It’s something that we have all thought about. You love the effects of weed but what about tomorrow? Do we need to worry about random drug tests at work? While the actual effects of weed tend to fade quickly, marijuana can be detected in your body for weeks after you’ve consumed it, and sometimes even longer. The length of time that weed can be detected in your system will depend on how often you smoke and how much weed you consume.
Whether you are new to smoking weed and curious as to how long it will stay in your system, or if you are afraid of potential drug screening at work, knowing how weed interacts with the body and just how long it can be detected is valuable information. After all, it’s always nice to know if you are safe from random drug testing.
In this article, we will hopefully answer the question of “how long does pot stay in your system”, and ease the minds of those who might be concerned due to the confusion that always surrounds this question.
How long does THC stay in your system
Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, is the active ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for the psychoactive effects. In other words, it’s the compound that causes the high. When addressing the question of how long it takes weed to leave your system, we need to look at THC and how long this compound “lingers around” for.
When smoking marijuana, the THC will enter your system almost immediately. However, if ingested (eaten as an edible), the process is a little longer – usually 20 minutes to half an hour. But whichever option you choose, the result will be the same; your body will quickly process all the psychoactive compounds, and therefore you won’t stay high for days at a time.
Because THC is broken down rapidly and modified into molecules known as metabolites, it may only be detectable in the blood for a few hours. However, when the liver breaks down THC, it forms at least 80 different metabolites, one of which is known as THC-COOH. This is the metabolite that is primarily screened in drug testing. As you can see, the question of how long THC stays in your system is a very complex one, which makes determining how long cannabis stays in your system a difficult task.
Truth be told, the amount of time that THC stays in the system will vary from person to person. To add to the confusion, there are also hundreds of different strains of marijuana available on the market, and each one has different potencies and varying levels of THC.
In terms of its chemistry, THC is fat soluble, and this means that it will embed itself into the body’s fat tissue. As a result, THC and its metabolites are stored more readily in people with higher body fat compared to people who are slim. To put it bluntly, in other words, the “fatter” you are the longer weed will linger in your system.
In fact, THC is eliminated by far the slowest when it is stored in fat tissue – it may be present for days, weeks, or even months depending on how much weed was consumed. The difference between occasional users and frequent users can also be very vast, where frequent users are likely to retain THC metabolites in their fat tissues for a lot longer than occasional users.
On average, THC-COOH will take about four days to exit the body. In a study done a few years ago on 52 test subjects, it was found that it took an average of 4.9 days for THC to be entirely cleared from the system. However, it took up to 18 days for THC-COOH (the trace metabolite) to be eliminated from some of the volunteer’s urine.
In a different study, it was found that THC stays in the system of infrequent users for 48 to 72 hours, while detectable amounts were seen anywhere from 9 to 12 days after THC exposure in more frequent users.
How long does weed stay in your urine?
When it comes to the question of how long does marijuana stay in your system, it’s ultimately connected to the amount of time that it stays in your urine. Drug testing has become a very popular practice among companies all over the world, and many employers require that their employees undergo a test revealing the absence of drugs. Of course you likely already know this, though, since you’re already here online searching for how long weed stays in your system for!
Apart from blood and saliva tests, urine testing is one of the more effective ways to screen a person for marijuana use. It’s the cheapest method of drug testing, and it also has the longest detection period. Therefore, it’s essential that you know how long weed can be detected in your urine after consuming it.
Most drug tests that are used to detect the presence of marijuana and its metabolites, including urine testing, will test for the presence of THC-COOH rather than THC specifically. As we have explained above, THC-COOH is a metabolite that forms when the liver breaks down the active THC compound. If this metabolite is present in the urine, it means that the body has recently processed THC.
How long THC shows up in your urine for will ultimately vary depending on how often you consume marijuana – the more marijuana you use, naturally, the longer it will be detectable. Here’s a general guide of how long cannabis can stay in your urine for:
- For single use (i.e. once in a 30 day period): up to 8 days
- For regular use (i.e. 4-6 times over a 30 day period): up to 15 days
- For frequent use (i.e. 10 – 15 times over a 30 day period): up to 30 days
- For heavy use (: i.e. 20+ times in a 30 day period): up to 45-77 days
How to pass a urine test
Based on the above information, you may be reasonably worried if you are a regular or heavy marijuana smoker, and have to take a drug test soon. One to three months is a long time, and you may need a little help to pass a urine test. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way of beating the system without any traces of THC in your urine. The good news is that there are a few products and methods out there that can help you.
Detox drinks and Detox pills are available to be purchased for the sole purpose of cleaning your urine to eliminate drug traces. You can also try drinking excessive amounts of water to dilute your system. However, keep in mind that if your urine is too diluted, you run the risk of voiding your drug screening.
One of the more commonly used methods to pass a urine test (a favorite among the most desperate consumers) is the fruit pectin method. Fruit pectin is a starch which is derived from the cell walls of produce, and is often found in jams and preservatives. The fruit pectin is mixed with an electrolyte drink like Gatorade, and then consumed at least two hours prior to a urine test (and possibly a day or two before as well). After drinking the Gatorade/pectin mixture, you should then follow up with a bottle or two of water and some B vitamins. The theory behind the fruit pectin method is that because it is a naturally occurring fiber, it makes THC exit the body through the bowels and not the urine, as it usually would.
