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How Long Does Cannabis Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Cannabis Stay in Your System?

Until employment law catches up with medical cannabis legalization, there’s still a good chance that a new job offer will come dependent on passing a drug test. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how long THC will register on a drug test. It’s highly variable based on body chemistry, amount/frequency of use and testing method.

Cannabinoids, in the form of metabolites, are stored in the fat cells and slowly released over time. This is what accounts for the much longer detection period for cannabis than many other substances.

Urine tests are the most common form of drug testing in today’s employment market and the only test type endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of US Department of Health Services that sets standards for government employee drug testing. Urine tests measure the metabolite THC-COOH. Since this is a byproduct of THC, users of pure CBD products are in little danger of a positive drug test.

Testing thresholds are variable too. While the amount to be considered positive for a urine test is typically 50 ng/mL, some testing facilities can set it as low as 20 ng/mL.

Sadly, taking all these variables into account, there’s no way to predict how long you’ll need to stay clean to pass a drug test. However, there is some good news. However long you think it is, it’s probably shorter.

A 1984 study found cannabis was untraceable in chronic users after 40 days, but that’s not all. Forty days was the longest – the average time was a mere 10 days at the 50 ng/mL and 21 days at the 20 ng/mL level.

Drug Test Tips

DO drink a lot of water. Dehydration can elevate the metabolites in your urine. Keep hydrated and drink a lot of water on the day of your test.

DON’T exercise. Exercise can release metabolites from your fat cells and put them into circulation, temporarily elevating your levels and increase the chance of testing positive.

DO avoid second-hand smoke. Although the possibility is remote, it is possible to test positive from second-hand smoke. If your friends are smoking out in an enclosed area, step outside.

Factors in Drug Testing


Amount of cannabis used

Frequency of use

Test method

Result threshold