How Long Does Weed Stay In Your System?
HERB will take you through the most common testing methods and how to pass your next drug test.
Photo by Jonathan Coward/HERB
It’s something we’ve all thought about. The high is great today, but do I have to be worried about tomorrow? How long does weed stay in your system? The total amount of time that weed stays in your system depends on the conditions of the user and how frequently they smoke marijuana. As you continue to consume cannabis, the THC accumulates in the body. The more cannabis you consume, the longer it will take for the THC to clear out of your system. How quickly you metabolize THC as an individual will also affect how long the chemical stays in your system. There are several other important factors involved, too, such as how you are being tested. Given all of these variables, here is information to gauge how long cannabis stays in your system:
How Long Does Weed Stay In Your Urine?
So how long does weed stay in your system? The most common way to test for THC, the primary psychoactive found in cannabis, is via simple urine testing. Urine testing is both the cheapest method and it has a long detection period. Urine and other tests like it do not test for THC itself specifically, but rather for a THC metabolite called THC-COOH. The presence of this metabolite means that the body has recently processed the chemical.
The length of time will vary depending on how often you consume the good green herb. When it comes to how long weed stays in your system, THC is stored in the body’s fat, and therefore accumulates in the body gradually over time. It essentially doesn’t matter how you consume cannabis, the more you smoke, vape, or eat the herb, the longer it will be detectable in your urine. Here’s what you should know before you find yourself peeing in one of those little cups.
Two main factors play huge roles in how long weed stays in your urine:
First of all, there’s your metabolic rate. If you have a faster metabolism (yes, people do vary), your body will get rid of THC-COOH at a faster rate.
The second big factor is your level of hydration. The more fluids your body is processing (i.e., the more urine you excrete), the faster weed metabolites will exit your system. For this reason, it’s good to stay reasonably hydrated in the weeks following up to your test. Don’t pound a bunch of water in the day or so before though. This can actually backfire because your pee can get so diluted that the sample comes back as unusable. In the worst case scenario, this will also cause the administrator to flag your test and force you to do a supervised one next time. In the best case scenario, they’ll just ask you to come back and this will give you more time to get the pot out of your urine.
The same timeline applies to exercise. Exercise will help you break down the fat cells that are holding onto the THC so it’s good to do some working out in the weeks before the test. But (sorry) you can’t just run like a maniac 24 hours before you go in for the urinalysis. In fact, if you do this, you might increase your chances of testing positive.
In general, here’s how long cannabis can be found in your system:
- For single use: up to 8 days
- For frequent use: up to 15 days
- For regular use: up to 30 days
- For heavy use: up to 45-77 days
As a general guide, if you’re a regular consumer of marijuana, the chances are THC will remain in your urine for even up to a month after stopping. That’s why it’s good to stay frosty, on your toes, since this is also the most likely and frequent way you’ll be tested for weed in your system.
Do not panic. We’re here to get through this together. Hoping to ultimately pass a urine test? Read more down below.
How To Pass a Urine Test
Unfortunately, there is ultimately no certain way to pass a urine test without traces of THC, especially if you are a particularly heavy smoker. The question for many is not “how long does weed stay in your system?” but “how to pass a drug test” when you are a regular cannabis enthusiast. There are products out there, like detox pills, and detox drinks, that can be purchased solely for the purpose of cleaning your urine for drug traces. Some smokers, in desperate cases, will even go as far as to use synthetic urine to pass a test, which can be pretty risky.
Many people attempt to pass a urine test by drinking excessive water to dilute the system. If urine is too diluted, however, you risk not passing a urine test anyway. Though there is no scientific evidence to back these claims, many desperate consumers rely on the fruit pectin method to clean out THC metabolites. Fruit pectin is a starch derived from the cell walls of produce, often used in jams and preservatives. It should be easy to find some at larger grocery stores. This method goes as follows:
- 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, wouldn’t hurt)
- Follow with a bottle or two of water and some B vitamins
The theory behind this is that because the fruit pectin is a naturally occurring fiber that it makes more THC exit through the bowels, not the urine as THC usually would. However, it’s always important to stay safe and do everything in moderation. If you’re not confident gambling on this pectin cocktail, try Sub Solution Synthetic Urine, a scientifically designed unisex synthetic urine.
If you can see a urine test coming on the horizon, for a job screening or participating in sports, try to slow your roll on smoking marijuana. Again, the best way to answer the question “how long does weed stay in your system?” and or “how to pass a urine test?” is to stick safely and generously to the time guidelines above.
