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Does THCA Show Up on a Drug Test?

So you’ve heard about this fancy new cannabis plant called THCA. Guests arrive popping up in all sorts of products now that hemp is legal. But as you know, your upcoming drug test at work could harsh your vibe if you consume the wrong stuff.

Let’s get the downlow on THC-A so you can make enlightened choices. We’ll explore how standard drug tests detect cannabinoids, and most importantly, whether THCA will make you fail or not. Buckle up buttercup, and get ready for some serious science mixed with cannabis wisdom!

Chris Dorcey
Inheal Editor
Post date
January 24, 2024
Time to read
7 mins 11 secs
thca drug tests

Key Takeaways

  • Raw, unactivated THCA is unlikely to make you fail a standard drug test hunting for THC. 
  • When you smoke or vape THCA, it turns into THC. Be careful, because THC can show up in drug tests and cause them to fail detection window. 
  • Avoid all forms of THC, including decarbed THCA, for at least 1-6 weeks before any pending drug tests.
  • Individual factors like your metabolism ultimately influence how long THC stays in your system.

How Drug Tests Detect Cannabis

Drug tests aim to uncover specific drugs or their metabolic leftovers using pee, blood, saliva or hair samples. They’re scoping for THC itself and its breakdown products rather than THCA specifically. Here’s the rundown of what they look for:

When you use the magical herb, your liver breaks down THC and THCA into metabolites before you excrete them in urine. THC-COOH is the main substance that drug tests search for because it lingers longer than other. Tests can detect it at tiny amounts as low as 15-20 ng/mL.

For occasional users, THC remains detectable in urine for up to 3-5 days. But for chronic all day smokers, urine tests can catch you for up to a month or longer after last puffing! THC also lingers in hair for up to 90 days. It disappears faster from blood tests and saliva tests though.

More high-tech tests can spot a bigger range of cannabinoids. And with THCA gaining street cred, some employers might soon start testing for it and its unique byproducts. But for now, it’s not a prime target like THC.

THCA Detection and Different Drug Test Methodologies

doctor looking through a microscope

When it comes to THCA drug testing, it’s important to understand the different methodologies employed, including urine, blood, saliva, hair follicle, and emerging breath tests. Each has its own detection windows, limitations, and potential sensitivities to THCA itself.

Blood Testing

Blood tests directly measure the presence of THC in the bloodstream. However, they are less common than urine tests due to their invasiveness. THC is only detectable in blood for up to a few hours after acute intoxication. But chronic use can extend detection to up to two weeks in some cases.

Urine Testing

For occasional users, THC metabolites remain detectable in urine for 1-7 days after last use. Regular users can test positive for 30+ days.

Standard urine drug tests look for the metabolite THC-COOH, not THCA itself. Therefore, raw unheated THCA is unlikely to make you fail. However, if the compound gets activated through smoking/vaping, it can lead to positive test results beyond the 1-7 day detection window.

To pass an upcoming drug screening, avoid all forms of THC, for at least 7 days – or 30+ days if you are a regular user. Testing positive depends on individual factors. But abstaining for this time range is ideal to ensure metabolites drop below detectable levels.

Saliva Testing

Saliva or oral fluid testing is gaining popularity as a less invasive methodology. THC compounds remain in oral fluids like saliva for shorter periods than blood or urine, making it best suited to detect recent or immediate use. It’s optimal for roadside or workplace screening when impairment is suspected. The detection window is generally 1-3 days.

Hair Follicle Testing

Hair follicle testing can detect the long-term presence of THC metabolites by analyzing a small hair sample, usually taken from the head. Detection windows reach back months and years since THC metabolites become trapped within growing hair strands over time. 

Breath Testing

An emerging new methodology is breath testing for THC compounds using devices similar to alcohol breathalyzers. THC presence can be detected almost immediately through tiny aerosol droplets in the breath during exhalation.

Some roadside breath testing devices are already being piloted in legal cannabis regions to assess driving impairment by measuring real-time THC levels that correlate with intoxication effects. These could become more widespread for workplace safety as well in the future.

The THCA Drug Test Verdict: Will You Fail?

Since routine drug tests don’t directly look for THCA itself, eating, drinking or taking pure, raw, unactivated THCA seems unlikely to make you fail a drug test. Raw cannabis THCA alone does not appear to trigger lead to a positive drug test pee test results.

  • However – once you ignite that THCA into THC through smoking, vaping, dabbing, etc., that newly formed THC gets broken down into metabolites like THC-COOH that will definitively tattle on you.
  • Even if your THCA vapes originated from the most legal industrial hemp, heating it up synthesizes the same exact THC that will narc on you to a drug test.
  • Avoid activated THCA completely if you want to pass an upcoming drug screening.
  • How long THC chill in your body before bouncing varies based on your personal chemistry. Occasional users can expect at least 7 smoke-free days to pee clean.

Final thoughts

The science is still evolving when it comes to THCA drug testing. While current testing methodologies don’t directly screen for THCA, its potential conversion to THC upon heating means it could still cause failed tests indirectly.

Until more research conclusively determines THCA’s impact on drug screening, it’s wise to abstain from any THCA products in the weeks leading up to a drug test. Play it safe if your job depends on it. While THCA shows therapeutic promise, it’s just not worth the risk until we know more about how it interacts with standard testing. Stay informed as the science continues unfolding.

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