How Long Does THCA Stay In Your System? – Drug Test Timeline

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How long THCA stays in your system will depend on a few key factors, including your individual body chemistry, how much you’ve consumed and how often, as well as whether you’ve activated the THCA with heat (decarboxylation) to transform it into THC, and of course, the type of drug test used to detect the cannabinoid metabolites.

If you’re like us, then you’re probably as excited about the popularity of THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinol acid products, to have hit the thriving legal hemp market as the compound holds immense fascination.

THCA’s unique properties allow for consumption in its raw form, preserving its integrity as a THCA cannabinoid, or the option to transform it into THC, offering many a potential legal pathway to experience the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

This article will cover how cannabinoids are absorbed, metabolized, and detected in most drug tests. We’ll also compare long-term cannabis use with short-term and how this can affect the amount of time THCA and other cannabinoids remain in your body fat, even after the potential benefits have worn off.

Overview Of THCA & Cannabis Detection:

  • THCA can be detected in urine drug tests for approximately 1-2 days after use.
  • The detection window may be longer for regular users compared to occasional users.
  • Just as there are factors that affect how long weed is detected in your system, factors such as dosage, consumption method, metabolism, and overall health can affect the length of time, THCA remains detectable.
  • Standard drug tests primarily target THC and its metabolites, not THCA specifically, but false-positive results for THCA are uncommon.
  • Once you heat the THCA cannabinoid (smoking, vaping, or cooking), you are transforming the compound into THC, and this type of cannabis consumption will lead to a positive drug test.
Diagram showing the transformation process of THCA converting to THC via decarboxylation

Understanding THCA and THC Differences

When it comes to consuming THCA, you have two primary options:

  1. Consuming THCA products in their raw form: As long as the cannabinoid has not been exposed to heat and undergone decarboxylation, the THCA remains non-psychoactive and will not produce intoxicating effects. Raw THCA can be found in fresh cannabis flowers and products like tinctures or THCA gummies made from unheated hemp buds.
  2. Subjecting THCA to heat to transform it into the psychoactive THC: The other option is to apply heat to the cannabis product to temperatures between 200°–250°F (93-121°C). Heat causes THCA to lose a carboxyl group and transforms it into THC, which is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid.

These two consumption methods create very distinct experiences with cannabis and may also affect how the cannabinoids are absorbed and metabolized in the body, influencing its detection on drug tests.

Will THCA Show Up On A Drug Test?

It depends on the type of drug test used, but typically, raw cannabis consumption like THCA isn’t something that’s tested for because it’s not illegal or psychoactive.

However, the moment you expose your THCA to heat, it transforms into THC.

At this point, it doesn’t matter whether or not your THCA came from a legal hemp source, the body will break down the THC into THC metabolites (THC-COOH) which will trigger a positive THC test.

In rare circumstances, some drug tests may potentially cross-react, creating false positive test results as cannabinoid metabolites may look very similar.

Absorption & Metabolism Of THCA In The Body

There are three primary routes of absorption for cannabinoids:

  1. Oral ingestion: When THCA is consumed orally as raw cannabis juice, THCA gummies, or other edibles. In this form of ingestion, THCA passes through the stomach and intestines, where it’s broken down by digestive enzymes before it’s absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestinal walls, eventually reaching various tissues and organs to exert its potential effects.
  2. Sublingual absorption: This typically involves placing THCA tinctures or oils under the tongue where the sublingual mucosa, consisting of thin tissues and abundant blood vessels, allows for the direct absorption of THCA into the bloodstream. This bypasses the digestive system, leading to faster onset of effects and a higher concentration of THCA delivered compared to oral ingestion.
  3. Inhalation: Inhalation methods such as smoking THCA Flower or pre-rolls will transform THCA into THC. The lung tissue contains a large surface area of blood vessels, allowing for efficient absorption of THC into the bloodstream.

Once THCA and other cannabinoids are in the body, it primarily interacts with the endocannabinoid system to exert its effects.

