How long does marijuana stay in the system?


In the United States, marijuana is one of the commonly used illegal drugs. Smoking marijuana has bad effects on your health but studies showed that marijuana has some well-proven health benefits such as the chronic pain relief. In the majority of states, the use of medical marijuana has been legalized. (1, 2)

A marijuana plan-cannabis plant in which the leaves are used for both medicinal and recreational purpose image photo picture

Image 1: A marijuana plant/cannabis plant in which the leaves are used for both medicinal and recreational purpose.
Picture Source: www.drugabuse.gov

Marijuana is the number one commonly used illegal drugs in the United States and other parts of the world image photo picture

Picture 2: Marijuana is the number one commonly used illegal drugs in the United States and other parts of the world.
Photo Source: d14rmgtrwzf5a.cloudfront.net

What are the chemicals present in marijuana?

Marijuana contains more than 500 chemicals and most of these chemicals have a psychoactive (mind-altering) effect. Some of the primary chemical contents of marijuana are as follows:

  • THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) – It is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. It stimulates the pleasure center of the brain by stimulating the release of dopamine. It is the reason why you feel a “high” sensation when smoking marijuana. If you smoke a large amount of marijuana, it could result in psychedelic high characterized by heightening sensation, anxiousness, change in sense of time, and hallucination.
  • CBD (cannabidiol) – A component of marijuana that does not make you high. As a matter of fact, it can counteract the high effect of THC. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

There are tons of chemicals found in marijuana but the most common ones are THC and cannabidiol image photo picture

Photo 3: There are tons of chemicals found in marijuana but the most common ones are THC and cannabidiol.
Image Source: image.slidesharecdn.com

Different methods of using marijuana

These are the different ways of smoking marijuana image photo picture

Image 4: These are the different ways of smoking marijuana.
Picture Source: maryjanewarrior.files.wordpress.com

Marijuana can be mixed with dairy products and other food preparations such as teas image photo picture

Picture 5: Marijuana can be mixed with dairy products and other food preparations such as teas.
Photo Source: s3.amazonaws.com

  1. Smoking/inhalation/vaping – It is the fastest way of taking in marijuana. It would only take a few seconds to minutes to take its psychedelic effect.
  2. Eating/drinking – When eaten or drunk, the effect is slow because the THC content does not directly go into the bloodstream. It needs to pass through the digestive system. The “high” feeling can be felt within 30 minutes to two hours. The advantage of eating/drinking marijuana is that the effect can last for up to eight hours. Marijuana is mixed into various food products such as cookies, candies, cookies, and other pastry products. Some brew the leaves and drink as a tea. (2, 5, 6, 7,8)

What are the health benefits of marijuana?

  • It provides chronic pain relief.
  • It is helpful to people undergoing chemotherapy as it can significantly reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • It is helpful in alleviating the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
  • It can help in the weight loss management of people with AIDS.
  • It is helpful to people with sleep problems. (3, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Marijuana is not all that bad. There are health benefits too but its use should be regulated by a medical professional image photo picture

Photo 6: Marijuana is not all that bad. There are health benefits too but its use should be regulated by a medical professional.
Image Source: 420intel.com

Marijuana can have ill effects to the body, especially when a person gets addicted to it image photo picture
Image 7: Marijuana can have ill effects to the body, especially when a person gets addicted to it.
Picture Source: images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

What are the ill effects of marijuana?

  • It can significantly affect your ability to learn, especially cognition, memory, and attention span. Its long-term use can affect your mental skills.
  • There is a possibility of testicular cancer with heavy marijuana use.
  • Chronic smoking of marijuana may lead to coughing (productive cough).
  • Chronic marijuana use can increase the possibility of having mental-related conditions such as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia.
  • Pregnant women who are using marijuana tend to deliver an underweight baby, premature baby, and babies with complications that will require neonatal intensive care. (11, 12, 15)

How long does marijuana stay in the system and what are the tests used to detect marijuana in the body?

