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The length of time this chemical stays in the body or continues to show in a drug test depends on many factors. These include:. Drugs such as alcohol may completely disappear from the body in just a few hours. In comparison, weed lingers much longer. Drug tests can detect tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in urine, blood, and hair for many days after use, while saliva tests can only detect THC for a few hours. This is because of the way the body metabolizes THC.
THC is a lipid-soluble chemical. This means that it binds to fat in the bodywhich increases the length of time it takes for someone to eliminate THC completely. Research on the amount of time a test can detect marijuana shows a wide range of averages.
Research from estimates a detection window for a single marijuana cigarette of about 3 days. Detection windows also depend on the kind of test a person undertakes. General estimates for various marijuana tests are as follows:. Drug tests can detect relatively small quantities of THC, and the amount of THC in a given marijuana cigarette varies. However, little research has examined exactly how much a person must smoke to fail a drug test.
Studies consistently find that frequent weed users are more likely to fail drug tests than infrequent users. A study in the journal Clinical Chemistry examines marijuana users smoking a single cigarette with 6. Urine concentrations of THC were highest 0. Using a highly sensitive urine test, researchers detected THC in the urine of percent of frequent users and 60— percent of infrequent users.
A study reports on testing where hair samples from marijuana users reporting heavy, light, or no use of marijuana. For the study, researchers cut hair into 1-centimeter sections to test for exposure of up to a month prior. Some 77 percent of heavy users and 39 percent of light users produced positive tests.
No non-users had positive testsuggesting that false positives in hair tests are relatively rare. More sensitive tests can detect lower doses of marijuana. Tests include blood, urine, hair, and saliva.
Marijuana drug tests look for THC, not marijuana. So the amount of THC that a person consumes is the ificant factor. The effects of THC are cumulative. This means that a person who smokes several times over several days has consumed a higher THC dose than someone who smokes once, and so they are more likely to test positive. The strength of each dose of THC also matters. Without sensitive laboratory equipment, a person cannot reliably determine the strength of their marijuana.
Since fat stores marijuana, people with higher body fat concentrations may metabolize marijuana more slowly than a person with less body fat. Body mass index BMI is one way to judge body fat. Typically, females have more body fat than males.
This means that females may metabolize marijuana slightly more slowly. Dehydration increases concentrations of THC in the body. While drinking lots of water is unlikely to affect a drug test ificantly, severe dehydration might. Exercise will not ificantly change the rate at which the body metabolizes THC. Exercising before a drug test, however, might. A small study of 14 regular marijuana users assesses the effects of 35 minutes of exercise on a stationary bike.
The conclude that THC concentrations increased by a statistically ificant amount, suggesting that exercise right before a drug test may increase the likelihood of a positive test result. The researchers believe that exercise may cause fat cells to release THC. For a drug test to be negative, the body must eliminate THC from the system, as well as metabolic chemicals that have links to THC. People with faster metabolisms typically eliminate THC more quickly than those with slower metabolisms. Ultimately, there are only two strategies that work for this, and they are decreasing the concentration of THC in the marijuana and speeding up the metabolism.
Proper hydration can prevent a drug test from showing unusually high THC concentrations. For people whose test are on the border of positive and negative, this means that being dehydrated may increase the chances of a positive result. There is no reliable way to speed up the metabolism.
Exercise might help the body metabolize more THC, but exercising too near to a test may also cause a positive result. There is no way to accurately predict the amount of time it will take an individual to metabolize marijuana and eliminate it from their bodies. Home tests can help people test themselves for the presence of marijuana in their system. For almost all people, marijuana should disappear or be very low in concentration within 30 days.
For infrequent users, it may take 10 days or less for marijuana to leave the body.
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Medically reviewed by Zara Risoldi Cochrane, Pharm. Marijuana detection windows. Share on Pinterest Marijuana can stay in the body from 3 to 30 days and sometimes longer. How much do you have to smoke to fail a drug test? Factors that influence detection.
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How long does Marijuana stay in your system?