The effects of cannabinoids can last anywhere from a couple of hours to eight hours, depending on how much was consumed and the individual’s metabolism. Once the effects are worn off, the body works to eliminate the substance.

Cannabis metabolites are byproducts of the active cannabinoids that are formed through the body processing and transforming the substances to facilitate their elimination. During this process, liver enzymes and other tissues break down the cannabinoid into different compounds, forming metabolites.

When cannabis is consumed, the active compounds, such as THC and THCA, undergo metabolic processes, resulting in the formation of metabolites. These inactive metabolites are stored in fatty tissues and gradually eliminated with urine.

It’s these metabolites that are detected for the presence of cannabis use in drug tests.

So, How Long Does THCA Stay In Your System?

The duration for which THCA or any other cannabinoid stays in your system can vary depending on several key factors:

  • The individual’s metabolism
  • Frequency of use
  • Dosage
  • Consumption method

There isn’t a definitive answer to the amount of time it takes THCA to leave your body.

Why not?

Because THCA doesn’t have psychoactive properties, and it’s not illegal. As a result, it’s been under the radar compared to cannabinoids like THC and CBD, so there haven’t been many studies looking at the elimination of THCA specifically.

Given that urine drug screens are the most common form of drug testing for substance abuse, it’s important to note that THCA itself isn’t screened in standard drug tests, so if you’ve been consuming raw cannabis products high in THCA, you’re probably in the clear.

These tests primarily focus on detecting THC and its metabolites, such as THC-COOH, as indicators of cannabis use.

This is another story if you’re smoking THCA prerolls, vape products, or concentrates. Remember, heating THCA transforms THCA into THC, creating THC metabolites that can be detected in blood, urine, and saliva tests.

How Long Is The THC Metabolite Detected For?

Certain drug screenings have the ability to detect THC metabolites for a period of one to two weeks, whereas more sensitive screenings can identify trace compounds for as long as two months.

According to a clinical review of cannabis users in urine testing, how long THC metabolites remain in the body depends on the frequency of use [1]:

  • One time: 3 to 5 days
  • Moderate user (four x per week): 5 to 7 days
  • Chronic users (daily): 10 to 15 days
  • Chronic heavy users (multiple times per day): more than 30 days

It’s important to remember that factors such as metabolism, hydration levels, and the specific testing method used can influence the detection window for THC metabolites.

So, if you’re thinking you can use hemp-derived THCA smokable products to pass a drug test, we urge you to reconsider. THCA is non-psychoactive, and its consumption may not produce the same immediate effects as THC, but once you heat it, it will become THC.

It’s essential to prioritize your personal and professional obligations and make informed decisions about substance use, especially regarding employment or legal situations involving drug testing.

Different Types Of Drug Tests And Their Sensitivity To THCA

When it comes to drug testing, different types of tests have varying sensitivities to different substances, including THCA.

Here are some common drug testing methods and their general sensitivity to THCA:

1. Urine Test

  • Urine drug tests are the most common form of drug screening employers and other organizations use because it’s cheap, generally non-invasive, and fairly accurate.
  • Standard urine tests typically target the detection of THC-COOH, the metabolite of THC, rather than THCA itself.
  • THCA is not the primary focus of urine drug tests, but it does a fairly good job of detecting THC metabolites.

2. Blood Test

  • Blood tests are less common for routine drug screening but may be used in specific situations, such as DUI investigations.
  • Blood tests have a shorter detection window compared to urine tests and are more likely to detect recent cannabis use.
  • Similar to urine tests, blood tests primarily focus on THC and its metabolites rather than THCA itself.

3. Saliva Test

  • Saliva tests are becoming increasingly popular due to their non-invasive nature and ease of administration.
  • These tests are typically used to detect recent drug use, and their sensitivity to THCA is generally similar to that of blood tests.
  • The detection window for THC and its metabolites in saliva is relatively short, usually within a few hours to a few days after use.