Although medical marijuana has been legalized in some states, still a testing for marijuana use is required. This is to comply with employment requirements, health assessment, and whatever purpose it may serve. There are various ways to check for the presence of marijuana in the body. They are the following:

Blood Test

Blood testing is an invasive way of testing for substance abuse but yields to an accurate result, especially if testing for recent marijuana use image photo picture

Picture 8: Blood testing is an invasive way of testing for substance abuse but yields to an accurate result, especially if testing for recent marijuana use.
Photo Source: encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com

The body rapidly metabolizes marijuana and breaks down the cannabinoids in the blood. A blood is drawn from the suspected user and check for marijuana metabolites. The metabolites can stay in the blood for up to two days for single or occasional users. However, if you have been taking marijuana for a long period of time, there is a possibility that it will remain in your blood for up to seven days from the last use. A blood test procedure is only effective in detecting recent marijuana use. Law enforcement usually prefers a blood testing procedure to check for recent marijuana use, especially if the person is involved in a traffic accident, crime, and the likes. (2, 5, 8, 10, 12, 13)

Saliva Test/Body Fluid Test/Mouth Swab

It is one of the easiest ways to test for recent marijuana use image photo picture

Photo 9: It is one of the easiest ways to test for recent marijuana use.
Image Source: www.ilovegrowingmarijuana.com

If you smoke marijuana, the TCH content remains inside your mouth and gets soaked up by saliva. The same thing goes if you eat foods containing marijuana but the exposure is reduced significantly. How long it stays in your saliva depends on the amount of marijuana you take and how long have you been taking it. Ideally, THC remains in the saliva for up to two days from the last use. For heavy users, it can remain in the saliva for up to a week. You can get rid of THC in your saliva by:

  • Drinking lots of fluids
  • Brushing the teeth
  • Gargling with mouthwash
  • Eating fatty foods (13)

Urine Test/Urinalysis

A urine test is a non-invasive way of checking for marijuana use image photo picture

Image 10: A urine test is a non-invasive way of checking for marijuana use.
Picture Source: allbud.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com

The metabolites of marijuana; THC, is fat soluble. It bonds to fatty tissues which make expelling it quite difficult. It would take some time to completely excrete THC. For first-time marijuana user, the metabolite can stay in the urine for up to eight days. For occasional users, THC can remain in the urine for up to 18 days. Moderate users may take a month to completely clear THC in urine. Heavy/chronic marijuana users may take up to 77 days to completely free their urine of THC content. (16, 17, 18)

There are ways to speed up the excretion of THC in the urine such as:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Drinking detox drinks

Hair Follicle Test

Hair follicle test detects chronic marijuana use but is rarely used because it is expensive image photo picture

Picture 11: Hair follicle test detects chronic marijuana use but is rarely used because it is expensive.
Photo Source: encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com

It is used to detect chronic marijuana use. However, it is not the ideal procedure to use for testing recent marijuana use. Don’t you know that chronic marijuana use can be detected in the hair follicle? It can detect marijuana use for up to years. However, hair follicle testing procedure for marijuana is used to detect up to 90 days or three months from the last intake. This is rarely ordered because of its costly nature. In this procedure, the inspector takes the hair from the roots to at least two inches. The end part of the hair is discarded. Only the hair follicles and a few inches from the roots are needed. If you are bald, then body hair is the next option. (2, 6, 9, 18, 19)

Refer to the table below to find out how long marijuana stays in the system

Testing Method/Procedure Window of Detection
Blood Test First-time user/occasional user – 1 to 2 days from the last use
Chronic user/those who use a high amount of marijuana – seven days or more from the last use
Urine Test/Urinalysis Single user/first-time user – up to eight days from the last use
Occasional user – up to 18 days from the last use
Chronic user/heavy user – The metabolite can stay in the urine for more than two months (77 days) from the last use
Saliva/Body Fluid/Mouth Swab First-time user/occasional user – Marijuana metabolites remain in the saliva for up to two days from the last use
Chronic user/heavy user – Marijuana metabolites remain in the saliva for up to a week or even longer
Hair Follicle Test First-time user/occasional user – Marijuana metabolite remains in the hair follicle for up to three months or 90 days from the last use
Chronic user/heavy user – Marijuana metabolite can remain in the hair follicle for up to years from the last use (2, 15, 19, 20)

