If you’re curious about the question “How long does weed stay in your system?”, you’re probably nervous about an upcoming drug test. We have some good and bad news for you. Since we always like a happy ending, we’ll start with the bad news first.
The bad news is that the common perception is that marijuana stays in your system for a month. Sadly, this isn’t necessarily bad information. In some people, THC can take up to thirty days to exit the body–making it one of the slowest drugs to completely leave your system. So what’s the good news? There’s a number of factors that could reduce the amount of time weed stays in your system: your metabolism, your body fat, the number of times you’ve smoked marijuana, the amount you’ve smoked, etc.
In this article, we’ll explore some factors that could give you a better understanding of whether or not you’ll pass your drug test. But first, let’s talk about how weed stays in your system and why it’s so slow to leave.
Why Does It Take Weed So Long To Leave Your System?
Weed stays in your system seemingly forever because, unlike other drugs, THC (the active ingredient in marijuana that drug tests look for) is stored in your fat cells. Other drugs–like cocaine–enter your liver and leave via urine within three days maximum, but not weed. Here’s why:
After it’s ingested, the THC molecules enter into your blood stream, which then takes the THC to your brain (getting you high). But because THC is lipid-soluble, as it circulates your bloodstream, it also diffuses into various fatty cells throughout your entire body. These molecules of THC then slowly start leaving your body as fat is burned or via sweat/urine.
How Do Drug Tests Work?
There are multiple different types of drug tests: blood tests, urine tests, hair tests, finger nail tests, etc., but all of them look for levels of a specific molecule within a sample. We’ll start by taking a look at the most common drug test administered: the urine test.
The urine test is without a doubt the most common type of drug test in the United States. Not only are they easy to buy in pharmacies everywhere, urine tests are among the cheapest to administer, and are the only test recommended by the U.S. department of Health and Human Services. Urine tests look for a specific concentration of the metabolite TCH-COOH within your… urine. The average level these tests look for is a THC-COOH concentration above 50 ng/mL, but that concentration level can change depending on the brand of test or company administering the test.
For most drugs, a urine test is pointless because the narcotics tend to leave the body within a week or less. But marijuana is not like other drugs, so it stays in your fat/your body for longer and is thereby detectable in your body for longer than it should be.
Blood tests tend to least effective way of determining whether a drug has been ingested since most drugs leave the bloodstream completely within a 48-hour period. That being said, blood tests are the best way to tell if someone is currently high–which is why sometimes the police department uses them if they suspect a person is under the influence at that very moment.
Hair tests are like a drug user’s biggest fear, only because every single drug you’ve ever taken in at least the past 90 days will register on your hair–that’s just a fact. Once the THC enters your blood, it touches your hair follicle and then gets into your actual hair (on your head, your body, all of them). The only good news about hair tests is that it takes about five days from the ingestion of the drug to the time it shows up in your hair.
Typically, a hair test will ask for a 1.5″ sample of the testers’ hair. A good rule of thumb is that head hair will grow .5 inches a month, so 1.5″ of hair represents 90-days. So if you’ve taken any drugs within the past 90 days, you’re likely going to fail.
How To Cheat a Drug Test?
The long and short of it is that barring the use of another person’s clean sample, you cannot fool a drug test. The closest thing that you can do is turn your sample into one that can’t be tested, but that doesn’t mean that you pass–it just means you need to return in a short period of time to take the test again.
There are a number of cleanses that claim they can help you “pass” a urine drug test, so let’s take a look:
Tricks of the Trade:
Since most drug tests are urine tests, a lot of people try to dilute their urine so that the concentration of THC isn’t as high. To that note, it’s important to remember that crystal clear urine 90% of the time means that you’ll need to return to take the test again. Some people will try to avoid this situation by taking Vitamin B pills which turns your pee a little more yellow/green.
Try to capture your urine mid-stream, meaning that you should aim for the toilet for a second or two, then pee in the cup, then finish up in the toilet. Apparently this is the “cleanest” pee you can have.
As far as commonly used chemicals to help people pass a drug test, niacin is probably at the top of the list. The downside is that it’s not healthy for you at the levels you’re supposed to take it, and that a lot of people report a burning, red sensation throughout their whole body.
The idea is that Niacin is supposed to help turn your fat into energy that’s more easily used up by your body, thereby helping to eliminate the places where THC is stored. Does it work? Some people swear by it, but I’d seriously suggest reading up on the side effects it can have on you when you take it.
Same Day Cleanse:
The idea of the Same Day Cleanse is that you drink something that flushes out your bladder and urinary tract of any toxins, thereby giving less of a chance that any drugs show up in your urine. Eventually the toxin metabolites will return to your bladder, so you’ve only got a six-hour window during which you should pee.
Factors That Determine How Long THC Lasts In Your Body
The single most important factor in determining how long THC will stay in your body is the amount which you’ve smoked. If you are a regular smoker versus a once-in-awhile smoker, it will take longer for your body to get rid of the THC. If you smoked only a little bit of marijuana versus a lot of marijuana, your body will get rid of the THC faster. Again, that is the single biggest factor. To that end, stop smoking immediately if you know you have a drug test coming up.
The next biggest factor is your health: specifically your percentage of body fat. The more body fat you have, the more places that the THC-COOC has to hide. Similarly, if you have a fast metabolism, the THC metabolites will leave your body faster because you’re burning away the fat faster.
Here’s a helpful (but not definitive) guide to give you an estimate of how long on average it could take for you to test positive:
How Can I Get Rid Of The THC Faster?
So now that you know what causes THC-COOC to stay in your body, you’re probably curious how to help get rid of it. The good news is that it’s possible to kick-start the process. The bad news is that it’s going to require a lot of work.
First of all, you need to start fasting. Fasting will help your body begin burning fat, which means that the THC-COOC metabolites will then enter into your kidneys, and then you’ll pee them out. If you choose not to fast, you need to stop eating junk food completely and starting eating greens and vegetables. Skip all carbs. The second thing you’ll need to do is to start working out. Running is great, but the combination of running and lifting weights is the best way to start burning fat.
Keep in mind, however, that as you’re burning fat, an increased amount of THC-COOC metabolites will be passing through your body, making it entirely possible that you might see a spike in your THC-COOC concentration. So the solution is to drink plenty of water regularly and then don’t exercise the day or two before the test, and you should be fine.
How Long Does Weed Stay In Your System?
OK, so you’ve read all that, you saw that weed can stay in your system for up to 30 days, and you’ve continued looking down the page for some semblance of an answer you want to see. And you know what? We’re about to give it to you.
In a 2005 study titled “Marijuana Detection Window: Determining the Length of Time Cannabinoids will Remain Detectable in Urine Following Smoking,” Paul Cary showed that the 30-day windows are more of an exception than the norm. From Leafly:
For example, a 1989 study of chronic users showed a maximum detection window of 25 days at a sensitivity of 20 ng/mL. Yet he points out that only one subject tested positive after 14 days, and it took an average of just 9.8 days before cannabinoid levels were no longer detectible. And while a 1984 study testing chronic users at a cutoff of 50 ng/mL showed a maximum of 40 days to get clean, 8 out of the 10 subjects needed only 13 days to show their first negative.
Similarly, Cary states that he believes a regular smoker would test negative for the standard 50 ng/mL after just ten days. If the test was dropped to a lower level, 20 ng/mL, then he believes it would take a regular smoker around three weeks to test positive. Again, most tests look for a THC-COOC concentration of 50 ng/mL, so more than likely you’d be in the clear if you have enough ample warning.