How Long Does Cannabis Stay in Your System?
Many people wonder how long cannabis remains in their system after consumption. Some are worried about possible random drug tests at work. Others simply wonder how detectable cannabis is.
Because cannabis responds to each body differently, it is difficult to stipulate an exact timeline for each individual. Also, depending on whether you test your hair, saliva, blood, or urine, the timeline differs. There are many other variables that affect how long cannabis stays in your system as well.
Even so, there are some useful guidelines that can help. No need to guess, then—just read on!
What Affects How Long Cannabis Stays in Your System?
When you take marijuana, it enters your body and is then metabolized in the liver. Traces of cannabis and THC metabolites remain in your body and are slowly discarded. The time it takes for this process to be complete depends on many criteria.
Are You a Seasoned Cannabis User or Was It a One-Off?
The first question to ask is if you’re a regular or infrequent cannabis user. What qualifies as regular marijuana use? Frequent use is usually 3 to 4 times per week. Heavy use is daily, often many times per day.
Regular cannabis users have built up THC in their system. The speed with which the body metabolizes it tends to be slower than the speed with which they add marijuana to their system. For chronic users, marijuana will take longer to leave their system.
Infrequent users (less than once per week) will eliminate THC faster than regular users.
How Fast Is Your Metabolism?
A fast metabolism will metabolize cannabis and eliminate it from the body faster. People who exercise a lot and lead active lives will expel the traces of THC quickly compared to people who are more inactive.
How Heavy Are You?
THC is lipophilic. This means it attaches to fatty tissue in the body. People who are heavier have more fatty tissue, thus providing a home for THC to linger on. It will take longer for these people to get rid of THC.
How Much THC Did You Take?
THC percentage in marijuana has been going up in the past years. Cannabis producers have been selectively growing cannabis strains with a high THC content. While a few years ago THC content was less than 10%, many current strains contain more than 20% THC.
It makes sense that the more THC you get into your body, the more time you will need to eliminate it from your system.
Are You a Man or a Woman?
Women tend to have a slower metabolism and more body fat than men. As a result, women tend to hold on to THC for longer. Incidentally, this is also why general guidelines suggest women should drink less alcohol than men—because they can’t metabolize it as fast as men can.
How Did You Take Your Cannabis?
The method of consumption directly affects bioavailability. When we consume a substance, part of it enters the bloodstream and part of it is metabolized and discarded. Bioavailability measures how much of a compound ends up in our bloodstream. It is high when we inhale a substance because it enters the blood directly from the lungs. Inhaled marijuana, therefore, takes effect faster—but also lasts less.
On the other hand, when we eat an edible, the cannabis first has to pass through the stomach and liver, where it is metabolized. This reduces dramatically the amount that enters the bloodstream. Therefore, the effect starts a lot slower—but also lasts longer.
Did You Drink Enough Water?
Even simple things like drinking water can help your body metabolize cannabis faster. When we drink water, we help our body eliminate toxins through the kidneys. The byproducts of THC can be eliminated through urine. The more you drink, the faster you will dispose of cannabis metabolites.
So, how long does cannabis stay in my system?
There are four different ways to test for marijuana: urine, blood, saliva, and hair. The most common test is urine and saliva. Saliva and urine tests only test THC consumption but cannot determine the quantity consumed. Blood tests will establish how much THC was consumed.
Tests typically work indirectly: they don’t check for THC but rather for one or more THC metabolites—compounds like THC-COOH (nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) metabolite—to identify marijuana users. This is because THC metabolites stay in the body much longer than the parent THC drug.
Infrequent users will have THC metabolites detectable in their system for 24-48 hours. Regular users could have THC consumption show up in their saliva for up to 3 days. Depending on the usage, chronic and heavy users could test positive on saliva tests for up to one week, although there are cases when metabolites could be detectable for even longer.
For occasional users, a urine test will show THC consumption for up to 3 days. It will show for up to 7 days for frequent users and up to 15 days for chronic daily consumption. People who consume marijuana several times a day qualify as chronic heavy users: their urine test could test positive for up to 30 days.
Blood tests are rarely performed. They tend to be used in specific cases, such as car accidents, where the amount of THC consumption has to be precisely determined.
Both frequent and infrequent users will test positive in blood tests for a couple of days. Chronic heavy users could have traces of THC metabolites in their blood for up to a month.
Hair tests are the rarest to be used. THC metabolites hide in the fatty molecules of hair. As hair grows, THC remains in these molecules and can be detected for months. Hair tests are used to determine THC usage in the past three months. In this case, it doesn’t matter whether you are an occasional or frequent user.
How Can I Eliminate THC from My System?
While it is not easy to eliminate THC from your system in a speedy way, you can try the following:
- Drink a lot of water to help your body eliminate THC and its metabolites.
- A healthy diet with fruit, vegetables, and fiber will help activate your stomach and intestines. Your body will eliminate THC through bowel movements.
- You could also try to improve your metabolism with exercise.
- Finally, good sleep helps your body mend itself and balance your metabolism to its optimal level.
If you have an upcoming drug test, you should stop consuming cannabis and wait for your body to slowly and gently eliminate all THC traces.
Mountain Annie’s for Your Marijuana
For any questions regarding how long cannabis stays in your system, talk to our friendly and knowledgeable budtenders. Take your time to choose the marijuana strain and marijuana product that will work for you. Besides edibles, tinctures, concentrates, flowers, and pre-rolls, you will also find a great selection of cannabis-infused topicals such as creams, salves, soaks, transdermal patches, and more.
Mountain Annie’s has four dispensaries in Ridgway, Silverton, Durango, and Cortez. We are open Monday to Sunday, 8:00 am-8:00 pm. Drop by in person to evaluate what type of cannabis consumption best suits your lifestyle and make the appropriate choice or order online and arrange to pick up your purchases whenever it suits you.