How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?

Yeah… I figure if I study high, take the test high, get high scores! Right?

~Redman – How High (2001)

Marijuana is detectable in your bodily fluid for one to thirty days.1 However, on average, your body can rid itself of 90% of the cannabis within five days.2

For those that casually use cannabis, it stays in the urine for one to three days, saliva for 12 to 24 hours, sweat for one to four weeks, blood for 12 to 24 hours, and hair for four to six months.3 The amount of time marijuana is detectable depends on various factors. The most influential factor is how often you use the drug. It also changes depending on your health, diet, and activity level.

Learn about how marijuana travels through your system and precautions to take to ensure you do not use too much marijuana. Take time to read over the list of symptoms of substance use disorder and know that help is available if you need to talk to someone about treatment options for cannabis addiction.

How Long is Marijuana Detectable in Drug Tests?

The half-life of marijuana is how long it takes for half of the drug’s active ingredients to leave the body. For those that infrequently use marijuana, the half-life is 1.3 days. Meanwhile, those that frequently use it have a half-life of five to thirteen days.2

You can take several tests to detect marijuana in your body. Some tests are more sensitive and can detect the drug for months after you use it. Others can only detect it in your system for a few hours.

Urine Testing

Urine is the preferred method for testing for marijuana in the system because marijuana appears in a higher concentration and has a longer detection time.2 It is also easy to collect and test. The drug appears in a urine test for two to four days after you use it and is ideal for monitoring how much you used in a short timeframe.

Most urine tests can be performed on-site at the testing location. You provide a urine sample in a cup, and they can run it through tests that look for the drug in the fluid sample. More complex urine testing methods are available, like what the military uses. These tests are more sensitive and can detect marijuana much longer than other urine tests.3

Blood Testing

Blood tests are highly accurate but more invasive and expensive than urine tests. Blood tests can detect marijuana in your system for 12 to 24 hours after you last used the drug. Blood tests are often reserved for medical emergencies.3

To perform a blood test, the medical professional will inject a needle into your vein and draw a small vial of blood. They send the vial to a laboratory to test unless they have the equipment in-house to perform the necessary tests.

Saliva Testing

Saliva testing is an easy test to perform, which makes it convenient when a quick test is necessary. For instance, if law enforcement or health professionals notice behavioral changes that align with substance use disorder, they might perform a quick saliva test to see whether the individual is under the influence of a substance.

While saliva works in a setting where more extensive tests aren’t available, it isn’t the preferred method for testing for marijuana in your system. Often, your mouth has other contaminants that can affect your results. Therefore, secondary testing is usually necessary.3

Saliva tests show marijuana in your system for 12 to 24 hours after you last used it.3

Hair Follicle Testing

A hair follicle is one of the newest ways of testing your history of drug use. Unfortunately, it isn’t readily available or used because it is costly and takes longer to perform the test. However, it helps professionals understand your long-term use of a drug or abstinence from drug use.

Drug residue remains in a hair’s follicle for four to six months. Since hair grows at a rate of ½ inch each month, you can pull a patient’s drug use history for the past four months by examining a two-inch piece of hair. Hair samples are also more difficult to tamper with than other methods, making them highly reliable.3

The process of testing hair requires about 50 strands. The laboratory dissolves those strands and then tests the liquified sample. While it is reliable for detecting marijuana, it isn’t as reliable as seeing other drugs like cocaine, PCP, and opioids.

What Factors Affect How Long Marijuana Stays in Your System?

The most crucial factor for how long marijuana stays in your system is how much you use and how frequently you use marijuana.

Some other factors that influence how long it stays in your system include:4

  • Your weight
  • Amount of body fat (fat stores cannabis)
  • Diet
  • Activity level
  • Health
  • Sex
  • Hydration level
  • Metabolism

To help marijuana pass through your body faster, you should decrease the amount you use and remain properly hydrated. Always adjust the amount of marijuana you use according to your body size and weight to ensure you do not use too much at one time. Exercising might speed up your metabolism but is not a reliable method.

Can Other Substances Cause a False Positive for Marijuana?

Yes, other substances can cause a false positive for marijuana. However, false positives are rare.

Some of the causes of a false positive include:5

  • Secondhand marijuana smoke
  • CBD
  • HIV medication (Efavirenz)

If you have consumed any of the above items or been exposed to secondhand smoke recently, try to delay your test so that it doesn’t influence your results. If you cannot delay your test, you can request a second test if you receive a false positive. A more sensitive test can differentiate marijuana from other compounds that might cause a false positive.

How Long Do the Effects of Marijuana Last?

