If you’ve just been notified about an upcoming drug test after hitting a joint last night, there’s one question you’re probably asking yourself… How long does weed stay in your system after a couple of puffs?
Spoiler: Urine tests can detect THC up to 30 days, quantity and frequency play a role.
Whether the drug test is for potential employment, athletics, or something else, this is a valid question to ask. Especially if you literally only took a puff or two!
In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about cannabis drug testing, including the answer to the question above.
A Quick Guide to Marijuana
Chances are, you already have a pretty good idea of what weed is. Even so, here’s a quick rundown of the popular plant.
Cannabis goes by many names – weed, marijuana, pot, dope, ganja… Nobody what you choose to call it, most weed strains and products are designed to get you high. THC, a chemical compound within the plant, is responsible for this high.
While there are more than 100 different compounds, also called cannabinoids, THC is the most well-known. Depending on the specific strain, THC can make you feel mellow and relaxed, happy and euphoric, or creative and productive.
The Many Forms of Cannabis
Nowadays, weed comes in many forms. You’ve still got the traditional dried bud, which is typically used for smoking. But even if you’re not a fan of the classic smoke inhalation method, it’s possible to eat, drink, or vape your weed instead.
Most Common Ingestion Methods for Marijuana
Want to know more about the many forms of weed available in the 21st century? Here’s a breakdown of the most common ingestion methods today:
- Smoking: Smoking is a traditional ingestion method that still remains to be the most popular among weed users. If you prefer to smoke weed, smoking joints is a great starting point. You can also smoke blunts, or invest in a small pipe or bong.
- Vaping: Weed vapes work by heating up cannabis oil within a vape device. The heat releases cannabinoids like THC and CBD, and these are inhaled in the form of vapor.
- Edibles: Edibles are simply edible products that have been infused with cannabis. They come in many forms, including sweet treats, savory snacks, fizzy beverages, pills and capsules, tinctures, and even powders.
- Topicals: Because it’s applied directly to the skin, a weed topical won’t really get you high. However, there are still some benefits to using topical marijuana, like alleviating skin conditions or treating surface-level pain.
The Short-Term Side Effects of Weed
No matter your chosen ingestion method, you can expect to experience some short-term side effects. The biggest one is the infamous high feeling, and this can vary from sheer happiness to annoying paranoia depending on the individual.
Many weed users feel an immediate sense of relaxation after a couple of puffs. Others experience heightened senses, and some might even get some extreme munchies.
In terms of the physical side effects, you can expect to experience dry mouth, also called cotton mouth. It’s also common for the heart rate to increase, and you’ll probably notice some eye redness.
All of these side effects are normal, and they won’t last forever. So even if you’re experiencing a bad high, these physical and psychological sensations are just temporary.
How Long Do the Effects of Weed Last?
So how long can you expect the short-term weed effect to last? Well, it depends, mainly on these factors:
- How much weed is consumed
- Consumption method
- THC and CBD percentages
- Individual’s body weight
- Individual’s tolerance to cannabis
- Individual’s metabolism
When it comes to smoking or vaping weed, the effects typically stick around anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. For new weed users with a low tolerance, you could feel high for up to 8 hours, so plan accordingly.
Edible weed is a completely different ball game. Because this form of cannabis goes through the digestive system, the effects last much longer. After eating an edible with a moderate percentage of THC, you’re likely to be high for about 8 hours.
How the Body Processes THC
Every individual processes THC differently. The way you process it depends on things like body type, weed tolerance, metabolism, genetics, and diet.
Although everyone is different in terms of how THC is processed, the bodily process is pretty much the same across the board. After ingesting THC, the body absorbs it through major organs like the brain and liver as well as fat tissues.
Over time, about 85% of THC is excreted through urine and feces. The remaining 15% is stored by fat tissue, and it eventually disappears as fat is burned.
How Long Does One Hit of Weed Stay in Your System?
Because a small amount of THC is stored in our fat cells, it can be detected on a drug test for quite some time. The timeframe for detection depends on a few things, mainly how long it has been since ingestion.
If you use weed on the reg, there’s a very good chance that you will test positive for THC on a drug test. But what about if you just take a puff or two from a friend’s joint?
In that case, it depends on the type of test you’re taking, as well as how much time it’s been since you inhaled. Here are the most common types of drug tests for detecting THC in someone’s system:
A saliva drug test is commonly used because it’s quick, painless, and non-invasive. All that’re required is a mouth swab.
In most cases, saliva tests can only detect THC within 24-72 hours after the time of use. So if you smoked a joint last week, you should be able to pass a saliva test.
A good percentage of THC is expelled from our bodies through urine. For this reason, the urine of a regular weed smoker is probably heavily saturated with THC.
Urine tests can detect traces of THC for as much as 30 days after use. If you drink a lot of water, this number will be much lower – as little as 3 days.
Blood tests aren’t as common because they are the most invasive testing method. Plus, they aren’t great at detecting weed if it’s been more than 3 or 4 hours from use.
This is because the THC levels in our blood decrease much more rapidly than in urine or saliva. The detection time is very short, so it’s uncommon for employers to use blood as a medium for drug testing.
Hair is the most effective medium for drug testing. By that, I mean that a hair test is capable of detecting THC in your system for an impressive 90 days.
Depending on the circumstances, a hair test might only be effective 30 days after the person being tested smoked a joint. Even so, 30 days is much longer than any of the other testing methods.
Other Factors that Determine How Long Weed Is Detectable
The type of test you take has a lot to do with detection time. But it’s not the only factor involved. Aside from that, here are 3 things to consider for how long weed can stay in your system and be detected on a drug test:
- How frequently marijuana is used: The more often you partake in cannabis, the more likely it is to show up on a drug test. First-time users don’t have much to worry about. On the other hand, frequent users should be slightly more nervous about an impending drug test.
- The individual’s metabolic rate: A fast-working metabolism is capable of eliminating weed from your system more quickly. But a slow-working metabolism means you’ll have to wait longer to pass a drug test.
- The amount of weed used: Hitting a bowl a single time is a lot different than smoking 8 joints in a row. The amount of weed you ingest matters, especially when it comes to the results of a drug test.