31 Jan How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?
Marijuana is once again in the spotlight. This psychotropic plant is not unfamiliar with center stage, as of the last century it has been a topic of much controversy. Although marijuana was recorded as early as 2727 B.C. (around the same time as alcohol), only recently has it been given the cigarettes and booze pass, shifting from an illegal drug to a plant most people think to be less harmful than previous eras.
That is not to say that marijuana has the same sort of legality worldwide like alcohol or tobacco but to say that as a people we are heading towards that direction. More and more, scientists and healthcare professionals are validating marijuana advocates by supporting the drug’s recreational and medicinal use. Today, the mantra surrounding weed is mostly, well, it’s not as bad as it is good.
In which case its usage is higher now than ever before. With states taking matters into their own hands and bypassing federal laws to legalize and regulate marijuana, now over half of America has access to state-governed weed. Yet, as a nation we have not signed off on marijuana’s widespread legality, nor have we experienced a full paradigm shift on the plant’s classification.
In which case from person to person, establishment to establishment, state to country, whether or not marijuana should be legal juxtaposes supporters and not. However, if you are to ask anyone living in our country, it is pretty much fact that no matter what the government does cannabis is here to stay.
This creates a higher probability that people in today’s society are exposed to the drug. Unfortunately, with the myriad of conflicting information out there about marijuana and its effects, as we try and uncover the truths about weed we are hamstrung by the pitfalls of the age of information, unreliable sources, and a lack of controlled studies on the substance at hand.
You might find yourself asking how long does marijuana stay in your system? Or, what exactly is weed doing when it enters a body? Perhaps you are asking for yourself, or you are asking for a friend. No matter, as with the information we have today, we are capable of at least answering these questions… and doing so correctly. If that is why you clicked on this link, then look nowhere else; the answers are here.
First off: Don’t Panic
It is paramount that we mention if you are—for whatever reason—on this page due to the fact that you are dealing with a bad high, your body will expel the marijuana and the psychoactive effects will wane. Historically, not a single person has ever ingested marijuana only to become temporarily altered by its effects. When we speak on marijuana’s staying power in your system, we mean after the psychoactive effects are no longer present.
The euphoria and altered mental state induced by marijuana will indeed wane. We do not mean that as a generality, either; biologically, our bodies process and metabolize the substance until it is no longer active in our bodies.
What Does Marijuana Do to the Body?
Despite how marijuana is ingested, our bodies immediately begin working to metabolize it. Specifically, our anatomy works to metabolize THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces the euphoria or ‘high’ associated with the drug. We do this with astonishing speed. There is a reason why a ‘high’ only lasts an hour or two as opposed to days on end and that is due to how quickly we are capable of processing THC.
It is important to note here that no two people will metabolize and process marijuana the same. A person’s general health, specific metabolism, age, weight, and activity level all contribute to the way the body can process certain substances.
Once the THC is processed and moves through our system, residuals called metabolites can linger in our tissue. In which case a drug test will pick up on THC-COOH (another name for a metabolite) as an indicator for previous marijuana use. If the test deals specifically with THC, then chances are it will not be traceable for very long after the last previous usage.
Thus, when it comes to answering how long marijuana stays in your system, where it lives and what remains are important points to address.
It should be no surprise that after using marijuana there will be traces in a person’s bloodstream. Without our circulatory system, the blood flow would never allow the cannabis to reach the brain, in turn negating any euphoria from the substance. No matter which way cannabis is ingested, it will always seep into the bloodstream where it is then, as aforementioned, metabolized. No matter if it is the lungs or the stomach, it seeps through the tissue lining and into our many veins.
The blood is what is metabolized quickest. Once the THC enters the system, it is rapidly processed. Thus, residuals from marijuana linger the least amount of the time in our circulatory system. There is a reason why, when someone is suspect, they are asked to take a blood test on command. This is because the immediate blood needs to be used to determine whether or not the person was altered at the time.
A great rule of thumb here is that if you are not a regular smoker, marijuana will remain active (not psychoactive, mind you) in your blood for around 2 days after the last usage. If you are a regular smoker, dependent on the volume you smoke, you can generally expect traces of THC and THC-COOH to remain for around 2 weeks after the last usage.
It is safe to assume that if you have landed on this article, or if you have ever gone to a doctor, you are familiar with a urine test. When it comes to urine, this is where THC-COOH lingers longest. As your body works to expel the rest of the metabolites, it can take several months (depending on the volume and consistency of usage before the nil period) before it is fully untraceable.
