How long weed will stay in your system depends on a range of factors such as frequency of use, your individual metabolic rate and body fat percentage How long marijuana stays in your body depends on many different things. Learn more about these factors, marijuana drug testing and detoxing from weed. Marijuana is a medicinal plant of the cannabis family. It contains a psychoactive compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC activates parts of the brain, which produce the primary psychoactive and intoxication effects. Learn about drug tests, detox methods, and treatment options.
How long does THC stay in your system?
THC can stay in your system for several weeks, but how long exactly depends on a range of factors such as frequency of use, your individual metabolic rate, and body fat percentage. That said, THC detection times rarely exceed 30 days, according to a 2005 fact-sheet written by Paul Cary, director of the Toxicology and Drug Monitoring Laboratory at the University of Missouri.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the most notable of the active chemicals found in cannabis that is responsible for the plant’s well-known psychoactive effects, is fat soluble. Because of its preference for fats, THC finds its way into the fatty tissues of the body, where it is stored and slowly excreted. It’s this fat storage results in THC’s long detection window.
The method with which one consumes cannabis also affects which metabolic pathway THC follows in the body. That isn’t relevant only for the time it takes your body to excrete it, but also the time it takes for it to be metabolized and begin to affect you.
For instance, when cannabis is vaped or smoked, it’s quickly absorbed by the lungs and there is a sharp increase of THC in the bloodstream within minutes. The major effects of inhalation tend to last a few hours.
When cannabis is ingested, on the other hand, the THC enters the bloodstream through the intestinal walls, is sent to and processed by the liver, and only then can it go to the brain, where it causes the high. Typically the psychoactive effects of THC that is orally consumed can be felt within an hour, while peak effects occur before four hours, and the overall experience can last as long as eight hours, sometimes longer. The psychoactive effects of edibles also tend to be felt more intensely due to the production of 11-hydroxy-THC (the active metabolite of THC).
How long a THC high lasts and how long THC stays in your system are two very different things. There are some claims of “cannabis hangovers,” with anecdotal reports of lingering fatigue following cannabis use. However, in general, when the primary psychoactive effects of cannabis (ie. the high) are over, things return to normal, despite lingering THC metabolites being released from fat cells for several days or weeks.
Everyone metabolizes THC differently
After THC is consumed, it is quickly broken down by the body and turned into molecules called metabolites. Within about six hours of smoking cannabis, cannabis metabolites can be detected in the urine. 1 More than 100 different THC metabolites 2 have been identified and their half-lives differ greatly — some metabolites can be cleared by the body quickly while others can be stored in fat tissue and detectable in urine for days,weeks, or even months.
One study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology examined THC concentrations in the urine of Norweigan prisoners. With these tests, scientists were able to estimate the initial half-life of THC is around 1.3 days for frequent and infrequent users. This means that within 4-7 days, the vast majority of the THC will be gone from the system. In frequent users, however, a slower excretion occurs and is reflected by a 10-day terminal half-life. The researchers found that they could detect THC in the urine of frequent users for up to 2-4 weeks after quitting.
The wide ranges presented are because there are numerous factors that determine how long THC stays in your system.
- Metabolism: Every individual has a unique metabolic rate that is dependent on numerous factors including age, activity levels, diet, genetics, concurrent medications, and health conditions. In general, a faster metabolism results in a more rapid metabolization and excretion of THC.
- Body fat: Since THC metabolites are stored in fat tissue, people with a higher body fat percentage will naturally store higher amounts of cannabinoids. The result is more THC lingering in the body and a longer THC detection window.
- Gender: Women have higher body fat percentages than men on average, and therefore it may take them modestly longer than men to clear THC from their bodies.
- Hydration: Staying hydrated does not help to clear cannabinoids more quickly, even if the internet claims it does. Dehydration does however result in more concentrated THC metabolites in urine, which may affect THC detection through urine drug screening.
Because of all of the factors involved, there may not be a way to accurately predict how long THC will remain detectable. There is, however, enough clinical research out there that one could draw general estimates to determine — how long does weed stay in your system.
