You may find yourself asking, how long does marijuana stay in your system? The short answer is, it depends! There are many factors that affect this answer and in order to understand why they matter, we must first understand how THC is processed in our bodies. The effects of marijuana are felt because the THC is absorbed into our bloodstream and sent to the brain where it binds with our endocannabinoid receptors, causing us to feel ‘high’. But how does THC leave the body? From there, the marijuana breaks down via our liver. This process creates THC metabolites which are substances our body produces while breaking down a drug. The metabolites are fat soluble which means they bind to fatty tissue around the body (such as the brain and adipose tissue). The marijuana then exits the system through our urine, sweat and stool.
The amount of time THC takes to fully exit the body can vary depending on factors such as; frequency of use, body mass index (BMI) , the quality of the THC being consumed, and the method of consumption. Generally speaking, the more THC metabolites and fat cells you have present in your body, the longer THC will remain in your system.
How long does THC stay in your system for drug tests?
So how long does THC stay in your system for drug tests? It depends on the type of test being conducted as well as frequency of cannabis use. Frequency of use can be divided into four primary categories; single use, average use (three to four times a week), daily use, and chronic use (multiple times a day). The kind of test matters because while some tests look for the active marijuana compound, most drug tests look for the metabolites. Specifically, Carboxy THC (THC-COOH). There are five primary drug tests used to detect marijuana use; blood tests, urine tests, saliva tests, hair tests, and patch tests.
How long does THC stay in the urine? The urine test is perhaps the most commonly used drug test. Urine tests usually looks for the presence of Carboxy THC by having you submit a urine sample. On average, infrequent users typically see negative (passing) results after 3 days of no use. Average users can expect to wait 5 to 7 days with the urine test. Daily users tend to see passing results after 10 to 15 days without use. While frequent smokers may need to abstain for 30 days or more!
The hair test is another form of drug test that searches for the presence of metabolites. When cannabis is ingested it reaches the hair follicles through blood vessels in the head as well as sweat or sebum (oily wax based substance found on the skin) thus becoming a part of the hair cell. When this happens it marks the hair with what is called a drug band. These drug bands are will cause you to test positive for 30 to 90 days after marijuana consumption but this window varies as the rate our hair grows changes from person to person. Because hair typically grows at a rate of .5 inch/ per month, a 1.5inch of hair taken from the base of the scalp for hair tests can show cannabis use for up to three months.
Saliva tests on the other hand tend to show a shorter window of marijuana use. This is because saliva tests look for the active compound in THC which can be stored in the oral cavity and oral fluid when THC is smoked or when someone is exposed to marijuana via second-hand smoke. This means that even being in the presence of marijuana smoke can cause a false positive when using saliva tests. Saliva drug tests can detect cannabis for 1-3 days after consumption or exposure.
You may also be concerned about blood tests. So, how long does thc stay in your blood? Single use individuals can expect a positive test for 2 to 12 hours post consumption. Average THC users typically show negative blood results after 1 to 2 days post consumption. While daily and chronic users may have to wait up to 30 days to receive a passing result.
Sweat patch testing is a common form of drug test typically used for athletes. The sweat patch is usually worn for 7 to 14 days like a bandaid. The patch is designed to allow oxygen and water vapors to evaporate through the patch, leaving behind and trapping any drug metabolites. When the metabolites are excreted through sweat, the patch detects them and registers positive for THC use. This test is frequently used so athletes don't have the ability to rid their bodies of additional metabolites via working-out and sweating prior to urine, blood, or saliva testing.
You may be considering a detox kit to rid your body of additional marijuana. However, these kits don't always work because of the way the compound is stored in your body. Daily or chronic users should be especially wary. If you’re truly worried the most sensible thing to do would be to abstain entirely. It’s important to remember that because everybody's body varies, everyone will retain THC and THC metabolites at vastly different rates. The rate at which one individual shows a negative drug test result can differ greatly from another individual.
How long does THC stay in the system of an athlete?
How long does marijuana stay in an athletes system? Most athletes, if competing, are subject to regular or random drug testing. And yet many still use marijuana to provide additional relief from stress and strain. So why and how is that possible assuming they aren't patch-tested? The majority of athletes have a relatively low body fat percentage and generally a healthy body mass index. This means that when they do consume cannabis, the lack of the person's body fat makes it so the THC has nothing to bind to. This, combined with the fact that THC also leaves the body through sweat and we sweat especially hard when working out means athletes have the ability to flush their bodies of any drug metabolites relatively quickly. This same logic would also apply to individuals society labels as ‘skinny’ or people with relatively low body fat content. Have you ever heard of or seen someone with an upcoming drug test running excessively, using the sauna, and sleeping in multiple layers of clothes? Well now you know they’re hoping to sweat out the remaining metabolites in their body! However, this method of detox can be dangerous! Lack of fluids and physical exhaustion can lead to some major problems that can cause some big issues. For this reason, this method of detox is not advised.
