Blame it on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the compound that gives marijuana users that “high” – and which breaks down into a metabolite known as THC-COOH that is usually detected if you have to take a drug test.
Speaking of which, it should come as no surprise that these THC-COOH levels take a long time to drop below detectable levels. This is because THC is hydrophobic and cannot be dissolved by water quickly much like it does with alcohol. Instead, THC sticks to compounds such as oils, body fat and alkanes and this is where THC is stored – for a long time.
So, if you are taking a drug test, it is absolutely vital for you to know what these levels are, for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, there isn’t any certain way by which you can tell how long marijuana stays in your system.
Concentration Levels After Consumption
Most people use marijuana by smoking, during which THC enters the blood stream through the lungs. This compound along with CBD acts on the human endocannabinoid system as it interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. In fact, it only takes 9 minutes for THC blood levels to peak. However, as for its presence in the system, it falls much faster in non-regular cannabis users as opposed to those who are chronic users.
It is also estimated that about 60-80 percent of these compounds are removed from the body through defecation within a few days
Yet there’s a detectable amount that is stored in lipid, fatty cells. If one used them for a number of weeks, they will remain for several weeks. Over time, the fatty cells let the THC back into the bloodstream where the liver will metabolize them into THC-COOH derivatives.
Marijuana Drug Testing Types
There are two types of drug tests. They test for both historical use as well as present intoxication. For the former, the hair follicle and the urine drug test are usually conducted and focus on the THC-COOH molecule present in the subject’s system.
These two types also do not test a person’s sobriety, but only determine if marijuana was used in the past.
As for detecting present intoxication, blood serum and saliva tests are used. In comparison to the earlier two tests, these tests usually check for the presence of active THC molecules. That said, they are usually accurate within a couple of days where the THC levels will usually not drop below 5 ng/mL of blood.
In urine tests, the presence of marijuana is detectable for up to 12 weeks, the hair follicle test can be used to detect its presence months later. As for blood serum and saliva blood testing, the presence of cannabis is detected for up to 7 days and within 24 hours of its usage.