So; you’re high. In your muddle of thoughts and feelings, you might ask yourself, “how long is this going to last, anyway?” While your highs come and go, cannabis intoxication usually subsides in two to six hours depending on how much you’ve consumed. Tetrahydrocannabinol (a.k.a. THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis, can actually stay in your body for a month or longer.
Why do I care about that?
Here’s the thing: Some companies make potential employees take a drug test during the application process. So if you’re currently looking for a new gig and having been soothing those job search woes with a little session, this could be an issue. Maybe you’ve even had an “oh, crap” moment when a could-be employer asked you to take a drug test before they offered you your dream job.
It’s true that many employers are taking a more lax approach to cannabis consumption. But, every workplace has different rules, and we all know what they say about assuming. Because laws are changing so rapidly in Canada and the United States, it can be tricky for companies to come up with clear policies.
Look for the following language in an employer’s contract to determine whether your cannabis use may raise problems for you at work:
Zero tolerance policy:
With medical and recreational cannabis becoming legalized in an increasing number of states (as well as all over Canada), this is becoming less and less popular—but some companies still have this policy in place. Basically, it means they’re seriously strict on drug use and can fire you immediately if you’ve violated the policy. You may see language stating that you must be “fit for duty” while on the job.
Pre-employment drug tests:
These are given to candidates as part of the job screening process. If you fail a drug test, this gives a company grounds to not offer you that job, even if you’re the best candidate.
There’s a real lack of understanding of how our bodies process THC.
Random drug tests:
These are given without any notice. Depending on whether or not the company has a zero-tolerance policy, you may or may not be fired on the spot if you fail. Unfortunately, this kind of drug testing is just not that accurate. A study conducted by the Government of Canada determined that because there’s a real lack of understanding of how our bodies process THC, it’s pretty much impossible to accurately determine whether someone is suffering the effects of intoxication. An employee of the Toronto Transit Commission was even fired after failing a random oral fluid drug test, which a study from Dalhousie University’s Department of Community Health and Epidemiology deemed ineffective.
For cause drug tests:
An employer may ask you to take one of these if they think you’ve been using drugs and that it’s been impairing your ability to get your job done. (You might see this referred to as “reasonable suspicion.”) Again, you may be fired right away if you fail—or you may be asked to attend substance abuse counselling.
Post-accident drug tests:
Had an accident on the job? That’s when an employer may give you one of these drug tests and decide on disciplinary action.
Why weed takes so long to get out of your body
THC can stay in your body for a month or more, but this all depends on a variety of factors including your age, gender, body size, how often you use cannabis, and the dosage. There’s really not much you can do to speed up the process of getting THC out of your body, although staying hydrated, eating healthy foods, and exercising, may help a teeny bit.
A quick science lesson: THC is absorbed into your bloodstream. Some of it gets stored in your organs and fatty tissues, and then your liver breaks it down. Eventually, it gets metabolized by a compound called THC-COOH and is released by your body. It is THC-COOH that actually gives away your consumption, not THC itself.
A 2017 study found that cannabis could be detected for up to three days in first-time smokers, 5-7 days in people who smoke three or four times a week, and 30 days or longer in people who smoke once a day.
And how the detectability of THC-COOH compare to other drugs? Booze can stay in your system for up to 24 hours. Magic mushrooms, containing the psychedelic compound psilocybin, will usually stay in your system for up to 15 hours, while methamphetamines may be present in your body for three or four days post-use.
A note about tolerance breaks
Let’s say all this talk about how long THC stays in your body has convinced you to try a tolerance break. Nixing THC from your life temporarily can have some positive effects. It can help you determine whether or not you’re depending on cannabis, it can be a good way to experiment with sobriety, and it can even amplify cannabis’ effects on you once you start back up again. So prep yourself mentally, get rid of all your cannabis, let your friends know you won’t be able to join them in smoking for a while, and pick up a new hobby (one that won’t show up on a drug test, natch)—might we recommend knitting—to pass the time.