How Long Does Marijuana Stay in the System (with Infograph)
Originally published in 2017, additional content added April 28, 2021
Below is an infograph detailing how long marijuana stays in your system.
The data used to create this infographic is gathered from research on drug testing methods and the information presented by drug screen manufacturers. Some resources include Redwood Toxicology, Cannabis Drug Testing, California NORML. The information presented is only a guide or estimate since drug testing has many variables that can influence a positive or negative outcome.
How Long Does Marijuana Stay in your System? is a frequent question posed by cannabis consumers. While there is no definitive answer, below are some guidelines. The only way to really know if you are positive is to test yourself. You can test yourself with a cheap drug test and know if you are positive.
How Is Marijuana Detected In Your System?
Have you ever wondered how drug tests can determine the presence of marijuana inside your body? They can even find the amount of marijuana in your system accurately, along with other drugs like amphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, antidepressants, and the like.
Upon taking the drug test, depending on the method used, the presence of marijuana can be confirmed even from the last 60 minutes of consumption. The parent drug of marijuana is called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a cannabinoid compound responsible for its psychoactive effects.
If the drug test was able to detect the presence of THC’s metabolite known as tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (THC-COOH), which is an inactive and lipid-soluble compound, this can be an indicator that marijuana is present.
Another information worth knowing is how the cannabinoid THC is often confused with another cannabinoid referred to as cannabidiol (CBD). Along with the hype of CBD-infused products recently, many consumers still have mixed ideas about CBD, as they think that consuming CBD products will make them high. Check the differences between CBD and THC here.
How long does THC stay in your system?
The most common drug tests used are urine, saliva and hair. Each test has a different detection time which is important to know. The urine drug test is the most commonly used because it is cheap and has a longer detection time than a saliva test. There are several very important factors that can influence how long THC will be present in your urine:
- Body Fat
- Amount Used
- Frequency of Use
Since these factors will vary greatly for each individual, there are no definitive guidelines to tell you how long you can test positive for THC. If you’re wondering: how long does marijuana stay in your system? You can figure out the answers depending on the following drug tests performed:
On a Urine Drug Test, THC will appear as a positive within 2-5 hours of use. How long it will still show on a urine drug test is estimated based on frequency of use, but does not take into account the weight and body fat of the marijuana user:
- One Time User may show positive for 1-6 days
- Moderate User may show positive for 7-13 days
- Frequent User may show positive for 15 or more days
- Heavy User may show positive for 30 or more days
- Some Heavy Pot Smokers have reported being positive 45-90 days after quitting
Since THC is a fat-soluble compound, which means they bind into fat molecules in your body, it’ll take a while for THC to leave your body.
On a Saliva Drug Test, THC will test positive within one hour of use, but may only show positive for about 12 hours after last use.
On a Hair Drug Test, THC will show up about 7 days after use and most hair drug tests will test for a 90 day period. However, THC does not always bind to the hair follicle which makes it not always considered an accurate testing method for marijuana use.
The most reliable way to know if you are testing positive for marijuana use is to drug test yourself.