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How Long Does Delta-9 THC Stay in Your System?

Delta-9 THC products are some of the most popular options at Destino Farms. But if you're like many people, you might wonder what you're getting into when you try them. If you're preparing for a drug test or simply curious about how long THC can linger in your system, you've come to the right place. Let's take a look at everything you need to know. 

a drawing of a confused person on a yellow and orange checkered background with text that reads "how long does THC stay in your system"

Key Takeaways: 

If you're preparing for a drug test or just wondering how long you can expect THC to hang out in your body, here are the skim-friendly notes. We're breaking down everything more in-depth below. 

  • Delta-9 THC can be detectable in your body for anywhere from 1 to 90 days, but it's not possible to say how long it'll last in your system since everyone's body is different.
  • Other forms of THC, including THC-P, delta-8, delta-10, and delta-11 THC, can still appear on drug tests. 
  • Detection windows depend on various factors, including frequency of use, serving sizes, and your natural physiology and metabolism. 
  • Nearly all drug tests screen for delta-9 THC, so recent use can result in a positive test.
  • Factors such as dosage, timing, and personal characteristics like tolerance and body type influence detection.
  • THC highs can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. 
  • There are a few ways to get THC out of your system, but they take time and may not work for everyone. 
  • If you can't have THC in your system because you're getting drug tested, it's best to avoid it altogether. 

What is Delta-9 THC? 

Delta-9 THC, or simply THC, is a cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp. We actually wrote a super in-depth article about it, so be sure to learn more about delta-9 THC in our Cannabinoid Education Series here

To summarize, THC makes you feel euphoric and high—the number one effect of smoking weed. THC and delta-9 THC are interchangeable terms referring to the same compound that causes you to feel euphoric, relaxed, hungry, and happy. 

But the one major downside of THC is that after years of prohibition, it's still frowned upon by many employers, sports organizations, etc. [1] People have been testing for weed practically since it was illegalized, and even though it's legal in some form in most places, employers can still fire you if they find it in your system. 

That said, whether you've just been notified that you're being drug tested, or you took a puff off of the giggle bush last weekend, and you're worried about a random drug screening, we've got you covered. 

How Long Does Delta-9 THC Stay in Your System?

It's impossible to say how long THC will stay in your system since everyone's body works differently. Generally speaking, you can expect it to hang out for as little as 24 hours and as long as 90 days. So many factors go into how long THC can be detected in your system, and it covers everything from how much you took, how potent it was, and how long ago you took it. However, your body's natural chemistry can also play a role, and so can your weight, age, and how often you enjoy THC. Additionally, each individual’s endocannabinoid system differs, where one person require more phytocannabinoids to reach homeostasis, than others. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that other forms of THC, like delta-8 and delta-10 THC, are structurally similar to delta-9 THC. That said, they’re processed the same way, and leave behind the same metabolites that most drug tests test for. If you’re getting drug tested, be sure to avoid all forms of THC. 

a macro image of a hemp flower rich in delta-9 THC

Factors That Affect How Long THC Remains in Your Body:

  1. How often you consume THC: The more often you consume THC, the longer it can be traced. For example, if you only smoke once in a while, your body will have an easier time flushing it from your system quickly. On the other hand, if you're a daily smoker, THC sticks around longer. [2] As you build a tolerance to THC, it binds to some of your fat cells, so it can take longer to rid your body of it completely. Occasional users may clear THC in a few days, while daily users may take a month or longer to pass a urine test.
  1. How much you take: Products with higher THC concentrations, like edibles, concentrated dabs, or vape pens, cause a larger influx of cannabinoids entering your system at a time, which can take your body longer to process. [3] They leave behind more metabolites as your body processes them, which can linger in your body for longer than one or two puffs from a joint might. 
  1. The type of product you take: Some THC products naturally take longer to process, so they may stick around in your body for longer. [4] For example, metabolizing cannabinoids through smoking is very fast, while taking edibles takes a long time. The digestion process causes THC to change into a THC metabolite that takes longer to feel but also causes longer-lasting effects since it takes longer to be processed within the body. 
  1. Physiology and age: Age and genetics affect how quickly your body can physically metabolize THC. As we age, evidence suggests that our metabolism slows down. [5] Those with fewer enzymes in their liver or older individuals may retain THC metabolites longer. [6] High body mass index (BMI) can also prolong THC in your system since THC has a high affinity for fat cells. [7] In the cases of frequent THC users, THC binds to fat cells and may show up in drug tests weeks or months after the last use. 

