Unfortunately, some stoners are going to face the dreaded day that they have to take a drug test. Whether it’s to apply for that job that you’ve wanted so badly, or just to keep the job you already have, you might be wondering how long it takes to get out of the system. Finding out that you give a urine test can cause panic: when was the last time you used weed? Is there any chance that you will test positive? The sad case for marijuana lovers is that cannabis stays in the system basically longer than any other drug.
How long cannabis actually stays in the system depends on a number of things. The metabolism of the person will play a huge role in determining the length of time, as well as how frequently the person smokes. It makes knowing kind of uncertain, in the sense that all the information you will read today is a guideline. There’s nothing certain about it, because it will differ so much from person to person. So, this is your guide to how long cannabis usually stays in the system, and all the different ways you might be tested for it.
How do drug tests work?
If you’re trying to cheat the process of drug testing, it helps to know how it works. One of the reasons drug testing makes life really difficult for marijuana users is because they are not testing for THC. If they were, then nobody would ever test positive for more than a couple of days. However, almost all drug tests are searching for a THC metabolite, called THC-COOH. After the body is done very slowly breaking down the THC, it turns it into THC-COOH, which stays in the body for long enough.
Usually, a drug test is just indicating whether or not there is the presence of the certain substance. A further test has to take place in order for the testing authorities to know exactly how much of the substance is in the person. There is, a certain point which acts as the “cutoff” at which a certain person is said to test ‘positive’. Different testing authorities set this “cutoff” amount to different levels, and it is really hard to know beforehand.
Most drug tests occur using urine, although it is possible to be tested from saliva and from hair samples, too. Of all the different ways to test, cannabis stays the longest in the hair follicle, lasting for up to three months.
Although it’s highly unlikely you’ll be required to produce a sample of saliva at a job interview, you might have seen police officers walking around with swabs. Saliva testing is one of the fastest ways for authorities to see if someone is under the influence of cannabis. It is usually used to check for stoned or drugged drivers. The cannabinoids in marijuana live for the shortest time in your saliva, meaning that usually within 24 hours of abstinence your saliva will come back clear.
THC has a cumulative effect in the body, meaning that for some it might take a little bit longer than 24 hours. However, as a general rule of thumb, try to be a couple of days sober before getting a saliva test. There are products you can purchase from pharmacies that “clean” your saliva. Usually all that is required is to chew on a gum or capsule, and it gives you a bracket of time (about 30 minutes) where your saliva will test clear.
In the case of some extremely chronic users, it can take 72 hours for the cannabinoids to leave the saliva. However, this is extremely rare. More often than not, we recommend that smokers take at least a few days off the herb if they are planning to take a saliva test.
Urine is the most common way that you will be required to give a sample. Among employers and authorities, it is really easy to test the urine for drugs and of course, it can be detected for a long time. So, when your urine is being tested for THC metabolites, the people taking the sample will know if you have been smoking up to months before taking the test.
The cumulative effect of cannabis plays a huge role in urine testing. It is assumed that the most chronic smokers will suffer the most because it can take over a month of abstinence to have clean urine. The following is a very basic guideline that will be expounded on later:
- If you only smoke once in a blue moon or very infrequently, you can expect your urine to be clean within one week from the last use.
- If you smoke regularly, then you could have THC metabolites in your urine for up to two weeks
Finally, if you are a chronic smoker, it can take over 40 days for the urine to become completely clean
As mentioned, what is above is a very basic guide. The truth is that you can never know unequivocally exactly how long cannabis will stay in your system. Paul Cary, director of toxicology at the University of Missouri says that it might take heavy users over 30 days to clean the urine, but it is extremely unlikely that people will take so long to get clean. In general, it is considered an exception if you test positive to cannabis through urine over one month after use.
This study was conducted in 1989 about the amount of time for which THC can be detected in urine. The study showed that the maximum detection window was 25 days. In fact, only one subject of all the subjects tested positive after 14 days of abstinence, and on average it only took people 10 days to become completely clean. Another study was conducted in 1984 which was specifically about chronic users, in which the subject who took the longest to have clean urine took 40 days. But 8 of the 10 subjects only took 13 days to test positive to THC metabolites for the first time.
As you can see, none of the evidence is really concrete. What makes all of this harder is that some drug tests are more sensitive than others, meaning it’s really difficult to compare. There is no way to know certainly except to take a safe period of abstinence. That is the only way of really being sure that there is no THC in your system.
Other ways you can be tested for THC
Saliva and urine are the two most popular ways to be tested for cannabis. For most people, it will end at that and they will never have to produce another kind of sample. However, depending on how serious your ‘offense’ is, or what kind of people you are working for, you might have to produce a hair sample or a blood sample. In general, hair samples are only really used when it comes to courtrooms and legal matters. THC live in the hair follicles the longest, with testers checking for usage within the last 90 days. It is one of the most uncommon ways to get tested for cannabis.
The other way is a blood sample. In some parts of the world, you can order a blood sample if you disagree with the results of the urine or saliva sample. However, blood samples are only really giving an indication of recent use, rather than going far back. Remember that THC nor the THC metabolites are water soluble, meaning that they don’t like blood so much. Usually they will go straight for the fatty parts of the body and bind to those places. In general, if you are a regular user, THC can be found in your blood for up to one week after abstaining. If you don’t use often at all, your blood can be clean within days.
How to pass a drug test
The only way to know if cannabis is still in your system or not is to buy a home drug testing kit. It will tell you if you are positive, and from that you can get an idea of how long it takes for marijuana to leave your system. If you find yourself in a compromising situation, without 30 days to steer clear and get clean, you might have to take another option. For a lot of people, cheating their way through the drug test is a far better option than abstinence.
The best way to pass a drug test is to detox the body by drinking lots of water and doing lots of exercises. In most cases, this can speed up the process of cleaning the urine or blood, and what would usually take 10 days might take less than week. If things are even more desperate than that, perhaps it’s time to visit the pharmacy for a chemical detox. Be careful with choosing one, because they can be harsh on the body. There are even harsher chemicals you can buy that clean out your urinary tract, giving you about a 30 minute time frame where your urine will be clean. However, these can have really harmful effects if you don’t use them properly, so always be sensible when you are using these chemical detoxes.
The other option is, of course, fake pee – which is becoming increasingly popular among stoners. The technology is amazing, with companies producing pee that is almost exactly like human pee, containing all of the necessary chemicals and minerals to make it foolproof. Be careful when buying these, because if they are cheaper versions then they are easily detected as fake.
Some people swear that if you go desperately trying to detox, even that becomes apparent in your urine and the testers will know you are trying to hide something. It’s a fine line to walk on, wanting to cheat a drug test. At the end of the day, you jeopardise whatever it is that you are going for. Ah, it’s unfortunate that stoners still have to go jumping through hoops just to be who they are.
Hopefully as the marijuana movement works its way across the USA, employers awaken to the fact that there is no need for drug testing. It creates a total stigma in the workplace between those who use cannabis and those who do not, and it creates complications with new laws. Until the day arrives where stoners of the world can do so freely and without judgement, peeing in a cup seems to be the way to go.