The question of how long marijuana stays in your system is one which gets asked on a regular basis.
The reasons for wanting to know vary. But for most people, the question they are really asking is “how long does THC stay in your system.”
That’s because all tests for the presence of marijuana check for the presence of THC and linked metabolites. THC is also one of the key active ingredients in marijuana – one of those which needs to be carefully controlled if proper medical relief is going to be achieved.
But the answer to this question isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. THC hangs around in different parts of the body for different amounts of time. Here’s how it works:
What is THC?
The letters THC stand for tetrahydrocannabinol. It is one of the most important cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Cannabinoids are organic compounds which, when taken into your body, can have a number of different effects. These effects are caused by the way they interact with your endocannabinoid system.
In THC’s case, those effects can be exploited to help address some of the symptoms associated with:
- General pain
- Muscle spasticity
- Low appetite
- Some types of anxiety
Tetrahydrocannabinol is believed to be the main psychoactive component in the make-up of the marijuana plant, although other cannabinoids do serve to enhance or regulate the potency of THC.
How long does marijuana stay in your system for?
There are a number of different factors which affect how long medical marijuana stays in your system.
Remember that drug tests look for THC specifically rather than marijuana, so the question here is more about THC than marijuana as a whole.
The answer to that question is affected by:
1) Quantity and frequency of dose
The dose of THC you consumed – specifically, how much and how often – will play a major role in how long it will stay in your system for.
Dose will also be important when it comes to whether the presence of THC will appear on all kinds of drug tests.
THC has cumulative effects. So, if a person consumes THC multiple times over several days, the tetrahydrocannabinol will stay in their system for longer. Any drug tests they take are also much more likely to come back positive.
The potency of the effects of the THC a person takes is not always directly related to the size of the dose though. Various factors determine how a given individual will be affected.
2) Body fat
As a lipid-soluble chemical, THC binds to fat in the body. This means that the more body fat a person has, the more time it will probably take for marijuana to be metabolized.
This also means that, as women tend to have more body fat than men, women may metabolize THC slightly slower than men.
If a person is very dehydrated, THC concentrations in the body are likely to go up.
However, the reverse is not true. A very well hydrated person is no more likely to test negative on a drug test than an averagely hydrated person.
The faster your metabolism, the less time it takes to metabolize the THC you have consumed.
When it comes to drug tests, it is important to note that most tests also look for metabolic chemicals with links to THC. Your body will need time to metabolize those as well.
How long does marijuana actually stay in your system for?
Some substances leave the body – or at least are no longer detectable – only a few hours after they are consumed.
Marijuana – specifically the THC found in marijuana – can be detected long after it is used. Different parts of the body will retain traces of THC for longer periods of time, and all will be affected by the factors listed above:
1) THC in hair
THC in hair can be detected up to 90 days after use.
However, it appears likely that people who use marijuana on a very mild basis may not have this use detected through hair samples. Daily or near-daily users are much more likely to be detected.
There is also a danger of “false positives” with hair tests. This is because this type of test looks at the oils in hair which have been absorbed from the skin. There is no guarantee that those oils did not come from someone else using marijuana in their vicinity.
2) THC in urine
THC in urine can be detected between 3-30 days after use.
Again, this depends heavily on dosage. A mild user, who uses their live resin vape pen perhaps twice a week, will likely be detectable for less than three days. On the other hand, a very heavy user who uses up most of their entire live resin cartridge in a short space of time might be detectable for the full 30 days, or possibly longer.
If you take THC in edibles like gummies, it is likely to be detectable in your urine for between one and five days.
3) THC in saliva
THC in saliva can be detected up to 48 hours after use. Though it is worth noting that some tests have found traces after 72 hours.
4) THC in blood
THC in blood can be detected up to 36 hours after use.
Regulating levels of THC in your system
For many people, the major concern when it comes to medical marijuana is to make sure they get the relief they need.
This often means regulating the amount they take. To do this, the best method is to start small and slowly increase your dose to a level which works for you.
You might have figured out how to smoke live resin in a highly effective way. But if that gives you far too potent an effect for what you need for relief, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.
Always check the label to see the purity and quantity of THC to see what you are getting. For example, anything in the world of K.I.N.D., from edible gummies to K.I.N.D. live resin, will clearly display origin, purity and quantities.
You might then consider keeping a journal or other chart of how much you are using over what period so that you can track your dose. This ensures you get what you need when it comes to the THC in your system.