How Long Does Weed Stay In Your Saliva?
If you are going to be tested by your saliva, you might wonder how long weed stays in your system. Here’s some good news for you. Generally speaking, THC lasts the shortest time in the saliva. This is the testing method most often used by road police officers in checking for drugged drivers under the influence. THC metabolites will show up in your saliva about 1 hour after smoking marijuana and can remain testing positive in saliva for up to 24 hours after even a single smoking session. In the case of regular consumers, this number can reach up to 72 hours after smoking.
Since THC accumulates in your system over time, most heavy consumers are recommended to wait at least for one week before taking a saliva test. For a quick reference on how long weed stays in your saliva, here’s a cheat sheet:
- For single use: up to 24 hours
- For frequent use: up to 72 hours
- For chronic, heavy use: up to one week
An effective solution for those that have to remove their saliva toxins is Clear Choice Oral Clear. Clear Choice Oral Clear is undetectable and only requires you to simply chew on a gum capsule, and after 30 seconds, presto, you will be toxin free for up to 30 minutes.
Hoping to clear THC from your system? Learn how here.
How Long Does Weed Stay In Your Hair?
As far as the question how long does weed stay in your system, hair can often be a chief concern. There is a lot of debate on whether or not hair testing is accurate since cannabis is thought to have the most extended 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, consistent 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 even what you’ve consumed over the past three months. What the technicians will ultimately look for depends on what was ordered in the test, so if you aren’t being scanned for drugs use don’t get anxious.
Cannabis metabolites will show up in hair after about seven days post-consumption of pot, but hair testing for cannabis is not very common.
Clear Choice Hair Follicle Shampoo is easy to use and is a highly effective detox shampoo, that coats the hair follicles so the toxins are not detectable in many tests.
Hoping to pass a hair follicle test? Learn more here
How Long Does Weed Stay In Your Blood?
Some officers opposing recreational cannabis use are attempting to prevent driving under the influence of cannabis with roadside blood testing. That might make you concerned about the question at hand; “long does weed stay in your system?”. 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 find itself a nice, fatty spot to land. Getting an impromptu blood test for cannabis would be fairly unusual, so take a quick second to glance over the doctor or police officer for a Dracula cape. Just in case.
In general, here’s how long you can expect to test positive for THC in the blood:
- For single use: up to 24 hours
- For frequent use: up to 3 days
- For regular use: up to 1 week
However, there are a few variables that may either speed up or slow down the amount of time cannabis compounds are present in the blood, including:
- Individual metabolism
- Frequency and amount of cannabis consumed
- The detection limits of the ordered test
- Body mass index
- What is being tested (is the test looking for THC or a THC metabolite?)
- Consumption method (edibles take longer to clear)
For moderate to heavy consumers, it is recommended to abstain from cannabis for at least one week prior to a blood test. Often times, tests do not look for the presence of the primary psychoactive in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) itself.
Rather, many look for the presence of a certain THC metabolite called THC-COOH. A metabolite is a breakdown product of THC.
When you inhale the herb, cannabis becomes detectable in the blood in high concentrations just seconds after consumption. The active compounds in the plant, called cannabinoids, are absorbed through the lungs and pumped through the heart, entering the bloodstream.
From here, the compounds have easy access to the brain, where at least one, THC, has a psychoactive effect.
Peak levels of THC in blood plasma are reached with five to 10 minutes after consumption. After that, blood levels of THC begin to decline and other metabolites become more abundant.
Peak THC-COOH is reached 81 minutes after consumption. If being blood tested for this metabolite, you can trust that it will hang around a bit longer than the THC itself.
Edible cannabis must first be processed by the liver before entering the bloodstream. This means that THC and its metabolites will take longer to show up in the blood, and may be present for longer amounts of time.
Are you hoping to pass a blood test? Read more here.
How Long Do Other Chemicals Stay In Your System?
When compared to most substances, cannabis stays in your system for a very long time. If you are a frequent drug user, it’d be useful to know the distinctions between different narcotics and how long they’ll remain in your system. Better safe than sorry. 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, as far as how long does weed stay in your system, 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 each of these substances, it is easier to get away with having a problem with amphetamines than it is to be a cannabis smoker.
So How Long Does Weed Stay In Your System?
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, with more places lining up to legalize every day. Why should you continue to worry about how long does weed stay in your system.
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? Push for reform.