How long does marijuana stay in your system?

Marijuana is the name given to dried leaves, seeds and flowers of the cannabis plant that is high in tetrahydrocannabinol or THC – the mind-altering compound found in the cannabis. THC enters the bloodstream very quickly after it is smoked. If the drug is ingested orally, it takes around 20 to 40 minutes for the effects to take place. Although THC enters the system rapidly, it takes a lot longer to completely leave the body. It can be detected in a lab fairly conclusively by way of simple testing.

Various tests have been conducted to determine the duration of time marijuana stays in the body. Sadly, there’s no definite answer to this question. Individual differences cause marijuana to last for a short period in some systems and incredibly long in others. Additionally, some tests can detect marijuana metabolites after a month of use, and other drug tests identify the metabolites after three months of use. The discussion seeks to describe the different testing methods and variables that affect marijuana retention. 

If you are using marijuana or considering starting to use the drug, you may be interested to know that it can be detected in your system for a very long time after the last use. This is important to understand if you are in the kind of employment, or if you engage in any activities, that require you to take urine tests from time to time.

Why is it Important to Determine How Long Marijuana Stays in the System 

While some jurisdictions have legalised cannabis for recreational or medical use, the drug remains largely illegal. Drug testing becomes mandatory during accidents to determine the causes of the crashes. The investigators draw blood from the victims to perform tests, and if the results detect THC metabolites in their system, they are charged. However, for some people, the last use of cannabis may have been weeks or months in the past hence, should not be accused of causing the accidents. Understanding how long the drug lingers in the body helps determine if the accused took the drug a few minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months before the accident. Another reason for the study is to help clinicians detect substance abuse in young adults and take intervention measures early on. Teenagers who are addicted to the drug have a high retention rate than occasional users. 

The types of drug tests that are used 

The desired effects of marijuana can be felt for only a relatively short amount of time as it wears off quite quickly, but the drug can be detected in your body for days and weeks afterwards, depending on the personal use and the type of test taken. 

1. Saliva tests: Marijuana can only be found in your saliva for a few hours after smoking the drug and it is not conclusive, therefore is this kind of test is seldom used. 

2. Blood tests: The drug can be detected in your blood from a few hours up to a couple of days depending on the heaviness of use. 

3. Urine tests: For a single-time user, marijuana is detectable in urine for up to 13 days. For a regular user, the drug can be found in urine for around 45 days, and for a heavy or daily user, it can be detected for up to 90 days. Learn more about how long marijuana can stay in your urine here.

4. Hair tests: It is possible to find traces of marijuana in hair for up to 90 days, and in some heavy users, even longer than this.

5.Sweat Test: The detection window for the test is ten days. The individual wears sweat patches that are removed and tested for THC and its metabolites. This method has become a favourite marijuana testing technique for tracking parolees as new patches are applied during the weekly meetings.

Blood tests are not frequently used because there is a shorter window for accuracy, but in some instances, a blood sample can be taken to detect THC. Urine tests are more commonly used because they will show if marijuana has been used in the last few days, and these tests are easy to administer. Urine tests tend to be the methods used by employees who have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drug usage. 

How is marijuana removed from the body? 

Our systems break down THC quite quickly, and the compound is modified into metabolites. The body stores these metabolites in our body fat and gradually gets rid of them by passing them in our faeces, sweat and urine. 

What factors affect the length of time drugs stay in your system? 

Your BMI can affect the detection of marijuana. Cannabinoids, which includes THC, are stored in the body’s fat cells. This means that the higher a person’s BMI, the longer the drug can be found in the system.

The hydration level of your body will make a difference. Being dehydrated will mean that your urine contains less water giving a stronger result. The drug will not be in your body any longer, but stronger urine will help provide a positive result in the drop-off days.

The strength of the drug used can mean that marijuana stays in your system longer. A higher level of THC in the drug will mean it takes longer for the body to metabolise it leaving traces of it in the system.

The method used to take the drug will have an effect. Smoking the drug has slightly different results to those eating it as a cookie etc.

The age, weight, gender and height of the user will yield slightly different results when it comes to detection in the system too.

Can you beat a test for marijuana? 

As there are different results for different variables, some people believe they can fool a drugs test into giving a negative result. A short search on the internet will reveal lots of suggestions about ridding the body of THC before a test. 

It is thought you can wash drugs out of the system by drinking a lot of water shortly before a urine test. While it is true that drinking a large amount of liquid will weaken urine, there will still be measurable amounts of THC to be found in any sample. 

Adding another substance to the urine sample such as salt, bleach or detergent gives a different reading. This may be true but these other substances are easily detected and tampering with drug tests could have a negative impact. 

Some companies sell herbal teas, vitamin combinations or special drinks that claim to speed up a detoxification and give a negative reading, but there is no evidence that these work and they should not be relied upon. 

Urine tests can often be requested at very short notice so there is no time to try and fool the test. Heavy marijuana users are especially likely to be found out every time they perform a test. The only guaranteed way to pass a drugs test is to refrain from taking the drug in the first place.

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