The amount of time that weed stays in your system depends on the user and how frequently they smoke. As you continue to consume cannabis, THC accumulates in the body. The more you consume, the longer it will take to clear out. How quickly you metabolize THC as an individual will also affect how long the chemical stays in your system. There are other factors involved, too, such as how you are being tested. Given these variables, here is how long cannabis stays in your system:
THC in urine
The most common way to test for THC, the primary psychoactive in cannabis, is via urine testing. Urine testing is the cheapest method and has a long detection period. Urine and other tests do not test for THC itself, but rather for a THC metabolite called THC-COOH. The presence of this metabolite means that the body has processed the chemical.
The length of time will vary depending on how often you consume the herb. THC is stored in fat, and therefore accumulates in the body over time. The more you smoke, vape, or eat the herb, the longer it will be detectable in urine.
In general, here’s how long cannabis can be found in your system:
- Single use: up to 8 days
- Frequent use: up to 15 days
- Regular use: up to 30 days
- Heavy use: up to 45-77 days
As a guide, if you’re a regular consumer, chances are THC will remain in your urine for up to a month after stopping. This is also the most likely way you’ll be tested for weed in your system.
Hoping to pass a urine test? Read more below.
THC in saliva
THC lasts the shortest time in the saliva. This is the method most often used by road police in checking for drugged drivers. THC metabolites will show up in your saliva about 1 hour after smoking and can remain positive in saliva for up to 24 hours after a single smoking session. In regular consumers, this number can reach up to 72 hours.
Since THC accumulates in your system, most heavy consumers are recommended to wait for one week before taking a saliva test. For quick reference, here’s a cheat sheet:
- Single use: up to 24 hours
- Frequent use: up to 72 hours
- Chronic, heavy use: up to one week
Hoping to clear THC from your system? Learn how here.
THC in hair
Though there is a debate on whether or not hair testing is actually accurate, cannabis is thought to have the longest detection window in hair. All standard hair tests look for the presence of drugs over the last 90 days.
Since hair grows at a fairly standard rate, laboratory technicians will test a short hair sample taken extremely close to the scalp. This sample will provide a record of your overall health and what you’ve consumed over the past three months. What the technicians will look for depends on what was ordered in the test.
Cannabis metabolites show up in hair after about seven days post-consumption, but hair testing for cannabis is not very common.
Hoping to pass a hair follicle test? Learn more here.
THC in blood
Some recreational are attempting to prevent driving under the influence of cannabis with roadside blood testing. However, blood testing for cannabis is not extremely common. THC and THC metabolites do not stay in the blood for very long. Instead, the cannabinoid likes to quickly find itself a nice, fatty spot to land.
In general, here’s how long you can expect to test positive for THC in the blood:
- Single use: up to 24 hours
- Frequent use: up to 3 days
- Regular use: up to 1 week
Hoping to pass a blood test? Read more here.
How to pass a urine test
Unfortunately, there´s no certain way to pass a urine test, especially if you are a heavy smoker. There are products like detox pills and detox drinks that can be purchased solely for the purpose of cleansing urine. Some even go as far as to use synthetic urine to pass a test, which can be risky and even illegal.
Many people attempt to pass a urine test by drinking water to dilute the system. If urine is too diluted, however, you risk not passing a urine test. Though there is no scientific evidence to back these claims, many desperate consumers rely on the fruit pectin method to clean out THC metabolites.
- Mix fruit pectin with an electrolyte drink like Gatorade
- Drink at least two hours before a urine test (and possibly a day or two before as well)
- Follow with a bottle or two of water and some B vitamins
The theory behind this is that the fruit pectin is a naturally occurring fiber that makes more THC exit through the bowels, not the urine. However, it’s always important to stay safe and do everything in moderation. There is no foolproof way to pass a urine test, and many detox methods may actually make you sick.
The best way to pass a urine test is to stick safely and generously to the time guidelines!
How long other chemicals stay in the system
When compared to most substances, cannabis stays in your system for a very long time. In general, here’s how long different substances will show up positive in a urine test:
- Amphetamines: up to 2-3 days
- Alcohol: up to 5 days
- Cocaine: up to 2-10 days
- Phencyclidine (PCP): up to 7 days
- Opiates (including heroin): up to 2-5 days
- LSD: up to 2-3 days
- Psilocybin: up to 5 days
- Ecstasy/MDMA/Molly/Sass: up to 1-3 days
In blood and saliva tests, expect traces of these substances to be present for up to 24 hours. As mentioned above the standard hair test will check for a 90-day history of substance use.
Drug testing is a standard part of life for many in the working world these days. However, because of the varying detection windows for these substances, it is easier to get away with having a problem with amphetamines than it is to be a cannabis smoker.
Given the technology that is available, shouldn’t there be some leniency towards the frequency of use with cannabis? It is legal in some states and countries now, after all.
In fact, after legalization, if drug testing is not altered, the risk to the workforce is extreme. With 13 percent (one in eight) of US residents admitting to regular cannabis consumption, demonizing cannabis consumers in the workplace could result in a giant loss for local businesses.
Cannabis stays in the system longer than almost all other chemicals in the body because it accumulates in body fat. However, everyone knows that you´re not necessarily high 12 hours after use. The best advice to those that are afraid of the ever prevalent urine test? Stick to jobs that don´t require it!
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