How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?

There is no perfect formula for determining exactly how long marijuana, weed, THC or pot stays in someone's system during a urine, blood, saliva or hair drug test - let's look at what different factors can alter the number of days (varies from 30 to 120 days since last smoking weed) marijuana will show up in an unexpected drug test.

It’s no secret that marijuana is a commonly used, mostly-illegal drug in many parts of the United States, which is ironic because although it can be misused it has not caused any sort of death overdose epidemic like heroin has. Because of this, drug tests are often administered if there is suspicion of use or a past history of use. In order to understand how long marijuana stays in your system, it is important to understand what marijuana is, how it is used or abused and how it affects the body in relation to drug testing for THC.

People who smoked marijuana in the last:

  • 30-45 days can fail a urine drug test for THC
  • 60-75 days can fail for a marijuana blood test
  • up to 90 days can fail for a hair follicle drug test looking for moderate to high THC levels
Thanks to unique rates at which users who smoked marijuana break-down the levels of THC in their bodies these date ranges of the chance to fail a marijuana drug test can range in length and THC levels detected in urine, blood, hair or saliva.
  • Testing urine is one of the most common methods for determining marijuana use. With a urine test, 9-carboxy-THC is often the substance that is being detected, rather than actual marijuana.
  • When it comes to testing for marijuana use, blood tests are not often utilized. This is because blood tests have a narrow window of time to detect marijuana use. These tests typically cannot detect marijuana use unless the test is done within a few hours of when a person smokes or ingests marijuana, which is when the THC is still in the blood stream. Unlike urine tests, blood tests do not identify metabolites (9-carboxy-THC) which are the longer-lasting compounds produced by marijuana use. One occasion in which a blood test may be utilized is if law enforcement suspects someone has been driving under the influence of marijuana.
  • Similar to blood tests, saliva tests can only detect marijuana within a few hours of use, and cannot detect any metabolites from marijuana use.
  • Like a urinalysis, testing hair strands can detect metabolites in the body after they pass from the bloodstream to the hair follicle. According to Omega Laboratories, “Hair testing analyzes a hair sample for parent drugs and their metabolites.  A hair specimen, collected from a donor’s head or body, is sent to the laboratory and is screened for illicit substances.”

Marijuana itself does not stay in the body for long periods of time, which is why hemp and other marijuana based products are safe to use and will not cause you to fail a drug test for marijuana. Instead, chemicals from marijuana do. THC, the main chemical in marijuana, is the chemical that creates a high and is what remains in the system.

Though the effects of THC wear off within a few hours of ingesting marijuana, traces of the chemical can remain in the body for weeks.

This is because after marijuana passes from the lungs to the blood stream, THC bonds to fat cells, then breaks down over time. The amount of time this takes depends on a variety of factors, including the amount of marijuana used, the method it’s used, the frequency of use, a user’s metabolism and the amount of THC in the marijuana. There are two main substances that show up in drug tests and indicate marijuana use: THC and 9-carboxy-THC, which is a byproduct of the metabolism of THC. This substance, also called a metabolite, is detectable for a longer period of time than THC. Marijuana can show on a urine, blood, saliva or hair follicle drug test for up to 120 or more days, depending on a number of factors – so always make sure to do your research before making a huge mistake.

According to information from the Drug Enforcement Administration, “Marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug, produced by the Cannabis sativa plant. Marijuana contains over 400 chemicals. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is believed to be the main chemical ingredient that produces the psychoactive effect.” Also known as pot, weed, grass and dope, among other names, marijuana is a frequently used drug, even though it is illegal in many states. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the country. In 2015 alone, more than 11 million people ages 18 to 25 smoked marijuana at some point in their life.

When it comes to ingesting marijuana, there are a variety of methods used. Sometimes the method in which it is used may even affect how long it stays in the system. One of the most common methods is hand-rolling cigarettes, also called joints, and smoking marijuana. However, people also use vaporizers to avoid inhaling marijuana smoke, and sometimes marijuana is even cooked into brownies or cookies known as edibles. Dabbing, or blasting dabs, which involves using marijuana concentrate packed with THC, is also a very popular way of getting high off the THC in marijuana.

When marijuana is smoked, it passes quickly from the lungs and into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, blood carries the chemicals from marijuana to the brain and other organs in the body. If a person eats or drinks marijuana, the body is slower to absorb the chemicals, but usually does so within an hour. Marijuana affects the brain by over-activating parts of the brain that contain receptors, causing a high. Along with a high, common side effects include: changes in senses, changes in mood, impaired movement, impaired decision making and difficulty problem solving. Because of the high levels of THC in marijuana testing for the the drug in a potential employee’s urine, blood, saliva or hair, has become one of the easiest ways to lose a job opportunity – marijuana can stay in your system for up to 120 days or more depending on how much marijuana is smoked, the levels of THC in that marijuana, and the person who smoked the marijuana.

Factors that Affect How Long Marijuana Stays in Urine, Blood or Hair

Someone who has been using marijuana for many years or who uses it daily is likely to have a build up for THC in their system, meaning it will take longer to leave the body.
Though it’s not always common knowledge, marijuana can have varying levels TCH potency. If marijuana with a higher THC potency is used, metabolites will remain in the body for longer periods of time.
How marijuana is used can have a significant impact on the amount of time it is detectable. If marijuana is smoked, the THC levels in the drug users body will drop within a few hours or days of ceasing use, however marijuana will still show up on a urine or blood drug test for up to 45 days or more after the last time it was smoked. But if it is ingested, it is metabolized more slowly and will remain detectable longer.
Each and every person who smokes marijuana has a rate of metabolism that is completely different and this can dramatically alter the way the human body breaks down THC, which can very easily change how many days marijuana will stay in the users system or cause a failed drug test. According to the Better Health Channel, “Metabolism refers to all the chemical processes going on continuously inside your body that allow life and normal functioning (maintaining normal functioning in the body is called homeostasis).”
Because the main ingredient of marijuana that causes users to fail a drug test is THC , which is stored in the body’s fatty tissue, those with less fat in their body will clear their system of THC faster than those who have more fat, thus allowing for the smoker to pass a drug test for marijuana in less days than a friend who also smoked weed and had to take a urine or blood drug test. Someone who eats well, exercises and gets enough sleep has a body that will function better, meaning it will detox THC at a faster rate than someone who is in poor overall health.
Certain drugs can affect a person’s metabolism rate, which in turn affects the rate at which THC is removed from the body.

Because of the variety of factors involved, it is difficult to estimate the amount of time that marijuana will remain traceable through testing. The only sure way to avoid the detection of marijuana use is to remain abstinent from the drug.

How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?
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