By Ryan Najjar Reviewed by: Gloria Payá

Despite the fact that legal weed is gaining significant traction, you'll still see employers handing out drug tests for THC on the regular. As these have continued, new methods of testing have been introduced to the masses. Specifically, saliva testing has become more and more accepted.

These tests are fairly new, and very different from the standard urine drug test. Some believe they’re more accurate, but others say they’re much easier to pass. Either way, it’s a quick, cheap, and easy testing method, so you can expect to see more of it in the workplace. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know how saliva tests work and what you can do to minimise your chances of failing.


One of the most notable differences between saliva drug tests and the standard urine test is that they detect different compounds. Urine tests look for 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH), a metabolite produced when Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is broken down in the body.

A saliva test, however, screens for the THC itself, or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. After you smoke, THC can linger in your mouth for some time, and if you smoke close to test time, this can mean trouble.


The good thing, though, is that THC doesn't last too long in saliva. For occasional smokers, it'll only take about three days for any trace of THC to fade away. If you're a chronic smoker, this maximum time span stretches to about a month.

Compared to urine tests, this time frame is quite short. To put things into context, depending on your body type and how often you smoke, THC-COOH can be found in urine well over 30 days after consumption. In fact, for chronic smokers, this period of detection can stretch to around double that.


As you venture through the job market, it's important to remember that drug tests are standard at many major companies. If you're in charge of heavy machinery, sensitive information, or otherwise important assets, your employer will want to know you'll be doing the job safely. Yes, weed is legal, and it's safer than many other drugs out there, but it's still a drug. Use and overuse can still affect one's job performance and create significant risk in certain situations.

Virtually any government job will have you tested before hiring, and likely periodically afterward. Jobs in the healthcare industry are also likely to drug test before and after hiring, especially if you're dealing with patients or handling medicine. You can also expect to be tested if you're working in the service or retail industries. This, however, can vary depending on where you're working or what sort of position you're after.

THC Drug test


Thankfully, cannabidiol (CBD) is not even tested for in the United States or Europe since it’s a non-psychoactive component. There is currently no standard for measuring quantities of CBD in the body. Furthermore, hemp-based CBD products available on the market should legally contain no more than 0.2/0.3% THC in them anyway. So, it would be very unlikely for a drug test to detect THC in your system if you are solely a CBD user.

If you’re smoking a high-CBD strain, though, the amount of THC in those varieties varies greatly. Depending on how much you smoke (along with many other considerations), it’s possible to fail a THC urine test, and possibly a saliva one as well. There simply aren’t enough studies or anecdotal trials available yet to know for sure.


The cut-off guidelines of the specific test

In the United States, a typical urine and saliva test uses a cut-off point of 50ng/ml for THC-COOH and THC, respectively.

How much you've smoked

As we mentioned before, if you only smoke occasionally, you'll need just a few days for THC to be cleared from your saliva. More consistent smokers, however, might see traces linger in their mouth for weeks after their last smoke session.

How long ago you smoked

Even if you were smoking every day, a month-long break should take care of the issue. If the test is happening the day after the smoke session, though, even the most occasional of tokers should worry.

Potency of the strain

The strength of whatever you're smoking will affect how quickly the THC leaves your saliva. Hitting a mid-potency strain won't leave as much of a trace as dabbing a concentrate would. The more THC in the product, the more THC in your mouth when you smoke it.

Your oral hygiene

If you're the type to be adamant about brushing your teeth three times a day, you're in luck when the time comes for a swab test. As long as you regularly brush your teeth and use mouthwash, even chronic smokers can expect to be trace-free within a couple weeks.


Supporters of this testing method believe it’s more accurate, but many have found ways to skirt through their saliva screening.

Drug test


There is no foolproof way to cheat a drug test, but there are different methods that work for different people. So trying at least one, or maybe a combination of suggestions, can help you too. If you have a planned test coming up, the first thing you should do is quit smoking. It’s also helpful to brush your teeth diligently, three times a day, for a couple days beforehand, while paying extra close attention to the gums, cheeks, and tongue. Also, stay hydrated; that’s good for you regardless of whether you have an upcoming drug test or not.

If you’re short on time, try eating a decent-sized meal of high-fat foods. Remember, fat cells absorb and store THC. Then, shortly before your test, you could try rinsing your mouth out with lemon juice, vinegar, or a hydrogen peroxide solution (0.3%). There are also commercial products you can buy to mask the THC in your saliva, but these only work for 30 minutes maximum. Hopefully, that’s all the time you need, but it’s definitely something worth noting.


If you have a planned test coming up, the first thing you should do is quit smoking. Yes, weed is pretty great, but you need to provide for yourself, and you can't let weed get in the way of that. Just take a break till test day. You'll have plenty of money to buy good weed when you have the job.


As we mentioned before, oral hygiene is key. Specifically, it’s helpful to brush your teeth diligently, three times a day, for a couple days beforehand. You'll want to be paying extra close attention to the gums, cheeks, and tongue. Mouthwash should help too, especially in those hard-to-reach spots.


If you’re short on time, try eating a decent-sized meal of high-fat foods. Remember, fat cells absorb and store THC. If you were looking for an excuse to get a plate of fried chicken with gravy, now's your chance!


Shortly before your test, you could try rinsing your mouth out with lemon juice or vinegar. This will only really help in the sense that it dilutes your saliva, but it's not bad as a last-resort strategy.


Even though these new saliva tests are somewhat uncharted territory, you can rest assured that they’re easier to pass than your standard urine test. And since these tests are still woefully unreliable, it’s possible that you could pass a saliva screening just hours after you smoked (yes, it has happened before). If you do happen to fail, you might even be able to negotiate a retest on the grounds that this method is still not very regulated.

Have you encountered a saliva test, either for employment or at a police checkpoint? How did it work out? We’d love to hear from you!

Promoting Responsible Cannabis UseRQS emphasizes the importance of responsible cannabis consumption.

While many individuals use cannabis frequently without complications, some may be susceptible to developing adverse behaviours. We believe the herb should enhance one’s life, not hinder it.

Responsible use involves limiting consumption to adults only, refusing to operate cars or machinery while under the influence, and making an effort to resist abuse.

Stay Cultivated.

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