How Long Does THC Stay in Your System?

If there’s one caveat to cannabis use, it’s potentially failing the dreaded drug test. Many employers, especially government agencies and high-tech firms, regularly monitor both current and new hires for any THC content in their systems, prompting cannabis users to ask: is there any THC left in my body? 

Unfortunately, the answer depends on a lot of different factors; fortunately, we’re about to dissect the drug testing process for you. Whether you just got hired for a new job, just got notified of a random drug test, or just want to learn more about THC in the body, let’s uncover the mystery of drug testing.

THC’s Effects on the Body

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound in cannabis associated with the plant’s high. THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body, as well as with certain neurons in the brain, resulting in the full-body effects of cannabis. 

Typically, a cannabis high will last between 2-10 hours. In that time, your body slowly filters through THC, creating a non-psychoactive compound called THC-COOH that gets stored in some of your fat cells. 

Your body’s ability to absorb THC-COOH into fat cells is why drug tests can detect traces of the drug weeks, sometimes months, after you consume cannabis. Drug tests are looking for the presence of THC-COOH in your system, which your body slowly releases as it metabolizes fat. Individual differences in fat storage and metabolism explain why there’s no set timeline for when THC exits your body; rather, it depends on a multitude of factors.

Factors That Affect How Long THC Stays in Your System

On average, the traces of THC in your system are undetectable after around 30 days. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily pass a drug test 31 days after using; there are several different factors that can keep traces of THC in your system for much longer. These include:

  • Frequency of use. People who consume cannabis or cannabis products more frequently will naturally store more THC-COOH in their systems. 
  • Amount of use. The more THC you consume, the longer it will take to metabolize out of your body. 
  • Body fat storage. Bodies with a higher amount of fat will get rid of THC-COOH slower, as these cannabis compounds will diffuse across your fat storage. 
  • Metabolic speed. The body gets rid of THC-COOH by metabolizing fat, so if you know you have a slower metabolism, then you will hold onto THC-COOH for longer. 
  • Hydration levels. If you don’t drink enough water, then THC-COOH will be more concentrated in your system. 

Finally, it’s important to consider not only these biological factors, but also one very important measurement of THC levels: the drug test itself.

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Different Types of THC Drug Tests

Cannabis drug tests vary in terms of both their sensitivity to THC-COOH and in what parts of the body they examine. An employer may use one of the following THC drug tests:

  • Saliva testing. Saliva tests are cheaper and less invasive, but they also have a short detection window – generally 12-48 hours.  
  • Urine testing. Urine tests are the most common, since they are both standardized and widely available. A urine test can detect THC-COOH in your system even if you last used cannabis over 30 days ago.
  • Hair testing. Hair testing is relatively uncommon, and also less standardized, but it does have a longer detection window. A hair test can detect cannabis usage from over 90 days ago. 

One important note about drug tests is that their success depends on their sensitivity. Generally, a THC drug test will look for a concentration of THC in your system at 50 ng/ml. However, if the test is more sensitive – say, 10ng/ml – the detection window is much longer. Thankfully, highly sensitive drug tests are only used at higher level jobs and national government agencies.

Do CBD Products Contain THC?

You might be worried about passing a drug test if you use CBD-based products. Generally, CBD products don’t contain any amount of THC, but it depends on how that product was processed and manufactured. Trace amounts of THC may linger in products that are not well-refined, but you will probably still pass a drug test regardless.

If you’re worried about the products you’re using, be sure to buy cannabis products from quality manufacturers and licensed dispensaries. All of Waveseer’s CBD products are guaranteed THC-free, and you can purchase them from any of the dispensaries listed here.

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How Can I Flush THC Out of my System?

If you have a drug test scheduled soon and want to make sure you pass, don’t stress. There are a couple of ways you can get rid of THC-COOH from your system, ensuring a successful drug test. 

  1. Exercise. A good workout will metabolize fat and help clear your body of THC-COOH faster. However, don’t exercise 24 hours before your test, as that THC-COOH will end up in your urine. 
  2. Avoid fatty foods. The more fat your body accumulates, the longer it will take to flush your system of THC-COOH.
  3. Hydrate. Drinking plenty of water will help flush out your system, and it will also dilute the concentration of THC-COOH in your body.

Lastly, don’t try to cheat the drug test. Some people might try to take substances which mask the presence of THC-COOH, such as pyridinium chlorochromate. However, drug tests also scan for these substances, and if detected, you will most certainly not get the job. 

In a brighter future, jobs won’t screen applicants for cannabis usage, given the many health benefits it offers users. Until then, this guide to drug testing will help ensure you keep your job.

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