- Dr. Ajay Rajesh, MD
- Knowledge Base
How Long Does Weed Stay In Your System?
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been smoking weed, you have probably thought about the question posed by the title of this post at least once. For a variety of reasons, it’s a good idea to know how long weed stays in your system. This leads to another question, which is, how quickly can I get this stuff out of my system?
If you’re reading this, you would agree that we all smoke weed for a reason. We like its effect, but smoking marijuana does have its consequences. What if we have to undergo random testing for drugs at work? Although the high that you get from marijuana tends to go away quickly, the chemical traces of pot can stay in your system for weeks.
In some cases, it can last even longer. It all depends on two factors: how frequently you smoke marijuana and the volume of weed you use. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a pot-smoking newbie or you’ve been around the block for some time. If you’re worried about any sort of random testing at work, understanding how weed works with your body and figuring out how to clean out toxins from your body are definitely worth knowing.
It can help you keep your job and keep you out of all sorts of sticky situations. This post addresses questions like: “How long will marijuana stay in my system?” or “How do I quickly clean out weed from my system?” It’s our hope that you will get some important information here that will set you at ease and give you everything you need to know to adequately prepare for that upcoming drug test.
HOW LONG DOES THC REMAIN IN YOUR SYSTEM?
THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical compound in marijuana that makes you high. This is the good stuff. If you want to get the answer to, “How long will weed stay in my system?”, you have to focus on how your body processes and breaks down THC. This will give you a good idea of the period of time in which this biochemical substance will stick around your system.
When you smoke weed, you ingest THC almost instantly. But if you choose to ingest weed in another way like eating weed brownies, the consumption process takes quite a bit longer. Sometimes it takes as much as 30 minutes for THC to enter your system. Regardless of how you ingest the active ingredient in marijuana, the end result, happily, is the same – you get high.
Your body processes THC the exact same way. This is important to note because a lot of people think that if they ingest weed by eating food, this means that they’re going to remain high for a much longer period of time. No, just because it takes longer for the THC to enter your system, doesn’t mean your body will process it longer.
Once THC enters your bloodstream, your body pretty much processes it at the same rate. Due to the fact that your body breaks down THC quite rapidly and converts it into molecules called metabolites, THC will only be detectable through blood tests for a few hours. This is good news.
The problem is, when THC is processed by your liver, more than 80 different compounds are created. One of these metabolites is THC-COOH (1). Pay attention to this compound. Most drug tests screen for this specific metabolite. Given the process described above, it should be obvious to you that the answer to the question, “How long will THC stay in my system?”, is quite a complicated one.
It’s really very difficult to zero in a specific answer. It depends on which metabolite you are screening for and how the drug test is going to measure metabolites in your system. In absolute terms, the length of time THC can be detected in your body varies among individuals. If that isn’t confusing enough, please understand that there are several hundred strains of marijuana currently available.
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These products all have different levels of potency, which of course impacts the amount of THC they contain. It’s important to remember that THC is a fat-soluble compound (2). It will bind to the fat tissues in your body. With this in mind, it’s important to understand that THC and whatever metabolites your body converts it to will be stored more easily in people with higher levels of body fat.
If you’re thin, you have less to worry about. If you’re on the hefty side, weed will stick around in your system for a longer time. Pushing out THC requires a lot more time if it is stored in the body’s fat tissues. This process can take anywhere from days to weeks or possibly even months. It all depends on how much cannabis you’ve smoked.
This is where the usage volume differences between casual users and heavy users play a big role. This is a big deal. If you smoke weed very frequently, expect your fat cells to hang on to a lot more THC metabolites than your casual pot-smoking friends. I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you, but if you smoke weed all day every day and you are desperately checking the internet for any quick solutions to detoxify your system, you’re probably out of luck. I hate to say it!
Generally speaking, THC-COOH takes around 4 days to leave the average body. In a recent study conducted on 52 test participants, researchers discovered that the average THC clearance rate is 4.9 days (3, 4). Interestingly enough, when the participants’ urine was tested for the main marijuana metabolite THC-COOH, clearance took as much as 18 days.
In a separate study, researchers discovered that THC remains in the bodies of casual or infrequent weed smokers anywhere between 2 days to 72 hours. On the other hand, frequent users cleared out THC from their systems in a range of nine to twelve days (5).
HOW LONG DOES WEED REMAIN IN YOUR URINE?
If you’re wondering how long marijuana will stay in your system, please understand that this can basically be rephrased into a more practical question: how long will THC be detectable in my urine? We have to think about the question in these terms to get to practical tips on how to effectively flush THC from our bodies. Drug testing is becoming widespread among all types of companies, not just in the United States, but in many other countries.
