Although street wisdom suggests that 30 days are enough to get cannabinoids out of your system, the answer to the question “how long does cannabis stay in my body?” depends on many factors. As long as marijuana continues to be viewed with suspicion from employers and authorities, unexpected drug tests are going to be a common nuisance for users. There are times, like when we get a new job, when we want to get that THC out of our system – and fast!

In this article, we will outline the different testing methods in detail, tell you how long cannabis stays in your system for occasional and heavy users, and lastly, how to pass a drug test.


Detection Methods

When analyzing how long does cannabis stay in your body, the possibility of marijuana being traced in your system depends partly on the drug testing method. Let’s look at them one by one.

cannabis drug test at work

Urine Tests

Urine tests are the most common method used to test for THC levels in the human body. In case you don’t know, THC is the primary cannabinoid in marijuana and is also psychoactive. Sadly, trace amounts of cannabis stay in the urine for quite a long time, offering a better window for detection.


Urine and other tests are designed to detect a non-psychoactive THC metabolite, conveniently called 11-nor-delta9-carboxy-THC (THC-COOH). It doesn’t matter how cannabis is ingested: the more frequently you consume it, the longer it will be detectable in your urine.


Here is an approximation of how long cannabis will be detectable in urine tests:

  • For single use: up to 10 days
  • For occasional use: up to 14 days
  • For frequent use: up to a month
  • For experienced stoner use: between 1-2 months



Saliva Tests

Traces of marijuana use tend to not last long in saliva. The bad news is, employers and authorities do not use saliva tests that often. This method is most often used by police officers to determine whether drivers are intoxicated by recent cannabis use.


If you know you will be taking a saliva test anytime soon, it is recommended that you abstain from marijuana for a brief period of time.

  • For single use: up to 24 hours
  • For frequent use: up to 72 hours
  • For experienced stoner use: up to one week


Blood Tests

Blood tests for marijuana users are extremely rare and there is virtually no chance that you will actually be asked for one. Similar to saliva, THC-COOH doesn’t stay in the circulatory system for long.

  • For single use: up to 24 hours
  • For frequent use: up to 72 hours
  • For experienced stoner use: up to one week


Hair Tests

Another uncommon method, hair testing for cannabis use can potentially be a source of concern for stoners. Traces of THC-COOH can be detectable in hair samples for up to three months, however, the credibility of hair testing is still dubious.



How Long Does Cannabis Stay in Your Body?

According to Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, there is no definite window for detection in cannabis users: “It is highly variable from person to person and it varies based on the frequency of use and the amount of use. So there is no way of predicting or knowing how long someone would test positive with any kind of certainty.”


Each individual has different rates of metabolism that affect how long does cannabis stay in your body. Factors like body fat content, hydration and exercise habits can also play a role in the amount of time required to clear cannabinoids out of the body.


Most of the data we have regarding detection windows still rely on conventional wisdom. In reality, it is highly unlikely that cannabis will be detected in your system after a month. According to a study published in 2005, detection times for cannabis rarely exceed 30 days.


In fact, going back to 1989, a study of frequent users showed that cannabis has a maximum detection period of 30 days at a strict 20ng/ml (nanograms/milliliter) threshold. Only one user was found positive after two weeks and on average, all traces of marijuana use were gone by day 10. Five years before that, a study testing frequent users at even higher levels (50ng/ml), showed that 80% of participants were clean in two weeks (with a maximum of 40 days).


Paul Cary, director of the Toxicology and Drug Monitoring Laboratory at the University of Missouri, suggests some alternative detection windows that are more realistic. For the standard cutoff is 50ng/ml, Cary believes that “it would be unlikely for a chronic user to produce a positive urine drug test result for longer than 10 days after the last smoking episode.” Even if the threshold is lowered to 20ng/ml, detection methods wouldn’t last for more than 20 days.


For occasional users, Cary suggests that “it would be unusual for the detection of cannabinoids in urine to extend beyond 3-4 days following the smoking episode for at the 50ng/ml cutoff and a week for 20ng/ml.” Keep in mind that most cannabis users are exactly in the middle of the scale from “first timer” to “Snoop Dogg”.


How To Pass a Drug Test

We understand that scientific research might not be exactly what you are looking for when facing a drug test. That’s why we are going to share some quick and dirty tips that can help you detox faster and decrease chances of coming up positive in testing.


The most common technique is flushing THC metabolites out of your system by drinking a lot of water. While this is essentially a good approach, we recommend that you drink moderately. Too much dilution will void the test results and you will have to take it again. There are many home-made formulas out there that involve mixing water with other ingredients in order to fool standard drug testing methods. However, science is ahead of you and testing methods also detect for altering compounds.


Another good method for detoxing is eliminating body fat cells that store THC-COOH. In other words, get out there and break a sweat! “If you have more fat then there is more tissue for the cannabinoids to get stored in so you might get a little bit longer window of detection,” Ryan Vandrey says. However, be aware that you need to do this during an appropriate time window: “Fasting is going to burn fat, which is going to release more cannabinoids,” added Vandrey.


Although not smoking cannabis might seem like the most obvious idea, some people are not willing to do even that and instead turn to synthetic-THC products. Most of the time, the sources of these synthetic smokables are unreliable and can produce harmful side effects. Also, most employers include synthetic THC in their testing, so you will not be avoiding much. If it’s only a standard testing with advanced notice, abstinence is the best option.

Discussion Topic

What are your thoughts on this article about how long does cannabis stay in your body? Do you see a major challenge with saliva-derived roadside testing? How do you think we should deal with this problem?





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