It may come as a surprise that some drug test kits don’t actually detect the drug named on the kit. Instead, the kits detect one or more metabolites of the drug. The presence of a drug metabolite is a reliable indicator that a person used the “parent” drug of that metabolite.
A drug metabolite is a byproduct of the body breaking down, or “metabolizing,” a drug into a different substance. The process of metabolizing a drug is predictable and certain; everyone metabolizes drugs the same way. Some metabolites stay in the body much longer than the parent drug. When that is the case, a drug test has a higher probability of identifying a drug user by looking for the metabolites of the drug, rather than the parent drug.
Cotinine tests are one of the only tests that manufacturers label for the metabolite being detected, rather than for the parent drug. About every other drug of abuse test is named for the parent drug, even when the kit detects metabolites. And because we don’t believe that everyone knows that cotinine is the primary metabolite of nicotine, we follow the same convention by marketing cotinine tests as nicotine tests.
Here are some examples of drug test kits that detect metabolites, rather than the parent drug:
Nicotine is metabolized into cotinine, which has a much longer life in the body than the parent nicotine drug. Therefore, a urine drug test for “nicotine” looks for the presence of cotinine as an indicator of tobacco use.
A typical cocaine drug test kit looks for the presence of benzoylecgonine, the primary metabolite of cocaine. The presence of benzoylecgonine in a person’s system indicates cocaine use. Benzoylecgonine stays in a person’s system significantly longer than cocaine (the “parent” drug).
THC is the active substance in marijuana. However, the body quickly metabolizes the THC molecule into several metabolites with long chemical names. Urine drug tests typically detect the THC-COOH (nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) metabolite to identify marijuana users because it stays in the body much longer than the parent THC drug.
However the THC-COOH metabolite does not appear in oral fluid. Therefore an oral fluid marijuana test must detect the parent THC drug.
This has been a very educational. And I have learned a lot from this. Thank you.
HOW CAN ONE TEST FOR METABOLITE THEN 5 HRS LATER TEST NEGATIVE FOR EVERYTHING? IS THIS POSSIBLE
Jack Singleton says
We believe your question is: how one can provide a urine specimen that results in a positive drug test, then provide another specimen five hours later that results in a negative test? The most likely reason is that specimens given at different times can give different results. A basic rule of confirming drug test results is to use the original specimen to perform a second test. It is not uncommon for a second specimen given at a later time to have a different result from the first specimen. The dilution of the urine and the ongoing metabolism of the drug are just two factors that can cause the results to be different.
John Longo says
Will it detect CBD oil with 0.3% THC in it
Jennie Lee-Pace says
I am not aware of studies that show if THC testing detects the CBD oil products. We are just as curious. We will contact the manufacturers to see if they have any recent studies available.
Meredith W Landers says
YES, JOHN LONGO, IT WILL!!! I JUST had it happen to me! I DON’T smoke marijuana! But I NAIVELY bought my 1st bottle of CBD oil, and it COULD have .03% THC in it. But I thought that was so small an amount, since it’s legal, that it WOULDN’T show up. WRONG! It DID! I’m the girl who is as STRAIGHT as they come! But I was put on probation! Here’s the WORST part. We were expecting the level to decrease, because I started using the brand Medterra, with NO THC WHATSOEVER. But I JUST found out this morning that it went UP somehow, on the next rrug test, almost 2 weeks later. I can only wonder if it was rising in my system, even though I quit using the one with ANY THC. I don’t know. But they did say the metabolites were missing, which proves I wasn’t using marijuana. I’m still in the middle of learning myself, but I hope I have clearly answered your question at least. DON’T USE THAT CBD OIL IF you’re going to be tested!!! But I can assure you, I have REAL chronic pain issues & the one from Medterra still helps me A LOT, even without ANY THC! I’ve been able to go down on my opiate pain meds & plan to ween off them, because the cbd oil somehow keeps me from going into withdrawals when I go down significantly! I’m a HUGE BELIEVER in CBD oil now! Just be safe & use one without THC! I don’t FEEL anything when I take this CBD, but I sure do feel the benefits, just without any woosieness, which is fine with me.
