If you're curious about delta-8, how long it stays in your system, and its effects, you're in luck.
We'll also explain how cannabinoids are absorbed and metabolized, comparing short-term delta-8 THC use with short-term use and how this affects how long cannabis metabolites remain in your body after the effects have worn off—in the instances you have an upcoming drug test.
- Delta-8 THC is a minor cannabinoid found in both hemp and marijuana plants, but only hemp-derived delta-8 is legal.
- Delta-8 is metabolized by the body in the same way as delta-9 THC, and can be detected in a drug test if the person is using delta-8 frequently and in large doses.
- The effects of delta-8 last anywhere from 4-6 hours, but the compound can still remain in your system.
- How long does delta 8 stay in your system? It depends on how much you use, how frequently, and your metabolism. But it can stay for up to 4 weeks.
- If you're concerned about drug testing, you should steer clear of delta-8 products or any other isomers of THC for at least a month before the scheduled urine test or blood test.
Is Delta-8 THC Legal?
Delta-8 THC lives in a legal grey area in the United States.
Only delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol—the primary psychoactive substance in the cannabis plant, is considered a Schedule I substance according to the Controlled Substance Act.
Since there's no mention of delta-8 or other isomers of THC in this act, many interpret the compound as legal.
The Farm Bill Act (2018) legalized the sale and production of hemp and its components as long as the plants have less than 0.3% THC. Since delta-8 THC is found naturally in hemp plants or can be converted through a chemical process from CBD (a legal compound), many users and manufacturers consider the compound legal.
However, some states have banned all THC isomers altogether. Check with your local laws first before ordering delta-8 THC products online (even if it comes from a Farm Bill-compliant hemp source, check with your local laws first.
Related Article: Is Delta-8 THC Legal?
Does Delta-8 THC Show Up On Drug Tests?
Many of you are likely reading this article in anticipation of a drug test coming up.
We have some not-so-good news.
It is possible to fail a generic drug test using delta-8 THC—even if you're using a legal source.
This is because delta-8 and the controlled substance delta-9 break down into the same THC metabolites, which is what urine tests are looking for.
Drug tests (urine test, blood test, and saliva test) aren't designed to differentiate between different versions of THC. Many third-party lab tests have difficulty distinguishing between delta-8 and delta-9 THC because they're similar.
Some factors may help to shorten the amount of time it can take for the body to eliminate the THC metabolites to pass drug testing, but they're not always reliable.
If you have to take a drug test for work, insurance, probation, or sports anytime soon, skip the fad detox drink (cranberry juice)—it's best to abstain from delta-8 products altogether if you want to play it safe.
Related Article: Does Delta-8 THC Show Up On A Drug Test?
How Long Does It Take For Me To Feel The Effects Of Delta-8 THC?
Your genetics, experience with THC, consumption method, and dose will give you different experiences.
The variable you have the most control over is the consumption method and dose. Of course, the higher the amount, the more prominent the effects will feel, but you're also more prone to undesirable side effects (more on this later).
Most users report that delta-8 THC has a delayed onset of effects compared to regular weed, but it lasts much longer.
The consumption method refers to the product type. You can find delta-8 THC products like vape pens, hemp flowers, sublingual oil, capsules, gummies, and even topicals (lotions, balms, massage oils).
The fastest way to feel the effects of cannabinoids is through inhalation. This is because it bypasses the digestive system and liver metabolism (first-pass metabolism) and enters the bloodstream within seconds via oxygen exchange in the lungs. Many people experience the delta-8 THC high within minutes through this method.
The second fastest method is sublingual administration with delta-8 oil or tincture. Placing the product under the tongue and holding it for 10–30 seconds before swallowing allows the cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream through the mucous membrane beneath the tongue. Depending on the potency of the delta-8 THC product and how sensitive you are to THC, it can take anywhere from 15–30 minutes to kick in.
Edibles like gummies, capsules, or other treats can take a bit longer to kick in—30 minutes to an hour for most people. If you're looking for a smoke-free and more gentle method of taking delta-8 THC for its psychoactive effects, this might be the format for you.
Topical delta-8 THC products don't produce psychoactive effects as the cannabinoids don't enter the bloodstream to interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the central nervous system. Instead, it interacts with endocannabinoid receptors in the epidermis to exert its effects to support healthy inflammation levels and comfort. You can feel these effects almost immediately, lasting up to several hours.
How Long Do The Effects Of Delta-8 THC Last?
Your genetics, experience with THC, consumption method, and dose will give you different psychoactive experiences. The effects of delta-8 THC can last anywhere from 2–6 hours.
