How Long Does Weed Stay in Your System?

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Because marijuana is widely legalized, it has garnered a reputation as a relatively harmless, non-addictive substance — often referred to as “the lesser of all evils” as far as substances go. What many fail to realize is how addictive marijuana can be, especially considering its increased potency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 3 out of every 10 people who use marijuana regularly will eventually develop a marijuana use disorder. (1) The risk of developing a marijuana use disorder increases if a person begins using marijuana earlier in life.

If you or someone you love has been experiencing personal consequences as a direct result of marijuana use, some degree of professional help might be necessary. If you have been considering seeking professional help, or if you have recently decided to quit marijuana because of a new job opportunity or any other reason, you might be wondering how long marijuana stays in your system. If you get drug tested in the next few days, will you be in the clear? The answer to this question depends heavily on your personal habits surrounding marijuana use. If you have attempted to quit or cut back with little to no long-term success, Guardian Recovery is available to help. Contact us today to learn more.

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Signs & Symptoms of Marijuana Dependence

The CDC outlines several symptoms associated with marijuana use disorder. If you have any of the following symptoms, there is a good chance that some degree of professional help has become necessary.

Signs and symptoms of marijuana dependence include:

  • Using more marijuana than intended more frequently than intended.
  • Attempting to quit marijuana on your own, but being unable to do so for any prolonged period of time.
  • Spending a disproportionate amount of time obtaining and using marijuana.
  • Continuing to use marijuana despite interpersonal problems relating to your marijuana use.
  • Continuing to use marijuana despite related problems at work or at school.
  • Decreased motivation, to the point of failing to tend to personal responsibilities and obligations.
  • Regularly craving marijuana.
  • An increase in risk-taking activities like driving a car while high on marijuana or combining marijuana with other substances.
  • Continuing to use marijuana despite professional medical advice to quit or cut back.
  • Continuing to use marijuana despite worsening physical or psychological symptoms.
  • Developing a tolerance, meaning more marijuana is required in order for the same “high” to be produced.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (agitation, irritability, lethargy) when marijuana use is stopped abruptly.

If you believe that you have been suffering from a diagnosable marijuana use disorder, there is help available. Because the symptoms associated with marijuana dependence are typically less severe than symptoms associated with dependence on other drugs like heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine, the treatment process is often less intensive. Many people choose to couple a short stay in medical detox with prolonged involvement in an outpatient treatment program. However, the most effective treatment options vary on a case-by-case basis. For example, if you were using marijuana to self-medicate an underlying mental illness, you might benefit from an extended stay in a residential, dual diagnosis treatment center. Contact us today to learn more.

How Long Does Weed (Marijuana) Stay in Your System?

As is the case with any other chemical substance, the length of time marijuana stays in your system depends on several factors.

Marijuana might stay in your system for a longer period of time if:

  • You smoke weed on a daily or near-daily basis.
  • You smoke weed multiple times a day.
  • You often combine weed with other chemical substances, like alcohol or prescription medications (whether or not they were prescribed to you).

The length of time weed stays in your system also depends on your age, gender, and body weight. However, this specific substance is typically detectable in body fluids (like urine and blood) for between 1 and 30 days — rarely for more than 90 days.

How Long is Marijuana Detectable Via Drug Testing?

The length of time marijuana stays in your system greatly depends on how much and how frequently you use the drug. Daily smokers tend to test positive for between three days and one week, while infrequent users may test negative within 24 hours of using marijuana. The method of testing is also important. Most testing utilizes urine or saliva. However, you might be required to take a blood test or a hair test, which can both detect the presence of marijuana in the system for longer periods of time.

Urine Testing

If you are undergoing a standard drug test, this means your urine will likely be tested. According to a study published by the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, marijuana is detectable in urine for around 72 hours, or three days.  When it comes to urine testing, the frequency of use is particularly important.

  • Occasional Users — If you use weed infrequently (less than three times a week), it will likely not be detectable in your urine for longer than 3 days.
  • Moderate Users — If you use weed around four times a week, it will likely be detectable for between 5 and 7 days.
  • Chronic Users — If you use weed on a daily or near-daily basis, it will be detectable in your urine for between 10 and 15 days (potentially longer).
  • Chronic, Heavy Users — If you use weed multiple times every day, it can be detectable for up to one full month (30 days) or slightly longer.

Blood Testing

Weed is usually detectable in the blood for between 2 and 3 days — potentially longer (up to 30 days) if you are a chronic, heavy user. Weed is detectable in the bloodstream almost instantaneously — regardless of the method of ingestion.

Saliva Testing

Saliva tests are less common than urine tests, seeing as metabolites are only present in saliva if weed has been orally ingested or smoked. However, saliva tests might be utilized for roadside testing in the near future (as breathalyzers are utilized to detect the presence of alcohol in the system).

The length of time weed stays present in saliva varies depending on the method of ingestion and the frequency of use. Chronic users might have weed metabolites in their saliva for up to 30 days, while infrequent users might only have metabolites in their saliva for 1 or 2 days.

