Marijuana is one of the most commonly used substances in the United States. A recent Gallup poll reports that nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have tried marijuana at least once — the highest figure recorded on the subject to date1. This rise in marijuana use is likely due to its increased availability and legal status; 39 states have legalized marijuana use for medicinal purposes, and 18 states have legalized it for recreational use.
But despite the fact that many states have deemed marijuana a safe substance for those who want to partake in it, the federal government still considers weed a schedule 1 controlled substance. This means that, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), marijuana has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”2.
Mixed messages from the federal and state governments has left many people with questions about marijuana use, from “Is weed addictive?” to “How long is marijuana in your system?” Today, let’s look at marijuana and answer some of these important questions.
How Long is Weed in Your System?
There are many reasons why someone might need to know how long weed is in their system for. They might be starting a new job that requires a drug test. They might need to know how long they should detox before entering drug or alcohol addiction treatment. Or they may simply be curious about how cannabis affects their body over time.
Unfortunately, it can be challenging to give a definitive answer to this question. Research shows that marijuana is detectable in bodily fluids like urine for anywhere from one to 30 days after use3. There are many factors that determine how long marijuana is in your system, including your BMI, whether you smoked or ingested the drug, how much you smoked or ingested it, and how frequently you use marijuana.
How Does Your Body Process Marijuana?
When you smoke marijuana, THC (the psychoactive compound that makes a person feel “high”) moves from the lungs into the bloodstream, where it’s transported to the brain and other parts of the body. This process happens very quickly, which means you can feel the effects in just 15-30 minutes.
By contrast, a person who uses marijuana edibles has to have the weed pass through their digestive system before their body can absorb it. Edibles don’t usually produce effects in a person until one to two hours after ingesting them.
The effects of marijuana typically fade after 1-8 hours — depending on how much you’ve used, whether you smoked or used edibles and other factors. But even after you no longer feel high, the substance remains in your system. THC breaks down in your liver, and when it does it produces over 80 metabolites. These metabolites can remain in your body long after you stop using marijuana, and it’s these metabolites that drug tests look for.
Detecting Marijuana with Drug Tests
In the same way that using weed in different ways (smoking, vaping, edibles, etc.) changes how long the marijuana is in your system, different drug tests can detect marijuana long after use. For example, Drug tests that examine hair follicles can detect marijuana up to 90 days after smoking, while urine tests can detect marijuana anywhere from three to 30 days after use.
One major factor in determining how long marijuana is in your system is how frequently you use it. Frequent smoking or edible use will lead to more metabolites in your body, and that means it will take much longer for them to be undetectable in a drug test. For example, let’s take a look at how long urine tests (the most common drug tests) can detect marijuana based on your use:
- If you smoke three times a week or less: 3 days
- If you smoke four times a week: 5-7 days
- If you smoke daily: 10 to 15 days
- If you smoke multiple times a day: Up to 30 days4
As you can see, marijuana stays in your system much longer than you might suspect — and even longer if you use it regularly. This is very important to know if your employer, an outpatient rehab program, or any other group that you’re a part of requires a drug test.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Another common question surrounding marijuana is its potential for addiction. After all, the federal government still classifies it as a schedule one (and therefore addictive) substance. If marijuana really can stay in your system for up to 30 days or more, shouldn’t it be addictive?
Simply put, yes, marijuana can be addictive. But unlike other drugs, marijuana carries a much lower risk of developing an addiction. Research shows that individuals who use marijuana have a 10% likelihood of developing an addiction5. This figure is much lower than the risk for other substances like cocaine, opioids, or alcohol.
But despite the low risk for addiction, the reality is that marijuana use can quickly become a problem for many people. About 30% of marijuana users have what’s known as a marijuana use disorder, which means that their cannabis use negatively impacts their daily life5.
If you or someone you love is struggling with marijuana use disorder or addiction, programs like inpatient or outpatient rehab can help you reclaim your life and battle this disease.
How to Get Help
Addiction treatment is an instrumental part of every recovery journey — but only if you find the rehab program that’s right for you. At Better Addiction Care, we want to help you find the right center for your specific substance use, medical needs, insurance provider, and recovery goals.
Our team can help connect you with a rehab program, so you can uncover the roots of your addictions, learn to cope with substance abuse triggers, and start your recovery journey on a firm foundation with plenty of support.
We have treatment advisors available to take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Calls are always free and 100% confidential. Whether you’re looking for a detox center, a sober living program, or any other type of rehab near you, call Better Addiction Care today.
- Jones, J. (2021, August 17). Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Have Tried Marijuana. Gallup. Retrieved May 6, 2022 from https://news.gallup.com/poll/353645/nearly-half-adults-tried-marijuana.aspx
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Drug Scheduling. DEA. Retrieved May 6, 2022 from https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling
- Hadland, S., MD, MPH and Levy, S., MD, MPH. (2017, July 1). “Objective Testing — Urine and Other Drug Tests.” Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America. Retrieved May 6, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4920965/
- Moeller, K. PharmD, BCPP et al. (2017, March 18). “Clinical Interpretation of Urine Drug Tests—What Clinicians Need to Know About Urine Drug Screens.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Retrieved May 6, 2022 from https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(16)30825-4/fulltext
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, October 17). Addiction (Marijuana or Cannabis Use Disorder). CDC. Retrieved May 6, 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects/addiction.html
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