When introduced into the human body, it causes a stimulating interaction that leaves a lasting impression, both literally and figuratively. After smoking marijuana, cannabinoids and their by-products are still detectable in the body. In many cases, they are present long after the effect wears off.
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To address the question of how long marijuana stays in your system, we must first turn our attention to THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid that creates the famous euphoric effects. Cannabis drug tests often look exclusively at THC and THC metabolites. The latter are by-products that are generated when THC is broken down in the body.
How does cannabis travel through the body?
To fully understand how long marijuana can stay in your system, it is important to establish how THC travels through your body and interacts with it.
When marijuana is smoked or vapid, THC enters the bloodstream through the lungs. From there, it is transported by the stream directly to the heart, which pumps it throughout the body. Thus, THC reaches and binds to CB1 receptors (located in the brain, certain organs and the central nervous system), and to CB2 receptors (in the spleen and the immune system).
As the blood circulates through the body, THC continually passes through the liver and is broken down into metabolites.
This inactive metabolite of THC, which is stored in fat and gradually eliminated through urine and feces, remains in the body for much longer than active THC . This is why so many marijuana detox drinks and kits claim to eliminate or mask the presence of THC metabolites.
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The process is slightly different when cannabis enters the system in edible or pill form. When marijuana is ingested, THC enters the bloodstream through the walls of the stomach and intestine. It then travels directly to the liver, where a large amount is eliminated or metabolized. The rest of the THC and metabolites then circulate through the heart and are sent to the brain.
Key factors influencing how long marijuana stays in your system
There are a variety of factors that can affect the amount of time THC will stay in your system.
The greater the amount of THC that is consumed, the longer it will take for the body to break it down, and eliminate its corresponding metabolites.
Frequency of use
The total duration and frequency of use by the consumer have a substantial influence on how long marijuana will remain in their system. Most of the research on cannabinoid detection shows that THC remains in the system of chronic users for much longer than that of occasional users. The frequency of cannabis use is also a notable risk factor in the development of cannabis withdrawal symptoms.
A body with higher metabolic functions can break down cannabinoids at a faster rate. This shortens the time that THC and its metabolites will remain detectable in the body.
How long does marijuana stay in your system?
THC and its metabolites can be detected in blood, urine, saliva, and hair.
There is no universal standard for how long marijuana stays in the system because it depends on too many variables. However, existing research allows us to better understand it, and make a well-founded estimate.
How long does marijuana stay in your blood?
When inhaled, active THC can reach the bloodstream in a matter of seconds, and can be detected in the plasma for several hours, depending on the frequency of use and the dose. According to a 2004 review, the plasma concentration of THC reaches its maximum level between 3 and 8 minutes after inhalation. Then it decreases rapidly, with a half-life of about 30 minutes.
How long does marijuana stay in your hair?
There is increasing evidence that hair follicle drug testing methods cannot accurately detect marijuana. Some research suggests that the presence of THC and its metabolites can be transferred to the hair follicles of non-users through hand contact, sweat, or exhaled ssmoke. For example, if someone smokes a joint and exhales near someone who does not use cannabis, THC can be transferred to the head or body hair of the non-smoker.