Substance Use

How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?

TABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents

marijuana in urine cup drug test

While marijuana has now become a legal substance for recreational use in California and over a dozen other states, there are still a lot of unknowns about the effects of marijuana for the majority of consumers.

One of the biggest questions people ask about marijuana is how long it will stay in your body? The answer to this question varies depending on what you mean by ‘stay’ and who’s asking.

If asked, “how long will THC metabolites be detectable,” several factors might affect a person’s answer. Variables include frequency of use, time since last ingested, age, gender, metabolism rate, health conditions affecting liver function or kidney function (for example), and other drugs consumed simultaneously.

Today, we will analyze the effects of marijuana in your system and help identify how long it usually stays in your body.

Understanding Marijuana Laws and Regulations

While it is legal to use marijuana across several states, understanding the rules and laws that are in place is essential for anyone planning to consume the substance. These may differ depending on your state. 

For example, here is a quick overview of the legalities of consuming marijuana in California.

  • Recreational cannabis is legal in California, but it is only available to those ages 21 years and older. You must be at least 21 years old to buy or use recreational marijuana. This age restriction includes smoking, vaping, and cannabis-infused foods.
  • You can have up to 28.5 grams of cannabis plant material (about an ounce) and 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.
  • It is illegal to sell retail cannabis to anyone under the age of 21.
  • It is illegal to operate any vehicle while under the influence of cannabis.
  • Cannabis products can only be consumed in designated or private locations. Smoking or consuming cannabis in any form in public is illegal.
  • You may not consume or possess cannabis on federal land of any sort. This law includes national parks. Other notable federally owned locations in the San Francisco Bay area include Alcatraz Island, Marin Headlands, and Ocean Beach.
  • Even if you are traveling to a state where cannabis is legal, it is against the law to transport your marijuana across state lines.
  • Only state-licensed businesses can sell retail cannabis products.

Key takeaways:

It is important to note a few of these regulations in particular. The first one is that you cannot operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.

A common issue is someone will consume cannabis in a private location and believe the effects of the drug have worn off. In reality, it is still very much in their system. Understanding how long the drug remains active and its effects is an excellent way to keep yourself safe while under its influence.

This goes for driving and anything that you might need your mental capacity for while high on marijuana. This includes making important decisions about finances or other life-changing matters.

How Long Does It Take for the Effects of Marijuana to Wear Off?

Many different factors will contribute to how long a “high” from cannabis products will last.

Here are some of the factors that will affect how long it takes for marijuana to wear off:

  • The body’s metabolism rate
  • The time of day you choose to ingest the drug
  • How often you use cannabis products (frequency)
  • Whether other drugs were also consumed about the time of marijuana consumption
  • The amount of marijuana taken at one time
  • How the product was consumed
  • The potency of the marijuana product
  • Amount of individual body fat

While multiple factors play a role in determining how your body will handle the effects of marijuana, we will look at some baseline estimates to help give you a better understanding based on various factors.

How Long Does It Take for the Effects to Kick In?

As a general rule, smoking marijuana products will produce an effect within minutes. Depending on how much was consumed and the product’s potency, you may start feeling high immediately or within 15-30 minutes after consumption.

We will start by looking at the different ways in which marijuana can be consumed and how much time it takes for the effects of marijuana to kick in can be affected.

Smoking or vaping

When marijuana is consumed through smoking or vaping, it usually takes 2-10 minutes to feel the effects.


When you eat marijuana, it’s broken down by your stomach and intestines, taking some time. Edibles usually start working in 30 to 60 minutes but might take up to two hours.


Dabbing is a technique that uses highly concentrated amounts of THC. Dabbing typically takes effect almost instantly from the higher THC concentration levels.

Is There Any Way to End a High Faster?

Using over-the-counter antihistamines is one way to end a high faster. Antihistamines block the metabolites produced when THC breaks down in your body, which ends the effects of marijuana more quickly.

The wait time for this method will depend on how much cannabis you consumed and what type of product was used, and other factors such as metabolism rates or if any other drugs were ingested at the same time. In general, it should take between 30 minutes and an hour after taking the drug before using an antihistamine can help speed up its removal from your system.

It could be beneficial to consume CBD oil before ingesting another form of cannabis because CBD counteracts some negative side effects of consuming weed, like anxiety and paranoia.

If you seek help for marijuana addiction, reach out to Zinnia Healing to discuss your options based on your needs and location. 

How Is Marijuana Detected on Drug Tests?

Next, we will look at the types of testing available to help determine if marijuana is still in your system.