All that is to say that it's not possible to tell how long THC will stay in your system with so many different factors at play. Remember, if you're expecting to be drug tested, it's best to avoid THC altogether and stop using it several months in advance. 

How Long Will You Feel High?

Many people get confused about the difference between how long THC will stay in your system and how long you'll actually feel it. If you're wondering how long you'll feel the effects of THC in your system, there are (again) several factors at play. [8] It boils down to potency, how much you took, and how you took it. 

As a good rule of thumb, the more you take, the longer you'll feel it. But the biggest factor is how you take it. THC can be introduced into your system in many different ways, and each way causes a faster or slower metabolization. Here's a cheat sheet for how long you can expect to feel the effects of THC in your system based on the way you take it. 

  • Inhalation: You can feel the effects of a vape, dab, or joint almost instantly. Usually, the high peaks after about 15-30 minutes, though the effects can last 2-3 hours and diminish over 4-6 hours.
  • Ingestion: THC-infused foods or beverages have to be digested before you can feel their effects. Typically, you won't feel the onset for 1-2 hours, though some people may begin feeling them in as little as 30 minutes if they're on an empty stomach. The effects usually peak 1-2 hours after the initial onset, though they usually last 4-8 hours and may linger for up to 12 hours.
  • Sublingual (tinctures): Sublinguals like THC-infused lozenges, suckers, or tinctures are absorbed through the salivary glands, which causes them to kick in quickly. Since a bit of digestion is involved, too, the effects can last in the body for quite some time. Normally, you can expect the onset within 15-45 minutes and peak after 1-2 hours. However, depending on potency, they may last up to 8 hours.
  • Topical and suppository: Topicals like transdermal patches, lotions, and bath bombs, as well as suppositories, offer localized effects and usually don't cause you to feel high. However, they get absorbed, so they'll still show up in a drug test as they get metabolized. They may cause mild effects lasting up to 48 hours. 

a photo of a man in a green sweater smoking a joint rich in delta-9 THC in front of a green fence

How to Get THC Out of Your System Faster:

If you're concerned about THC for a drug test, there are a few things you can do to help flush the THC from your system. Keep in mind that to get rid of THC, you have to stop using it. More importantly, it takes time. You can employ all of these tips and still fail a drug test, so avoid delta-9 THC if you want to pass. 

  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking water can help dilute urine, potentially reducing THC metabolite concentrations. The more water you drink in the days and weeks before your test, the easier it will be for your body to flush your system. 
  • Exercise: Physical activity can promote the breakdown of fat cells, where THC metabolites are stored. More importantly, it also helps you sweat and take in more water, which both help with the natural flushing process. 
  • Get Lots of Fiber: A high-fiber diet may assist in eliminating metabolites through bowel movements, which help to flush your system. More importantly, many fiber-rich foods like leafy green vegetables contain vitamin B12, which may help mask THC metabolites in urine. Just remember, nothing beats abstaining from cannabis. If you can't fail a drug test, avoid THC altogether. 
  • Detox Kits and Vitamins: Some people turn to detox kits or take vitamins like B2 and B12 to help mask THC metabolites. Detox kits and vitamins work together to help flush your system of THC. However, these methods are not foolproof and may not guarantee passing a drug test.

On the other hand, if you're experiencing discomfort from taking too much THC and you're actively greening out or looking for ways to get less high, you can try the following remedies:

  • Taking a cold shower can help reduce anxiety and lower your heart rate.
  • If you're feeling stressed or anxious, go outside. Fresh air and a change of environment can alleviate feelings of unease.
  • Evidence suggests that chewing on peppercorns might help counteract THC-induced anxiety thanks to the terpene content. 
  • Eating or drinking non-alcoholic beverages might help stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce the intensity of the high. It's also a nice distraction that can help bring you back to reality. 

Final Thoughts 

At the end of the day, understanding how long delta-9 THC lingers in your system is a complex matter influenced by a lot of different factors. Generally speaking, it can last in your system anywhere from a day to three months. 

Whether you're facing a drug test, seeking relief, or simply curious about its effects, knowing the variables at play can help you make informed decisions. Frequent use, physiology, age, potency, and consumption method all play pivotal roles in the duration of THC's presence in your body. While there are ways to mitigate discomfort and accelerate its clearance, it's crucial to remember that individual responses can vary significantly. 

Remember, if you're expecting to be drug tested, be sure to avoid THC altogether. It may be easier for some people than others to flush THC from their body, so remember that everything we discussed above is more of a guideline than concrete instructions. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to cannabis use and effects. 

two people sharing a joint at sunset













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