Methods of testing for THC
According to a 2004 review published in the Therapeutic Drug Monitoring journal, “detection time is longest in hair, followed by urine, sweat, oral fluid, and blood.” 3
|Single use||36 hrs||72 hrs||Probably undetectable||12 hours|
|Moderate use||7 days||14 days||90 days||2 days|
|Chronic use||30 days||30+ days||90 days||28 days|
|Notes||Detection window can vary highly depending on type of test cutoff level, metabolites screened, etc. 4 , 5||Detection beyond 30 days is uncommon but has been reported, especially in heavy use and in those with excessive body fat. 6||The detection window is extremely long. The reason 90 days is the standard window testing facilities are looked at, but can vary from individual based on hair growth and based on laboratory procedures. 7||The smallest detection window of all testing types. Still, detection times vary depending on consumption method and test type. Smoking cannabis increases the likelihood of a positive saliva test due to mouth contamination. 8|
How long does THC stay in your hair follicles?
After entering and circulating through the body, some THC will reach hair follicles through small blood vessels where small amounts are deposited into the growing hair. Once the THC is in the hair, it will likely be detectable for years. In fact, hair preserves drug residues so well that scientists can even find evidence of cocaine use in the hair of a 900 year old mummy. 9 But, fear not–that is not the normal detection window. Hair follicle drug tests can assess previous drug use for up to 90 days, because as standard they only test the newest 3.9cm of hair. Since human hair usually grows 1.5gm each month, the detection window is estimated to be about 3 months. The tests are often geared for detecting a level of cannabis use equivalent to 1 or 2 joints per month.
How long does THC stay in your urine?
Urine testing is by far the most common type of THC testing. Tests can vary in their sensitivity so it’s hard to make generalizations, but according to Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 10 the primary THC metabolite can be detected in urine for the following lengths of time:
- Single use: 3 days
- Moderate use (four times per week): 5-7 days
- Chronic use (daily): 10-15 days
- Chronic heavy use: Over 30 days
How long is THC detectable in your sweat?
Sweat testing is a non-invasive cannabis testing method that has not yet, so don’t expect to get this test yet, but it could be useful for applications in the future. In one study, THC elimination was evaluated in 11 daily cannabis users after stopping cannabis use. Sweat patches were worn for seven days, and were analyzed for THC. Eight out of the 11 subjects had negative results after the second week. 11
How long is THC detectable in your saliva?
Cannabis is also detectable in saliva. According to a 2014 review on cannabinoids in oral fluid, cannabis can be detected in saliva for the following time periods:
- Occasional cannabis users: ~2 days
- Chronic daily cannabis smokers: ~14 days, but can be up to 28 days days
How long does THC stay in your blood?
Similar to other cannabis testing methods, the period of THC metabolite detectability in the blood is dependent on the frequency of use. According to a review published in the Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Journal, in general, THC is detectable in the blood for one to two days. 12
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Other research has shown slightly longer THC blood detectability for heavy cannabis users. In a 2009 study, published in the journal Addiction, researchers tested THC blood concentrations in 25 heavy cannabis users for seven days of abstinence. Six out of 25 users had a positive test after 7 days of abstinence. Of note, this test was looking directly at THC, not the THC metabolite (THC-COOH) most commonly looked for and that lingers in the body longer. 13
Implications for drug testing
Millions of employees and potential employees are drug tested every year in the United States and elsewhere. They are measured for drug metabolites in their urine, blood, hair, saliva, breath, sweat, and even fingernails.
There are countless methods of detoxing available, with few being based on much science. These range from drinking cranberry juice to taking laxatives and other herbal supplements. Many people attempting to fool test results frequently increase the amount of water they drink in order to “flush out” THC. The reasoning behind this approach is that over-hydrating oneself decreases the concentration of THC metabolites in the urine, thus decreasing the chance of a positive result. Individuals using this over-hydration method also often take a vitamin B-12 supplement to turn their urine more yellow, making it appear less dilute.
Excessive exercise in an attempt to burn fat, since THC is stored in fat, is not unheard of either. In theory this is a logical approach, but ironically, a study published in the journal Drug & Alcohol Dependence showed that exercise can release stored THC metabolites into the bloodstream, which could actually increase the odds of testing positive. The bottom line is that there is no way to guarantee a negative test result for THC, but an understanding of the detection windows may help you better plan your next job change.
How Long Does Weed Stay in Your System?
