THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the active component or the main chemical ingredient of weed or marijuana which helps users to get ‘high.’
It can stay in the system for 2 to 90 days. The rate of THC metabolism usually determines how long it stays in the system. THC creates not less than 80 different kinds of metabolites. Such metabolites get deposited in the fatty tissues of different organs and then get gradually released or eliminated via urine or stool. Most drug tests for THC check for the presence of 9-carboxy-THC metabolite in the system so as to confirm current or previous use of the drug.
How long does THC stay in your system?
Detection time for THC in the system is dependent on varied factors such as body metabolism, body fat percentage, physical fitness, age, quality of marijuana, frequency and amount of marijuana used, THC tolerance levels, and Urine pH levels.
- A high rate of metabolism means that THC gets processed faster by the body, thereby lowering the detection period.
- Increased body fat percentage increases the drug detection time frames.This is because THC is stored in fat tissues and a high body fat percentage means increased number of fat tissues.
- Compromised immune systems, low physical fitness, and poor overall health can decrease metabolism and thus increase detection periods.
- Older people tend to have low metabolic rates, which increases the period of THC presence in the body and the drug detection periods.
- High quality marijuana takes longer time to get processed. Hence, THC stays in the system for longer durations, thereby increasing the detection period.
- Highly acidic urine facilitates faster metabolism of THC, thereby decreasing the detection time frame.
Detection of THC in the system
Different kinds of drug tests can help ascertain the presence of THC in the system. The tests can be categorized into two main groups, i.e., tests which can determine current use of weed (blood and saliva tests), and tests which can determine past use of marijuana (hair and urine drug tests).
- Blood THC test-Current use of marijuana can be easily detected with a blood THC drug test. As compared to a saliva test, it is the more preferred option. THC can be detected in blood for a few hours to some days, depending on the above listed factors.
- A blood THC drug test can detect the component for 6 to 24 hours in one-time users; for 2 to 3 days in a moderate user; up to 14 days in a frequent or heavy user.
- Saliva THC test- This test is not used widely as it is quite new. It can detect THC in the system within an hour of weed use. A saliva THC drug test can detect the component for 1 to 12 hours in one-time, moderate, heavy, and frequent users. It cannot detect THC presence 12 hours after last usage.
- Urine THC drug test- It is the most reliable type of THC test due to the fact that the urine specimen is put through a double screening, thereby minimizing false positive results.The urine sample initially undergoes an immunoassay test called RIA or EMIT in the lab. If the test results are positive, then the urine specimen is screened once again via a GCMS or gas chromatograph mass spectrometer which offers a higher level of accuracy. Thus, false positive results are rare.
- There are no known components that can cause a THC urine test to produce a false positive result. Previously, ibuprofen intake used to give false positive results. But this problem has been rectified in the modern sophisticated urine tests of today.
- A urine THC drug test can detect the component in the range of 2 to 5 hours to 1 to 6 days in one-time users; for 2 to 5 hours to 7 to 13 days in a moderate user; for 2 to 5 hours to 15 days or more in a frequent user; and for 2 to 5 hours to 30 days or more in a heavy user.
- Hair THC drug test- Just like other drugs, marijuana and its components can easily buildup and accumulate in the hair follicles. Also, they can remain there for many years after last use of the drug. It may be noted that the hair follicle test for THC cannot detect the drug in one time users of weed. It can however be used to detect regular use of marijuana over the course of many months. The test is typically conducted by collecting at least one inch of hair, from different areas of the body such as the hands, legs, scalp, or even the pubic region.