Commonly called weed, marijuana can stay in the system for 2 to 90 days or more. This is however dependent on many variable such as the rate at which the body metabolizes marijuana; the percentage of fat tissues in the body; the duration, amount, and frequency of using marijuana; the general health, age, and body weightof the user; and tolerance levels to weed and its components.
How is marijuana stored in the body?
The main component of marijuana is a fat soluble matter called THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC makes over 80 types of different metabolites. THC and its metabolites get deposited in the blood and in the fatty tissues or fat cells of the body and organs like the brain, kidneys, and liver, etc.Later, they slowly get removed from the body along with stool and/or urine.THC and its metabolites also accumulate in the hair follicles. It may remain there till the time the hair is cut.
Drugs tests that are conducted to verify the presence of marijuana in the system generally check for the presence of a metabolite called 9-carboxy-THC. It is a byproduct of THC that remains in the body even after the body has metabolized marijuana. This enables the tests to verify past use of marijuana, even if you are not currently using it.
How long does marijuana stay in your system?
As mentioned above, the duration of marijuana presence in the system is dependent on a variety of factors.
- Users with high body metabolism rates will usually have low detection times. This means that the body will process marijuana at a faster rate and it will get removed from the system quicker than those with low metabolism.
- High quality marijuana tends to stay in the system for longer durations than low quality marijuana. This increases the detection time frame.
- THC gets stored in the fat cells of the body. Thus, marijuana will stay in the system for longer durations in users with a high body fat percentage as compared to users with low number of fat tissues.
- THC gets metabolized at a faster pace if the urine is highly acidic. Thus, urine pH levels play a role in determining how long marijuana stays in the system as well as detection times.
- Metabolism is dependent on factors such as the overall health, physical fitness and status of the immune system. Thus, marijuana tends to stay in the system for longer periods in people who are not healthy.
- Older people generally have low overall health, ergo lower metabolism. Hence, they experience longer detection periods for marijuana usage.
Detection of marijuana in your system
Drug tests to find the presence of marijuana in the system can be grouped into 2 categories:
- Tests that find current use of marijuana, i.e., blood tests and saliva tests
- Tests that help find previous or past use of weed, i.e., urine tests and hair tests
Detection of marijuana in system via a saliva test
The saliva test for weed detection is quite new and hence not very popular. The test can however detect THC presence an hour after using or smoking marijuana.
- The test can detect the presence of marijuana in the system in one-time users as well as in moderate, frequent, and heavy users for 1 to 12 hours after use. It cannot find THC presence after 12 hours.
Detection of marijuana in system via a blood test
The blood test for weed detection can easily detect any current use of the drug. It is more widely used than the saliva test. Depending on the variables discussed above, the blood test can detect weed in the body for some hours to 14 days.
- The blood weed detection test can find THC presence in the system for 6 to 24 hours in 1-time users; for 2 to 3 days in moderate smokers; and up to 2 weeks in users who smoke frequently or heavily.
Detection of marijuana in system via a urine test
The urine sample collected from a person is screen twice, thereby reducing the chances of false positive results. Hence the urine test for weed detection is one of the most reliable tests. The sample is first checked for THC presence via an immunoassay test known as RIA or EMIT. If this test throws up a positive result, then the sample is tested once again using a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer/GCMS screening. The GCMS has a high degree of accuracy and rarely produces false positive results.
- The urine weed detection test can find marijuana components in the system for 2 to 5 hours to 1 to 6 days in a 1-time user; for 2 to 5 hours to 7 to 13 days in moderate users/smokers; for 2 to 5 hours to 15 days or more in users who smoke frequently; and for 2 to 5 hours to 30 days or more in users who smoke heavily.
- It may be noted that currently there are no known chemicals or substances that can cause the urine marijuana test to give a false positive result. In the past, use of ibuprofen often resulted in false positive results when the urine sample was checked. However, the advanced urine tests of today have eliminated this problem.
Detection of marijuana in system via a hair follicle test
Most drugs tend to easily get deposited in the hair follicles and marijuana, THC, and its other metabolites are no different. It may also be noted that weed components can remain in the follicles for several years after the drug was last used.
- The hair follicle test for marijuana detection cannot detect the drug in the system if it has been used/smoked only for one time. However regular use of the drug across a time frame of several months can be easily detected by the hair test.
- The test is conducted in a lab after an inch or more of hair sample is collected from the user. This hair may be cut from the scalp, feet, hands, or the pubic area.