Marijuana, sometimes referred to as weed, pot, dope, Mary Jane or cannabis, is the most commonly used federally illegal drug in the United States, with an estimated 48.2 million people using it in 2019. Marijuana refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems and seeds of the cannabis plant and contains hundreds of compounds (often called cannabinoids). These compounds contain both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is impairing or “mind-altering,” and cannabidiol (CBD), which is not impairing and does not cause a “high.”
Like many drugs, there are a variety of factors that can affect how long marijuana is detectable. How often a person uses marijuana, the THC content, body fat, genetics, how the drug test is measured (blood, urine, saliva, etc.) and many other factors can determine how long marijuana remains in a person’s system.
What Happens When You Consume Weed?
The effects of marijuana can vary from person to person — some feeling relaxed or euphoric, while others can feel anxious and paranoid. This can depend on a number of characteristics like genetics, body fat, THC content and how marijuana is ingested (smoking or eating). After smoking marijuana, THC rapidly enters the bloodstream, where it can make you feel “high.” If marijuana is ingested orally, usually as edibles, it takes longer to be absorbed into the blood and can range from about 20 minutes to an hour and a half.
Weed Side Effects
Short-term effects of consuming marijuana (memory, problem-solving, coordination and driving impairment) are more pronounced in the first hour or two but can last for up to 24 hours. Because there is so much variation between strains of marijuana, other effects can be varied.
Other effects can include:
- Dry mouth
- Swollen eyelids
- Increased appetite (“the munchies”)
- Distorted perception
- Loss of coordination
- Trouble with thinking, memory and problem solving
- Increased heart rate
How Is Weed Processed by the Body?
THC is a sticky, easily vaporized compound that readily dissolves into fats. Once in the body, it is deposited into fatty (adipose) tissue like the liver, lungs and spleen. THC is metabolized by the liver to 11-OH-THC and then further metabolized to an inactive compound (THCCOOH). There are two enzymes responsible for this metabolism, and there can be genetic variation in these — meaning some people may metabolize marijuana quickly and others will metabolize it slowly.
Factors Determining How Long Weed Stays in Your System
Many factors can affect the amount of time that marijuana remains in the body after consuming it. The effects of marijuana can be felt within minutes up to over an hour, depending on how it was consumed.
Other factors that can influence how long marijuana is detectable in the body include:
- Body fat percentage: Those with higher body fat percentages may have detectable levels of marijuana for a longer time.
- Genetics: Some people may be genetically predisposed to metabolizing marijuana more quickly or more slowly.
- Frequency of use: Infrequent users clear marijuana more quickly than frequent users.
- Other drugs or medications: The enzymes responsible for marijuana metabolism (CYP2C9 and CYP3A4) can be sped up or slowed down by other drugs or medications.
- Potency of marijuana
- Tolerance level
How Long Does It Take Weed to Leave Your System?
The half-life of a drug is the time it takes for the body to metabolize and eliminate half of the substance. While there are a variety of cannabinoids, THC is the one most drug tests look for. In the body, THC is broken down into metabolites, which are stored in body fat until finally being excreted through feces and urine.
Some marijuana metabolites have half-lives of 20 hours, but others can be as long as 10–13 days. It can ultimately take three to five half-lives for these metabolites to be completely eliminated. This means it can take between five and 65 days for marijuana to be completely eliminated, depending on factors like how often marijuana is consumed, body fat percentage, genetics and others.
How Long Does Weed Stay in Urine?
Urine tests can show recent marijuana use (not current intoxication) because of the delay between use and the body breaking THC down into metabolites. It can take an estimated one to four days for marijuana to be undetectable in urine, though some studies have shown detectable levels for up to 70 days with chronic use.
How Long Does Weed Stay in Your Blood?
Because marijuana stays in the bloodstream for a short time, blood tests are not usually used for this purpose, with the exception of automobile accidents and some roadside sobriety checkpoints. It can take an estimated 36 hours for marijuana to be undetectable in blood, though some reports suggest up to seven days with chronic use.
How Long Does Weed Stay in Your Hair?
Hair tests are not reliably able to detect marijuana use or to determine the amount consumed. Each centimeter of hair accounts for about a one-month period of time, so the detection period depends on hair length but is generally 90 days. First-time drug use in the last seven to 14 days cannot be detected due to the time that it takes for marijuana to reach the hair.
