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How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?

Urine Samples
Urine Samples

With all of the hype going around as marijuana slowly becomes medically legal in more and more states, you may find yourself wondering what exactly is this plant and why all the hubbub and skepticism surrounding it. Marijuana is technically considered a Schedule I1 drug by federal law, meaning that according to federal law there are no medical uses for it and it is a potential high abuse risk. Marijuana itself comes from the Cannabis plant, which technically makes it an herb. The “high” effect that you get after using it comes from the THC content which is found in resin on the flowers of the female plants.

Psychological Effects of Marijuana

In the short-term, the effects that marijuana has on the body and mind last a couple of hours. Long-term effects of marijuana are still being heavily studied, as many studies are clouded by the participants using other drugs as well. However, in a study on rats, we can conclude that long-term marijuana smokers have a higher risk of memory issues. While many believe that marijuana is a “gateway drug”, a vast majority of people who use it do not go on to use harder drugs. Marijuana also does not have addictive qualities in and of itself, unlike nicotine and other chemicals found in various other drugs, you will not get “addicted” to the plant itself. The drug is given the reputation of being a “gateway” strictly because it does allow the person to experience the euphoria that they may end up chasing with other drugs. The rush of dopamine can often be found to be addictive, so while you may not be able to be “addicted to weed”, you can be addicted to the feeling that it gives you.

Marijuana Drug Testing

Whether you’re considering trying marijuana for the first time, had it at a party, or have recently picked up smoking it, one of the main concerns is how long marijuana stays in your system.  Many companies drug test either for initial employment or at random, which begs the question of rather you should risk smoking or not. The timeline of the presence of the drug in your system depends on your use of it – if you have smoked maybe a handful of times it will be a shorter time than if you’re a chronic user. Most companies use a basic urine test to test for marijuana use; so, for a basic urine test as a chronic smoker you are looking at a time line of being detectable for about a month or more, if you are not a chronic smoker you could be looking at around a 7-day detection period. Blood tests are less common, but can detect usage for chronic users from about six months prior, and only within a couple of days for people who do not often smoke. Hair and saliva tests are rarely used, and in fact saliva tests are not proven to be completely accurate. Hair tests can be used as a more long-term method of showing usage, it can show THC in the system well past 90 days. Timelines for these tests are relative, they depend on how often you smoke, how much you smoke, how much water you drink to flush your system, and many more factors. So, if you are worried about drug tests, you may want to steer clear of smoking so that you don’t run the risk of testing positive.

Marijuana and the Workplace

With all of the states making marijuana medically, and occasionally recreationally, legal, how can this affect the reprimands of potentially testing positive on a drug screen? Unfortunately, even if you live in a state where marijuana is legal for whichever reason, you still aren’t in the clear to test positive on a drug test. In the eyes of the federal government, marijuana is still a highly illegal drug, actually found on the same level of drugs as heroin. So, what does this mean? Well, if you get insurance through your workplace, you can be dropped from the insurance for testing positive during a drug screening. This can be especially bad for you if you got hurt on the job, Workman’s Comp can refuse to cover you AND your insurance wouldn’t cover you, leaving you high and dry (and not the good kind of high you were looking for). You can also be let go from your position for marijuana use.

  1. https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml