You may not know, but drugs can stay in your system for an extended period of time. Marijuana is no exception. Though it is generally banned in Canada, there are circumstances under which random drug testing is allowed; safety-related professions or airline pilots, for example, may get randomly tested. In addition, pre-employment drug testing is allowed for safety-sensitive jobs. Even though the recreational use of marijuana is legalized nationwide in Canada in October 2018, you don’t want to fail the test. 

Marijuana is widely available and often used by people who are looking to get high. But does marijuana show up on drug tests? If so, how long does it show up? The answers to these questions might surprise you! Read on for a complete guide to weed and how long it stays in your system.

How Does Weed Affect Your Body?

Marijuana is a drug that works by stimulating the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. It also affects your emotional state and alters how you feel, think, and behave. These effects are most noticeable when marijuana is smoked or eaten.

It’s important to note that there are many forms of cannabis, including edibles and topicals. When a person smokes marijuana, it’s common for them to feel an instant high from the THC that’s been inhaled into their lungs after burning it. And when someone ingests weed in a form of edibles, they will usually feel an effect within 30 to 45 minutes. In both cases, the cannabis will affect a person for anywhere from 2-4 hours before it’s flushed from their system.

THC Metabolites and Their Detection Periods

For most marijuana screening, THC metabolites are what show up on the tests. After you smoke or ingest marijuana, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) enters the bloodstream and travels to the liver, where it is broken down into metabolites, such as THC-COOH. These metabolites are then stored in body fat and linger there for a while before gradually being excreted from your system through urine, feces, and sweat.

So, you have to wonder how long THC metabolites stay in your system. So, how long does weed stay in your system? The answer to this question is complicated. To answer that question, it’s important to note that the length of time varies depending on several factors, including the frequency and amount of marijuana use and your own metabolism.

Types of Testing

  • Urine test – This is the most common form of drug testing given its low cost, accuracy, and extended detection window. THC metabolites can be detected up to 3-5 days after consumption for occasional users, up to 15 days for heavy users, and up to 30 days for chronic users. In addition, they may be detected for a longer period of time if you have a high body-fat percentage because THC metabolites are stored in fat.
  • Saliva test – Saliva tests are the easiest way of screening: they can be quickly done by putting a swab in the mouth. However, it can only detect the very recent use of cannabis (up to 72 hours) because it detects the presence of THC and not their metabolites.
  • Hair follicle test – For a hair test, only the most recent 1.5 inches of hair from your head is required. Because this test can detect THC metabolites inside the hair sample, the detection window is much longer (up to 90 days) than other screening options. Hence, it is useful in detecting long-term, habitual marijuana use.
  • Blood test – Although it is the most accurate form of testing, a blood test is not as frequently used because it is more invasive and expensive than other options. Blood may contain both THC and its metabolites, which are detectable for 12-24 hours for infrequent users and for up to 7 days for heavy users.


Although there are many factors that can affect how long weed stays in your system, generally marijuana can be detected for up to three months after intake, depending on the amount of weed consumed, the person’s metabolism, and the type of testing administered. One thing for sure is that the more often you smoke, passing a drug test becomes much more difficult.

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