There will come a time when some of us will be asked to take a drug test, either by our employers, insurance companies or police officers (hopefully not).
Roadside drug testing, pre-screening of future employees, especially if operating heavy machinery or vehicles is very often these days…
As you probably know, drug testing for marijuana can be even requested as a safety precaution.
In today’s post, we will try to answer one of the most well known cannabis questions of all time:
How long does THC stay in your system?
The true answer to this question relies on several factors:
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Frequency of use
- Potency of the strain
- Method of consumption
It’s also important to point out that only THC is detectable in tests. Other non-psychoactive marijuana compounds such as cannabidiol (CBD) can’t be distinguished since the tests are designed to detect only THC.
However, even if you are an occasional smoker, medical or regular user, you probably fear you’ll be asked to take the test at some point.
So let’s break this down.
How long does marijuana stay in your system?
Let me get one fact out of the way:
Marijuana does not stay the same amount of time in blood, urine and saliva.
Embed this table on your website:
As you can see from the table above, THC stays longer in urine than in blood. Additionally, THC can be also found in your hair, sweat, and saliva.
Currently, the most common and accurate way of testing is by taking a sample of urine to detect carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH), a metabolite of THC which stays in our system the longest.
But, as I have already said, there is no one-size-fits-all answer on the presence of THC in your system.
What we do have, however, are some well known facts, for each of the testing methods.
Since THC does not stay long in blood, that way of testing is not that popular anymore.
It has been recently used as a roadside drug test for preventing high driving or to determine if the person has used marijuana recently.
However, after smoking, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) just runs through the blood to find the fat cells. And that is where it stays longer.
So, in general, if you’re not a regular smoker and you just took a few puffs or it was a one-time deal, THC will stay in your blood for about 24 hours up to two days.
On the other hand, if you use cannabis more frequently, but not every day, it takes about 3 days for THC to get cleansed from your blood.
Yet, if you are a regular, every day user you’ll need around 7 days to get rid of THC from the blood.
When it comes to urine testing, it’s a whole different story.
With urine testing, it’s not the THC that is looked for, but rather a non psychoactive metabolic intermediate carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH).
After using marijuana, our liver metabolizes THC into THC-COOH, which is then stored in urine.
Again, how long THC stays in urine depends on how much and how often you toked.
If you have used marijuana once it will probably stay in your urine for about 7 days.
If you smoked marijuana 2 to 4 times in a week but didn’t use it afterward, it will stay for 10 to 18 days.
If you’re a more frequent user (if you smoke 5 or 6 times a week) you can expect the metabolite to remain in your urine from 30 to 48 days.
Medical marijuana users and daily users need a bit more time to get rid of the compound.
If you use marijuana on daily basis, and several times during the day, you’ll need about 50 to even 70 days to fully cleanse your system of marijuana.
Hair testing is not that common these days but it can detect THC for the longest time.
The hair test can detect a presence of drugs in your system for about 90 days after ingesting it.
THC and its metabolites are detectable in hair just a week after the consumption, since it takes that long for drug-containing hair to grow.
In fact, it can be detected from a single hair sample taken 1.5 inches from the scalp.
These kinds of test are very precise and can detect very small amounts of THC-COOH in a hair sample. In fact it can detect even 1 picogram per milligram of the substance, which is very, very little.
On a side note: if the first hair sample tests positive, you will be asked to provide a second sample to confirm the results.
Saliva marijuana tests are also not really common today and are mostly used by police officers during roadside drug testing for preventing impaired drivers taking the wheel stoned.
THC and its metabolites are detectable by saliva tests just an hour after consuming.
If you have used marijuana once you’ll test positive for the next 24 hours.
On the other hand, if you are an occasional but frequent user THC will stay for the next 72 hours after consumption.
If you are a regular heavy consumer or a daily medical user, saliva test will show positive results for up to a week.
Roadside saliva tests have been very controversial recently. The thing is you can test positive on THC without even being stoned at the moment. It’s still very difficult to determine if the driver is really impaired or not.
Yes, marijuana can be detected even through sweat. This is also not a common way of testing people for cannabis and is usually used for monitoring patients during drug rehab treatments and employment programs.
Anyway, THC metabolites can be detected for about one to four weeks in your sweat.
