How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?

If you are a cannabis user, you are probably curious and want to know how long marijuana can stay in your system after consumption. Well, this is an important question as it helps gauge the effects of marijuana, calculate proper usage, and determine the threshold of detectability in case of a mandatory drug test.

Remember, there are different kinds of tests for marijuana and the results can vary depending on several factors and from person to person. With that said, here are a few points you need to know about how long cannabis can stay in the system.

The Variables

Cannabis has two active compounds known as cannabinoids. These compounds include THC, which is the most prevalent, and CBD, which is commonly used as medical marijuana. Most tests are designed to detect THC due to its psychoactive effect. 

When you consume cannabis, THC will enter your bloodstream and it will break down into small molecules known as metabolites. While THC itself dissipates relatively quickly, usually within hours, metabolites will remain in your system for days or even weeks. THC-COOH, which is one of the metabolites can stay in the body for several weeks after the consumption of marijuana.

How long THC-COOH remains detectable in the body depends on the following factors:

Frequency of cannabis consumption

In case you didn’t know, metabolites like THC-COOH tend to accumulate in the body over time. This means those who consume cannabis regularly, perhaps every day, are at a higher risk of failing a mandatory drug test. Cannabis users who ingest the drug once a week or less are at reduced risk of being detected.

Metabolism rate and body fat

People react to cannabis differently. Similarly, everyone has a different rate of metabolism, meaning some users are able to eliminate artifacts of cannabis from their bodies faster than others. Given that THC is a fat-soluble compound, people who have high proportions of body fat are likely to retain the compound for longer, thereby failing a mandatory drug test.

Methods of Testing

The method of testing used will determine the accuracy of the results in case of a mandatory drug test. There are three common methods used to test the presence of cannabis in the body. These include saliva, urine, and hair test. Each method of testing has a definite window of greatest accuracy, and each window is affected by the variables discussed above.

Saliva Test

A saliva test is normally carried out using an oral swab. The test produces the most transitory or shortest-lived results compared to other types of tests. If a saliva test is performed on you, then you can expect THC to be detectable in your system for only 24 hours (infrequent users) or up to 72 hours if you are a regular user. A saliva test cannot detect cannabis 72 hours after consumption, making it one of the least accurate testing methods.

Urine Test

A urine test is the most common method used as far as workplace compliance is concerned. Here is a breakdown of how long THC is detectable using this method:

  • Single use (once a month) – detectable up to 8 days
  • Regular use (4 to 6 times a month) – detectable up to 15 days
  • Frequent use (10 to 15 times a month) – detectable up to 30 days
  • Heavy use (more than 20 times a month) – detectable from 45 days up to 77 days

Hair Test

A hair test is usually recommended to identify heavy, chronic users of cannabis. The test is extremely accurate and it can detect the presence of marijuana in your system for up to 90 days. However, hair tests only work on heavy users and it is ineffective on infrequent consumers.

Can You Fool a Drug Test?

Although there are a number of products such as natural detox and fruit pectin that promise to eliminate cannabis from your body, there is no sufficient evidence to support the same. For this reason, we cannot recommend any of the aforementioned products.