4. Hair Testing

  • Hair tests are less common for detecting recent drug use but are capable of providing a longer detection window.
  • While hair tests are primarily used to detect long-term drug use patterns, they can potentially detect the presence of THC and its metabolites, including THCA, in hair samples.
  • However, the sensitivity of hair tests to THCA specifically may vary, and further research is needed to determine their accuracy in detecting THCA use.
Person detoxing their body of THC by exercising and drinking water

Can You Quickly Detox THC Metabolites To Pass A Drug Test?

If you’re concerned about your marijuana use or have accidentally consumed carboxylated THCA, and are worried about a positive drug test, you might have done some research on herbal supplements that promise to help you detox THC or other drugs from your body quickly.

But it’s important to approach these claims with caution.

The only reliable way to eliminate the metabolite THC-COOH from your body is by abstaining from drug exposure and time.

It can take anywhere from several days to 4–5 weeks for your body to clear THC metabolites.

While some suggestions such as staying hydrated, engaging in exercise, and using detox products claim to assist in diluting urine, burning stored THC in fat cells, or enhancing the body’s detoxification process, there’s limited scientific evidence substantiating their effectiveness in helping you pass a drug test.

Some people may have found these strategies helpful, but relying solely on them is not a reliable approach to ensure a negative drug test result.

If you are facing a drug test and are concerned about THC metabolites, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a knowledgeable expert who can provide accurate guidance based on your specific situation.

Recap: How Long Does THCA Stay In Your System?

The exact duration of THCA’s presence in the body of chronic cannabis users remains uncertain, as limited research has focused specifically on THCA elimination. However, based on available information about cannabinoids like THC and CBD, we can make some assumptions.

THCA itself is not typically screened in drug tests, which primarily target THC and its metabolites. The metabolism and elimination of THC and its metabolites can vary depending on factors such as frequency of use, dosage, individual metabolism, and the type of drug test employed.

THC and its metabolites can be detected in bodily fluids for several days to weeks after cannabis use.

If drug testing is a concern, we recommend abstaining from using any cannabis-derived products, including those containing THCA, for a sufficient period before the test.

Seeking guidance from healthcare professionals or experts can provide personalized advice and ensure you make informed decisions based on your specific situation.

Frequently Asked Questions On THCA Detection Windows

How long can THCA be detected in urine drug tests?
The detection window for THCA in urine drug tests can vary depending on several factors, including the frequency and amount of THCA consumed. In general, THCA can be detected in urine for up to 1-2 days after use. However, it’s important to note that urine drug tests primarily target THC and its metabolites rather than THCA itself.
Is there a difference in THCA detection windows between occasional and regular users?
The detection window for THCA may be longer for regular users compared to occasional users. Regular use of cannabis products containing THCA can result in its accumulation in the body over time, leading to a potentially extended detection window. Occasional users who have consumed THCA may have a shorter detection window due to lower levels and less frequent exposure.
Can factors affect the length of time THCA remains detectable in the body?
Several factors can influence the length of time THCA remains detectable in the body. These factors include the dosage and potency of THCA consumed, the method of consumption (e.g., smoking, vaping, edibles), individual metabolism, body weight, hydration levels, and overall health. Additionally, for drug and alcohol reviews, the type of drug test used can also impact the detection window.
Are there specific drug tests that screen for THCA, or do they primarily target THC and its metabolites?
Standard drug tests do not typically screen specifically for THCA. Instead, they primarily focus on detecting THC and its metabolites, such as THC-COOH, as markers of cannabis use. Since THCA is a non-psychoactive precursor to THC, it’s not a primary target for most drug tests.
Are there any documented cases of false-positive results for THCA on drug tests?
False-positive results for THCA on drug tests are uncommon but not entirely impossible. However, false positives can occur due to various reasons, including cross-reactivity with other substances or errors in the testing process. If a drug test result is positive for THCA, confirmatory testing is typically conducted to rule out false positives and ensure accurate results.


  1. Moeller, K. E., Kissack, J. C., Atayee, R. S., & Lee, K. C. (2017, May). Clinical interpretation of urine drug tests: what clinicians need to know about urine drug screens. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 92, No. 5, pp. 774-796). Elsevier.
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