Hair Testing

Most hair follicle tests can detect the presence of chemical substances for up to 90 days. However, weed does not show up in hair right away — small blood vessels carry the substance to the hair follicles over the course of several hours. Small amounts of the substance can be found in hair follicles for longer than 3 months. When a hair follicle is tested, a short segment is taken from close to the scalp (under 2 inches).

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How Long Does it Take for Marijuana to Metabolize?

As far as chemical substances go, marijuana metabolizes fairly quickly. According to an article published by the National Library of Medicine titled, Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications , “More than 65 percent of cannabis is excreted in the feces and approximately 20 percent is excreted in urine. Most of the cannabis (80-90 percent) is excreted within 5 days as hydroxylated and carboxylated metabolites. There are eighteen acidic metabolites of cannabis identified in urine and most of these metabolites form a conjugate with glucuronic acid, which increases its water solubility.” In layman’s terms, it is rare for weed to stay in the system for longer than 5 days. However, if you are undergoing a hair follicle test, you might still test positive even though the weed in your system has been metabolized in its entirety.

Can You Metabolize Weed Faster?

If you are nervous about an upcoming drug test because of your marijuana use, you might be wondering how to flush the drug out of your system. Can you metabolize weed any faster? If you drink gallons and gallons of water, will you still test positive? While you might not be thrilled to hear it, the best way to avoid testing positive for chemical substances is by maintaining complete abstinence. Of course, maintaining abstinence is more of a challenge for some than it is for others. If you are struggling with a marijuana dependence, simply abstaining might prove impossible. Maybe you are able to stay away from marijuana for a day or two, and then the psychological cravings become so intense you find yourself right back where you started.

If you have been unable to quit on your own, you are not alone. According to the World Health Organization, “About 147 million people, 2.5 percent of the world population, consume cannabis (annual prevalence) compared with 0.2 percent consuming cocaine and 0.2 percent consuming opiates.” Marijuana is the second most used chemical substance in the country, preceded only by alcohol. Of course, just because it is widely used does not necessarily make it safe — especially if you are predisposed to the development of substance use disorders. Contact us to learn more about the risks involved with chronic marijuana use.

What Factors Affect How Long Weed Stays in Your System?

There are several factors that affect how long weed stays in your system and how quickly it metabolizes.

These factors include:

  • The amount of marijuana you consume.
  • The amount of THC present in the strain/type of marijuana you use.
  • Your genetics.
  • The frequency of use.
  • Your body fat percentage.
  • Your metabolism.
  • What type of drug test you are taking.

How Long Does it Take to Feel the Effects?

The method of ingestion affects how long it takes to feel the effects of marijuana. If you smoke marijuana, you will likely feel its effects anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes afterwards. The drug will enter the bloodstream through the lungs and effects will kick in almost instantaneously. If you ingest the drug orally (in the form of an edible), you will typically feel its effects in between 30 and 60 minutes. However, it could take as long as 2 hours to feel the effects of an edible. If you are ingesting marijuana in the form of a dab (a highly concentrated form that is usually smoked through a glass pipe), you will likely feel its effects within seconds.

How Long Does it Take for the Effects to Wear Off?

The effects of marijuana generally last for several hours, though if you ingest marijuana orally and consume a particularly potent variety, the effects might not wear off for around 6 or 8 hours. Some people report experiencing “brain fog” or slight sluggishness and disorientation for several days after smoking marijuana. It is important to note that potency and purity cannot be adequately tested if you are purchasing the drug from a street dealer. Marijuana can be laced with a variety of other chemical substances, from hallucinogens like PCP to plant materials like grass trimmings.

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If you or someone you love has been suffering from a diagnosable marijuana use disorder, Guardian Recovery Center is available to help. We understand it can be difficult to self-diagnose marijuana addiction considering the symptoms are often mild or moderate, and associated withdrawal symptoms are largely psychological in nature. If you need help with an official diagnosis, we are available to point you in the right direction. If you have had a difficult time quitting on your own and you are ready to reclaim your life, contact us today. As soon as you reach out you will be put in touch with an experienced Treatment Advisor who will walk you through our simple and straightforward admissions process.

The process includes several distinct steps. First off, we will conduct a brief pre-assessment over the phone, which will help us determine which level of care is right for you. If you have never previously participated in an addiction treatment program of any kind, we will likely recommend you enter a medical detox for 72 hours prior to transitioning to a higher level of care. This is the case even if you have been struggling with marijuana dependence — although associated physical withdrawal symptoms are rarely severe, psychological symptoms often require treatment. Once the assessment is complete we will help you work out feasible coverage options. Our facilities work directly with most major regional and national health insurance providers throughout the country, meaning the majority of the services we offer are covered either partially or in full. We will conduct a free, no obligation health insurance benefit check to those in need. Finally, we help arrange local ground transportation to the facility you decide upon, and set a date and a time for your intake.

Coming to terms with a marijuana use disorder is rarely easy, and reaching out for help can be difficult. However, once you take the first step and make initial contact, you are well on your way to reclaiming your life. We look forward to speaking with you soon and helping you get started on the road to marijuana addiction recovery.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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