How Long Does Weed Stay in Your Saliva?
Like blood, marijuana is present in saliva for a short time. As a result, a saliva test could show current intoxication but would not indicate level of intoxication or impairment. Marijuana is detectable for an estimated 34 hours in saliva.
How Long Does Weed Stay in Breastmilk?
Breastmilk can contain THC for up to six days after use and can affect the newborn’s brain development, resulting in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function and other long-term consequences.
Will Weed Show Up on an Employment Drug Test?
Workplace testing often first entails an immunoassay test (EMRIT or RIA). If positive, it is then sent for gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GCMS), which is much more sensitive, so false positives are rare. At one time, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) would cause false positives for marijuana. However, today’s tests have eliminated that problem.
While marijuana is legal in some states, many employers have drug-free workplace policies. These workplaces often have random drug screening policies for current employees and routine testing for new employees to ensure their workplaces are drug-free. Your employment can be terminated for failing a drug test, even in states where marijuana has been legalized.
Detoxing From Weed
The only completely reliable way to pass a drug test is to stop using marijuana. While there are many tips and tricks for how to “beat” a drug test for marijuana, most have been shown to be urban legends.
Some of these questionable techniques include:
: This method entails drinking fluids and urinating several times prior to a drug test, then taking vitamin b-12 to add color to urine. This serves to dilute THC metabolites but does not eliminate them. : Exercising or spending time in the sauna prior to a drug test can actually backfire by releasing THC metabolites from fatty tissue into the blood. : Various companies sell substances or herbal teas claiming to “clean” the body’s traces of marijuana; however, there is little evidence to support this.
Marijuana Detox Facilities in Florida
Our treatment facilities offer medical and clinical treatments in a restorative setting where your successful recovery is our focus. In a medical detox program, your body slowly rids itself of the marijuana while under medical supervision. Doctors and nurses can quickly address any signs of withdrawal to make the process as safe and as comfortable as possible. Once patients have finished detox, they can transition directly into the full addiction treatment program.
Marijuana Addiction Treatment
The Recovery Village at Baptist Health offers a full continuum of care so that your recovery can be customized to your needs. After medical detox, marijuana addiction treatment might include either inpatient rehab where you live on-site, focused on recovery free of distractions, or outpatient rehab, where you live at home or in a sober living community and come to the facility regularly for appointments. Our partial hospitalization program (PHP) offers an intermediary step between inpatient treatment and outpatient rehab: more freedom during the day while keeping the benefit of medical supervision. Typically, outpatient rehab comes after successful inpatient rehab, where you have learned the skills necessary to live a marijuana-free life. We also provide mental health counseling for co-occurring disorders and aftercare for long-term recovery.
Depending on the level of care, we have a variety of indoor and outdoor amenities at our facility, including:
- Swimming pool
- Two fully equipped gyms
- Basketball courts
- Sand volleyball court
- Frisbee golf
- Horseshoe pits
- Multiple lounges with TVs
- Comfortable, hotel-style, semi-private rooms
Our licensed staff members are highly skilled in supporting our clients to find lasting recovery with compassionate care. As a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers and a Gold Seal Joint Commission facility, we are here to provide evidence-based, high-quality addiction treatment. Contact us today to start your journey toward a marijuana-free life.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Health Effects of Marijuana.” Reviewed June 2, 2021. Accessed February 8, 2022.
Drugs.com. “How long does Marijuana stay in your system?” Updated April 7, 2021. Accessed February 8, 2022.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Marijuana intoxication.” Medline Plus, Updated February 4, 2022. Accessed February 10, 2022.
Huestis, Marilyn A. “Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics.” Chemistry and Biodiversity, August 21, 2007. Accessed February 20, 2022.
Huestis, M. A.; Mitchell, J. M.; & Cone, E. J. “Detection times of marijuana metabolites in urine by immunoassay and GC-MS.” Journal of Analytical Toxicology, October 1995. Accessed February 10, 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding.” Updated October 16, 2019. Accessed February 8, 2022.
Dasgupta, Amitava. “How People Try to Beat Drug Testing.” American Association for Clinical Chemistry, February 1, 2015. Accessed February 10, 2022.
