
When you consume a drug, the chemicals are extracted, processed and activated by a major organ (lungs, liver). The chemicals then remain in that organ and released into the blood until they are “flushed”. Let’s look at some commonly abused drugs and see how long they stay present in you.
Cocaine: couple days Heroin: couple days Molly, meth, amphetamine: couple days LSD, psilocybin, DMT, mescaline: couple days. Alcohol: couple days Cannabis: up to 60 days
To summarize, you can go out like Charlie Sheen on a Friday night and pass a drug test on Monday.
Why is this?
The simple scientific answer is THC is fat soluble and the other above drugs are water-soluble. Our body stores THC and other cannabinoids in our fat cells. But it isn’t that simple.
Our body stores important stuff in our fat. It stores nourishment and vitamins so that you don’t have to eat 50,000 calories per day like a giant hummingbird.
Water soluble, fat soluble, alcohol soluble. Who cares?
Our bodies care.
The human body is an amazing machine that heals and maintains itself. It constantly works towards healthy homeostasis. It achieves this by purging the waste and storing the good. The reason that “bad” drugs stay in our systems only for a few days is because our bodies recognize that these compounds are toxic and work to eliminate them from our bodies.
Following this logic postulates that cannabinoids stay in our bodies for months because our bodies want and need these molecules for optimal performance. Consequently, it retains them as long as possible.
Medical and scientific research supports these claims. New studies are finding more links between endocannabinoid deficiencies and many common problems like migraines, IBS, and fibromyalgia. The increasing incidences of the aforementioned conditions makes perfect sense in this era of cannabis prohibition, which leads to most Americans suffering from clinical endocannabinoid deficiencies.
All humans and animals should be consuming measured doses of cannabinoids on a daily basis. I AM NOT saying, “Smoke weed everyday” or “Get high everyday.” You can consume medical cannabis in ways that don’t get you high and still supplement your endocannabinoid system. It’s good for you.
I know that a science person can poke holes in my theory by providing examples of healthy water-soluble chemicals that leave your body quickly (vitamin c) and deadly compounds that are fat soluble and stay in your system for a long time (mercury). We’re looking at this from a macro perspective and don’t feel like wasting time identifying outliers. There are exceptions to every rule; but, that doesn’t mean that rules don’t exist.