Delta THC | Science

How Long Does Delta 8 Stay In Your System?

Dr Abraham Benavides


Dr Abraham Benavides

Medical Doctor

So you’ve discovered the new kid on the block. Yes, we’re talking about Delta 8. You’re considering buying it but before you jump in you’re asking what appears to be a simple question:

“How long does Delta 8 stay in your system?”

Well, while you can feel its effects for up to four hours or so, how long it sticks around in the body depends on a few things. Keep reading for what these are and the science. 

Biological data on delta 8 is still very limited but here we estimate based on what we understand about delta 9.  

The Truth About Drug Tests: Assume Delta 8 ≈ Delta 9 THC

Hitting the sweet spot with a mild cerebral high, Delta 8 THC is here to stay.

One of the benefits of Delta 8 is that it’s said to lack the potent psychoactive effects of Delta 9 THC. The milder, pleasurable high is exactly what many users enjoy when using THC.

Related Read: How Does Delta 8 Feel?

But when it comes to testing positive for Delta 8, things can get tricky.

The short answer on how long does Delta 8 THC stay in your system – it depends on multiple factors.

Furthermore, each of these factors varies from person to person.

Ultimately, Delta 8 can remain in your system for anywhere between 1 – 90 days on average.

Okay, I’m pretty sure you are not truly fascinated or satisfied with this answer. And neither are we!

The thing is, we do need to dig deeper.

Here we go with some valuable answers at a glance.

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1. No Test Measures The Levels Of Delta 8

Currently, we’re at the early stages of cannabis science. Yeah, you’ve probably heard this before. But it’s truer than true!

Experts are still having a challenging time even when it comes to extracting or synthesizing Delta 8. The unique cannabinoid appears only in very small amounts.

Also, it’s hard to detect it in the absence of advanced methods and technology.

In an interview for New York Times, Andrea Steel, co-chair of a cannabis business group at a Houston law firm, shares some meaningful food for thought.

Adding another wrinkle, a lot of labs do not have the capability of delineating between Delta 8 and Delta 9,” said Steel.

Meaning it can be difficult to figure out how much Delta 8 is in a product due to the lack of third-party ability to test for it.

Yup, it makes sense why there are no specific tests for measuring the levels of Delta 8 THC in products as it’s so new. At least for now.

You see, these two compounds are such close relatives, so it’s a slippery line that separates them.

2. Drug Tests For Delta 8 Are The Same As For Delta 9

Drug tests look for THC metabolites. More precisely, the type of metabolite that drug tests look for is 11-COOH-THC glucuronide. This is the major excreted metabolite.

By the way, did you know that tetrahydrocannabinol alone is responsible for the formation of over 100 different metabolites?

Metabolites are formed when the cannabinoid is broken down by the body. The work is done by enzymes in the liver that also commonly process most other medications. As a result, it is modified into smaller molecules that we refer to as metabolites. 

Cannabinoid metabolites also raise their own questions for study as to whether they have short or long-term health effects, are biologically active, bioaccumulative, or cause drug interactions. 

However, evidence of serious interactions has yet to be seen beyond liver enzyme elevations with CBD and anti-epileptic drugs. Still, the metabolites are similar enough to be indistinguishable from taking delta 9 THC.

Now you see the reason why you can test positive when using Delta 8 THC, even if you don’t use Delta 9.

Related Read: Delta 8 Drug Testing 

3. There Are Other Factors To Take Into Account

Several factors that influence how long THC stays in your system include:

  • the body’s rate of metabolism,
  • age,
  • sex,
  • lifestyle (think of activity levels, healthy and balanced diet vs. unhealthy one),
  • the type of cannabis products used,
  • the sensitivity and type of the drug tests itself,
  • frequency of use.

Most importantly, these factors are unique to each individual.

Much like most things cannabis-related, how long does Delta 8 THC stay in your system varies from person to person.

How Long Does Delta 8 Stay In Your System?

