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Marijuana Detection Time

a doctor testing marijuana detection time in a lab

When someone uses marijuana, whether medicinally or legally, the drug remains in a person’s system beyond the time they feel its effects. While there are guidelines for how long the drug remains in a person’s body, the exact time the drug is detectable can vary. Depending on the type of test, the substance may be detectable the day a person uses the drug or for up to three months.

In some instances, a drug test may look for only one drug. However, in many cases, a test screens for multiple substances. One of the most common tests, a urine test, tests for amphetamines, cocaine metabolites, opiates, phencyclidine (PCP), and marijuana. For more information about marijuana addiction treatment, call Vertava Health today at 844.470.0410

The Different Types of Marijuana Drug Tests and Their Detection Times

There are various ways that marijuana (also referred to as cannabis, pot, or weed) may be detected after a person’s most recent use. These detection methods include urine, hair, blood, saliva, or sweat tests. Maternal marijuana use may also be tested in a newborn.

Each type of drug test has a different cannabinoid detection window. In most cases, a test doesn’t look for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, marijuana’s active cannabinoid. Instead, it detects a metabolite or compound that THC is broken into.

How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your Urine?

The time it takes for a person to have a positive urine drug test result can vary from roughly three to 30 days, depending on their level of use and other factors. A urine drug test is also called a urine drug screen (UDS).

Marijuana can be detected for up to:

  • Three days after a single-use.
  • Five days after moderate use (or using the drug four times per week)
  • Ten days after daily, heavy use.
  • Thirty days after chronic, heavy use.

Urine tests are the most common test for marijuana use, largely because they’re cheaper and easier to administer than other options, such as a hair test. The person must urinate into a cup and then seal it with a lid to take a urine test. While some places may test on-site for instant results, many send the specimen out to make an official report.

How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your Hair?

While more expensive, a hair follicle drug test can identify drug use for up to 90 days. Metabolites of the drug may be found in the hair one week after a person uses the drug. As a person’s hair grows, the drug metabolites become trapped in the core of the hair. A 1.5-inch hair sample can show drug use over the previous three months because most people’s hair grows a half-inch each month. A sample typically takes just over a hundred hairs from near the root and of the crown of a person’s head.

The long detection window of hair tests is helpful when working to identify chronic marijuana use. However, this method of testing isn’t the best for individuals who use it on a sporadic basis. In order for a test to detect levels of a substance, a person’s drug use must be fairly heavy.

How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your Blood?

Though not as common as a urine test, a person may be asked or required to take a blood test to detect marijuana in some instances.

A blood test may point to marijuana use in a matter of minutes after a person uses the drug. However, some research shows that it may be detected for up to 25 days. Providers may prefer other tests due to the invasive nature of this type of testing.

Other Ways to Detect Marijuana

In addition to these tests, there are other tests that screen for marijuana use.

Marijuana Detection Time in Saliva Testing

The window for detecting marijuana in a person’s oral fluids or saliva is very brief. Saliva tests can only detect marijuana for up to 24 hours. 

Marijuana Detection Time in Sweat Testing (Sweat Patches)

A sweat test can detect marijuana for one to two weeks. In order to test sweat, a patch is typically placed on the skin. Sweat patches test whether a substance or its metabolites are in a person’s bloodstream. The FDA-approved patch remains on the skin for three to seven days before it is sent to a lab for testing. The patch tests for a substance both in the hours before the patch was applied and while it’s on a person’s skin. Skin swabs are available. However, there is doubt regarding their level of accuracy.

Roadside, DUI, or Breathalyzer Tests for Marijuana Intoxication

Research is currently underway to develop reliable roadside or DUI tests that detect recent marijuana use or intoxication. A marijuana breathalyzer that tests for THC detects this active compound in as little as two hours after a person last smoked pot. Studies are also examining saliva tests and how they could be used to detect edible marijuana consumption.

When Are Marijuana Drug Tests Used?

Marijuana drug tests are administered for a variety of reasons. Testing may be voluntary or required. In certain cases, a person may be notified of their test, or it may be part of random drug testing. Tests may be given in the following circumstances:

  • By a doctor, if marijuana use is suspected
  • By an employer, as either part of routine screening or because is suspect
  • As part of court-ordered sentencing requirements
  • At a drug or alcohol treatment center
  • To a person serving in the military
  • During pregnancy and when a child is born
  • At home, if a loved one wants to monitor a person’s use

Though marijuana tests do identify that a person has used the substance within the window of detection, they don’t necessarily show that a person currently uses or uses the drug. Despite this, a positive test result could be a cause for concern and be used to help a person get help with marijuana addiction.

Getting Help for Marijuana Use and Addiction at Vertava Health

Contrary to what many people may think, marijuana can be addictive and cause harm to a person’s body and mind. Nearly three out of ten people who use marijuana have a marijuana use disorder. A marijuana use disorder can cause cognitive problems, an increased risk of heart attack, impair brain development, and lead to risky behaviors.

In certain cases, a person may be able to overcome an addiction to marijuana on their own or in an outpatient treatment program. However, after experiencing the toll of addiction on their life and health, some people may prefer an inpatient drug rehab program. This can be especially true if a person’s abusing or addicted to another drug.

Marijuana treatment programs may use therapies or counseling to help a person build sober living skills to live a more fulfilling, sober life. Contact Vertava Health at 844.470.0410 for more information on marijuana use, addiction, and treatment.