How Long Does THC Stay In Your System?

How Long Does THC Stay In Your System?

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Ever wonder what happens when you eat a THC gummy or smoke a joint? Or what happens after? 

You see, the cannabis plant is full of compounds called cannabinoids, including Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC, and HHC, to name a few, each of which offers unique experiences. After smoking or enjoying edibles, these cannabinoids enter and then remain in your system- even after their euphoric effects have worn off.

If you're anticipating a drug test in the near future, then you're likely wondering whether THC will be detected, and, if so, how long it will stay in your system after consumption. The fact of the matter is that drug tests are designed to detect THC metabolites, which are produced by your body after consuming THC products.

However, how you consume THC, how much you consume, and various physiological circumstances affect how long it stays in your system. On top of that, the type of drug test administered will also influence whether THC metabolites are detectable. 

Below, we examine all of these factors to answer the question, how long does Delta-9 THC stay in your system?

Understanding Drug Tests and THC Metabolites

You may have to take a drug test for many reasons, including pre-employment screening or as a routine check for drug-free workplace programs. Whatever the case may be, the method of testing will vary based on the substance being tested for.

Types of Drug Tests

Urine tests are the most common type of drug test, but hair, saliva, or sweat samples may be collected instead. Whatever it may be, most drug tests will test for either Delta-9 THC (the primary psychoactive component of marijuana and hemp) or its metabolites: 11-hydroxy-THC and carboxy-THC.

How THC is Broken Down

According to studies on Pharmacokinetics, the way your body processes THC depends on your method of consumption: oral or inhalation.

Oral Consumption: When you eat a Delta-9 edible or gummy, the THC travels to your liver where most of it is discarded or broken down into metabolites by your body's liver enzymes

Interestingly, most of the THC you ingest from an edible will be excreted in the feces (65%) or urine (20%) within 5 days. The small remainder goes elsewhere, like your circulation and brain, to produce the euphoric cannabis experience we all know and love. 

All of the processing that goes on behind the scenes is why edibles have such a slow onset of effects- in other words, they take forever to kick in. But their effects also tend to last longer. The reason for this is that THC is fat-soluble, so once it hits your circulation, a lot of it is taken up by your body's fat tissue, where it is released back into the bloodstream over time. Still, oral consumption is said to have only a 4-12% bioavailability.

Inhalation: On the other hand, when you vape or smoke, THC and its metabolites enter the bloodstream pretty quickly through the lungs and hit a peak concentration within 6 to 10 minutes. In contrast to edibles, inhaled THC has a 10-35% bioavailability.

Most of the inhaled THC goes to your brain instead of your blood, to give a more intense psychoactive effect (that doesn't last as long).

Of course, the way your body metabolizes THC and your bioavailability will vary based on unique physiological circumstances like your weight and endocannabinoid system.

How Long Does Delta-9 THC Stay in Your System?

man smoking a joint in nature

Now that we've reviewed how THC is broken down after oral consumption and inhalation, let's review estimates for how long you expect it to remain in various parts of "your system". These time-frames are just estimates based on scientific research and should be taken with a grain of salt as the breakdown of THC by your body is a unique physiological process. Further, it should be noted that most studies conducted on how long THC stays in your system are based on inhalation since it's a more common method of consumption than edibles.

How Long Does THC Stay in Urine?

As mentioned above, 80-90% of THC and its metabolites are discarded in your urine or feces within 5 days of consumption. Of course, stool takes longer to leave your body than urine.

THC and its metabolites are generally only detectable in urine for 3 to 7 days after a session or two. This estimate starts to change based on how much and how often you enjoy cannabis. If you tend to enjoy a large servings of THC, and do so daily, for example, then the length of time it takes for it to leave your system can be as much as 1 month. More milligrams back-to-back will take more time to break down. 

How Long Does THC Stay in Your Hair?

Although not concrete, it's estimated that a one-time session with THC will only be detectable in your hair for 7 to 10 days. But again, the more THC you enjoy and the more often you enjoy it (increased frequency) means that it can build up and remain in your hair for as long as 3 months.

How Long Does THC Stay in Your Saliva?

THC is only detectable in saliva for 1 to 3 days after smoking. Oral ingestion (like from an edible) doesn't seem to impact this number. 

How Long Does THC Stay in Your Blood?

Since most inhaled THC goes to your brain rather than your bloodstream, studies suggest it only stays in your blood for 12 hours after a single use. But, of course, the same is not true for edibles. This timeframe is likely to increase if you had eaten a Delta-9 gummy and varies based on how much you consumed.

What Factors Affect How Long THC Is Detectable?

woman stepping onto a weight scale

Many factors will affect how long cannabinoids can be traced, such as consumption frequency or method. But even taking that into account, how long THC stays in your system ultimately depends on unique and unpredictable variables. For example, even if you don’t consume THC frequently, there is still a chance that it remains in your system longer than expected because of genetics.

With that in mind, let’s cover the basic factors to consider while estimating the length of time it remains in your system.

How Frequently You Consume THC

How often you consume THC significantly impacts how long it can be traced via drug tests. THC metabolites tend to stay longer in those who frequently enjoy this cannabinoid, so this window of time is anywhere from days to months before you can pass a urine test.*

For those who enjoy Delta-9 THC infrequently to moderately, i.e. every few days, it could take several weeks before you clear the THC metabolites from your urine.

However, if you enjoy Delta-9 gummies daily, it may take a month or longer before passing a urine test.

Physiology And Age

Depending on your age, it may take a shorter or longer time to metabolize THC.

As for genetics, the liver plays a huge role in breaking down THC and other chemicals. And for it to process them correctly, it has to have an average or higher amount of enzymes to metabolize these compounds.

So if you were born with a liver that doesn’t produce enough of these enzymes or are older, it will affect how long THC metabolites are in your system.

Another point that commonly gets overlooked is weight. If someone has a high percentage of body fat, indicated by a high body mass index (BMI), it will take longer for the body to remove it because THC metabolites get stored in fat tissue.

THC Potency

Consuming products with a high milligram count of THC will create more THC metabolites, which causes it to remain in your system for a longer duration.

How Can You Get Delta-9 Out Of Your System Faster?

There are no scientifically proven methods of clearing THC from your system, but there are several working theories. Since THC is processed by your liver, increasing your metabolism via exercise and hydration may help expedite the process. 

That being said, if you have an upcoming drug test, it is best to refrain from enjoying cannabis products immediately, as there is no guarantee that drinking more water or exercising will quicken up the process of removal.


There is no clear consensus on the time that Delta-9 THC and other cannabinoids may stay in your system, as estimates range from a few days to months. This is due to the numerous variables that play a role in your body's metabolism of THC, both predictable and unpredictable.

Whether you have a drug test in a few days, weeks, or even months, we advise that you stop consuming hemp-derived cannabinoids altogether.

Until next time, happy exploring, and keep your mind in mind. 

FDA Disclaimer:
 The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.

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