While all of the above methods have the potential to help you pass your urine test, keep in mind that none of them are guaranteed to be 100% effective – even if you follow all the directions to a T, you may still ultimately fail your test.
Moreover, some detoxes could even make you sick, given the presence of compounds that your body might not be used to. If you are aware of an upcoming drug test and concerned about your job, your best bet would be to slow down on your marijuana consumption (as hard as that might be), rather than rely on one of the above tricks.
How long does it take for marijuana to get out of your system?
Finally, we get to the question of how long does it take for marijuana to leave your system. Previous research that has been conducted has shown that the amount of time that marijuana remains in the body is affected by how much a person smokes, how often they smoke, and for how long they have been smoking.
For most people, marijuana will stay in the body in quantities that can be detected for anything between 10 days to a month. But as we’ve mentioned, the length of time can vary drastically. Individuals considered to be regular smokers have had drug tests that produce a positive result up to 45 days after their last use, and heavy smokers have reported positive tests up to 90 days after quitting.
Here are a few factors that could affect how long it takes marijuana to leave your system:
- Body Fat Content – The chemical compounds that are responsible for the effects of weed on the brain is stored in fat cells. Thus, the higher your percentage of body fat, the longer cannabis will be present in your system.
- Metabolism – The metabolism of an individual will affect the rate at which their body can eliminate cannabis. It will also affect their body fat content, which further influences cannabinoid detection.
- Drug Strength – Different cannabis strains have different levels of strengths; the stronger the strain, the higher the concentration of THC. This could result in more cannabinoids being left in your body, which may take longer to eliminate.
How long does THC stay in your saliva?
For anyone wondering how long does weed stay in your saliva, we need to first determine how long the THC has been present.
Typically speaking, THC is detectable for the least amount of time in the saliva, which is of course great news for anyone who undergoes drug testing via the means of testing the saliva. (Coincidentally, this is also a popular method used by traffic police to test drivers for possible “drug-driving” offenses).
THC metabolites will be detected in your saliva for about an hour after smoking, and can remain in your saliva for up to 24 hours – even after just a single smoking session. For regular smokers, it could even reach 72 hours. Heavy smokers are advised to wait at least a week before taking a saliva test, as THC has been known to accumulate in the salivary glands over time.
How long does weed stay in your hair?
Hair is often a big concern when it comes to the length of time that weed is present in your system, and it is actually believed that cannabis has the longest detection window in hair. In fact, the hair drug test was developed to identify long-term users rather than one-time or infrequent users. Standard hair tests will typically look for drugs in the system over the last 90 days.
So how long does marijuana stay in your hair? Generally speaking, Cannabis metabolites can be detected in the hair for up to seven days after the consumption of pot. Just like other weed test methods, though, hair follicle tests look for the presence of the THC byproduct known as THC-COOH, rather than THC itself. Also, it’s interesting to note that first time users and infrequent users of weed are much less likely to test positive for weed by a hair follicle test, as it takes a fairly heavy amount of consumption for cannabis metabolites to reach hair follicle tissue.
How long does weed stay in your blood?
Just like every other question we’ve answered, in order to determine how long weed stays in the blood for, we need to look at the THC element and its metabolites. Blood testing for cannabis use is actually not a very common method, but it’s still important to understand for those who know they’ll have to undergo this particular screening.
The good news is that cannabinoids prefer nice, fatty parts of the body to reside in rather than the bloodstream – therefore THC and its metabolites don’t stay in the blood for very long. First time and infrequent users, for instance, can expect THC to show up in the blood for up to 24 hours after consuming weed. In more frequent users it could show up for three days, and for “regular” users it’s recommended they wait for up to a week before taking a blood test
As we can see, there shouldn’t be too much worry surrounding the use of cannabis if you need to undergo a blood test, as long as you’ve had enough time beforehand to “prepare” for the screening. As we mentioned, blood tests for cannabis use are not very common.
Final thoughts on how long weed stays in the system
While this article has given insight and guidelines that have hopefully answered most of your questions regarding how long weed stays in your system for, it is very difficult to give an exact answer. As we have seen, there are a number of factors that can affect the outcome – the most obvious of which is frequency. If you are a newbie or a “now-and-then” kind of consumer, you should have minimal concern since the length of time that weed will stay in your system is a lot lower. Here is a quick general recap:
We have also seen that the type of drug test that you undergo will have a major impact on the test results. For example, a urine test will show weed in your system for a much longer period than will a blood test. If you are seriously concerned (and/or the thought of drug testing makes you anxious) your best bet is to probably hold off or at least minimize your weed intake for the time being, since it’s impossible to know exactly how long weed will show up in your system.
And lastly, it’s important to note that this article has been composed only as a GENERAL GUIDELINE – it is by no means 100% “scientifically” accurate, and definitely is not a guarantee that you’ll pass a drug test – even if you follow one of the above recommendations. Keep in mind that everyone’s biochemistry is different, and thus outcomes will differ from person to person.