Dave Gardner says
John , Meredith
This is great information as I am currently caught up the CBD craze, trying stop taking Opioids that I’ve been taking for nearly 37yrs due to severe chronic pain. I too started taking a CBD Oil product that claims ZERO THC and is backed by not 1 but 2 independent 3rd party lab testing reports. 1 showing 0% and the 2nd as “Not Detectable”. I just started taking the CBO oil 18 days ago. I have used 2 bottles (30ml) each containing 1000mg of CBD. During this time frame I have seen dramatic results from more than just pain relief. Other effects are better deep sleep without need for sleep aids and a dramatic change to a prostate issue that caused reduce urine flow for the last 12-months, this problem is nearly completely gone away. I choose this higher dosage to find the best amount that worked for me to reduce pain and help relieve my need for the Opioids. I haven’t needed any pain meds for the last 5 days!
Needless to say I still had concerns if the CBD oil was truly free of THC. So I was determined to get tested once I knew there would be a concentration in my Blood or Urine. Yesterday I selected an over the counter Home Test Kit by “First Check” purchased at CVS Pharmacy for the cost of $20. Following all the instructions for this 5 min test it came back POSITIVE for THC!!!! The Testing Kit company said if the test was positive to send it to their lab in a prepackage box with all safety measures that came with the purchase and they would test it using a Gas Chromatography to determine the validity of the Home Test Kit results. The company I bought the CBD Oil from said I would test positive for Cannabis but NOT THC. So is there a difference? This is my current quest for information.
I am not convinced there is THC in the CBD Oil yet, but it stands to reason the Testing Kit could be detecting the Opioids. more to come.
Jack Singleton says
Dave, I very much doubt that the home THC test kit is detecting opioids. THC drug test kits have no cross-reaction for opioids.
Clearly there is much to learn about why CBD oil may produce a positive test for THC. The current information on the websites of Quest and Aegis, two drug testing laboratories, says that there is a chance that a CBD user will test positive for THC, although there is no definitive explanation about why. The answer the labs frequently use is that the CBD contains THC, but we suspect that does not explain every instance of a positive THC test from a CBD user.
What we know for certain is that Federal drug testing policy makes it very clear that medical use of marijuana is not an acceptable explanation for a positive THC test. Although CBD is not an “official” medical use (the manufacturers would have to submit the product to FDA for it to be official), CBD use is not an acceptable explanation for employers who model their substance abuse policy after Federal regulations.
As other commenters have pointed out, it seems the only certain way to pass an employer’s drug test is to not use CBD.
What does a negative urine test for hydrocodone & metabolites mean? I have to take pain meds for cronic pain. Avascular nucrosis, have had 3 hip replacements on one side. I was tested found negative bcuz of the date I said last used. I know it would have been atleast within 48 hrs. Now they wont continue to treat me. Im not understanding this. I do not use any drugs or drink. I choose not to use the CBD oils bcuz of the risk of loss of job. Could u plz explain?
Jennie Lee-Pace says
A negative test means a urine test did not detect use of hydrocodone. The detection window for opiates of that kind is 2-4 days.
For how long does THC after consumed can be detected in a saliva test? . Is my understanding that a saliva test can detect THC but not its metabolites such as THC-COOH.
Jennie Lee-Pace says
You are correct. Saliva tests can only detect the THC molecule and not the metabolite. The window of detection for THC using a saliva test is very small…only 12-14 hours. Check out our window of detection calculator. http://alcopro.com/resources/window-of-detection-tool/
Whats the detection window on cocaine
Jack Singleton says
Our website has a Window of Detection tool in the Resources section that answers your question for urine, sweat, and oral fluid.
IROA Technologies says
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Rod McFarlin says
I take thc free gummies to sleep and failed drug test quit taking them for 4 days and requested new drug test. The quick test showed up negative my question is will the lab test come back negative as well?
Jennie Lee-Pace says
It will depend upon what cut off levels the lab is using to conduct the test in comparison to the cut off levels used by the rapid test.