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How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?

As with many drugs, how long marijuana stays in your system varies based on several factors. Hydration, metabolism, weight, and the levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana can all impact drug test results.

How Marijuana Is Absorbed Into the Body

THC is the mind-altering chemical in marijuana.1 When someone smokes marijuana, THC passes from the lungs to the bloodstream and the effects are felt within minutes.1 When marijuana is consumed in food (e.g., edibles), THC is absorbed more slowly.1

Once THC is in the bloodstream, it binds to blood proteins and is carried throughout the body.2 THC is absorbed into body tissues (e.g., the brain or heart) or it is transformed by the liver into water-soluble metabolites.2 The water-soluble metabolites are excreted in the urine.2

THC is also stored in fatty tissues. For those who use marijuana frequently, this can cause it to accumulate faster than it can be eliminated by the body.2 

Types of Drug Tests That Look for Marijuana

Drug tests vary depending on the category of drug (amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, phencyclidine) and what type of specimen is being collected.3 Drug tests that look for marijuana may include:

  • Blood tests.
  • Hair tests.
  • Saliva tests.
  • Urine tests.

Testing for Marijuana

Different drug tests have varying timeframes during which they can detect marijuana. THC retention varies depending on how often someone uses marijuana.2 With urine tests, for example, someone who uses marijuana infrequently will generally test positive for marijuana for 1 to 3 days.2 Someone who uses marijuana regularly may test positive for 7 to 21 days.2 Meanwhile, some who uses marijuana daily may test positive for 30 days or longer.2

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Marijuana is the most used addictive drug in the United States after alcohol and tobacco.4 Marijuana can lead to a substance use disorder (SUD), a medical condition in which an individual cannot control their substance use, despite causing health and social problems.5 Individuals may experience strong urges to use marijuana and mild withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop. Addiction is the most severe form of SUD.5

Some individuals who use marijuana for long periods experience mild withdrawal symptoms, which can make quitting difficult. Mild withdrawal symptoms may include:5

  • Anxiety.
  • Cravings.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Irritability.
  • Loss of appetite.

Do You Need Marijuana Misuse or Addiction Treatment?

Marijuana misuse can disrupt your life at home, school, and work – but how do you know if you should seek treatment? The following criteria are used by professionals to assess if a person has a cannabis use disorder. This may help you decide if you should seek treatment:6

  • Using marijuana in larger amounts or for longer than intended.
  • Persistent desire to stop using marijuana, but an inability to do so.
  • Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from marijuana.
  • Craving marijuana.
  • Difficulty fulfilling obligations at home, school, or work because of marijuana.
  • Using marijuana despite causing interpersonal or social problems.
  • Giving up activities that used to be important to you.
  • Using marijuana even in hazardous situations.
  • Using marijuana even when it makes your physical or psychological problems worse.
  • Developing a tolerance for marijuana.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you do not use marijuana.

Getting Help for Marijuana Misuse or Addiction

Getting help for marijuana misuse or addiction is the first step on the path to recovery. You can contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) at to learn about marijuana addiction treatment options or fill out the form below to see if your insurance will cover the cost of treatment.