How Long Does Weed Stay in Your System | Drug Test Guide
You’re applying for a job when you come across a section of the application requesting your consent for a pre-employment drug test, or informing you that there will be random tests during employment. If this has ever happened to you (and we're betting it has), you likely asked yourself, how long does weed stay in your system? You don’t want your weed use to get in the way of your employment, but you don't want to stop using it either.
With a pre-employment or random marijuana drug test being one of the biggest concerns of many weed users, you’re not alone. We’ve put together a handy guide to help you understand the different types of drug tests used by employers, how long weed stays in your system, ways to do a THC detox, and more.
How Long Does It Take Weed to Leave Your System?
Drug tests come in many forms: urine, hair follicle, blood, and saliva. Before we jump into how long THC stays in each type of sample, you’ll want to keep in mind that the timings we share are general, and not 100% guaranteed. Several factors can affect the timing when it comes down to how long does weed stay in your system, including what you do before and after smoking. We’ll touch on those a little further down.
How Long Does THC Stay in Urine
With urine tests being one of the most common types of drug tests, you’ve probably found yourself asking: how long does THC stay in urine? The answer depends mainly on how often you smoke.
Generally speaking, the more you smoke, the longer the cannabinoid lingers. That’s because the body stores THC and its metabolites in various parts of the body, including fat cells, meaning these compounds will accumulate over time. They hang around in your body long after the high wears off, so they take a little while to get out of your system.
If you’re an occasional smoker, THC may only stay in your urine for three days or so. For more moderate smokers (four to five times a week), it may take five to seven days for THC to be cleared out. If you smoke daily, THC may show up on a urine test anywhere between 10 to 30 days after your last smoke, depending on how heavily you smoke each day. To understand how long does weed stay in your system, means to understand how long it stays in every part of your body from urine to hair.
How Long Does THC Stay in Your Hair
Many employers choose urine tests because they’re fast and affordable, but some may opt for hair follicle tests instead. These types of tests aren't as common since they're more expensive, but just in case your potential job requires one, how long does weed stay in your hair?
You might be wondering how THC gets into your hair in the first place. When you ingest weed, the cannabinoids enter your bloodstream. As your blood delivers nutrients to your hair follicles, THC metabolites can pass through, too, and end up trapped in the follicles.
Hair has the longest THC (or THC byproduct) detection window. For most users, a hair follicle test can detect the presence of weed up to 90 days after your last use, regardless of how frequently you smoke. Meaning that when it comes down to how long does weed stay in your system? The hair follicle test is one of the tests you have to be more careful and wary about. That means even if you rarely smoke, you’re just as likely to pop on this type of test up three months after your last inhale as someone who smoked heavily for weeks before they stopped.
One interesting thing to note about a hair test is that it won't show very recent use, because it takes a few days for THC to show up in your hair strands. If you smoked for the first time in a long time and have a hair test done the next day, you’re not likely to come up positive for the cannabinoid on a drug test.
Keep in mind, 90 days is only an estimate. Everyone’s hair grows at different rates. If your hair grows slowly, you may get a positive THC test result well after the 90-day mark. Once again we can’t calculate the exact number but only estimates for how long does weed stay in your system.
How Long Does THC Stay in Your Blood
While they’re uncommon, you may find yourself subjected to a blood test that looks for the presence of THC. As with other types of tests, how long the cannabinoid remains in your system depends a lot on your frequency of use.
Generally speaking, THC can be detected in your blood for one to two days after your last use. However, if you’re a more frequent user, it may linger for as long as 25 days or so. What’s more, unlike a hair test, a blood test will show recent use. Smoking a few minutes before your blood draw is likely to trigger a positive result. That’s because when you inhale smoke or vapor, the cannabinoids pass through your lungs directly into your bloodstream.
How Long Does THC Stay in Your Saliva
Saliva tests, like urine tests, offer fast results at an affordable cost. Unlike urine tests, they’re much more convenient. You only need to spit into a vial or hold an absorbent material between your cheek and gums. The most common use for this type of test is during roadside stops when the cops pull someone over, and they suspect the driver may have smoked.
Like the other tests, the answer to “how long does weed stay in your saliva” isn’t a concrete one. It varies based on how often you take a hit. The general timeframe ranges from one to three days for infrequent users to around 30 days for daily tokers. So the only people that have to really worry about how long does weed stay in your system for saliva are the driving stoners (which you shouldn’t be doing anyways).
What Are Some Ways to Help THC Detox
If you’re anticipating a drug test, you may be wondering what you can do to get THC out of your system quickly and not only how long does weed stay in your system. The following methods we’re about to share with you are some that other weed smokers have used, but keep in mind they may not make a significant difference for you. Everyone’s different, so what seems to work for one person may not be effective for you.
Here are a few THC detox tricks you can try:
- Exercise. Exercise speeds up your metabolism. It can also help your body burn fat, which can detox THC from those cells. When that happens, THC enters back into your bloodstream to be excreted from your body. Since this causes a temporary spike in THC concentrations, you may want to avoid trying exercise right before a marijuana drug test.
- Stay hydrated. Some people will increase how much water they drink in an attempt to flush the THC from their systems faster. Others may use diuretics to stimulate the kidneys and decrease the concentration of THC in their urine.
- Lemon juice and water. Mixing lemon juice with water is another popular type of detox. That’s because lemon juice can trigger fat burning, and fat burning releases stored THC back into the bloodstream. An essential component of this method, however, is that you have to fast as well.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Eating a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, which could reduce your overall body fat. Less fat means there’s less available storage for THC. Keep in mind that people still burn fat at different rates, regardless of how much they have on their bodies. People with minimal body fat can still hold THC longer than others who have more fat.
What Factors How Long Weed Stays in Your System
As we touched on before, everyone’s different. How long weed stays in your system will likely be very different from others. A few different factors can affect how long the cannabinoid remains present in your body. Factors like your age, gender, and body mass index can affect how your body processes THC. Generally, the older you are, the slower your metabolism, which means THC can linger longer. Men tend to have a higher metabolism than women.
Another factor that affects how long weed stays in your system is how often you use it. While the exact time varies from person to person, the more often you smoke (and the bigger your hits), the longer it remains.
Your method of cannabis use can also play a role in how long weed stays in your system. THC tends to linger longer when you eat it (or drink it) than if you smoke or vape it.
These aren’t hard and fast rules, though. Remember, how your body processes and holds onto THC is unique to you. While you can use the above tips to try to eliminate it faster, they may not make a drastic difference. Ultimately, your body will get rid of it on its own time. Understanding your use and approximately how long it might take for THC to leave your system can help you plan around any drug tests you might need to take.
If you need to take a marijuana drug test before getting hired or during your employment, the question “how long does weed stay in your system” is an important one. The answer depends a lot on factors like your metabolism and how much you smoke. A THC detox can help, but it may not make a significant difference, especially if you’re a frequent user.
Unfortunately, it may not always be possible to avoid a drug test. Understanding how long weed stays in your system and what you can do to get it out can help. If you need to take a marijuana drug test as part of your pre-employment screening and you know you aren’t going to pass, you may find it better to look for a position that doesn’t require testing.