Exercise.com. “Will exercise help you to pass a drug test for cannabis?” Updated August 20, 2020. Accessed February 10, 2022.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?
Detectable amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may remain in the body for days or even weeks after use. Upon consumption of marijuana, THC is absorbed and stored by various body tissues and organs. The drug is primarily broken down by the liver. The by-products formed by the breakdown are immediately cleared via urine. However, THC stored in the body tissue gets continuously released back into the bloodstream over time, where it continues to be broken down by the liver and cleared in urine until all of it is depleted from the body. In a chronic user, the excretion rate of THC through urine is less, so it builds up in the liver.
What is marijuana (cannabis)?
Marijuana, also known as weed, pot, or ganja, is a medicinal plant of the cannabis family. It contains a psychoactive compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that has major intoxicating effects. The leaves, seeds, stems, or roots, are mainly used for intoxication purposes. Marijuana preparations are usually smoked in pipes, joints, or water pipes (bongs). Marijuana users also add it to food or brew it as tea. Marijuana is the most abused substance in the United States. Approximately, 11.8 million young adults used marijuana in 2018.
When will marijuana show up on a drug test?
Several tests are used to detect the presence of marijuana. They include:
- Saliva test: A person can test positive for marijuana for up to 34 to 48 hours after the last marijuana use.
- Urine test: Infrequent users test positive for one to three days, moderate users can test positive for 7 to 21 days and a heavy user can test positive for a month or longer after the last marijuana use.
- Hair test: Marijuana can be detected in a hair test for up to 90 days.
- Blood test: Marijuana will be visible in a blood test for up to 36 hours.
How to get marijuana out of my body fast
Abstention is the best way to rapidly remove marijuana from the body. It involves cutting off marijuana completely for a while so that the body can fully eliminate it from the system. This is also called detox, which can result in withdrawal symptoms such as
Detox can be performed using the following:
However, detox should be performed by a medical professional and never tried at your own risk. Detoxing at home without medical help can lead to relapse of symptoms, which may become difficult to address at home. At a medical facility, withdrawal symptoms may be addressed in a healing and constructive manner.
Apart from detox, there are natural ways to remove marijuana from the body, which include
- Follow a healthy diet by avoiding processed food, preservatives, flavor enhancers, and coloring agents
- Add more green vegetables and fruits to enhance the fiber content in your diet
- Drink more water to flush out toxins
- Take hot baths to soothe physical pain and for mental relaxation regularly to improve mood and physical health
- Eliminate caffeine until anxiety and irregular sleep patterns are gone
What happens when you smoke marijuana?
Marijuana, when inhaled, exhibits short- and long-term effects on the brain.
- After smoking marijuana, THC passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, and it is carried to the brain and other organs. The effect is generally felt after 30 minutes to one hour. THC activates parts of the brain, which produce the primary psychoactive and the intoxication effects. Other effects felt are:
- Altered senses
- Distorted sense of time
- Impaired memory
- Psychosis (disconnected from reality)
- Impaired coordination
- Difficulty in thinking clearly
Long-term effects result in some permanent changes to the brain, such as losing mental abilities and functioning.
Other physical changes are:
- Increased heart rate
- Problems with child development during and after pregnancy
- Intense nausea and vomiting
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What are the treatments options for marijuana abuse and addiction?
Currently, there aren’t any medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration that specifically treat marijuana addictions. Marijuana addiction is mostly treated in a rehabilitation center. A combination of behavioral therapies is effective in treating marijuana addiction, which includes
- Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): It motivates the individual to give up marijuana. It focuses on an individual’s motivation to change. Often, people with marijuana addiction may have little motivation to change their self-destructing behavior, which has a negative effect on health, family life, or social functioning. Hence, MET can be a blessing to people who wish to change their addiction but fail to due to a lack of motivation.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: It is a common type of talk therapy that teaches the user to stop using drugs and ways to avoid or manage other problems. It makes you aware of your inaccurate or negative thinking associated with marijuana disorder.
- Contingency management: It involves exchanging vouchers as a reward for not taking drugs. However, it is only recognized by a few psychiatrists. It is potentially beneficial for people with severe marijuana addiction.
Although medications may not be effective in treating addictions, some antidepressant medications help manage withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapses.
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