How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System? - October 12, 2021

The word ‘marijuana’ has been floating around in conversations related to health and wellness for a long time now. People use it medically and even recreationally for a sense of calm and relaxation.

But, against a long list of benefits, a few disadvantages often change the perception of people. One such disadvantage is the fact that marijuana can stay in your system for a long time after consumption. This aspect can be a deal-breaker for people who are looking to start a new job or be a part of their favorite sports team.

Since most employers and sports organizations ask for negative drug test reports from potential employees, the fact that marijuana can stay in your system is bad news for some people.

But, the silver lining, in this case, is that if you are aware of how long marijuana stays in your system, you may be able to figure a way out. So, without any delay, let’s get into the details.

How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?

Medical Marijuana

Every time you consume marijuana whether medically or recreationally, its residues stay in your system for a period of time that varies from consumer to consumer. While pinpointing the duration is not possible, the range varies from 3 – 70 days (even more). You can fall anywhere in this range.

Since marijuana is federally illegal, psychoactive (causes a high), and may put the safety of the consumer and people around at risk, drug tests are conducted to detect the presence of marijuana in the body. And you are prone to fail a drug test depending on the duration marijuana stays in your system.

What Does a Drug Test Detect?

Now, drug tests are not meant to detect marijuana per se but one of its intoxicating cannabinoids- Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.

THC is a major cannabinoid naturally found in cannabis. It is the primary cause of the psychoactive aspect of marijuana. A higher concentration of THC is what leads to intoxication or ‘high’ after consuming marijuana. Now, THC exists as more than one type. There’s Delta 9, Delta 8, Delta 10, and more isomers, all of which are under the radar or a drug test. For this reason, drug tests are designed to detect THC metabolites.

When you consume THC (any type), it is metabolized by your body and ultimately converted into a by-product or metabolite – THC COOH. This is what remains in your system even after the effects of marijuana have worn off and are detected by a drug test.

Did You Know?
CBD cannot make you fail a drug test.

Factors Affecting How Long THC Stays in Your System

Whether THC will be in your system for 3 days or a few months is totally dependent on how much you consume and how often, among other things. The variation of such factors can increase or decrease the total number of days you will have to wait before THC is out of your system.

The following factors can affect how long THC stays in your system:

  • Dose of THC
  • Frequency of Consumption
  • Method of Administration
  • Individual Factors
  • Test Sensitivity

Let’s understand them in detail.

Dose of THC

It’s pretty obvious that it will take longer for your body to get rid of a high dose of THC. Now, the high you get is not the best way to determine whether you consumed a high amount or not since ‘high’ can depend on factors other than just the dose.

So, it is important to check the labels in different THC varieties to avoid using more than you need and learning how to microdose properly.

Frequency of Consumption

How often you consume marijuana is one of the major determinants of how long THC stays in your system. The higher the frequency, the higher will be the concentration of THC in your body, and the harder it for your body to get rid of it from your body. Here’s a rough estimate:

Frequency of Use Detection Window
One time Up to 3 – 8 days
3-4 times a week 8 – 15 days
Once a day Up to 30 days
Multiple times a day More than 30 days

NOTE: These are not accurate numbers. The duration can vary from person to person.

Method of Administration

The method used to administer THC also plays a role in determining the detection time. Topical cannabis products do not show up on a drug test. However, edibles and smokable THC can make you fail a drug test.

Compared to smokable cannabis, edibles take longer to metabolize and therefore stay longer in the system.

Individual Factors

Body fat THC accumulates in fat tissues so the higher the body fat, the longer THC will stay in the body.
Gender Females tend to have a higher percentage of body fat compared to males which slow down the rate of metabolization of THC.
Metabolism A higher metabolic rate allows a better breakdown of THC and faster elimination from the body.
Exercise Physical activity releases THC stored in the fat cells which increases the chances of a positive drug test.
Hydration A dehydrated body increases the chances of a higher concentration of THC in the body.

Test Sensitivity

Drug tests for the detection of THC metabolites are of different types. The three most common ones are- urine, hair, and saliva tests.

The sensitivity of each test varies which can also be a factor in deciding whether or not you fail a test or not.

How Long Does THC Stay in Urine?

how long does thc stay in urine

THC can stay in urine for about 3 – 30 days after you last consumed it. The duration can vary depending on the factors we discussed above.

Urine tests are one of the most common ways to detect THC in the body as the detection window is neither too short nor too long. According to a study, THC was detected 25 days after abstinence at a sensitivity of 20-75 ng/ml. However, these factors highly vary from one person to another. Because while some people can test positive even after 40 days of staying clean (very rare), others can get clean within 13 days of abstinence too.

Factors like the amount and frequency of consumption will play a major role in this regard.

How Long Does THC Stay in Hair?

THC can stay in your hair for up to 90 days of staying clean. This type of test offers the widest detection window.

THC has the ability to reach your hair after getting absorbed from the fat or oil gland of the skin which is why it can help detect whether someone uses or has used cannabis.

Hair tests can give false-positive tests, though relatively rare since people who have interacted with THC consumers can also often end up failing a test.

How Long Does THC Stay in Saliva?

THC can stay in your saliva for 24 – 72 hours. For chronic cannabis consumers, the time can extend to up to one week.

Most saliva tests fail to detect THC in the system beyond their detection window.

How to Do a THC Detox to Remove Marijuana From Your System?

The exit of THC from the body is a natural process. It will take its time to metabolize and slowly disappear. However, you can take some steps from your side to speed up the process.

Here are a few ways to do a THC detox to remove marijuana from your system:

  • Drink lots of water (especially for urine tests).
  • Try detox pills and juices.
  • Use B Vitamins.
  • Try complete abstinence.

The only foolproof way to flush out THC from your system is abstinence. However, it may cause some withdrawal symptoms like headache, disturbed sleep, sweating, irritability, and nausea.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Do You Have to Smoke to Fail a Drug Test?

Drug tests designed today can detect even the smallest amounts of THC. However, it will depend on the type of test and the detection window of each that can help you determine if you fail or pass a drug test.

Where Is THC stored in the body?

When THC is metabolized and turned into THC COOH, it is primarily stored in the adipose tissues or fat cells of the body. It can stay there for a long period of time after the effects wear off.

Can Secondhand Cannabis Smoke Make Me Fail a Drug Test?

Secondhand smoke may make you fail a drug test if:

  • You shared a closed space (no ventilation) with people smoking marijuana.
  • Hair tests can give a false positive for people who have interacted with people smoking cannabis.

Online Medical Card Team