There are several ways to use marijuana. Each method changes how long the drug stays in your system.

When you consume marijuana orally, it is more potent. You will start feeling the effects within an hour, and they can last for over six hours. If you are sensitive, the effects can last nearly 12 hours.

 Some examples of oral marijuana include:6

  • Edibles
  • Pills, capsules, and tablets
  • Dissolved powder

Another common way to use marijuana is by smoking it. Those who smoke it will roll it into a joint, blunt, or spliff. Others will smoke it in a pipe or bong. Smoking it using a vape reduces the amount of secondhand smoke you produce, which has caused this method to grow in popularity in recent years.

When you smoke marijuana, you will feel its effects for at least one to four hours.6

A few people use marijuana topically. However, this is mostly for medical usage. Topical applications generally do not cause a positive blood or urine test unless you use them in high amounts.7

Short-Term Effects

When you take marijuana, you will experience several short-term side effects. Most notably, you will notice a change in the way you view reality and time, which can be dangerous if you are not in a safe location while under the influence of marijuana.

Some of the other short-term marijuana effects include:8

  • Altered and heightened senses
  • Altered sense of time
  • Mood changes
  • Impaired motion
  • Memory issues
  • Impaired thinking and problem-solving
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Psychosis

Signs of a Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana is the most widely used addictive drug outside of tobacco and alcohol.8 If you suspect you might have a marijuana use disorder, please get in touch with a medical professional and seek help. Wanting to learn how long marijuana stays in your system might signal a need for professional help.

Other signs of substance use disorder include:9

  • Using a larger amount of a substance or for longer than intended
  • Not able to cut back on your usage
  • Spending a large amount of time obtaining or recovering from a substance
  • Unable to keep other commitments because of using a substance
  • Continuing to use a substance despite problems occurring as a direct result of your usage
  • Giving up activities because of using a substance
  • Using a substance even when it puts you in danger
  • Using a substance even though you see worsening physical or psychological issues
  • Increased tolerance to the substance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms

If you notice two or more of these signs, you might have a substance use disorder. Medical treatment and intervention are needed to help you recover and build a healthier and happier life.10

Find the Best Rehab

You do not have to feel caught in the endless cycle of addiction. Help is available to anyone. When you take the first steps towards recovery, you will start a journey to freedom and experience a better quality of life.

Consider either inpatient or outpatient treatment for your weed addiction.11 Our inpatient options allow you to stay in our facility to receive constant care to ensure you are free of triggers and have the support you need. Inpatient treatment usually has a shorter treatment time because you can receive constant care.

Outpatient treatment options are available for those with other commitments. You can maintain your normal life but come to the treatment facility for regular therapy and counseling. Outpatient can take longer, but allows you to continue with your daily life like work and school.

Contact a recovery specialist to learn more about our treatment options.

Resources

  1. Carly Vandergriendt. (2019, May 6). How Long does Weed (Marijuana) Stay in Your System? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-weed-stay-in-your-system
  2. Priyamvada Sharma, PhD, Pratima Murthy, and M.M Srinivas Bharath. (2012). Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications. NIH. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570572/
  3. Treatment Improvement Protocol Series. (2006). Urine Collection and Testing Procedures and Alternative Methods for Monitoring Drug Use. NIH. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64092/
  4. Zawn Villines. (2022, February 21). How Long Can You Detect Marijuana (Cannabis) in the Body? MedicalNewsToday. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324315
  5. Carol DerSarkissian, MD. (2021, September 5). What can Cause a False Positive Drug Test. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/drug-medication/ss/slideshow-drugs-false-positive-test
  6. Jon Johnson. (2020, March 30). Edibles: How Long Do They Last? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-long-do-edibles-last#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
  7. C Hess, M Krämer, B Madea. (2017, January 16). Topical Application of THC Containing Products Is Not Able to Cause Positive Cannabinoid Finding in Blood or Urine. NIH. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28122323/
  8. DrugFacts. (n.d). Cannabis (Marijuana) DrugFacts. NIH. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cannabis-marijuana
  9. A Thomas McLellan, PhD. (2017). Substance Misuse and Substance Use Disorders: Why do they Matter in Healthcare? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5525418/
  10. CBH. (2022, April 28). How To Find the Best Drug Rehab for Recover. https://cabehavioral.com/how-to-find-the-best-drug-rehab-for-recovery/
  11. CBH. (2020, June 9). How Effective Is Inpatient Drug Rehab for Your Recovery? https://cabehavioral.com/how-effective-is-inpatient-drug-rehab-for-your-recovery/

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