Still, this also depends on the individual itself, how much does he or she sweat, how much do they work out and environmental factors such as temperature and air humidity.
THC sweat patches are applied directly to the skin and are usually worn from 7 to 14 days. After that period patches are taken off for testing.
Since the amount of sweating varies from person to person, the accuracy of patch testing is limited. And it’s hard to control if someone had worn it all the time, of course.
Sweat patches can detect THC just a few hours before its removal but what a patch can detect depend on how much THC was consumed.
How long do edibles stay in your system?
Consumption method is very important when it comes to detecting THC in your blood and urine.
When you take a cannabis brownie or eat a marijuana candy, it takes a little bit longer to feel the “high”, when compared to smoking.
When marijuana first reaches your stomach, it takes some time for the digestion process to start. Afterwards, cannabis is processed by the liver and only then the cannabinoids enter our blood.
That’s why marijuana edibles stay in our system longer, from a week to a month.
In fact, in the first 5 days after taking an edible, 80 to 90% of THC will be removed from your bloodstream and urine.
The rest of the THC will stay in your system, but for how long, depends on the factors we talked about earlier.
How to get marijuana out of your system?
The best way to get THC out of your system and pass the test is pretty simple — total abstinence.
If you are obliged to take one of the tests at some period of time, don’t smoke, vape or eat marijuana for the time indicated previously. It’s the only reliable way to get rid of THC out of your system.
If it’s already too late and you don’t have the time, there are a few thing you can try to get marijuana out, the natural way.
These tips could help, but there is no guarantee it will work.
However, the research and experience showed that people with faster metabolism, less fat percentage and low Body Mass Index will be able to get THC out of their system much faster.
But, here is what you can try to do…
1) Drink water
Staying hydrated is essential for your health in general. So if you want to flush marijuana out your system, start drinking water a few hours before the test.
But, don’t overdo it. A lot of water can be bad for you for sure. A liter or two a few hours before the test should be fine. There is no need to drink excessive amounts of water days or weeks before the test.
You should keep in mind that drinking water will make you urinate more, therefore your urine will be more clear. And this could look suspicious!
2) Eat the Right Foods
Some food ingredients can probably help you get rid of THC faster, but some will definitely do the opposite.
As THC is looking for fat cells to store itself, you’ll need to avoid fatty and greasy foods, as well as things rich in sugar and sodium. That means — no junk food and red meat.
You’ll need a lot of food rich in fiber and antioxidants to redirect THC from the fat cells out of the system.
Stick to fruits, vegetables and whole grain to detox from marijuana faster.
Also, vitamin C is your new best friend. Lemonade and citrus juices are full of electrolytes which are great detoxing agents. Tea will also help your system get rid of THC, so drink a few cups of green, black or white tea a couple of days before your test.
Vitamin Niacin is great for when you want to clear your system, and avocados and potatoes are one of its biggest natural sources.
3) Exercise and Sweat
Doing cardio is the best way to burn fat, where the THC metabolites are stored. By exercising, we sweat more, excrete fluids and increase the metabolism.
A combination of running, swimming or biking with some strength exercises would be the best match to flush marijuana out.
However, there is one tricky thing when it comes to exercising. Don’t do it on the day when you are taking the test. In fact, try avoiding exercise a couple of days before the big day.
As it turns out, exercise burns fat, releasing more THC metabolites into your blood. Which could be a bad choice for the testing day.
4) Get Some Sleep
We know that marijuana is one of the preferred stress relievers and a natural remedy for sleepless nights. But, if you have to take the test, you’ll have to get some rest without it.
When we sleep, our whole body recovers for the following day. It’s our own natural mechanism of detoxication.
So, a few days (or weeks) before taking the test, try getting as much sleep as possible. Give yourself a rest and enough relaxing time and try going to bed earlier than usual.
What not to do when trying to flush THC out of your system
There are some things that simply don’t work and could be a bad idea.
Don’t try to “mask” the urine by adding other chemicals such as bleach, detergents or acids. All the chemicals in urine can be easily detected, which would look suspicious and you would probably be asked to take the test again.
Other medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen just won’t do the trick. They will not disguise the presence of THC.
Also, keep in mind that cheating and replacing your urine with someone else’s is forbidden and can lead to serious legal consequences.