Yes. You are more likely to fail a drug test after using delta-8 THC. Now this depends on the type of test used (urine, blood, hair) and factors such as frequency of use, metabolism, gender, etc. It is important to remember that drug tests search for the by-products of THC (or THC metabolites) rather than the cannabinoids themselves. Since THC metabolites are stored in our fat cells, they can be detected in the body for a longer period of time, especially in urine.
Let’s say that we’re talking about a regular workplace urine test. Urine testing is the most common form of screening in the workplace. The most popular form of urine screening drug is the enzyme immunoassay (EIA) or dipstick test. THC urine tests are designed to detect the primary inactive metabolite 11-nor-delta-9-THC-COOH of delta-9 THC (also known as THC-COOH or carboxy-THC). But this is the thing. Urine tests often identify other cannabinoid metabolites present in the urine, a phenomenon known as cross-reactivity.” Cross-reactivity, in a general sense, suggests the sensitivity of the test to substances of a similar structure to that which the test is intended to detect. In this case, the manufacturers design the majority of urine tests to detect THC-COOH, the main inactive metabolite of delta-9 in urine.
However since cannabinoids and their metabolites have an extremely similar structure, the enzymes that identify delta-9 THC metabolites in urine also recognize other cannabinoid metabolites. This is also regarded as a “false-positive” cannabis drug test.
Well let’s discuss this further. A 2020 study reported in The Journal for Applied Laboratory Medicine examines cross-reactivity in THC immunoassays (urine drug tests that detect THC’s major inactive metabolite THC-COOH). The authors of the study analyzed four different cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabigerol (CBG). Out of all cannabinoids studied, the researchers found a major cross-reactivity with CBN, a THC degradation product, close to delta-8 THC. The study found that when CBN and THC were together in a urine sample, the test resulted in a greater result than THC itself.
Due to extreme structural similarities, delta-8 THC is very likely to cross-react with urine tests designed to detect the delta-9 metabolite. In reality, this report on the Emit II Plus Cannabinoid Assay—one of the most common urinary immunoassays that detect THC metabolites—refers to cannabinoids that produce approximately equivalent results to THC-COOH cuts at a certain concentration. One of the metabolites identified is delta-8 THC metabolite 11-hydroxy-delta-8-THC. It is worth noting that certain normal urine tests detect the presence of delta-8 in urine. For eg, this 6-panel urine test detects the metabolites of marijuana, the main one being 11-nor-delta-9-THC-COOH at a cutoff level of 50ng/mL. However the delta-8 metabolite 11-nor-delta-8-THC-COOH is also observed at a lower cutoff level of 30 ng/mL.
The urinary drug test is measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) and indicates the amount required for the positive detection of cannabis. That said a negative sample does not mean a drug-free person, but that the concentration of the drug is lower than the set cut-off. In the example above the cut-off thresholds for delta-8 (30ng/mL) are also smaller than for delta-9 (50ng/mL). In other words, the test can detect lower levels of delta-8 metabolites relative to delta-9.
Cross-reactivity of the urine samples indicates that these tests detect “total cannabinoids” rather than THC-COOH alone. However, that is why this technique is called screening, as any “false positive” THC test needs a more reliable confirmation test. Usually, the next step is to test the gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GC/MS). The GC/MS test detects only a particular compound and searches for the delta-9 metabolite THC-COOH. If the GC/MS test does not explicitly search for delta-8 metabolites, it will not detect them, and the original “false positive” test will be negative for THC. That’s why it’s important to recognize the purity of your delta-8 THC products. Even if there is a small concentration of delta-9 THC in the product, you are more likely to get a positive THC test.
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