How long can marijuana be detected in the body?

To find the correct answer to the question: “How long does weed stay in your system?” can be the difference between being employed and having your contract terminated! To be clear, many states have passed laws protecting the employment rights of individuals who use marijuana legally. New Jersey, New York and Nevada are among those states.

But in some recreational marijuana states, like California, a company can still fire someone for using weed off duty! If you test positive for THC-COOH, your employer can legally fire you in the Golden State, as they are not required to accept MMJ or recreational use in the workplace.

That’s why it’s crucial to know if you’re likely to have cannabis in your system if you happen to be using weed. In addition, it is even possible to lose your job by using marijuana once because it remains detectable for a certain period. This article briefly examines how long weed stays in the body.

Marijuana in the body: How long does it last?

Although the intoxicating effects of THC in weed only last a few hours, evidence that you used the substance can linger in your body for days or weeks. A wide range of factors dictate how long a drug test can detect cannabis in your system, including:

  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Sex
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Frequency of use

When you consume weed, your body metabolizes the intoxicating compounds quickly, so the high wears off within hours. But when the liver breaks down THC, it forms dozens of metabolites, including THC-COOH, which is what most drug tests look for.

Most employers use urine tests when screening for drugs. This has led to a growing industry of products designed to “fudge” drug tests. This includes special drinks meant to help flush out the THC metabolites, and fake urine for individuals in urgent need.

These products are considered necessary because THC-COOH metabolites remain in the urine for a surprisingly long time.

Cannabis in the system: How long does it take for THC-COOH metabolites to leave?

Unfortunately, all we can give you are ballpark figures because it really varies from person to person. Amazingly, if you use marijuana just once, it can take anywhere from three to eight days for THC-COOH metabolites to leave your system, and it only gets worse from there.

How long THC shows up in a urinalysis depends on your consumption of marijuana. The more weed you use, the longer it can be detected in a drug screen. For someone who uses marijuana up to six times a month, it can take 15 days of abstinence to clear their system. If you use weed every other day for a month, it can take about 30 days to pass a drug screen.

Chronic users – by that we mean those who use weed every day – may need 11 weeks of abstinence to pass a drug screen!

A study published in 2020 described the difficulties faced by marijuana users. Researchers gathered 70 regular cannabis users and tested them during a month of biochemically verified abstinence. In total, participants had an average of 26 days of abstinence. The mean creatine-adjusted THC-COOH concentration was 148 ng/ml. Remember that most screenings using federal drug testing guidelines will detect weed at 50 ng/ml and above, while confirmatory assays can detect as little as 5 ng/ml.

Among those with 26+ days of abstinence, 40% showed THC-COOH concentrations of 5+ng/mL, while 19% would have failed a standard drug screen that uses federal drug testing guidelines.

What should a marijuana user do?

If you are a weed user and are worried about failing a drug screen, you may want to quit as soon as possible. But since employers surprise people with drug tests, you’re sure to fail unless you’re lucky and find a product that will help you pass the test.

Many “detox drinks” claim to help beat drug screens by masking the cannabis in your system for a short period of time. The instructions usually involve drinking a lot of water with the product. While some people swear that these drinks work, there is no evidence that this is the case.

Unfortunately, until states see common sense and stop punishing people who legally use weed off duty, marijuana users are at risk of failing drug tests. In many states, you will pay for this violation with your job.

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