Whether you’re a heavy smoker or you only use marijuana every now and then, you may find yourself wondering: “how long DOES marijuana stay in my system?”
Maybe you’re worried about a potential employer might be asking you for a drug test. Maybe you’re just curious about how cannabis moves through the body. Maybe you're wondering "Will I pass a drug test if I smoked 1 week ago?"
With the recreational and medical use of marijuana up thanks to legalization in several states, there’s now more research showing just how the body processes and deals with marijuana.
It’s also becoming a bigger concern for those looking to get employed since marijuana is still on lists of drugs that employees are not allowed to use.
So Really, How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Your System?
Unlike some drugs, how long cannabis (usually known as weed or marijuana) stays in your system can be extremely variable. It is all dependent on how often you use cannabis and what you mean by staying in your system.
If you’re worried about getting drug tested, then you’re most likely concerned about how long traces of cannabis can be detected in your urine. This is the way that most drug tests are done now. However, how long cannabis can be detected in the body depends on the different ways that you could be tested.
Of course, these tests are focused on looking for THC or metabolites associated with THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical found in marijuana that is mind altering. The body processes it, and in some ways, doctors can see whether or not someone has been consuming THC
While the urine test may be able to indicate recent marijuana use, it doesn’t show important information about how intoxicated you were during any period of time that you were actually high.
Testing the blood or saliva could be a better indicator that there is actually something in the system currently, but even that leaves room for error. Those tests will likely be positive for a day, maybe a little bit more. But after a day, you’re not going to be high anymore. These tests are really only to show that you have used at all.
How Long Does Marijuana in Stay Your Urine
Detecting cannabis in the urine is done by testing for metabolites that are a result of the body processing the THC in cannabis. A urine test may consist of two different tests. The first of which is an immunoassay that doesn’t measure the amount of a drug in your system, but tests for a presence that is above or below a line.
The immunoassay will display a mark if there is enough of a concentration of a drug. But how it tells that is based on how drugs get in the way of the body’s formation of antigen-antibody complexes.
The amount of time that the test can find these traces in your urine is in relation to how often you use cannabis. The true amount of time that it will take for your body to deal with cannabis is dependent mostly based on how often you have used cannabis.
For people that have used it only once, you will often be safe after a week. Some sources claim two to seven days before it’s not in your system. Others say it’s only two to five days for people that don’t use it often. There are a few other answers floating around the internet that say it could take up to eight days. In reality, this might even depend on how much cannabis was introduced into your body. If you smoke just a little bit, then it’s going to take a lot less time for your body to go through the cannabis and get rid of the metabolite than otherwise.
However, for those that use marijuana often, the numbers jump up significantly. From the previous sources, it can take a couple weeks, or it can take a couple months. It’s, unfortunately, hard to tell just how long exactly it’s going to take for the metabolite to work itself out of your system because of all the other variable involved.
Those who have faster metabolisms are going to find their bodies will work through the cannabis quite a bit faster, making their urine clean of traces after less time than those with slower metabolisms. But besides your body, it will also depend on how frequently and how heavily you are using marijuana. These numbers may also be dependent on the form in which you ingested the cannabis.
Most studies and tests have been done with smoking it. But edibles, such as brownies or chocolates, and other things may make how long it stays in the body different.
After an immunoassay test, if you test positive for anything, then you may have a request for a GC/MS test (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. This will give a more detailed result of how much of a drug has been in the body, although it still isn’t a good indication of how often a person smokes.
An Extra Note About Urine Testing
The test that is specifically used for the Department of Transportation is known as the DOT 5. The panel includes testing for five different categories. There’s the test for marijuana, which is just testing for THC. There’s the test for Cocaine. Then there’s the test for PCP.
The other two parts of the panel are amphetamines and opiates. However, they cannot test for everything on the list for both groups, so they pick specific things to test for. For opiates, they test for codeine, morphine, and heroin. For amphetamines, they test for amphetamine and methamphetamine. They added initial testing for MDMA but also tests to confirm other amphetamines.
