How long does weed stay in your system?
This article was originally published Sept. 27, 2016. It was updated April 6, 2021.
Congratulations, you just landed your dream job! Your eyes widen as you read through the offer letter from your future boss. “Salary… health benefits… 401(k).” All that hard work has finally paid off! But as you reach the bottom, your heart stops. “Routine drug test… urine… marijuana.”
Panic sets in. When was the last time you smoked cannabis? Two weeks ago? Three weeks? And how long will it show up on a drug test?
Although conventional wisdom says at least 30 days, the answer is not straightforward. There are many different kinds of drug tests available, which have varying levels of sensitivity and time periods to detect marijuana in your system.
Additionally, usage, as well as an individual’s unique biology make the calculation of a detection window (the number of days after ceasing usage that a drug test will continue to be positive) even more complex.
“There is no typical window of detection,” says Ryan Vandrey , associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Johns Hopkins University. “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.”
- How do drug tests for THC work?
- How long does marijuana stay in your system?
- How long does weed stay in your urine?
- Factors that may impact drug test results
- Does CBD consumption result in a positive drug test?
- How to pass a marijuana drug test
- How long does it take to pass a drug test?
How do drug tests for THC work?
About 40 to 50 million drug tests are conducted by employers each year, which analyze biological material including urine, hair, blood, saliva, breath, sweat, and even fingernails. When cannabis is consumed, THC levels temporarily rise in the body, which are detectable in blood tests from several hours up to a day after one usage. Although these levels drop significantly after a few days, there are other means of determining recent usage.
THC, CBD, and their metabolic byproducts, called metabolites, are lipid-soluble and accumulate in fat reserves throughout the body. These molecules are then slowly released over time, resulting in a considerably longer time period for the body to purge itself of marijuana traces compared to other recreational drugs, especially for chronic users.
Hair tests tend to have the longest detection window, capable of registering the levels of a non-intoxicating THC metabolite called 11-nor-delta9-caboxy-THC (THC-COOH) up to 90 days after cessation.
While each drug test has its advantages, urine tests tend to be the test of choice by most private employers and are the sole test recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the U.S. department of Health and Human Services that sets standards for drug testing of government employees.
Like hair tests, these urine screens do not directly measure the amount of THC present, but rather the levels of the metabolite THC-COOH.
Once a specific test is selected, the experimenter must then choose its sensitivity, or the cutoff concentration of THC-COOH above which a test is considered positive. The most common cutoff for most marijuana urine tests is 50 ng/mL, but cutoffs can be as low as 15ng/mL and as high as 100ng/mL—each of which result in widely different detection windows.
“Testing is usually a two-step process,” said Vandrey. “The first step is a qualitative yes/no with a typical cutoff of 50 nanograms per milliliter. And if you see a qualitative positive, you then send it off for confirmation with a more sensitive quantitative assessment that uses a 15 nanograms per milliliter cutoff.”
Despite the fact that urine tests are standardized—by SAMHSA—the vast variability in cannabis use as well as individual differences in biology and genetics stymie efforts to develop specific time windows for detection.
How long does marijuana stay in your system?
Each person has a unique metabolism that processes marijuana at a different rate, further complicating the picture. Even among people of the same gender and age, individual lifestyle choices such as level of exercise and eating habits may also affect the amount of time required to pass a drug test. Those with higher levels of fat content store cannabinoids more readily than leaner folks.
Given these preliminary grains of salt, however, several studies have explored this question over the years, offering some general guidance for those awaiting an impending drug test.
There are many different types of drug tests, but the most common is a urine test. Generally speaking, for urine tests:
- Occasional smokers shouldn’t have THC in their systems after 3-4 days
- Chronic smokers shouldn’t have THC in their systems after 10 days
How long does weed stay in your urine?
THC can be present in urine for anywhere between a couple days to 30 days, and it depends on a variety of factors.
“There is no way of predicting or knowing how long someone would test positive with any kind of certainty.”
Ryan Vandrey, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University
According to a 2005 review by Paul Cary, director of the Toxicology and Drug Monitoring Laboratory at University of Missouri, while detection times in excess of 30 days do occur for some, they are largely an exception.
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 detectable. And while a 1 984 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.
Consequently, Cary offers some shorter estimates of detection windows that he believes would be reasonable to expect given an individual’s frequency of usage and the sensitivity of the particular urine test.
At the standard 50 ng/mL cutoff, he states “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.” And if this sensitivity is dropped to the 20 ng/mL level, he posits that this detection window extends to around 21 days for frequent users.
Meanwhile, for those who smoke marijuana occasionally or for the first time, “It would be unusual for the detection of cannabinoids in urine to extend beyond 3-4 days following the smoking episode” at the 50 ng/mL cutoff. This is drawn out to around one week for a more sensitive 20 ng/mL threshold.
It’s also important to remember that “occasional” and “chronic” cannabis users each represent opposite sides of the usage spectrum, and most consumers would likely fall somewhere in the middle.
