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How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?

You may have heard that you can prep for your test and flush marijuana out of your body faster. Unfortunately, that's a myth. If you use pot, it will show up on drug tests.

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You have a drug test on the calendar. How long will you need to prepare? Marijuana can linger in your body long after the high wears off.

Marijuana can appear in your:

  • Saliva for up to 72 hours
  • Urine for a month or longer (if you’re a heavy user)
  • Hair for up to 90 days
  • Blood for up to 36 hours
  • Breast milk for up to 6 weeks

If you’re tempted to cheat your drug test results, ask yourself about your marijuana use. Are you really in control, or is it time to consider a treatment program?

Marijuana Processing: What You Should Know

Each hit of marijuana you take moves through your body in a predictable pattern. That movement dictates how long the drug will appear in your screening tests.

You’ve just inhaled marijuana. The drug follows this path:

  • It enters your lungs. The smoke passes through the bronchi and into the alveoli.
  • It passes into the bloodstream. Alveoli pass THC into your blood. From there, the substance enters almost every tissue in your body.
  • It enters storage. If you keep using marijuana, THC builds up in fat cells. You’re never really free of drugs, even when you feel sober.

The sensitivity of your drug test determines how long your marijuana use will be detected. You rarely, if ever, get to choose the method someone uses to screen for drug use.

But you can pass a test by stopping marijuana intake. Regular users clear the drug relatively quickly, but frequent users need up to 13 days to remove half of all active THC from their bodies. The more you use, the more likely it is that you’ll fail your drug test.

Why Does Marijuana Testing Matter?

Marijuana is legal in three-quarters of all states. Should it matter if you use the drug and fail a test?

You could be subject to a drug test if you meet any of the following requirements:

  • You seem intoxicated while driving. It’s never smart to use pot and climb behind the wheel. The substance may be legal in your state, but intoxication could put you behind bars. You could also get in an accident and harm yourself or others.
  • You get arrested. Some marijuana users experience hallucinations and violent behavior while under the influence. If the authorities get involved, they could test you for the presence of substances.
  • You want some types of jobs. Plenty of employers don’t want drug users on the payroll. If you work in law enforcement, health care, education, or other sensitive fields, you might need to pass a test before accepting a job.

Some forms of testing, such as those using blood, can determine just how intoxicated you are. But others, including urine tests, are designed to simply show the presence of THC. If you’ve used the drug at any point and it appears, you will fail your screening exam.

Can You Prep for a Marijuana Drug Test?

You’re a regular marijuana user, and you want to hide that during a screening exam. Don’t be fooled by flashy websites and marketing promises. There is no foolproof way to cheat a drug test and ensure that your results are clear.

Don’t walk into your test with a list of debunked excuses, such as:

  • I have excess body fat.
  • I am on a diet, and my body is burning off body fat.
  • I just got done exercising, and I am burning off body fat.
  • I just had a massage, and it released THC.

Marijuana’s metabolization is largely driven by quantity. The more you use, the more likely it is that you’ll fail a test. Administrators have heard every excuse in the past, and your claims about fat and drugs won’t fool them.

You also can’t prepare to pass a marijuana test by doing these things:

  • Drinking a lot of water: Fluid intake will dilute your urine, but THC is still detectable.
  • Working out: Sweat can concentrate your urine, but administrators will still find THC.
  • Changing your diet: Adding fluid-filled foods to your meal plan a month or so before your test can dilute urine. But THC is still detectable.

The only way to ensure that you can pass a test is to stop using marijuana months before you deliver a sample.

Signs of Marijuana Use Disorder

Attempting to quit but failing is a hallmark of marijuana abuse. If you’ve tried to prepare for a drug test and found yourself relapsing to drugs very quickly, you likely need help.

These are other signs of marijuana abuse:

  • Spending the majority of your time and money on drugs
  • Giving up activities you used to love because of drugs
  • Using marijuana in unsafe situations
  • Feeling sick or unwell when you try to quit marijuana use

Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management, are effective ways to address marijuana abuse. A trained therapist can help you build up sobriety skills.

When it’s time for your next drug test, you can take it with confidence, knowing that you’ll pass since you haven’t used.

Updated June 16, 2023
  1. Marijuana. Valencia Community College.
  2. Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications. (2012). Iranian Journal of Psychiatry.
  3. Where Marijuana is Legal in the U.S. (April 2022). CNET.
  4. Marijuana Drug Information. Redwood Toxicology Laboratory.
  5. Mythbusters: Drug Testing Myths. Ohio Supreme Court.
  6. Drug Testing Myths Busted. Workplace Safety Screenings.
  7. Addiction (Marijuana or Cannabis Use Disorder). (October 2020). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  8. Available Treatments for Marijuana Use Disorders. (July 2020). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
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