How Long Will Marijuana Stay In Your System?
Published on 11/10/20
Unfortunately, cannabis likes to linger in the body. In most cases, THC will stick around in your system long after the high from your last hit wears off. For pot users who have to take a cannabis drug test though, THC's extended presence can be a nerve-racking nuisance.
While you may be tempted to start chugging detox concoctions from your local head shop ahead of your next urine screening, taking a broader look at cannabis science and the intricacies of drug testing could save you a couple of uncomfortable afternoons in the bathroom. If you know how marijuana moves through your body, how long does weed stay in your system, and how long THC is detectable by each drug screening method, you can better plan your pre-test pot use and often even predict your results before you submit a sample.
How Does THC Move Through the Human Body?
If you want to know how to get weed out of your system, the first step is learning how marijuana travels through your system. First and foremost, the path THC takes through your body is determined by the consumption method. When you smoke weed, do a dab, or hit your vaporizer, THC is absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs. From there, that THC-rich blood is pumped from your heart to cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, producing the sublime intoxication cannabis is known for. As the THC travels throughout the body, it repeatedly passes through the liver where the chemical compound is broken down, metabolized, and temporarily stored in the body's fat cells until it can be flushed out in urine or feces. In all forms of THC drug test screenings, lab technicians are looking for the presence of specific THC metabolites that bind to the body's fat.
If you aren't a smoker and instead consume your THC through edibles, tinctures, or capsules, the THC bypasses the lungs and takes a path to the liver through the lining of the stomach and intestines during digestion. This difference in THC metabolization is the same reason why edibles have a delayed effect, and will also make THC metabolites detectible for a longer time than smoking or vaping. Lastly, if you're wondering how long does CBD stay in your system, you can breathe easy, as a vast majority of cannabis drug tests omit CBD testing altogether.
How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Your System?
Because THC metabolites latch onto fat cells in the body, the amount of time that weed is detectible in your system is directly related to how much you consume. For infrequent users, one joint will be completely metabolized, expelled, and cleared from the system in as little as three days. For moderate users - think a few joints a week - a build-up of THC in the body means that your last joint will take closer to 1-2 weeks to completely dissipate. Lastly, for frequent or daily marijuana consumers, it can take 30 days or more for your body to get rid of the THC build-up stored in your cells.
Outside of frequency of use and THC dosage, the amount of time cannabis spends in your bodily system depends on the amount of fat in your body, your metabolism, hydration, and even genetics. If you have a low body fat content and high metabolism, your body will process and expel THC quicker than someone with a slow metabolism and higher body fat. Burning fat by exercise and staying hydrated can help your body replenish itself and get rid of latent THC metabolites. If your main goal is to learn how to pass drug tests, knowing your body is key, but knowing more about specific screening methods is just as important. When it comes to cannabis, there are four types of THC tests: blood, saliva, urine, and hair. Because each sample type examines a different part of the body, each method will offer varying levels of time-sensitive results.
How Long Does Weed Stay In Your Blood?
THC moves through the bloodstream relatively quickly towards the liver, leaving no unprocessed cannabinoids in your blood after a matter of hours. But when it comes to THC metabolites, which is what drug screenings look for, scientific studies have found chemical compounds like THC-COOH can be present in blood tests for as long as 25 days in frequent users.
How Long Does Weed Stay In Your Saliva?
Saliva testing is still relatively rare when it comes to cannabis. Like blood testing, THC metabolites are detectible in saliva up to a month after smoking or ingesting. In a 2014 peer-reviewed study published in a National Institute of Health journal, researchers found a wide breadth of sensitivity in oral fluid THC tests. THC was found to be detectible in occasional users 1-3 days after last use, and anywhere from 1-29 days in everyday consumers.
How Long Does Weed Stay In Your Pee?
If you've ever had to take a THC drug test, odds are you've had to pee in a cup. Urine screenings are by far the most common cannabis drug test and can turn up a positive test more than 30 days after the last consumption. According to a 2017 study published by the Mayo Clinic, standard urine screenings will detect THC in infrequent users up to three days after consumption. So how long does THC stay in urine? For moderate users, positive tests tend to show up for 5-7 days after the last toke. For daily users, the timetable is 10-15 days. And for heavy-duty stoners who consume cannabis multiple times every single day, it could take as long as 30 days or more.
How Long Does Weed Stay In Your Hair?
THC metabolites are transferred to the hair via tiny blood vessels in hair follicles. Unfortunately, those metabolites remain in the hair far longer than they do in blood, saliva or urine. Because hair grows so slowly - about 0.5 inches per month - your luscious locks can provide a detailed map of your past pot use. For frequent users, hair tests can detect THC metabolites up to three months after you take your last hit. THC tests that use hair are less accurate for occasional users. Unlike other tests, though, hair tests offer a relatively easy escape so long as you don't mind a bald buzz cut.
How To Get Weed Out Of Your System
Now comes the time for some hard news; there's no easy way to trick a cannabis drug test. Sure, detox teas, cranberry pills, and heavy hydration might help mask some THC metabolites in your urine, but those methods are entirely unpredictable and don't work with blood, saliva, or hair tests. Sadly, the only way to truly make sure that you pass your THC screening with flying colors is to stay away from the reefer for a few weeks, eat healthily, drink water, exercise, and wait. Luckily, no matter which method of testing you have to submit to, it should only be a few weeks (and maybe a haircut) before you're back to toking.
Have you had a cannabis drug test experience that defies common knowledge? Let us know how you passed in the comments below!