While most drug tests will focus specifically on THC, it is important to note that THC-COOH is fat-soluble, meaning it can make a home in your fatty tissues and linger for long after. While the person will experience a whopping zero alterations from the THC’s euphoria-inducing properties, they will still have traces of previous use in their system.
But to define exactly how long marijuana stays in your urine is too case-specific. As we mentioned before, and even more so when it comes to urine, a person’s genetic structure, metabolism, health, weight, hydration levels, age, and volume of use all contribute to how long the substance will remain in the urine.
While these are not necessarily guidelines to follow, some research has concluded that there are ‘general parameters’ when it comes to marijuana’s traceability in urine.
- Almost never uses, only once in a blue moon: THC-OOH should remain for about a week
- Somewhat casual smoker but smokes once a week: THC-OOH should remain for a little under three weeks
- Daily smoker: THC-OOH can last up to three months, especially if it is more than once a day
Suffice to say, even if you only smoked once, there will probably be lingering metabolites in your urine for up to a week after the last usage.
Your saliva is quite comparable to your blood. It absorbs the immediate THC and processes it with the same rapidity, exiting the body once the user has physically swallowed enough. Determining whether or not THC is present in a system is not often executed via a mouth swab but it can happen.
Brushing, hydrating, and rinsing out the mouth is what works to expel the psychoactive THC from saliva. Still, this is the area of the system with the least traceability, as it is usually gone from the saliva a couple days following the last usage.
There is a reason why large corporate outfits will administer a hair drug test when first bringing on an employee, or for whatever annual evaluation. This is because hair follicles are the juiciest part of the system for holding the truths of the past. In other words, it is where traces of marijuana remain in your system for the longest periods of time.
But for THC to make its way to the follicle and then into the hair is to say that the person using has quite the habit. It simply does not occur for occasional or once-in-a-while partakers. Once the THC has entered the hair, however, it is generally accepted that it will live there for as long as the hair exists. This can mean a person’s hair can hold traces of marijuana from a year back, although they had laid off weed several months prior.
Is it really in your system though? According to drug tests, absolutely. When it comes to being scientifically specific, well, not exactly. The THC-COOH does not actually exist or inhabit the follicle. Rather it finds its way to the follicle then grows alongside the strand of hair, marrying it for eternity. What this means is that if a person shaves off their hair, then the THC will no longer be traceable. The reason why not everyone does this is due to self-image, as rarely (especially women) is it an easy task to justify shaving a head in order to ensure you will pass a drug test.
Thus it is up to you whether or not hair is technically ‘the system,’ being that it can be removed in an instant if one desires. The fact remains, no matter where in the body, the hair holds traces of marijuana longer than any other area.
While perhaps a bit disgusting, sweat drug tests are a method in which law enforcement agencies sometimes determine whether or not a person is using. And our sweat is a great place for THC-COOH to burrow itself and linger like a bad date that does not understand social cues. Although different studies reveal different information, it is generally agreed upon that a chronic marijuana smoker will produce traces of THC in their sweat for up to a month after their last usage.
For casual smokers and those that only smoke every now and then, the time in which THC remains in the sweat is vastly shorter. Still, it is difficult to determine just how well sweat can hold THC, as the tests which expose the substance are faulty. This is why they are not commonly used, nor commonly heard of.
The level of perspiration varies person to person and, dependent on other substances ingested, can become masked beneath other toxins.
How Do I Get Marijuana Out of My System?
You may be asking: okay, but how do I make sure it leaves? In which case you can crawl the internet to find a thousand tips and ‘experts’ that claim they can rid the body of THC-COOH or the likes of in the span of two days. The reality is that everybody is different and a method that is effective for one person can be ineffective for another.
The real answer here is abstinence. Our bodies work to metabolize and expel metabolites from our fatty tissue naturally. In time, the presence of THC and THC-COOH will wane to a point where it is no longer traceable. Even your hair will grow out enough that eventually, once it is cut, the root of where the THC-COOH lived will be snipped.
To speed up this process staying hydrated, exercising (sweat boosts metabolism), and living a healthier lifestyle that supports proper bodily function can assist. Diluting urine is also a method that is commonly noted, although not always effective.
How Long Really?
To answer the question how long does marijuana stay in your system is to recognize that, no matter what type of smoker you are, after you use marijuana you can expect to have traces of it in your system for up to at least a week afterward. If you smoke regularly, you can expect at least a month.