THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is the active ingredient in cannabis that is responsible for the psychoactive effects of the plant. Simply put, it is the compound in weed that gives the ‘high’. When addressing the subject of how long is weed detectable in the system, we need to first have a look at THC and how long this compound loiters around for.
When marijuana is smoked, the THC enters the system almost instantly. However, when ingested or eaten, the process takes a bit longer; 20 minutes to half an hour. But whichever option one chooses, the result is the same; the body quickly processes all the psychoactive compounds, and therefore the high stays for a few hours at a time.
THC is broken down quickly and processed into molecules called metabolites, which are detectable in the blood for a few hours only. However, when THC in broken down in the liver, it produces around 80 different metabolites. One of those metabolites is called THC-COOH, which is the metabolite that is primarily screened in a drug test.
Truth be told, the amount of time that THC stays detectable in the urine differs from one person to another. Moreover, there are now hundreds of various strains of marijuana available, and each strain has varying THC levels and potency; it may linger around in urine for days, weeks, or even months depending on how much weed was consumed.
In a research conducted on 52 test subjects, it was found that 4.9 days was the average time it took for THC to be completely expelled from the system. One the other hand, it took around 18 days for THC-COOH to exit from some of the volunteer’s urine. Another study found that THC stays in the system of infrequent users for 2 to 3 days, while traces were detectable anywhere from 9 to 12 days in the system of frequent users.
How long is weed detectable in the urine?
When asked how long weed stays detectable in the system, it’s ultimately linked to the amount of duration that it stays in the urine. So when people ask about flushing their system efficiently, what they actually mean is how to clean urine so that THC metabolites are no longer detectable.
Drug testing has become a common practice among many organizations around the globe, and many companies ask that their employees undergo a test to confirm the absence of drugs. Urine testing is one of the most effective methods to screen a person for cannabis use. Urine testing is also the cheapest way of drug testing, and it also has the longest detection span.
Most drug tests to detect the traces of weed and its metabolites, including urine testing, will screen for the traces of THC-COOH rather than THC, as THC-COOH is a trace metabolite that is produced when the liver metabolizes the active THC compound. Presence of metabolites in the urine means that the THC was processed by the body recently.
The duration THC shows up in the urine for will eventually differ depending on how often marijuana is consumed; the more marijuana is used, the longer it will be detectable. Here’s a general guide of how long marijuana stays in the urine for:
- Single use (once in 30 days): approx. 8 days.
- Regular use (4-6 times in 30 days): approx. 15 days.
- Frequent use (10–15 times in 30 days: approx. 30 days.
- Heavy use (20+ times in 30 days: approx. 45-77 days