Weed is coming back into the mainstream. Unfortunately, that doesn’t yet mean it’s going to be ok with everyone. Even in states where it’s now legal to indulge in cannabis culture, this can still get you fired at the workplace. It can undermine your ability to be hired after nailing the interview. So before you plan to light up, let’s go over how long cannabis stays in your system, and what can affect this duration.
The good news is that we know most drug tests are checking your urine for THC metabolites, or THC-COOH, not THC proper. These metabolites are byproducts produced by THC after the actual compound has already left your system. But here are some issues. Most drugs’ metabolites are water-soluble, meaning they’ll be excreted relatively quickly. THC-COOH, however, is fat-soluble, meaning its exit from the system is extremely slow. In other words, there’s no definite formula for determining how long THC stays in your system, and the same goes for THC-COOH. The amount of time depends on a myriad of factors, including your diet, your exercise routine, and how often you smoke marijuana. One study found that THC can last over three months in your system, which might make it seem like a non-starter to even try to pass a drug test.
But there’s a reason people chug 32 ounce bottles of Gatorade back-to-back when they remember after a weekend of bong rips that they have a drug test in 24 hours. Most drug tests have a threshold for determining whether or not you’re clear. Typically, tests count a concentration of THC above 50 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) as positive, and anything below that is negative. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell what that actually means, but it does mean that you can game it.