How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your Blood
While testing for marijuana use with blood doesn’t happen all the time, it’s still a possibility for some. The only reason why a blood test might be used is because someone is worried about a recent use of marijuana. Testing for THC in the blood is only good for a little while. For someone that smokes irregularly, it will probably be out of your system in twelve to twenty-four hours. For those that smoke regularly, it’ll be in your system for a week or less if you stop.
Unlike urine testing, testing for THC in the blood will better reflect how impaired someone might have been during an accident or arrest. This method is pretty invasive and hard to deal with, so this method of testing isn’t used regularly by employers.
However, this test could be used by doctors or the police for understanding a recent situation. Knowing whether or not someone has used marijuana very recently can help make sure that someone is safe in the case of a medical emergency. There are certain drugs that doctors cannot use with someone that has recently used marijuana because of a loss of efficiency for the drug or risk of danger to the patient.
How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your Hair
This method of testing is the least useful for doctors and employers and even law enforcement. While it is possible to test for the use of marijuana by testing recent hair growth on the head or other parts of the body, it is the least used test. Very few people will use this method because of how unreliable it can be in some cases.
For those that have only used cannabis once or twice in their whole lives, it might actually be impossible to tell through the hair whether or not there was consumption of marijuana. For those that use marijuana more often, it is possible to see recent use. However, because this test is still being questioned, it’s hardly used by anyone.
How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your Saliva
Testing saliva for traces of marijuana is a newer method of testing, but because of how recently it was developed, it’s hard to use. This test is meant to detect if marijuana has been used recently, which means if you have been smoking in the past day or so. Because this test is so much less intrusive than blood or urine tests, employers and the industry as a whole have been excited about what this test could do.
However, these tests do have issues and are not accepted in the US yet. Their use is limited to a few countries around the world, such as Australia. Right now, they’re looking at ways to make this test more effective, but it is not yet feasible to use this for roadside use on drivers.
Knowing How Long Weed Stays in Your Body
Looking back at the information, it’s obvious that knowing the answer to “how long does marijuana stay in your system?” is a little more complicated.
If you’re concerned about how long the effects of smoking or consuming marijuana last, that’s a little easier. Five hours after smoking, you should be back to normal; although the high really might have only lasted two or so hours. The high for orally ingested marijuana usually lasts longer, roughly four to six hours.
But of course, there are those of you that are much more concerned about how long a test will be able to detect the fact that you have used marijuana. That number will always vary by the test that you are being given and by you.
If you smoke more, then you’ll be able to detect the weed for a much longer period of time. If you smoke infrequently, then you might only be in danger for a week. Most websites don’t agree on exactly when you will be safe because of factors like your metabolism, your height, your weight, and even your health.
If you smoke regularly, then you might want to hold off for a couple of months if you know that there is a drug test coming up for you. That might sound painful for some people that highly enjoy smoking weed.
If you want a better estimate of how safe you might be, then you’ll want to look for online calculators. These calculators are not perfect, but they’ll ask a number of questions about you and your use of marijuana and try to figure out roughly when you should be safe.
How Long Does Weed Stay in Your System Calculator
This test will show you a graph of how likely you are to test negative for marijuana. It also can serve as a "how long does weed stay in your urine calculator," too. The numbers on this test were a little bit more than I was used to seeing, but the calculator is also trying to play it safe and give you the optimal amount of time for you to stop smoking or ingesting marijuana to get a clean test.
Are You At Risk of Getting Tested?
Some people are unsure of whether or not they are going to get tested. It really depends on where you are and what kind of career you are aiming for.
There are many employers that will do a drug test before they consider you a candidate for a job. However, that might be the only time you have to take a drug test for your job. There are a number of jobs that you will be tested regularly while you are employed with them.
Most commonly, you will be drug tested often if you are working in a transportation job. This includes piloting planes and ships, driving trucks, and anything to do with transporting other people. These tests are usually regularly scheduled, or at least you will know little ways in advance before you are tested.
Other jobs might include less frequent drug testing, especially if an employer is getting concerned about employees using drugs while on the job. However, an office job will face much less testing than those in the transportation business.
There are many lists out there about which jobs will be less likely to have drug testing. Of course, these lists aren’t something to trust. Just because a job is on the list doesn’t mean that you will never be tested while on this job, but that you are less likely to face this issue. Among the professions on the list are chefs, IT consultants, programmers, designers, makeup artists, dog trainers, and journalists.