“I think these [detection times] are reasonable,” says Ron Flegel, director of the division of workplace programs at SAMHSA. “If it is an infrequent use or a single use it usually takes just about 72 hours” at the 50 ng/mL cutoff, whereas “chronic users are probably looking at seven to ten days.”
How long does weed stay in your hair and blood?
Although urinalysis is the most common way to test for cannabis, some drug tests measure the presence of THC in your hair or blood. So how long is THC detectable in your hair and blood?
- Hair testing offers the widest detection window—up to 90 days after you quit using cannabis.
- Cannabis can be found in blood seconds after smoking, and can be detected for hours or even as long as a day afterward.
Factors that may impact drug test results
There are several factors that impact how long cannabis stays in your system. These factors include:
- How often you consume marijuana
- The quantity of marijuana consumed
- How much body fat you have
- The sensitivity of your drug test
Flegel also notes that he often sees cases where individuals fluctuate between positive and negative tests for marijuana over a period of time.
“A lot of people call us and say the person was negative and now they are positive, and they say they haven’t used,” said Flegel. “But if a person becomes dehydrated it concentrates the urine and when they exercise it breaks down fat cells and releases THC,” both of which increase the chances of a positive test. “So you will actually see that over time they will go up and down between positive and negative.”
Meanwhile, Vandrey believes that even these general recommendations are unfounded, particularly for chronic users.
“In a single acute use for a fixed dose we might see a range of variability on the order of days,” he says. “So someone might be clean the next day and others might be positive for seven days. And if you are talking about frequent repeated use the variability just gets bigger. I have had people who smoked cannabis all day every day be clean in a week and a half, and others be dirty for two months.”
Does CBD consumption result in a positive drug test?
And what about those who consume other non-intoxicating cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol)? How long does CBD stay in your system, and will it show up on a drug test for marijuana?
Because standard urine testing only analyzes metabolites of THC, those who consume CBD/hemp oil have very little risk of testing positive. But because some hemp oils contain very small amounts of THC, those who use an extraordinarily large amount of cannabinoid-rich oil products (greater than 1000-2000 mg each day) might show a positive test on the initial urine screen, which is susceptible to cross contamination from other cannabinoids.
However, this initial “false positive” would not hold up to the more rigorous second round of confirmatory testing, which specifically measures THC-COOH.
How to pass a marijuana drug test
But for those who do consume cannabis, is there anything you can do to prevent a positive marijuana test or speed up the THC detoxification process?
Although abstinence is an obvious initial answer, it may even be dangerous to hang out with friends who are smoking weed. Indeed, in a 2015 study , Vandrey exposed a small group of participants to secondhand smoke in both ventilated and non-ventilated rooms. He showed that some participants who sat in the non-ventilated room tested positive for THC-COOH, with concentrations in urine exceeding 57 ng/mL.
“You can’t inadvertently have secondhand smoke exposure to the extent that would trigger a positive urine test, but it is possible,” says Vandrey. “So if you are subject to drug testing and are surrounded by a bunch of people smoking weed in a closed up room, you should leave.”
Many who are facing a drug test but are unwilling to fully give up cannabis turn to synthetic cannabinoids in the hopes of cheating traditional tests. Yet, these alternatives, commonly referred to as “K2” or “spice,” are unpredictable, showing side effects ranging from nausea to seizures that have caused a spike in overdoses in recent months. And many private companies now include tests for synthetic cannabinoids in their repertoire, making this approach both dangerous and futile.
Others who continue to smoke cannabis may attempt to tamper with their urine, adding chemicals such as pyridinium chlorochromate or peroxidase that eliminate THC-COOH in the sample. Most testing agencies, however, will screen for these compounds and being caught is often just as bad, if not worse, than a positive test.
“In our programs if you adulterate a sample it is considered a refusal to test, and in most situations you are fired,” says Flegel.
How long does it take to pass a drug test?
For those who are able to quit, one common technique is to flush out your system by drinking a lot of water. This can be a good approach, as dehydration will increase the concentration of your urine and could increase your chances for a positive result. If your urine is diluted too much, however, it will automatically invalidate the results and you will have to repeat the test. So hydrate carefully.
A potentially more effective tactic for speeding up the THC detoxification process might be cutting back on the Big Macs and hitting the gym.
“Fasting is going to burn fat, which is going to release more cannabinoids,” says Vandrey. “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.”
Nonetheless, it is important to give your body enough time to clear out these stored cannabinoids, as exercise or fasting will likely result in a transient spike in measurable THC metabolites as they exit the body.
If you know you have an upcoming drug test, not all hope is lost. Given the current detection windows for standard cannabis tests, it’s likely you will be able to pass a urine test as long as you are not an extremely heavy user and are given sufficient advanced notice. But if your employer tests you regularly and without prior notification, perhaps it wasn’t a dream job after all.
Have an upcoming drug test and wondering how long weed can be detected in the body? Learn how long THC and other cannabinoids stay in your system.
How Long Does CBD Stay In Your System?
