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How Long Does THC Stay in Your System?

Chase Maser | August 14, 2019

Although many states now approve of cannabis use on a recreational basis, there are still instances where getting the herb out of your system is a must. 

For cannabidiol (CBD) use, the effects aren't as dire. After all, CBD is purely calming and soothing without any psychoactive influence. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), on the other hand, is an entirely different story. Whether you need to shake the impact of THC for an upcoming job interview or you simply want to know how long your high is going to last after taking a hit, understanding the timeline of THC potency is important. 

If you're looking for answers, here's some knowledge that will help. 

A Rundown of THC and What it Does

THC molecule and cannabis plant

While CBD takes care of the therapeutic aspect of marijuana consumption, THC accounts for the psychoactive "high" that marijuana is known for. 

Essentially, CBD makes a weak connection with your CB1 receptors, whereas THC grabs ahold of them and smothers them with a pillow (so to speak). This is why you get a euphoric feeling that could take a while to come down from.

Here are some other things that are happening to your body on THC in the meantime:

  • Boosts your heart rate between 20-50 beats per minute (up to three hours).
  • Relieves eye pressure.
  • Tells your brain to release dopamine in large amounts (the feel-good chemical).
  • Slows time and increases your senses.
  • May impair your judgment and affect your memory.
  • Can cause hallucinations.
  • Boosts your appetite.
  • Can impact your immune system.
  • Can make you nauseous.

How Long THC Stays in Your System

Now that you know what THC can do to you, it's important to understand how long the chemical stays in your system.

This entirely depends on factors like tolerance, the type of strain, and the amount you consume, but in general, THC typically remains in the bloodstream for a few hours and up to 13 days within urine for those who experience one-time use. For regular marijuana consumers, urine detection goes up to 45 days, and heavy users can be detected up to 90 days. 

The reasons for this is because THC in the bloodstream operates according to half-lives. For example, once THC hits the bloodstream after inhalation (between 20 minutes to 1.5 hours), it transforms into molecules called metabolites that have an elimination half-life that takes around 6 days to erase completely. 

Although keep in mind, there are upwards of 80 different metabolites that THC can form, which may come with different half-life levels. Overall, most researchers claim that 13 days is enough time to let THC work itself out of your body. 

What You Can Do to Weaken THC's Effects

Anytime you get too high can be frightening, so if you're trying to weaken THC's effects after taking too many edibles or taking too big a hit, here are some things you can try:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to increase your electrolytes and detoxify your body.
  • Make sure to eat food (something fatty) so that it can combine with the cannabinoids and metabolize in your system at a quicker rate.
  • Getting some sleep can help lessen the effects of your high since it gives your body a chance to unwind and promote blood flow.
  • Being active can help your body release endorphins and counteract any anxiety or fear you may get from THC.
  • CBD may lessen the effects of THC, although this varies from person to person depending on a number of factors.

Along with getting you back to a safe mindset, these steps may help the half-life process of THC breakdown happen quicker. However, in most cases, the chemical will remain in your system for a certain amount of time, so you should plan accordingly in case you have any reason to stay cannabis-free.

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About Author

Chase Maser

Chase is a poet and freelance writer based in Los Angeles, CA. When he’s not at a cafe writing or repairing typewriters at home, you can find him training for a marathon or hosting poetry & music events around the city.

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