Factors affecting the ability of marijuana to stay in the system

How long marijuana stays in the system is dependent on various factors which include the following:

  • Age. Too old and too your people may have difficulty eliminating THC from their system. On the other hand, those who are well and healthy and in their productive age an easily eliminate THC from their body.
  • Gender. Male can easily eliminate THC in their system given the fact that they have a lean muscle mass. On the other hand, females may take some time to completely eliminate THC from the body because females have high-fat content and THC is stored in the fatty tissues.
  • Body mass index (BMI). People with a lean body can metabolize THC faster than those of people with excessive fat tissues. As you know, THC is stored in the fatty tissues of the body.
  • Dose/potency. Marijuana has varying level of potency. The higher the THC is the longer it remains in the body.
  • Frequency of use. Those who have been using marijuana for a long period of time (chronic users) may take some time to completely clear marijuana in their system.
  • Mode of ingestion. If the marijuana is smoked, the level of THC in the blood will drop after a few hours or days of use. However, it can be detected in the urine for up to 45 days. On the other hand, a marijuana that is ingested will have to go through the digestive system, which means that it is slowly metabolized in the body leading to a longer detection timeframe.
  • Drug interaction – Some drugs can significantly affect the body’s ability to metabolize marijuana. (3, 5, 8, 11, 13)

What can you do to test negative of marijuana?

  • You should abstain from using marijuana. It is the sure way of coming out negative from marijuana use.
  • Undergo a natural detox process. It consists of drinking plenty of water and natural fruit juices and exercising regularly. It is best to undergo a natural detox process for at least 30 days before the drug test.
  • Watch your diet. Stay away from foods that can cause water retention and bloating such as sodium and sugar-rich foods. You should also stay away from fatty and highly processed foods like candy, ice cream, pizza, and chips. You should increase your intake of lean meat and protein, vegetables, fruits, and drink plenty of water.
  • Supplements. Some supplements can speed up the elimination of waste products from the body such as magnesium and vitamin B complex.
  • Special detox drinks. There are detox drinks that you can instantly buy at the grocery stores. You just have to choose which detox drinks are effective. Read online reviews and check the reputation of the manufacturer. That way, you will have an idea whether the special detox drinks really work or not. (14, 19, 20)

References:

  1. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-marijuana-stay-in-the-system-67791
  2. https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/marijuana-addiction/faq/how-long-does-marijuana-stay-system/#gref
  3. https://hightimes.com/health/how-long-does-weed-stay-in-your-system/
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-weed-stay-in-your-system
  5. https://psychologenie.com/how-long-does-weed-stay-in-your-system
  6. https://www.marijuanabreak.com/how-long-does-weed-stay-in-your-system-full-explanation
  7. https://deserthopetreatment.com/marijuana/stay-in-system/
  8. https://addiction.lovetoknow.com/wiki/How_Long_Does_Marijuana_Stay_in_Your_System
  9. http://www.ncsm.nl/english/what-is-medicinal-cannabis/marijuana-stay-bloodstream
  10. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/how-long-does-cannabis-stay-in-the-body-after-smoking/
  11. https://haveaheartcc.com/how-long-does-weed-stay-in-your-system/
  12. https://www.addictions.com/marijuana/how-long-does-weed-stay-in-your-system/
  13. https://cannabissupport.com.au/cannabis-you/weed-101/how-long-does-marijuana-stay-in-your-system/
  14. https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/how-long-does-cannabis-stay-in-your-system
  15. https://www.coloradopotguide.com/colorado-marijuana-blog/article/how-long-does-cannabis-stay-in-your-system/
  16. https://herb.co/marijuana/news/how-long-does-weed-stay-in-your-system-marijuana/
  17. https://www.rehabcenter.net/marijuana-detection-time/
  18. https://www.adt-healthcare.com/blog/post/how-long-weed-stay-system
  19. https://www.leafscience.com/2017/10/25/how-long-thc-system/
  20. https://www.quora.com/How-long-does-marijuana-stay-in-your-body-if-its-your-first-time

Published by Dr. Raj MD under Uncategorized.
Article was last reviewed on March 14th, 2022.

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