More and more employers request applicants to go through drug testing during the application process. Even if you get employed, many employers now perform random drug tests. If you’re reading this, you probably already know this. That’s why you are looking up important information on how long THC will remain in your body.
In addition to saliva and blood tests, urine marijuana testing is probably one of the most effective methods of screening. This is also the reason why one of the most highly searched terms on the internet related to cannabis or marijuana is, “How to clean your urine?” Urine testing is popular precisely because it’s one of the cheapest ways to test for drugs.
Not only is urine testing one of the most inexpensive drug testing methods, it also detects THC for a longer period. This is why it’s absolutely important that you know just how long pot can be seen in your piss after smoking weed. Most marijuana detection test kits focus on the detection of the metabolite THC-COOH instead of THC itself.
As I have discussed above, THC-COOH is produced when your body breaks down THC. If your urine contains THC-COOH, this logically means that your body was previously in contact with THC. How long this compound will show up in your urine totally depends on the frequency of your weed smoking and the volume that you normally smoke.
The more marijuana, the stronger the variety, as well as how often you light up, will determine how long the THC will remain in your system. This also should clue you in on the method that you will have to use to clean out whatever compounds you want to purge from your system.
Here’s a quick guide on just how long marijuana can be found in urine tests:
- Single use (you smoke maybe at most once every month): As much as 8 days
- Regular use (you smoke around 4-6 times over a one-month period): As much as 15 days
- Frequent use (you smoke 10-15 times within a one-month period): As much as one month
- Heavy use (you smoke more than 20 times over a one-month period): As much as 45-77 days
Based on the information above, this is not exactly great news for hardcore stoners who are looking to completely flush out THC from their system in just one day (6).
HOW DO YOU PASS A WEED URINE TEST?
Given the information above, you’re probably scared about your upcoming urine test because you are a regular or heavy pot smoker. After all, one to three months of total abstinence from weed can be a very long time. You’re probably thinking that you will need some help passing your test. Sadly, there’s really no 100% guaranteed way of beating urine-based THC detection tests.
If your urine shows any trace of weed’s main compound THC, there is no slam-dunk solution. However, there is good news. You can use the following methods and products to get the help you need. Their effectiveness varies – again, depending on your pot smoking frequency and the strength of the weed you smoke.
1. Detox Pills/Drinks
One of the most basic ways you can dilute the number of THC metabolites in your system is to use detox pills and detox drinks. These are readily available on the Internet and they do a pretty decent job of detoxifying your urine to the point that you get rid of drug traces and all sorts of THC metabolites.
2. Drink Water
Another way is to just drink a lot of water. By doing this, you end up diluting the number of metabolites in your urine. You can’t go overboard though. Please understand that the screening test might get voided if your piss contains too much water or is otherwise too diluted.
3. Fruit Pectin
Another common way to beat the typical urine drug test is to use fruit pectin. This is a naturally occurring starch that is produced by the cell walls of plants. Concentrated forms of it can be found in preserves and jams. To use pectin for drug tests mix it with electrolyte-containing water refreshments like Gatorade. You need to drink this at the right time.
Give yourself at least a couple of hours before your urine test. As much as possible try to drink this well ahead of the test. A lot of people would actually drink this solution a couple of days before their test. Once you have drunk pectin and Gatorade, follow it up with B-vitamins and drink up to two bottles of water. The idea is to let the dietary fiber in fruit pectin to soak up any THC metabolites present in your system.
Once this happens, these metabolites leave your body through your guts instead of your urine. Since there’s less of this compound in the urine, you’re more likely to pass your test. Although the methods that I’ve described above can help you ace your upcoming urine test, please understand that nobody can guarantee they will work 100 percent all the time.
Also, keep in mind that there are a lot of detox products currently in the market that might actually sicken you. Physically, they may actually nauseate you. This is due to some of the compounds that these detox products contain. Another thing to note is the effectiveness of these methods really boils down to how much advance notice you get about your upcoming marijuana test.
You have to know ahead of time that you’re going to have a drug test at your job. If you don’t have that advance notice, the best policy would be to just really dial down on the amount of weed you smoke. I know that’s not the ideal solution but that’s really what it all boils down to unless you want a nasty surprise later on.
FLUSHING OUT MARIJUANA FROM YOUR BODY
A quick test for you. Is this statement Myth or Fact?
If somebody uses weed once and completely stops, the THC will leave their body within a day. Myth or Fact?
It all depends on how much weed they smoke and the strain of the marijuana. Some strains are extremely potent and have so much THC that it will continue to be detected in your system for several days and even weeks. In this section, we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of just how long it will take for marijuana to completely exit your system.
According to previous research, it all boils down to how much weed a particular person smokes. It varies from person to person. And it really depends on volume, frequency and how long the person has been lighting up. These factors vary from individual to individual. Still, for the average pot smoker, weed will be detectable in the human body within a range of 10 days up to a full month (7).