Now, here’s the biggest issue: you only need a very small amount of Delta 8 THC to fail a drug test.

In the US, the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988 established that as little as 50ng/ml of Delta-9 metabolites will be deemed an initial positive via urine test. A confirmatory test and questioning by the lab’s MRO (medical review officer) is then necessary to determine if the drug test is truly positive.

A follow-up confirmatory drug test using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) technology may be applied for confirmation.

This type of drug testing can be as sensitive as 15 ng/ml of tetrahydrocannabinol metabolites. Detecting THC metabolites at such trace amounts means lower chances to test negative after use.

As a rule of thumb, higher doses and more frequent use relate to higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol. Hence, these factors greatly affect the time needed to flush Delta 8 THC out of your system.

And now the biggest question…

Can you reap the potential benefits of Delta 8 THC without ending up as a victim of the ongoing cannabis witch hunt?

Let’s dive deeper into understanding how long THC remains in the body so that you can act accordingly.

Alert: How Are You Tested For Delta 8 THC?

Note that all drug tests screen for both Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC, as most drug tests are checking for any type of common tetrahydrocannabinol metabolite.

Above all, in order to safely clear a drug test, you need to understand that it’s not just about how long does delta 8 stay in your system. It’s so much about what sort of test you take.

1. Blood Drug Test

A blood drug test is most commonly used in laboratory settings.

Research shows that THC-COOH lasts in the blood for 10 – 20 hours.

Also, an article published in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring brings more insights into blood tests.

In blood or plasma, most drugs of abuse can be detected at the low nanogram per milliliter level for 1 or 2 days.”

Furthermore, the study highlights that:

In general, the detection time is longest in hair, followed by urine, sweat, oral fluid, and blood.”

Ultimately, a blood test can detect THC metabolites for up to two days. So far, so good, right?

But the drug testing information shared above is just the tip of the iceberg.

There is a solid reason why the article’s authors use the phrase “in general” when addressing urine tests vs. a blood test or a hair follicle test.

Important Note:

In some cases, tetrahydrocannabinol levels can be detected in blood tests after 25 days of last consumption. Other factors aside, this also has to do with the frequency of use (addressing this in-depth below).

2. Urine Test

This is the most common test used to detect drugs.

The clinical interpretation of urine tests for drugs highlights the following average results on how long cannabis remains in the body. It relies on an enzyme-based reaction in the dipstick, and thus may cross-react or give an inaccurate result.

  • Occasional user: 3 days.
  • Moderate users: About a week (5 – 7 days).
  • Daily users: 10 – 15 days.
  • Heavy chronic users: 30+ days.

Quick Heads Up

Note that here we define an occasional user to be a person who consumes delta 8 THC or any other type of THC products about 3 times a week.

Also, assuming that the moderate user would be someone consuming Delta 8 THC about 4 times a week. Heavy (chronic) users are those who consume any form of THC products daily or multiple times a day.

3. Saliva Test

Saliva tests are most commonly used for roadside testing. They can be much more sensitive than blood or urine tests, but mainly look for still psychoactive THC.

A saliva drug test can detect Delta 8 THC, among other cannabinoids, within 1 – 29 days after last consumption.

4. Hair Follicle Test

Hair follicle tests can provide a window of Delta 8 THC use for the past 90 days.

That’s considering hair grows about 0.5 inches per month, and assuming the sample is taken close to the scalp.

What Delta 8 Product Did You Consume?

How long THC remains and can be detected does have to do with the unique way in which different products are processed by the body.

Thus, some cannabis products are likely to lead to an extended excretion time.

Edibles are likely to take the longest to get fully processed. So, they also take the longest to get excreted out of your system.

Related Reads: The Edible Weed Hangover, How Long Do Edibles Last

A 2012 study entitled Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis provides more information about the different time frames needed to flush out tetrahydrocannabinol based on the method of consumption.

The study highlights that a much higher concentration “was produced after ingestion than inhalation.

