From a neurological standpoint, we are hardwired for cannabis. Every human out there has an endocannabinoid system with receptors that react to cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.
When we consume marijuana, our bodies process its active ingredients in many ways. Once cannabinoids reach the bloodstream, they interact with the body and brain and thus need some time to be entirely flushed.
How long does marijuana stay in your system?
It’s a question that every cannabis consumer has asked themselves at least once in their life. But to be honest, the answer isn’t as simple as we believe it to be.
Let’s explore the driving factors behind the time marijuana stays in your system.
Overview: How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Your System?
Whether you’re a new consumer or facing a drug screening at work soon, knowing how long marijuana stays in your system can help you stay out of trouble.
First, we need to take a look at several parts of the body that can tell us if THC metabolites are still in your body — urine, blood, hair, and saliva.
But before you learn how long marijuana stays in each of those parts, let’s put the answer in the simplest terms possible.
When you consume cannabis via smoking or vaporizing the herb, THC, the psychoactive compound, is almost immediately metabolized by your body. The effects typically come within minutes, lasting 2–3 hours on average.
Eating cannabis (e.g. edibles or capsules) has a delayed onset because the THC needs to pass through the digestive system to reach the bloodstream — it’s called “the first pass effect.”
Given this, the effects from edibles may come within 30–120 minutes after consumption, lasting up to 6 hours.
However, the byproducts of marijuana can stay in your cells for much longer. Of course, they are inactive, meaning you won’t be constantly high, but they are detectable by drug tests to tell if you’ve been smoking weed recently.
Still, there are many other factors determining the time marijuana stays in your system.
Curious what else may cause THC to stay in your body for longer?
Continue reading to find out.
Factors Affecting the Time Marijuana Stays In Your System
Finding two people with the same metabolism is virtually impossible. Everybody processes THC at a different rate. Even individuals of the same gender and age may have other patterns of metabolizing this compound — be it due to their lifestyle choices, unique body chemistry, and cannabis consumption frequency.
Here’s the list of key factors that can affect the time marijuana stays in your system:
- Body fat percentage (THC binds to fat)
- Frequency of marijuana consumption
- Levels of physical activity
- Metabolic rate
- Nutrition habits
- Potency of consumed weed strains
The above variables make it extremely difficult to gauge how long THC will remain detectable in a person’s system with any degree of confidence, which is why we can only provide you with some general figures.
How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Urine?
Certain jobs require employees to undergo periodical drug test to see if they abstain from psychoactive substances or not.
Drug screening has become very popular among corporations all over the world, and despite the noticeable change in policies toward cannabis, it is still considered a controlled substance in most places.
Urine tests are one of the most effective methods of detecting THC in a person’s system. They are also relatively inexpensive, so most of the time, you will be asked to send a sample of your urine to a laboratory.
Urine testing has been designed to search for THC-COOH rather than THC itself. THC-OOH is a metabolite that forms when THC is processed in the liver. If any traces of THC-COOH show up in your sample, this means your body has recently metabolized THC — resulting in a positive drug test.
But how long does marijuana stay in urine? Here’s a general idea:
- Single use — up to 8 days
- Occasional use — up to 15 days
- Regular use — up to 30 days
- Heavy use — up to 80 days
And what about other systems?
If you could follow us, please.
How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Blood?
Blood tests will show traces of marijuana in your system for the shortest amount of time. When you smoke or vape cannabis, THC gets to your bloodstream so that the effects can take hold. Once it enters the brain, it will spur the euphoric set of effects also known as the “high” — as well as a range of therapeutic effects.
The body will quickly break down the active cannabinoids in the blood, which is why the signs of marijuana use don’t stay there for very long.
This makes blood screening a much less common form of the drug test, at least not among companies who want to test their employees for drugs. The majority of blood tests are made when a company or law enforcement agency wants to verify whether or not someone was intoxicated with marijuana during an accident, or shortly before.
THC can be detected in blood for one or two days after a single use. For regular users, this timespan is extended to up to a week after their last consumption.
How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Hair?
Hair follicle tests are able to detect THC-COOH for up to one year prior to the last time you’ve smoked/vaped/ingested marijuana.
The good news is that it takes very large amounts of marijuana metabolites to reach the hair follicle tissue, so if you’re just an occasional user, there’s nothing to worry about.
How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Saliva?
Saliva tests look for the same active THC that blood screenings do, so marijuana will stay there for pretty much the same amount of time.
When you smoke or vaporize marijuana, THC covers the inside of your mouth and gets absorbed by your mucous membrane. When taking edibles, this exposure is slightly lower, but you’re still eating the decarbed weed.
This THC will stay in your saliva until you swallow enough of it to clean your mouth of any traces of marijuana use. That’s because THC doesn’t make it into the bloodstream from there in significant concentrations.
Most of the time, THC will stay in your saliva for 6–8 hours after your last inhalation. However, heavy users might carry traces of THC in their mouth for up to one week.
The short-term effects of marijuana doesn’t mean that the signs of consumption won’t linger in your body once THC gets fully metabolized. Of course, you won’t feel the psychoactive buzz for as long as marijuana stays in your system, but you’re still facing a risk of failing a drug test.
So, how long does marijuana exactly stay in your system?
For blood and saliva, where tests look for the active THC, weed can stay in the body for maximum one week. On the other hand, urine and hair follicle screenings can detect the THC metabolites for much longer — depending on the aforementioned variables.
Have you ever had the dubious pleasure to take a drug test?