Different strains of marijuana have different THC levels. Some strains are bred specifically for their high THC potency and availability. The bottom line is the stronger the weed variety you smoke, the higher the THC amount it will contain. You will then be ingesting a higher level of cannabinoids in your body. This will increase the amount of time your body will take to flush those compounds out.
Different people have different metabolic rates. These processes play a big role in how efficiently your body burns energy and processes food. It also plays a very big role in how quickly it can eliminate THC from your system. Also, your metabolism determines how much fat your body has which of course plays a big role in the amount of THC your body either retains or flushes out within a period of time.
How Much Fat Your Body Has
The psychoactive chemical compounds in marijuana is processed by your body in such a way that it ends up in your fat cells. This means that the more fat your body has the longer these weed compounds will remain in your urine or your blood.
How Long Can Your Saliva Contain THC?
Have you ever wondered how long pot can be detected in your spit? You have to first look at the period of time since you last smoked weed. Generally speaking, THC can be found for the shortest period of time in saliva. If you’re looking for a drug test that has a very short detection period for marijuana compounds, a saliva test is a good news indeed. For example, if you were stopped by the Police, a saliva test is what they would usually use to test for cannabis.
The metabolized compounds THC produces can be detected in your spit for up to a full day. It doesn’t really matter whether you smoke one joint or you took several bong hits. However please know that if you smoke regularly you’re looking at a duration period of up to three days.
Finally, if you are a very heavy weed smoker, you might want to wait as much as a full week before undergoing a THC saliva test. This is due to the studies that suggest that THC actually accumulates in salivary glands due to heavy use (8).
How Long Will THC Stay In Hair Samples?
Another way employers and the government can test for drug use is through hair samples. This is a huge concern for a lot of people because this test has the longest marijuana detection period currently available. This type of test was actually put together to spot long-term weed smokers instead of infrequent or one time or casual users.
Generally speaking, the typical THC test will detect drugs in your body for at least three months. So how long exactly will weed residue show up in your hair? Cannabis metabolites may be detected through hair tests for as much as a full week after marijuana consumption. However, just like other detection methods hair follicle THC tests look for THC-COOH, a metabolite of THC rather than THC itself. It doesn’t look for THC directly.
Also, it’s very interesting to note that if you just smoked weed for the first time or you are a very infrequent smoker, you are probably not going to get a positive result through a THC hair test. This test is geared more towards heavier consumption patterns. As mentioned above, it was originally developed to weed out (pun intended) heavy users.
How Long Will THC Remain In Blood?
Again, like with all other detection methods, determining the period of time marijuana will stay in your bloodstream requires focusing on THC metabolites. The good news is marijuana blood tests are actually not all that common (9). However, even for informational purposes, it’s a good idea to see what you’re up against should you be required to take a blood drug test. When it comes to a THC blood test, you can rely on a bit of good news. You have to understand that cannabinoids require fatty secretions or areas of your body to bind to. It doesn’t bind all that well to your blood cells.
Not surprisingly, THC and all the compounds it breaks down into doesn’t remain in your blood for an extended period of time. In fact, if you just smoked weed for the very first time or you’re a very casual user, the most you can expect is that THC will be present in your system for about a day after you have smoked. On the other hand, if you light up quite a bit don’t be surprised if blood tests detect THC in your system for up to three or four days after your last usage.
Finally, if you are a regular or frequent user it’s a good idea to wait around for quite a bit. A week or so is a good rule of thumb before you take that blood drug test. Again, if your employer says that they’re going to be using a blood test to test for drugs you don’t have to worry all that much. This is actually the easiest type of test to ace when it comes to THC.
Hopefully, this post has given you some of the answers that you’ve been looking for regarding how long marijuana can stay in the human body. However, please note that it’s really very hard to come up with a precise answer. All sorts of factors feed into this. The most obvious is your frequency of use, the type of weed you smoke and the amount you smoke each time you sit down to enjoy some weed.
If you smoke infrequently or you’re a complete and total newbie to cannabis you don’t have to worry all that much because the timeframe in which weed will be found in your system is actually quite low.
It’s also important to know that the type of drug test you take plays a big role in determining whether you will get caught with THC in your system or not.
If you are worried sick or feeling really stressed about your upcoming drug test, my best advice to you is to just completely stop smoking weed. If that’s not possible you might want to dial down the amount of weed you smoke until this drug test drama (pardon the pun) blows over.
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If you’ve taken any of the advice given here please note that nobody can guarantee that you will pass your drug test with flying colors. This is due to the fact that everybody’s body is different which means our individual biochemistry varies from person to person. Take this advice in context and we wish you the best of luck in your upcoming drug test. If you took our advice and passed the test, send us a message and let us know!