How long does THC stay in a diabetics system?
Individuals with diabetes should also be aware that THC may affect them differently. While there hasn't been extensive clinical research done on THC and diabetes, we do know that THC has been shown to increase sensitivity to insulin in certain people. Because THC can alter a person's perception, it’s strongly suggested that individuals with diabetes do not smoke alone. This altered perception can make low and high blood sugar levels feel more severe than they really are. For this reason you should monitor your blood sugar levels regularly when under the influence of THC. It's recommended to have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and fast acting Glucagon on hand. Since THC consumption can give users ‘munchies,’ or the sensation that you're hungry, it's also recommended to plan your munchies ahead of time and to pay special attention to insulin levels. Ultimately, if you have diabetes it's important to speak with your medical health care provider before taking cannabis in order to know if it’s the right fit for you.
How long does THC stay in your system?
Since we all have a unique endocannabinoid system and everyone experiences marijuana differently, the compound can cause users to feel an umbrella of effects. Effects can range anywhere from euphoric and relaxed, to anxious and paranoid. But the effects won't last forever. So, how long are the effects of THC felt in the body and mind? Of course, the answer depends on the method of consumption you use! Broadly speaking, people tend to use one of five methods of consumption; edible, sublingual, topical, transdermal, and smokable.
Let's begin by addressing the most popular method, smoking marijuana. Smoking THC is done by heating the product- usually flower or oil (dabs), to its boiling point and inhaling the smoke. Once in the lungs the THC is absorbed through the blood vessels. This method typically has the quickest onset of effects meaning it's also the fastest to leave the body. The effects are felt almost instantaneously lasting anywhere from 1 to 2 hours.
Edible THC products are another highly popularized way people tend to consume cannabis. We most commonly see people consuming marijuana via various baked goods, drinks, capsules, and tinctures. When THC is consumed orally the onset is typically anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. This is because the marijuana must make its way through our digestive system to our gastrointestinal tract. Once in the gut the marijuana is absorbed into the bloodstream and sent to the liver. The extended onset time also means the effects will be felt for longer. Typically lasting for 8 to 12 hours!
Sublingual THC application is another common method of consumption as the effects are felt quickly while also lasting a reasonable amount of time. Sublingual application is when a product, typically a tincture, is applied under the tongue and held there for 60 to 90 seconds. Due to the vast concentration of blood vessels under the tongue, the onset of effects are felt anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes after application and lasting for 4 to 6 hours.
Topical application of products tends to be used when administering salves, lotions, or roll on products. But can also be seen with more niche products such as bath bombs. Many people use this method to alleviate localized pain and soreness. Because topical THC has a difficult time penetrating the multiple layers of skin we have, you generally won't see these products absorbing directly into the bloodstream. Due to this, when using topical application the effects are felt only where the product is directly applied. Onset time for these products tends to be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, lasting from 30 minutes to a few hours depending on the quality of the product and the amount applied.
Transdermal products on the other hand do absorb into the bloodstream. Transdermals tend to be patches that are applied to the skin (typically in venous areas such as the wrist) much like a bandaid. These products absorb across the skin and have the ability to penetrate the dermal skin layer where blood vessels are present. This makes it so the effects of the THC may be felt system-wide! Expected onset time is usually 15 to 30 minutes with effects lasting for 8 to 12 hours. Thus making transdermal THC products popular for people treating more serious conditions such as chronic pain or muscle spasms.
The Bottom Line
How long weed remains in the system truly depends on the system. Since so many factors come into play there is no one size-fits-all answer. THC may remain in the system for several hours or for several months. The kind of test being used, method of consumption, frequency of use, and medical factors all play a defining role. If you’re concerned about positive tests the best thing to do is to abstain from THC consumption and to be mindful that you aren't being exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke.
If you’re concerned about the amount of time you’ll feel the effects of THC, plan accordingly! Use a method of consumption that fits your individual needs. Because THC can alter your perception of time, bear in mind that the effects are temporary and typically won't last forever. Ensure that you’re getting your marijuana from a reputable source. If you’re considering using THC, it’s advised to speak with your healthcare provider prior to starting to know if it’s the right fit for you.