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How long does THC stay in the system?

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Marijuana, still in the process of establishing and justifying it’s identity in the society, otherwise known as weed, cannabis, among several other synonyms, is the most widely tested for substance, be it athletes or criminals. While hemp and industrial hemp as well as other cannabis based products have negligible quantity of THC, loose marijuana leaves, most widely used form of marijuana, consumed by marijuana smokers, mostly contains significant amount of the cannabinoid, THC in it. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the primary and recognised constituent of marijuana, known for it’s psychoactive properties. While hemp is a certified industrial raw material, cannabis is well-known for it’s medicinal properties, marijuana is prevalently used for recreational purposes and called out as recreational marijuana. This has caused even the employers to conduct tests prior to offering jobs. These tests have thus kept marijuana consumers on their toes.

This article will shed a light on the means through which THC enters the body and travel through it, the factors that affect detection of marijuana in the body and the various kind of tests conducted to detect the period of consumption. For everyone who is expecting to undergo a drug-test in the near future, this article will help you to understand the working of THC in the body and how these drug-tests are influenced by miniscule factors, such as metabolism and body mass index(BMI), which are in turn shaped by one’s age and daily activities.

How does THC spread though the body?

Different marijuana strains have differing level of THC as their constituent. However, all the strains have similar method of blending in the body of the consumer. THC, primarily acts on CB1 receptors, largely present in the brain and in other parts of the body as well as in the central nervous system. It also acts, in a diminished manner, on the CB2 receptors, on spleen and liver. When marijuana is either smoked or vaporized, the THC in the marijuana enters the bloodstream through the lungs, following which it reaches the various receptors present throughout the body and binds to them, as the blood flows through the body. When THC is ingested, even though the course of spread is same, the action time on the body is a little longer.

THC, is characterised as lipid soluble, that is, it readily dissipates in the lipids and fats present in the body. Hence, they accumulate on the fat tissues, which tend to stay in the body for a long time. As the THC gets moved through the body in the bloodstream, it gets broken down by the liver and produces metabolite called, 11-OH-THC, which is further metabolised to the inactive THCCOOH, which is primarily screened for in the drug tests. THC, solely, is easily broken down and hence, leaves the body. These metabolites, however, stored in the adipose fat tissues, stay for a longer duration in the body, as they cannot be easily broken down. 

Factors impacting detection time

  1. Metabolism: Refers to the time taken by the body system to break down the active substance of marijuana, i.e, THC, which differs from person to person depending on the kind of activities people indulge in, such as physical activities. These activities, in turn, also differ on the basis of age. More activities lead to THC exiting the body sooner, making body fat also a determinant.
  2. Frequency of use: For chronic users, THC remains in the body for upto 70 days. Moderate users can pass a drug test after 15-20 days. While occassional users can easily pass a drug test after 7 -10 days. However, it also depends on which method of testing is applied as well on the level of tolerance developed by the user.
  3. Dosage: The higher amount of THC consumed, the longer time the body system will require to break it down. The method of consumption also generates difference in the length of time THC stays in the body.
  4. Genetics:  CYP2C9 and CYP3A4 are two enzymes which are genetically variant and are involved in the mechanism of. Thus, depending on the presence of either enzyme, metabolism is either slow or fast.  
  5. Fluid intake: Dehydration causes the concentration of THC in blood to rise.

Tests for marijauna detection

Data released by the U.S. National Drug Court Institute establishes four major ways of detecting marijuana in one’s system. Four of them are as follows:

  1. Saliva Test: This test is used for detection of use of marijuana in the immediate past, i.e, few hours to 1 day, maximum 2 days.
  2. Blood test: Has similar potency as blood test.
  3. Urine Test: Most common method of testing. Can detect marijuana several days after last use. For chronic user, this extends to 8-9 weeks as well.
  4. Hair test: Not the most trusted method, as most results are false-positive. This happens due to the traces that remain in the hair follicles, when you are around people who smoke.

There exists quantitative as well as qualitative detection tests. While qualitative test checks for the presence of substance in the body, quantitative tests is more rigorous and sensitive. Quantitative tests check for the precise amount of substance in the body.

Word from HempStreet

As marijuana legalisation is still underway, it is important to be aware of the associated conditions and characteritics of a drug test. While there have been various queries on how to pass this test, the only reliable way is through speeding up the metabolism as well as keeping in mind, the gap between when the substance was used last and the day when the drug test is taken.

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