Generally speaking, smoking the compound will give you the fastest onset of effects (within minutes), but most users report that the high comes on much more intense than other methods, but it doesn't last as long.
One study observed that smoked cannabinoids were cleared from the body at nearly twice as fast as the rate compared to edible forms, and intervenous injection has the fasted illumination (but this is only available for clinic uses) .
Edible formats of delta-8 THC yield a more subtle onset that tends to creep up on you and last longer, up to 6 hours in some individuals. This is likely because delta-8 is gradually released into the bloodstream.
How Long Does Delta-8 THC Stay In Your System?
Although you might not feel high any more hours after you've consumed delta-8, the compounds remain in your system.
The range for how long delta-8 THC metabolites stay in your system isanywhere from 7-30 days. This is a pretty wide range, and it's not something you want to hear if you have an impending drug test.
It's challenging to get a more precise range because there are a lot of factors involved in estimating how fast your body can metabolize these substances.
Let's get into some of the factors that can affect how long the effects of delta-8 THC remain in the body.
- Consumption method: inhalation, ingestion, topical
- Dosage: the higher the dose of delta-8 THC, the longer it will stay in your system.
- Frequency of use: the more often you use delta-8, the longer it takes your body to eliminate it.
- Metabolic rate: is determined by your age and genetics. As we age, our metabolic rate slows down naturally, meaning the older you are, the longer it will take to clear delta-8 THC from your system.
- Supplements & Medication: our liver processes cannabinoids and other supplements and medication, which means that the enzymes the liver produces to break down these compounds will compete with each other, slowing down the breakdown of these compounds.
Crash Course On Delta-8 THC Half-Life:
A half-life is a measurement used to estimate the time it takes for a compound to reduce to half the concentration in the body.
There are two metabolic phases for eliminating THC—a short initial half-life (approximately 6 minutes) and a long terminal half-life (22 hours) observed in a murine model study .
According to this, when you initially take delta-8, it takes about 6 minutes (smoking) for the body to reduce the concentration to about half. After this time, the half-life reduces substantially in the slow phase, which is nearly a day.
Another factor that can affect the half-life is the frequency of use. One study found that the half-life of delta-8 THC for an infrequent user is 1.3 days, and for frequent users, 5-13 days . This is because cannabinoids are fat-soluble and are stored in fat cells (adipocytes), which can take a long time to break down. The longer you use THC or any cannabinoid, the more significant amount of the compounds remains in the fat cells, which means it will take longer for your body to eliminate them entirely.
Again, the actual half-life of delta-8 THC or any other compound can vary significantly depending on the individual. This guidance on the half-life of delta-8 THC should not be relied upon to predict the time period required to pass drug testing.
The Takeaway: How Long Does Delta-8 Stay In Your System?
If you're worried about passing drug tests, you should steer clear of delta-8. THC metabolites are very similar, which is what most urine tests detect.
Regardless of whether you used a legal means to obtain delta-8 THC, you could still find yourself in hot water, as most drug tests don't have a way of differentiating delta-8 from the restricted compound, delta-9 THC.
You can expect the psychoactive effects of delta-8 to last anywhere from a few hours to up to five hours in most individuals—depending on the administration, dose, and the individual.
When the psychoactive effects wear off, the cannabinoids remain in your body, waiting to get metabolized by the liver. Studies have found that occasional users are better able to process and eliminate the compound much faster than heavy users. This is because the body tends to store a build-up of THC in fat cells, making them much slower to break down.
If you abstain from delta-8 use for several months, you should be in the clear for most generic drug tests (urine tests). However, a hair follicle test can detect traces of delta-8 for much longer. Luckily, the hair follicle test isn't standard as it's much more expensive.
If you're worried about failing a drug test, we recommend abstaining from delta-8 products. Other cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, and CBG derived from hemp are found to support various wellness goals from sleep, muscle recovery, mood, and stress levels—but they won't produce any psychoactive effects.
To learn more about cannabinoids and how to integrate them into a wellness routine, you can read articles on our blog or get industry news sent straight to your inbox with exclusive offers on your favorite hemp products.
- Rein, J. L. (2020). The nephrologist's guide to cannabis and cannabinoids. Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension, 29(2), 248.
- Lucas, C. J., Galettis, P., & Schneider, J. (2018). The pharmacokinetics and the pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 84(11), 2477-2482.
- Smith-Kielland, A., Skuterud, B., & Mørland, J. (1999). Urinary excretion of 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinoids in frequent and infrequent drug users. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 23(5), 323-332.