Of course, not everyone can get a job in these fields. That isn’t going to be the end of you. It might mean that you have to cut back on how much marijuana you are using. Of course, there are also other suggestions for getting the traces of marijuana out of your system if you find yourself in a field where frequent testing is just part of the lifestyle.
Getting Weed Out of Your System
The best way to test negative on a drug test for marijuana is just not to smoke it or ingest it. For some that live in states where the substance is legal, this might seem a little bit unfair to you.
There are forums on the internet dedicated to ways that you can get around the test (usually the urine test since that is the most common) and test negative every single time. However, the best way to test negative is to stop smoking and ingesting it. None of these methods are foolproof.
The most common suggestion for people is to bring a clean sample with you to your screening. You may have to tuck the sample you have brought with you into your underwear or tape it to your inner thigh to get it into the bathroom and to keep the sample at an appropriate temperature.
This method can be tricky because of all the extra work you have to do to bring the sample into the bathroom with you. However, this method works for a couple of reasons. They don’t test the urine samples to make sure that they match the DNA of the person they came from. They only test for the drugs on the test and move on.
There is another way that you can possibly replicate a clean sample. There are a couple of variations of this method, and I will touch on a couple of them. What it boils down to, though, is drinking a lot of water. Some people will say that normal water works fine while others will suggest coconut water.
This method of getting super hydrated is paired with going to the bathroom before you go in for your test. You will have flushed out your bladder and hopefully gotten rid of most of the metabolite that they test for in your urine. When you go in for the test and pee, you might find that your urine is closer to clear. This could be cause for a retest by the employer and lab, but it could also get by just fine.
Besides these two methods, there are even crazier methods that suggest taking certain pills or special teas that will help achieve the same effect of clean urine, but it’s impossible to tell how true the claims of these companies are.
So I’ll say it one more time. The best way to test negative for THC in a drug test is to simply stop using marijuana as far in advance as you can. This won’t always be possible, but this is the best way to do it.
THC and CBD: Knowing the Difference
While all of the tests above have been focused on THC and how your body uses that, there is another chemical in marijuana that is incredibly important. CBD is a second cannabinoid that can be found in marijuana.
The difference between the two is how they react with the receptors in the brain. THC causes euphoria and relaxation. But CBD decreases the negative side effects of what is found in THC because it blocks those receptors that THC normally would bind to in the cell.
CBD will help reduce the anxiety or paranoia that may come from THC. Unfortunately, this also means that your high will be a little less impressive than it could have been.
The ratio of THC and CBD vary from plant to plant, but CBD and THC balance each other out. Since THC is the one that people are testing for, there are higher restrictions on how much is legal. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t have the kind of restrictions that THC has.
This fact is especially true because CBD is also found in hemp, which is legally sold within and imported to the US. Because of this loophole, companies are bringing in help with high CMD content in order to be used in things such as epilepsy medicine.
CBD isn’t tested for in the drug tests that are being used. However, if you are using products that are based off on CBD, you will have to be careful. As long as the products are well processed, then there should be little THC in it. Enough CBD can make a false positive on a drug test, but it takes quite a bit to get there.
While the remnants of marijuana use can stick around in various parts of the body for a while, its remnants are not permanent. If you are concerned about how you might test on a drug test, the best thing you can do for yourself is to stop smoking or ingesting it as quickly as possible and hope that you’ll be within the limits. There’s a variety of reasons why you might be trying to figure out how long marijuana might still be detected in your body.
Even if you’re just curious about it because you’re a person that doesn’t get drug tested at all, it’s still good to know about how your body deals with what you’re putting into it. You might need to know this information to make sure that you’re safe while you’re at the doctor’s office.
In the case of marijuana, THC, and CBD, you might find that there’s still a lot to be learned by the medical professionals and the world at large. With the legalization of medical use becoming more widespread and recreational use following along behind it, there’s going to be more and more information available to those that are curious.
If you have advice for dealing with drug tests or have any other good resources and information about marijuana and your body, then share it in the comments so that other people can find that information.