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THC In My Urine: How Long Does Weed Stay in My system?
There is no arguing that cannabis is America’s (and the world’s) favorite recreational and medicinal herb. With deregulation, legalization, and decriminalization spreading nationwide and across the globe, more individuals are turning to this magical herb for relaxation, recreation, and purported medicinal benefits.
But this can pose a challenge for those subject to drug testing. From employers to sports teams, there are a number of situations where having cannabis in your system could result in negative consequences even if you’re a responsible law-abiding adult.
Despite the fact that marijuana is gaining legal status across the US, many businesses and athletic agencies still prohibit the use of marijuana for employees and athletes, leaving those who enjoy or need the herb high and dry.
But how do you know if cannabis is still present in your system? How long will it stick around until your body finishes metabolizing? The answer varies. Several factors can determine whether or not a test will detect any remaining THC, including the type of test itself!
If you rank among those who may have concerns about how long cannabis will stay in your system, be it to prepare to pass a drug test or for other reasons, this guide is for you.
Below, we’ll take a look at some of the determining factors, standard detection windows by test, and a few tips to help you pass.
THC Detection Factors
When it comes to detecting cannabis in your system there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Every marijuana user is a unique individual with their own biological quirks. Individual differences in age, genetics, physiological processes, health, underlying conditions and more can all influence results. However, we do know that there are some of the factors which can affect whether a test will pick up any THC in your system.
Let’s take a closer look…
Dosage and Frequency
Marijuana tests look specifically for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This, as you likely know, is the primary cannabinoid responsible for the euphoric high you get from consuming cannabis. As such, the dosage of THC in the strain of cannabis you consume is a significant factor. THC use is cumulative, meaning that if you smoke over several days, you will have a higher concentration present in your system. The dose’s strength also comes into play; unfortunately, it’s hard to accurately measure the amount of THC in any strain. One would need highly sensitive lab equipment.
THC, CBD, and their metabolites are all lipid-soluble. This means they accumulate in fat cells, so individuals with higher fat concentrations are more likely to test positive. BMI can help you track your body weight, but it doesn’t separate fat and mass. Women tend to have more body fat than men and therefore tend to metabolize marijuana slower.
If you are dehydrated, then the THC in your body is more concentrated. While chugging gallons of water before a test probably won’t have a significant effect, avoiding severe dehydration will.
While exercising to burn fat can help eliminate THC over a period of time, exercising right before a test actually seems to increase your chances of a positive according to a small study by Wong, et al. (2013).
For a negative drug test, you need to completely eliminate THC from your system, alongside any metabolic chemicals linked to THC. Users with faster metabolisms are generally rid of THC faster than those with slower metabolisms.
Did you know there are four types of tests to detect marijuana? Blood, Hair, Urine, and Saliva all have their own tests, with varying sensitivities. You don’t have to smoke very much for marijuana to show up on a drug test; even second-hand exposure can lead to a positive.
Standard Detection Windows
While several factors influence a drug test as noted above, the four main tests do have an average window for detecting THC. Hair tests are the most sensitive, while blood tests have the shortest window.
The averages standard detection windows per test are as follows:
- Urine Test: 3-30 days
- Saliva Test: 24-72 hours
- Hair Test: up to 90 days; occasional false positive
- Blood Test: 3-4 hours
Testing sweat and fingernails are also options but typically aren’t used. The standard employer and athletic drug tests are urine tests. While each test has pros and cons, the urine test is the only one recommended by the Substance Abuse ad Mental Health Services Administration.
Tips to Pass a Drug Test
If your concern involves an upcoming drug test, then you need to take every possible step to avoid having marijuana in your system by test time. Below are the top four tips to help you get through your test.
Avoid any and all marijuana. No edibles, no tinctures, no vaping, no smoking— nothing. This is the only foolproof way to avoid testing positive for marijuana.
Avoid second-hand exposure
If your roommates or friends vape or smoke, stay away! Even second-hand inhalation can register on a drug test, whether or not you got high.
Don’t attempt to sabotage your sample
Adding chemicals like pyridinium chlorochromate or peroxidase to their urine in hopes of eliminating THC from the sample will be caught by the test. Tests pick up these compounds, and the consequences can be worse than a positive result, including automatic dismissal.
Be wary of synthetic cannabinoids like K2 or Spice
These supposed alternatives to cannabis are highly unpredictable. Side effects range from nausea to seizures, and they have even led to overdosing. Aside from the health concerns, some companies do include testing for synthetics as well as the typical THC check.
Eliminate Weed From Your System
If you haven’t been able to abstain long enough or found yourself needing to fill out job applications unexpectedly, some steps can be taken to help reduce the risk of a positive result for a drug test. While no foolproof plan exists, the following have a chance to reduce your risk of testing positive.
Drink lots of water
If you’ll be taking a urine test, drinking more water can help dilute your urine and cover any remaining cannabis presence. Be careful, though— too diluted, and you’ll have to retake the test.
Exercise and eat less
THC binds itself to fat cells. The more fat you eliminate, the less residue remains. Note: Only practice safe fasting and exercise schedules! Do not starve yourself or workout to exhaustion. You could cause serious illness or injury. As a reminder, do not exercise right before your test, as this practically guarantees a positive should any THC remain in your cells.
Does CBD Test Positive on a Drug Test?
The standard urine tests are looking specifically for THC. Users who prefer CBD oil stand a much lesser risk of testing positive. That’s not to say it’s impossible— some products have a large cannabinoid concentration and could show positive.
Parting Thoughts Regarding Cannabis Detection
Unless you already work for a company that performs random drug tests, you will likely have time to let your system purge THC. You have a better chance if you are able to abstain for several days and weren’t a heavy user.
It’s important that you give your body time to metabolize marijuana naturally. If you want to start looking for a new job or join a sports team, it’s probably best to wean off the weed unless you can find a cannabis-friendly workforce.
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