The study also reveals more about why it takes longer to flush out Delta 8 THC from your system when it comes to consuming edibles.

Since tetrahydrocannabinol is soluble in lipids, this “results in tubular reabsorption, leading to low renal excretion.”

How The Frequency Of THC Use Affects Testing Positive For Delta 8 THC

Back to the 2012 study we just mentioned above.

“[]…residual ▵9-THC levels are maintained in the body for a long time following abuse. The half- life of it for an infrequent user is 1.3 days and for frequent users 5-13 days.”

After smoking a cigarette containing 16-34 mg of ▵9-THC, THC-COOH is detectable in plasma for 2-7 days.

A 2-5 day window for chronic users was also re-confirmed via a 2018 review.

So, how often are you consuming any of your favorite THC products?

Chronic users are likely to need more time to flush out any Delta 8 remnants out of their system.

Meanwhile, a 2014 study highlights the different levels of cannabinoids detected in saliva, based on time after last use.

For chronic users, a saliva test can detect Delta 8 THC and metabolites for 1 – 25 days after last use and immediately after smoking.

For the occasional user, the time frame when tetrahydrocannabinol was detectable in the oral fluid was only 1 – 3 days.
Important Reminder:

As we discussed above, there is a lack of differentiation in the testing methods for Delta 8 THC. So, you must remember that using any other forms of tetrahydrocannabinol will show on a drug test.

Yes, frequency of use aside. The overall THC level in your system is affected by any type of tetrahydrocannabinol product you may have consumed, be it Delta 8, Delta 9, or Delta 10.

Reducing Delta 8 THC Content In Your Body

Cannabinoids are stored in fat cells. So, it feels more than logical to assume that exercise helps flush out Delta 8 THC from your system.

Partially, exercising may indeed turn out to be helpful when you need to pass a drug test. But do mind that there is no solid proof on that note.

In fact, exercising the day/s before being tested for Delta 8 THC may do more harm than any good.

In a 2009 study with rats, experts examined the release of fat-stored tetrahydrocannabinol into the blood. Their research breakthroughs provide valuable food for thought.

“[]… levels of tetrahydrocannabinol in blood lipolysis enhances the release of THC from fat stores back into blood. This suggests the likelihood of ‘reintoxication’ whereby food deprivation or stress may raise blood THC levels in animals chronically exposed to the drug.”

Yet a 2014 study that involves humans offers the following insights on whether or not exercise helps flush tetrahydrocannabinol out of your system faster.

We conclude that exercise and fasting in regular cannabis users are unlikely to cause sufficient concentration changes to hamper interpretation in drug testing programmes.

Meanwhile, anecdotal reports suggest that the best tactic is to try burning as much fat as you can through proper exercise. Yet several days before the test, you should abstain from exercise completely.

Other useful tips on how-to-flush-it-out of my system include:

  • Drink plenty of water. Note that frequent urination can be a double win-win. It helps to dilute tetrahydrocannabinol metabolites, apart from speeding up excretion. It is possible to drink too much water too quickly. Generally, not more than a gallon per day.
  • Stick to a healthy and balanced diet rich in fibers. Fibers help bind to THC to promote natural excretion.

Heads Up! Some Friendly Reminders:

The methods shared above usually require more than a week in order to work effectively.

Your best bet to safely pass a test for Delta 8 THC?

Stop consuming any tetrahydrocannabinol products (including but not limited to Delta 8 THC alone) for about 8 weeks before getting tested. Unfortunately, this particular strategy cannot work unless you already know or suspect that you will be tested.

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Wrapping Up

Is there a short answer on whether Delta 8 THC will stay in your system for a few days or about a month? Not yet (inserting a sigh of regret).

One thing’s for sure: nobody wants to fail a drug test. Above all, how long does Delta 8 stay in your system depends greatly on the frequency of use and metabolic factors.

For regular users, Delta 8 THC may stay in the body for about a month or more. Meanwhile, for the occasional user, it may remain for just about a week or so.