Several different drug tests are available to help determine if you have used or are using cannabis products within a certain period.

Urine testing 

Urine testing is a popular form of testing. Urine tests are typically inexpensive and can detect the presence of THC in your system for up to two weeks after using cannabis products.

Here are some of the baselines estimates for how long marijuana will show up in a urine test provided by Mayo Clinic Proceedings:

  • Users who consume marijuana three or fewer times per week: 3 days
  • Users who consume marijuana four times per week: 5 – 7 days
  • Users who consume marijuana daily: 10 – 15 days
  • Users who consume marijuana multiple times per day: Over 30 days

However, it is essential to note that if you have a high amount of body fat or drink excessive amounts of water before taking this type of test, it may result in an inaccurate reading.

Saliva testing 

Saliva tests are typically less expensive than urine tests, but they may not detect the presence of THC in your system for as long as a urine test would. Saliva tests can be conducted very soon after ingesting cannabis products and may only appear within 24 hours post-consumption.

Here are the baseline estimates for how long you can expect to find marijuana in your system through a saliva test:

  • Consumers of marijuana less than four times per week: 1 – 3 days
  • Consumers of marijuana more than four times per week: 1 – 29 days

Hair follicle tests (not recommended) 

Hair follicle testing can assess drug use for up to 90 days. The drug enters the hair follicles via tiny blood vessels after usage. Sample sizes of approximately 1.5 inches of hair close to the scalp can provide traces of weed for up to three months in your system.

This test can be problematic, though. While there may be traces in someone’s hair follicles, that does not mean the individual is influenced by marijuana.

Blood testing 

Within seconds of inhalation, marijuana is detected in the circulation. It’s dispersed throughout the tissues. Its byproducts may linger in the circulation for days. Some are reabsorbed in the circulation and broken down.

Here are some of the estimates for how long marijuana can show up in a blood test:

  • Mild consumers of marijuana (less than four times per week): 1 – 2 days
  • Heavy consumers of marijuana (more than four times per week): Up to 25 days

How Long Should You Wait to Drive After Cannabis Use?

Okay, so now that we have broken down how long marijuana stays in your system, let’s look at how long you should wait before driving. Marijuana can affect a person differently than alcohol, so it may be harder to tell when someone has had too much. Just because a friend seems fine after using marijuana doesn’t mean they are safe behind the wheel.

A study found that smoking one joint resulted in significant changes in blood flow throughout the brain, causing cognitive impairment similar to being drunk. It also led drivers to weave within their lane more often than sober participants who did not consume cannabis prior to driving.

While this is a reason to be very cautious after consuming cannabis products, let’s look at some baseline estimates for how long you should wait before operating a motor vehicle.

According to MADD, driving after using cannabis should be avoided for at least four to six hours. However, that is only a suggestion; everyone must realize certain situations and circumstances when a longer wait time is required.

How Is Marijuana Metabolized in the Body?

Next, let’s take a look at how marijuana is metabolized in the body. Marijuana is initially metabolized in the liver, where it’s broken down into its chemical components. THC produces a high because of an active ingredient called delta-nine tetrahydrocannabinol.

When consumed, the compound gets distributed throughout the body via blood vessels and absorbed by fat cells for later use or excretion through urine or feces. Cannabis excretion is also largely related to how much cannabis a person uses and their body mass index (BMI), which refers to a broad range of weight categories. 

The metabolites are stored in these tissues until they’re released to enter the bloodstream again, at which point you will test positive on drug tests again. However, traces can remain detectable for longer than this, depending on how often you consume cannabis products and other factors like metabolic rate and body fat percentage, among others discussed above.

According to research, more than 65% of cannabis is eliminated through feces, while approximately 20% is excreted in the urine. Most cannabis (80-90%) is metabolized into hydroxylated and carboxylated metabolites, which are then excreted over five days.

How Long Can Marijuana Be Detected?

Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in 18 states and counting, many people have been asking the question, “How long does weed stay in your system?”

However, since multiple factors play a role in the consumption of marijuana and the impact it may have on your body, there is no one set answer to how long it remains in your system.

Looking at general averages, you can expect traces of marijuana to appear in your body anywhere from 1-25 days. This does not include hair follicle tests, where traces may last longer. 

The important thing to note is that these estimates are not ironclad. There is no way to determine how long marijuana will remain in your system for certain, and it can vary from person to person.

Zinnia Healing Can Help

If you are looking for help handling a marijuana addiction or want advice from professionals, reach out to Zinnia Healing by calling (855) 430-9439. We offer professional treatment facilities across the nation, offering individualized programs.