The thought of taking a drug test can send shivers up anyone’s spine. It’s just one of those things that can cause panic even if you’ve been on a tolerance break. Yet, despite the massive shifts in marijuana legalization across the country, many employers still have the right to impose pre-employment drug screening and randomized drug testing in the workplace.
The second it becomes a possibility, you’re scrambling to a search engine asking ‘how long do dabs stay in your system?’ and ‘how to pass a drug test’. The good news is, we’ve done the research for you. Read on to learn more about how your body processes dabs and what factors influence detection time.
THC Dabs Overview
Dabs are the umbrella term for any type of extract you smoke using a dab rig. Dabbing is the term used to describe the process of vaping those dabs since it takes just a ‘dab,’ or small amount, to get you high. You can dab wax, shatter, rosin, live resin, honeycomb, crumble, and most other form factors of a cannabis extract.
With dabs, a little goes a long way, hence the phrase “a dab’ll do ya” that you may have seen passed around stoner culture. THC dabs are highly potent, ultra concentrated cannabis extracts and can surpass concentrations upwards of 80% THC even if the starting flower was only around 10-15%.
Dabbing requires the use of a dab rig, which is essentially a fancy bong, but rather than a bowl, a dab rig has a platform called a “banger” or “nail” made of quartz, titanium, glass, or ceramic. To use it, you heat the banger with a torch until it reaches an optimal temperature, and then you use a dab tool to scoop up a small amount of extract and place it against the hot surface. The high heat vaporizes the extract while you slowly inhale through the mouthpiece.
How Does the Body Process Dabs
When you do a dab, the vapor (smoke) travels down your windpipe and into your lungs, where it passes through your bronchi, into the alveoli, and then hits the bloodstream. Within seconds after inhalation, the THC enters your bloodstream and makes its way throughout your body, including your heart, brain, and liver. The THC is also absorbed into various tissues like your fingernails, hair follicles, fat cells, and skin. Our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) processes the cannabinoids and once they are used up, the THC is metabolized and eventually, excreted via urine.
Common Effects of Weed Dabs
Full effects may take up to 10 minutes, but most people feel a dab kick in within minutes. Much like smoking marijuana, various factors influence how a dab will affect you. Most notably, the dosage and potency. A dab that is 40% THC will not get you as high as a dab that is 80% THC but equal in size. It can be easy to misjudge how much you should smoke if you are new to dabbing. Sometimes a dab the size of a pinhead is plenty to obtain the desired effects.
The positive effects of dabbing are akin to the positive effects of smoking weed but may be amplified in intensity. For example, if a particular weed strain makes you feel relaxed and calm, that same strain in extract form may tip the scales and leave you feeling lethargic and sleepy.
While still in that relaxed, calming state, but perhaps to the point that you cannot go about your daily activities because you are simply too stoned and tired. If insomnia is something you struggle with, this can be an excellent thing.
However, you may also feel particularly elated, euphoric, and “blissed out” when smoking dabs as well. The high potency of extracts means that dabbing is particularly effective for fast-acting pain management. There are plenty of portable wax pens made for extracts, so you don’t even have to bother with a dab rig. This is especially helpful for anyone with mobility issues who needs to medicate easily and quickly.
Although dabbing can amplify positive effects, it can also amplify negative effects. This includes anxiety, paranoia, elevated heart rate, dizziness, confusion, increased blood pressure, intense coughing, and a distorted sense of reality. Because dabs are so potent, it’s easy to go overboard and end up feeling pretty uncomfortable. It’s so important to only smoke high-quality dabs with third-party independent lab testing and always start with a dose smaller than what you think you might need.
How Long Do Dabs Stay in Your System?
As a general rule of caution, it’s best to give your body 30 days to detox from all THC metabolites that might be left lingering in the body’s fat cells and other tissues. However, many additional factors to consider may determine how long dabs are detectable in your system. For example, a person’s metabolism plays a big role since the body will purge THC more quickly if it burns more fat. Overall, people with more body fat will naturally detox from THC more slowly than those with low body fat percentages.
Age, hydration, genetics, and overall health also affect how long dabs stay in your system. It’s also worth mentioning that someone who takes one dab one time will rid their body of THC much faster than someone who dabs daily. Even though plenty of factors affect this detox rate, there are some general guidelines based on the type of testing method.
Since THC metabolites are excreted via urine, urinalysis is the most widely used type of standardized drug testing. Urinalysis will detect THC anywhere between three and 30 days.
A hair follicle test is the toughest one to beat. Hair follicles will hold onto chemical remnants for up to 90 days, including THC metabolites.
A standard saliva test can only detect THC for up to 24 hours after your last use. Some specialized saliva tests are more sophisticated and can detect up to 72 hours prior.
THC enters the bloodstream moments after inhalation, but it is circulated quickly throughout the body. Although a blood test for THC is rare, it can happen in some cases. However, THC is only detectable in blood for a few hours up to one day after last use.
Do You Have an Upcoming Drug Test?
There are few scenarios where a drug test is a good thing. Should you find yourself facing a drug test, the best thing to do is stop all THC use right away. To support your body’s ability to detox, drink plenty of water, get moving and kick up your exercise regimen a notch, and eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
Sticking to a clean diet and supporting your body with nutrient-dense foods will further support natural detoxification. If you are at all concerned about the time you have before a test, consider a detox kit to help you rid your body of toxins.
Our body’s relationship with THC can be complicated. There is no one size fits all strain, method of consumption, or recommended dosage that will work for everyone. Similarly, each person’s body will detox at different rates. That said, we hope that with this knowledge, you can get ahead of the game and detox dabs from your system well before a drug test.