There are many reasons why you might want to know how long THC stays in your system. Perhaps you’re planning a detox or tolerance break, or maybe you’ve been notified of an unexpected drug screening.
Many factors affect how long THC stays in your system, including:
- The potency of the cannabis products you consume
- Your weight and metabolism
- Your age and gender
- How frequently you consume THC products
- Your diet and hydration levels
- The method of consumption
Short Term vs. Long Term: How Long Does THC Stay in Your System?
In the short term, you’ll feel the effects of smoked or vaped THC for about 1-3 hours. Because edibles need to be processed by the digestive system, they can take up to 90 minutes to two hours to kick in. However, the effects of cannabis edibles can last up to 6-8 hours, depending on the dosage.
When you consume edibles, the liver converts THC into over 80 metabolites. The two most common THC metabolites are carboxy-THC and 11-hydroxy-THC, and these are the compounds that most cannabis screenings detect.
Fortunately, the body quickly excretes the bulk of the metabolites in the form of urine.
If you only consume a small quantity, have a fairly robust metabolism, and stay hydrated, most of the THC will be out of your system in around three days. However, if you consume larger doses or partake more frequently, the THC will remain detectable in a urine test for up to 30 days after your last cannabis session.
When you continue to consume cannabis, your body will store the excess metabolites. Since THC is fat-soluble, the metabolites are typically stored in the fat cells and can remain there for long periods.
How Long Does THC Stay in Your System for Detox, Tolerance Breaks, and Drug Tests?
Blood and saliva tests typically only catch metabolites that have been present for around 36-48 hours. However, more sensitive hair tests can detect THC for up to 90 days after you’ve consumed cannabis.
We recommend that you avoid consuming any THC products if you’ll need to pass a drug test. That said, if you get surprised by an unexpected screening for cannabis, you can take some measures to reduce your chances of testing positive.
Drinking plenty of water will dilute your urine so that there will be a lower concentration of metabolites present. After that, you can add supplements like electrolytes, B vitamins, and creatine to make your urine appear less diluted.
Dispensaries and online vendors also sell detox kits that work with varying degrees of success, but we don’t recommend that you rely on any of these methods. The best way to avoid testing positive is to abstain from THC products as soon as you find out about the drug test.
If you’re looking to detox or take a tolerance break, you should stop consuming cannabis for at least 30-90 days to get the full benefits. Exercising, keeping your body hydrated, and adhering to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will help speed up the process.