UNRELIABLE POSITIVE MARIJUANA TESTS CAUSE HAVOC & CONFUSION IN FLORIDA DRUG COURTS

Your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney answers a reader’s question on the legal consequences of the length of time marijuana can be detected in one’s system: 

even for van gogh's smoker marijuana residue can linger for over three months in clearwater, tampa, largo and st. petersburg florida defense lawyer robert hambrick argues to judges that  a positive drug test should not violate probation or ror
Van Gogh, The Smoker, 1888

I was recently arrested for possession of pot. Before being arrested I was a daily (yes and nightly) user, but since the arrest I stopped. Yesterday a random marijuana drug test come back positive when over a month has passed since that last blazing hit from my blue bong. Is there a way to argue the test is unreliable? Is this going to get me sent back to Pinellas County Jail? Will my ROR be revoked? Will I lose my job? What will the Judge do?

Most judges and probation officers have repeatedly been told by prosecutors that thirty days is sufficient time for the body’s system to be cleared of marijuana. And for the average user this is not a false statement. However, the science shows chronic long term marijuana users may test positive for much longer than previously thought, even as long as 77 days as can be seen in this extract from  Excretion Patterns of Cannabinoid Metabolites in a group of Chronic Users (really I’m not making this up):

Abstract: The urinary excretion patterns of 86 chronic cannabis users were examined after their last cannabis use by two common screening methods, the semiquantitative EMIT-d.a.u. and the qualitative EMIT-st (Syva Company). We demonstrated that under very strictly supervised abstinence, chronic users can have positive results for cannabinoids in urine at 20 ng/ml or above on the EMIT-d.a.u. assay for as many as 46 consecutive days from admission, and can take as many as 77 days to drop below the cutoff calibrator for 10 consecutive days. For all subjects, the mean excretion time was 27 days. Subject excretion patterns were clearly biphasic, with initial higher rates of excretion not sustained. During the subsequent period of leveling off, most subjects had one or more separate sequences of cannabinoid-negative urine test results, lasting a mean of 3 days each and followed by at least one positive result. Demographic, body type, and drug history variables proved to be only moderate predictors of excretion patterns. Findings were discussed in the context of potential clinical and forensic application.


If you, like me, got lost at those words ‘urinary excretion patterns’ here’s the bottom line: that blazing stuff you ingested on your glorious blue bong can still be detected months later, in fact up to 77 days later. The length of time detectable residue for marijuana can remain in the body varies by sex, height, weight, age and metabolism, but a significant factor is the amount and frequency of previous ingestion as seen in this excerpt from other related links:

There are many variables that determine how long THC will remain detectable in your system, including height, weight, age, metabolism, amount smoked/ingested, and methods to clean. Many drug tests, including urine tests, look for 9-carboxy-THC which is the by-product of your body metabolizing the THC in your fat.Marijuana Detection Times:
Frequent users blood drug test (defined as someone who smokes several times per week)
THC: 4-8 hours after smoking THC by-product: 2 or more weeks after smoking
Frequent users urine drug testTHC by-product: 2 weeks to a month after smoking (3 months for extremely heavy users)
Infrequent users blood drug testTHC: 3-4 hours after smoking THC by-product: 2-3 days after smoking
Infrequent users urine drug testTHC by-product: up to 10 days after smoking 

Getting back to my reader’s question, clearly the Judge presiding at your Clearwater Drug Court needs to be shown that harsh punishment like sending you to prison for drugs is not the best solution. Your Clearwater Drug Defense Lawyer will make the argument that because of your heavy use of marijuana it may take longer for the residue to leave your body; therefore this positive test is unreliable and after waiting an additional 77 days you should be given another test.