How long does THC stay in your urine?

THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. It is a chemical and an active ingredient in marijuana. People who smoke or ingest marijuana will experience THC in urine.

There is rapid entry of THC into the bloodstream after smoking marijuana. If marijuana is ingestedinstead of being smoked, then the absorption of THC into the blood occurs after a longer duration, often after 20 to 90 minutes.

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It may however be noted that THC can be found in the bloodstream for only a few hours. This is due to the fact that it gets quickly metabolized into molecules called metabolites. THC can result in the formation of a minimum of 80 different metabolites, which are then deposited in body fat and slowly removed via urine and feces.

Certain THC metabolites consist of an elimination half-life of about twenty hours. There are many others that get deposited in body fat and come with an elimination half-life of around 10 to 13 days. A majority of studies have indicated that THC in urine can be detected for up to thirteen days.

As per circumstantial data, it is debated that the duration of THC in urine and the body is also determined by the quantity of marijuana a person smokes, the frequency of smoking this drug, and the length of time that the person has been taking the drug. Urine tests in regular smokers have yielded positive results for THC even after 45 days since the last smoke, while heavy users can test positive for THC in urine even after 90 days since the last drag.

Procedures to detect THC in urine

There are two kinds of urine tests that are used to diagnose THC in urine. One is known as the screening test while the other is referred as the confirmatory test.

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  • A screening test: It is an immunoassay that is used to verify the occurrence of THC in urine, leading to a conclusion of the use of marijuana.
  • A confirmatory test: It is carried out using mass chromatography, gas chromatography, or high-performance liquid chromatography. The test is used to ratify the screening test results.
  • Additional information about the test: The THC urine test cannot measure the quantity of marijuana present in the body. It also cannot be used to ascertain the exact time when marijuana was smoked.Urine tests can detect the presence of THC in urine for 1 to 3 days after the ingestion of marijuana.A screening test may be able to diagnose the presence of THC in urine; however, it may come with a cutoff measure. The test will show a negative result in case the THC levels are below such cutoff values.

Limitations of blood and urine tests for THC detection

As THC occurs in the bloodstream for only short durations, blood tests are generally not used for checking marijuana use, with the exceptions being varied roadside check points as well as vehicular accidents. Saliva and blood tests can only indicate a current state of THC intoxication. They however cannot show the levels of impairment or intoxication, which can be detected during a blood-alcohol concentration test.

Elimination of THC metabolites via urine occurs many hours after use of marijuana. This is the reason why THC in urine tests can only help verify and confirm the recent use of marijuana. It does not provide any information about the levels of impairment or intoxication. It is however important to remember that a majority of employers have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards marijuana use, and hence often seek urine tests to check for any current usage of the drug.

Treatment of THC in urine

The only way to eliminate all traces of THC in urine and pass the tests is by stopping the use of marijuana.

There are many tips and tricks available on varied media outlets which can help pass the THC urine tests, on the sly. However, none of them are reliable and are nothing more than just urban legends. A few such tips include:

  • Intake of lots of water which results in frequent urination and thus elimination of THC from the body. Later, vitamin B-2 can be taken to get back a clear urine color. However, this just dilutes the levels of THC in urine and does not completely eliminate it.
  • A sauna bath can help remove varied toxins from the body, including THC, via perspiration. Vigorous exercising also works in the same way.
  • Temporary elimination of high fat, high sugar, and high salt foods from the diet. These foods add fats to the body and thus pose problems in THC removal from the body. Eat smaller meals, and include lots of raw vegetables and fruits in the diet. The body will burn fat for energy and help in THC elimination.
  • Tampering with the test by adding different contaminants into the urine sample. However, these additional items can easily be detected during laboratory analysis along with THC in urine.


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