If you’re facing a drug test it can be a challenge to pass clean. That’s likely why you’re looking up how to get weed out of your system. Unfortunately, there’s no quick way to get marijuana out of your system. This article will cover some options, give you the information you need to understand when you’ll come up positive on a drug test, and offer information on what you can do about it.
Drug testing for weed is rapidly becoming a thing of the past in many states. Today, as much as 12% of the U.S. population uses the drug. Like alcohol, it’s increasingly viewed as a safe and harmless recreational drug. Many workplaces don’t share that opinion. In fact, even if you live in a state and are licensed for medical marijuana usage, your employer may still contractually oblige you to avoid cannabis.
That can be difficult and confusing, especially as states across the union are legalizing the drug for recreational use. Your employer might still object. And, you can likely still lose your job.
If you or a loved one is facing a drug test at home or school, it’s a good idea to learn about options and how cannabis affects you.
The answer – at least in the short term – is, you don’t. Most drug tests will detect cannabis even if you take preventive measures. For example, the internet will often tell you to drink several gallons of water just before going in for a urine test. You might also be advised to rinse your mouth with vinegar or even a more dangerous substances like fuel. The thing is, these rarely work. Most can even cause mouth ulcers. There is a small chance that vigorously rinsing your mouth out will reduce the amount of testable substances in your mouth – but a good mouth swab will collect samples that can’t be rinsed away.
Similarly, drinking several gallons of water won’t flush your urine out enough to completely remove traces of cannabis. Instead, you’ll just urinate a bit more. That’s because urine flushes toxins out of the kidneys over time – not all at once. Drinking more water might speed things up, but not enough. Plus, drinking extremely large quantities can be dangerous to your health.
Once ingested, cannabis impacts the body, normally causing a “high” or intoxication. This high lasts for half an hour to well over 12 hours depending on the cannabis strain and ingestion method. But, cannabis doesn’t just immediately leave your system. In fact, most highs last just a tiny portion of the time cannabidiols stay in your system.
For example, if you “use” cannabis products, they normally cause a high of 1-2 hours for smoking or vaporization, 4-12 hours for oral ingestion, and 1-2 hours for oils. On the other hand, cannabis has a half-life of 67 hours.
Half-Life – The half-life of a drug is the time between when a drug enters your system wand when it’s metabolized to 50% of initial dose. That means if you smoke a joint, it takes 5 and a half days, or 67 hours for the drug to reduce to half. You’ll have to wait at least 11 days for it to metabolize out of your system.
However, the chemistry of cannabis is more complex than that. Half-life is also impacted by the individual’s metabolism, liver health, and other factors. So it’s normal to show positive on a urine test anywhere from 10-15 days after smoking. Then, it’s also important to consider that many modern drug tests don’t bother to test for THC. Instead, they test for the metabolites THC breaks down into. THC metabolizes into over 80 different metabolites – so you might show positive on a drug test well after the 15-day mark.
Heavy Users – Heavy users also have to be especially careful. The more you smoke or ingest, the more cannabidiols build up in your system. This means it takes longer to metabolize them away. A very heavy user might have a half-life as much as twice as long as a light user.
Drug tests results always vary depending on the test, your metabolism, and frequency of use. In most cases, the important factor is how quickly the drug metabolizes in that part of the body. For example, the cheapest drug tests will look for THC in the body. Those are easily predicted.
Blood testing – if your organization is using a blood test, they’re not checking for cannabis use. Most users will only test positive within 1-2 days of inhaling. However, in some extremely rare cases, you can test positive for up to 25 days.
Saliva – Most workplace and school drug tests are saliva tests. These are used because they are fast and affordable. Most of us are also familiar with taking them from PCR tests for Covid19. Saliva drug tests work in a very similar way. You swab the inside of your cheek. The cells tested show positive for drugs from the previous 1-30+ days. If you’re a light user, it’s unlikely this will show positive for more than 3 days. In some cases, you’ll get a negative test after just 24 hours. On the other hand, if you’re a heavy user, you can get a positive result for up to 30 days. However, the same test can also show as negative after 24 hours. It depends on chance, metabolism, normal usage, and other factors.
Urine – If your school or workplace is serious about catching substance users, they will use a urine test. THC is stored in the fatty tissue of the liver and can move through urine for more than 30 days after you smoke. However, likelihood of appearance is affected by your weight, your frequency of use, and even the strain you use. If you smoke once a week, you’ll likely show up positive for 3-4 days after. If you smoke every other day, you’ll show up positive for 5-7 days after your last smoke. If you smoke on a daily basis, it’s likely you’d have to quit for 2 weeks before you’d get a negative result. And if you smoke multiple times a day, you’ll likely have to abstain for 30+ days to get a negative result.
Hair/Nails – If your first drug test shows positive, you can be asked to take a secondary test. A hair or nails test will show substance use for 30-90 days after the last use. In addition, if you frequently use, your hair might show drug use for months afterwards. However, this test is expensive and therefore is almost never used as a first line test.
There’s no way to speed up getting weed out of your system. However, most tests only show positive for cannabis for a maximum of 3 days if you’re a light user. If you’re a heavy user, you likely won’t have enough time between learning about the test and taking it to pass. Additionally, factors like body weight, liver and kidney health, your metabolism, and your drug usage will affect how long you show positive for a test.
On the other hand, if your job is at stake, you do have options. For example, drug use disorders are a mental health disorder and a disability. If you take time off work and attend rehab, your work cannot penalize you for past usage (unless they can prove you used on the job). That’s because you’re protected under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you’re facing testing and you know it will be positive, it may be a good idea to take preventive measures and attend rehab instead.
Marijuana is often touted as safe to use recreationally. But, so is alcohol. Any substance can be addictive. And, with data showing that 25% of all daily users eventually become addicted, it’s easy to have a problem. Any time cannabis use stops being an occasional thing and starts being a daily thing, you should be concerned.
If you have trouble slowing down or quitting cannabis, you need help. That’s more important than any repercussions you might face at work for drug use. Most importantly, you are legally entitled to that help, whether through your work or through time off. You can also reach out to your insurance for reimbursement for many substance use disorder treatment programs.
Marijuana, like alcohol, is increasingly popular. That doesn’t mean it’s safe to use every day. If you or a loved one needs help, that help is available.
If you have any questions about cannabis use or about our drug and alcohol rehab programs, contact us today to speak in complete confidence with one of our experienced and caring addiction treatment team.