Bedrock Recovery Center
CBD, short for cannabidiol, has grown in popularity over the past couple of years, particularly as a supplement. However, because it contains trace amounts of THC, it’s still possible that it is detectable in drug tests or screenings.
In fact, recent research has shown that drug tests can’t tell the difference.
This can be particularly worrisome if you are searching for jobs or need to consent to drug screenings for other reasons (e.g., being on parole). It’s a common misconception that CBD and THC are the same; while CBD is a natural supplement, it’s still possible for the THC metabolites to be detected during drug screenings.
There isn’t a simple answer for how long CBD stays in your system. It depends on a number of factors, such as how it was administered, the dosage, and the frequency of use.
Let’s take a closer look at the different ways you can take CBD and how your body processes it. Then we’ll walk through how long it will stay in different systems of your body.
How Your Body Processes CBD and Factors That Affect How Long CBD Stays In Your System
There are many different factors to consider that influence how long CBD stays in your system as well as how it affects you. How long it lasts and is detectable is not the same for everyone. It can depend on:
- Physical factors and genetics, such as your metabolism, age, and weight
- Last time it was taken
- Frequency of use
CBD is fat-soluble, meaning it’s stored in your body’s fat cells rather than the water cells. Therefore, your Body Mass Index (BMI) influences how quickly it is metabolized. The higher your body mass and weight, the longer it will take to leave your system.
Your method of intake can influence how it affects you as well as for how long it lasts. Popular methods and forms of CBD include:
- Dietary supplements
- Dried flower
If you smoke dried flower CBD or use a vape cartridge, the CBD enters your bloodstream within seconds. Therefore, brain effects associated with CBD occur the quickest in this manner.
If you take a dietary supplement or edible that contains CBD, the effects won’t be felt immediately. Your metabolism and diet can influence how soon you feel the effects. However, symptoms are often felt within an hour of digesting it.
Regardless of how you take it though, the effects can typically last between one to three hours.
But does the duration of its effects influence how long it stays in your system for?
How Long Does CBD Stay In Lab Tests?
Just because you no longer feel the effects of CBD doesn’t mean it is no longer detectable. The half-life of CBD is between 18 and 32 hours. However, it can be detectable on lab tests for much longer than that.
Most drug tests screen for THC, rather than CBD. THC is the main component of marijuana. However, as we mentioned, CBD contains trace amounts of THC.
If you pass a drug test after taking CBD, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have traces of THC in your system. It may just mean you’re below the detection level.
Different drug tests have different cut-off levels. Legally, hemp products can contain up to 0.3% of THC.
Furthermore, some tests are more effective at detecting THC and for longer periods of time. The type of drug screening you’re administered – and how long after you last took CBD – could influence whether it’s detectable.
It’s also worth noting that because CBD products are not regulated by the FDA, it’s possible that you could be taking CBD that is mixed with other cannabinoids, which could increase detectability. Also, it’s worth noting that the more frequently you use cannabis products, the wider detection windows become.
How Long Does CBD Stay In Your Urine?
Urine tests are the most popular and common method of drug screening for employers. The detection-window for THC through urine tests can vary widely.
It hinges mostly on the dose you took and your frequency of use. Typically, these metabolites can show up on a urine test anywhere between three days to two weeks after the last time taken.
According to the Mayo Clinic, THC metabolites can be detected for as long as 15 days post-administration among frequent and daily users. However, the research also suggests that these numbers can vary based on the dosage.
How Long Does CBD Stay In Your Hair?
Hair tests are known for being able to detect drugs for an extended period of time. These tests can detect the THC metabolites in CBD for as long as three months post-administration. However, hair tests are also very uncommon for THC and CBD.
How Long Does CBD Stay In Your Blood?
Although blood tests are not nearly as common as urine tests for screening for CBD and cannabinoids, they can be used to detect THC metabolites. The reason they’re not the preferred method of drug screening is because of how quickly THC is eliminated from your bloodstream.
Generally, THC is only detectable in your plasma for about five hours after you take it. However, THC metabolites and, therefore, CBD can be present for up to a week.
How Long Does CBD Stay In Your Saliva?
Similar to hair, saliva tests for CBD or THC are incredibly rare for employment or legal reasons. However, the drug components could be detected within minutes after you take it and could last for up to 36 hours, depending on the dosage and frequency of use.
If you consume CBD products in large amounts, and on a regular basis, it’s possible that this test – as well as the others – could detect it for longer.
Get Treated for Drug Addiction
If you’re trying to break free from the burden of cannabis addiction, know that it is possible. While some people may insist that you can’t become physically dependant on cannabis or cannabis-related products, psychological dependency can be just as disruptive.
For many people, making the decision to get help can be the hardest part. But you’ll be happy you did, and the sooner you take action, the better.
Help, treatment, and support are only one call away. Call Bedrock Recovery Center today to learn about the process.
Although CBD oil, also known as cannabidiol, is legal, it contains traces of THC. Find out how long CBD oil can be detected in your system here.