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Does Delta-8 THC Show Up on a Drug Test?

We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: delta-8 THC is one of the most unique, most powerful, and most exciting cannabinoids on today’s market. There’s a reason Forbes called it the “cannabinoid of the year” in 2020! [1


But don’t let all the excitement fool you — even delta-8 isn’t without its faults! It may be legal, but that doesn’t mean it’s always compatible with drug tests. There are several instances where delta-8 THC may trigger a positive test result. Here’s what you need to know about this complex topic. 


  • Delta-8 THC 101
  • Will delta-8 trigger a positive drug test?
  • How to deal with false positives from delta-8 THC
  • How long can delta-8 THC make you test positive for?

Delta-8 THC 101

Let’s begin this article with the basics. What is delta-8 THC, even? It’s what researchers call an isomer of regular THC. Thanks to the fact that it can be easily synthesized from hemp’s CBD content, though, delta-8 THC shines brighter than delta-9 in one major way: it’s federally legal. 


And that’s not the only reason delta-8 has gotten so powerful. Most users find its high is slightly gentler and more approachable than delta-9’s. That makes it perfect for new users and cannabis connoisseurs alike. Even mainstream sources are now acknowledging that delta-8 may have significant health benefits, including “anxiolytic, antiemetic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective” properties. Delta-8 has the rare ability to activate both types of your body’s endocannabinoid receptors.  [2]


In other good news, delta-8 THC is extraordinarily safe. It has a wider therapeutic margin than alcohol, NSAIDs, caffeine, and even water. Most users can get the upliftment they need without experiencing brain fog or other unwanted side effects. [3


Now for the not-so-good news: delta-8 THC can show up on drug tests. More details to follow. 

Will delta-8 trigger a positive drug test?

The short answer is yes. Delta-8 can and probably will show up on a urinalysis drug test. 


While delta-8 is fully federally legal, drug tests haven’t caught up to this reality yet. These tests were devised during an era of cannabis prohibition, an era when no one was really using anything but then-illegal cannabis. As such, they’re designed to detect any type of THC. They don’t really discriminate between legal delta-8 and illegal delta-9 — they never had to in the past! 


The point-of-care tests that most employers rely on are especially inaccurate. These tests identify downstream THC metabolites, not THC isomers themselves. In an unfortunate turn of events, the metabolites for delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC are almost exactly the same. [4]


Your body’s digestive and liver enzymes convert both cannabinoids into the metabolite 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC-COOH. Delta-10 THC, THCo, THCv, and practically any other cannabinoid that starts with the letter ‘T’ can run into this type of problem. 


This type of inaccuracy is officially termed “cross-reactivity.” Worse yet, some studies hint that delta-8 is among the most reactive cannabinoid of all — more so than CBD, CBN, CBG, etc! In addition to triggering its own positive results, delta-8 can make other cannabinoids more liable to trigger positive tests. [5


Until urine tests get with the times, this is definitely an area where you’ll want to practice caution and communication. Consider telling your employer about your D8 use before you run into any surprise drug tests. 

How to deal with false positives from delta-8 THC

Image, for a minute, that you’ve been taking premium hemp-derived D8 for a few months before you’re subjected to a random drug test at work. 


What next? Don’t worry — you don’t have to sacrifice your delta-8 use or your job. Ideally you’ve already let your employer know about your delta-8 use. If you haven’t, feel free to do so now.  


Don’t be surprised if your initial point-of-care test comes back positive for THC. Once the positive result is in, ask your employer to do a confirmation test (they’ll probably order one anyways). Confirmation testing uses more advanced methods like chromatography and spectrometry (GC/MS or LC/MS) to identify what’s really going on. This test will verify that no delta-9 THC is actually in your system. [6]

How long can delta-8 THC make you test positive for?

Delta-8’s metabolites can stay detectable in urine for days and detectable in hair follicles for weeks. And these timelines are just a ballpark. Delta-8 can remain in your system for far longer if you’re consistently taking large doses of it. 


If you’d rather avoid all this drama, consider swapping out your delta-8 for HHC. Anecdotal reports say that HHC doesn’t show up on drug tests. 


Either way, keep the faith. It probably won’t be long until drug testing evolves to acknowledge delta-8 for the legal cannabinoid that it is. 

Delta-8 THC & drug testing: the verdict

At Think Apollo we’re all about empowering our customers to improve their health, keep things legal, and have a whole lot of fun in the process. It’s our hope that this article gave you some insight into the conundrum that is delta-8 and drug testing. 


And when in doubt, just keep things real with your employer. Who knows, they might be even more of a delta-8 fan than you are!