5 Reasons Why You Might Need a THC Drug Test

Laboratory Worker Giving a Urine Test Cup to the Woman Being Drug Tested for THC


Whether it's for workplace drug testing, military testing, athletic testing, you name it. There are multiple reasons why you might need to perform marijuana tests.


In this article, we'll go over the following:


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What is a THC urine test?

A THC drug test is a confirmation test used to detect marijuana in the body. Anyone can get tested via urine, saliva, hair samples, or blood tests.

However, the majority of THC urine tests are developed to detect commonly excreted THC levels in users. The drug tests will then show positive test results if the THC content found in the urine sample is more than 50 ng/mL (including medical marijuana).

However, THC drug tests aren't used to indicate the level of impairment in a user. In other words, as Dr. Barry Sample, director of science and technology for employer solutions at Quest Diagnostics, says, "...it doesn't matter if it's urine, oral fluid or hair testing—it [the drug test] just reflects use." He also mentioned that "it doesn't inform you whether someone was impaired or what their usage patterns are."

The quantity of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana defines its potency. It may have a wide range of effects on users based on their body weight (including body mass index), manner of intake (smoking vs. edibles), and usage habits (light users vs. heavy users).

Now that you know the basics, let's get into the 7 reasons you may need to take a THC test.

When should I perform a THC drug test?

THC Drug Test for Home Use and Opened Cup for Urine Sample on White Table

Getting tested for THC may suggest that your employer is interested in participating in a drug and alcohol review, whether it's for a job application or legal reasons. The following are some scenarios in which employers may subject you to THC drug testing.

General medical screening

Patients hospitalized for substance abuse may undergo regular confirmatory testing. Doctors do drug testing to assess patients in specialty medical settings, such as psychiatric care and addiction treatment programs. Confirmation tests can then determine further procedures for the patient.

Employment/ pre-employment testing

Employers may require candidates to take a drug test to determine marijuana use and other drugs. Some businesses, such as transportation and additional safety- and security-sensitive industries, are mandated by federal law to identify marijuana use in employees.

Military trials

Military personnel is subject to random drug testing by the Department of Defense. If a commander suspects a service member of ingesting marijuana or smoking marijuana as well after a safety concern or even accident, they may conduct a drug test. 

Athletic testing

Professional athletes may also require to undergo drug tests. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency prohibits cannabinoids for competing athletes, regardless of whether or not marijuana use is legal in the location of the competition.

It's also important to note that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has a higher threshold than, let's say, a workplace. According to the information on their website, "THC is the only cannabinoid for which there is a urinary threshold, and it is set at 150 ng/mL. The threshold means there can be some THC in your system in-competition without it causing a positive test, as long as the concentration in the urine is below 150 ng/mL."

Some reasoning behind that may be due to athletes using medical marijuana to treat various health conditions. In any case, testing positive above the threshold most likely results in an automatic expulsion from the competition.

Legal and forensic testing

Marijuana and other drug testing may be done as part of a court case or inquiry. Drug testing, for example, might reveal positive tests that tie back into proof of a crime such as child abuse or endangerment.

Essentially, a marijuana test looks for signs of previous marijuana or drug use rather than present intoxication or addiction. Therefore, authorities can identify traces of marijuana metabolites for days, weeks, or months after being used.

The duration of the marijuana detection window varies on the quantity and frequency of marijuana used. This brings me to my next point:

Amount of time pot stays in your system

Girl Smoking Medical Marijuana Joint Outdoors

THC is rapidly broken down and converted into chemical metabolites. These are the byproducts of the drug's breakdown (metabolization) by the body. THC produces at least 80 metabolites, each with its unique impact on endocannabinoids.

These metabolites are retained in body fat and get quickly eliminated through food and urine. THC metabolisms might take up to 20 hours for your body to completely clear, with some being stored as fat, but most THC metabolisms have a 20-hour elimination duration.

THC can be detected in urine for up to four hours following use. Marijuana's effects disappear quickly, but the substance may be detectable in the body for weeks or even months.

The American Addiction Center emphasizes that "like many drugs, the duration that marijuana remains in a person's system varies depending on several factors. Frequency of use, level of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the marijuana, metabolism, and hydration can all impact the results of a drug test."


What is a high THC level for urine tests?

The high level of THC in your urine will depend on the drug test you use. On average, a marijuana drug test result will be positive if THC in the sample is higher than 50 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). When getting lab tests, the marijuana THC cutoff level will be the same for urine samples.

What is the cutoff level for THC in DOT drug tests?

The THC levels in DOT drug tests are equal to 50 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). If you fail the first test and your results show a higher amount of THC metabolites, you'll be asked to perform another test to show that your system is free of illegal drugs (in states where laws apply).

Did you ever have to take a THC drug test? Share your experience with us below in the comments!



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This is quite informative and interesting to read, I had no idea that tests could be done with the hair and saliva.


Most people I know get it if they’re trying to get a job. Didn’t know there were other reasons!

Thena Franssen

Ok! this was news for me I didn’t know that one has to give drug test for a job. Thanks for sharing this article.

Manali Oza

Ooohhhhh…I didn’t know the THC drug tests are done at random in the military! It’s best safe than sorry, eeh!

Ntensibe Edgar

Very informative! I bet they do a lot of these tests in college and pro sports!


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