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Marijuana Detection Window: Determining the Length of Time Cannabinoids Will Remain Dectectable in Urine Following Smoking: A Critical Review of Relevant Research and Cannabinoid Detection Guidance for Drug Courts

NCJ Number
Drug Court Review Volume: 5 Issue: 1 Dated: 2005 Pages: 23-58
Paul L. Cary M.S.
Date Published
36 pages
This article reviews research on the length of time cannabinoids will remain detectable in urine following smoking and offers cannabinoid detection guidance for drug courts.
The findings indicate that drug court testing policies based on the erroneous assumption that marijuana is present in detectable amounts for 30 days have likely delayed therapeutic intervention and judicial sanctioning to violating offenders. The scientific literature suggests that for occasional marijuana smokers, cannabinoids remain detectable in the urine for up to 7 days. In the case of chronic smokers, cannabinoids may be detectable for longer than 21 days using the standard cutoff concentrations. Given the importance of marijuana testing to drug court compliance, the author recommends that drug courts establish a reliable marijuana detection window based on these findings to provide objective criteria for court decisions. Drug courts are advised to incorporate the cannabinoid detection window into current policies and practices and to inform all program participants of the requirements and expectations associated with drug testing. The goal of the detection window is to establish a given time period, the detection window limit, after which a client should not test positive for marijuana use. The critical literature review focused on the marijuana elimination research in order to answer the question of how long cannabinoids remain detectable in urine following the smoking of marijuana. A central goal of the research was to examine the assumption that marijuana remains detectable in urine for 30 days or more following smoking. Table, footnotes, references, endnotes


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