Maybe you’re worried about an imminent drug test or looking forward to your sports upcoming season. It could be that you’re just interested in learning more about the way your favorite pastime affects your body. There are a million reasons why you might ask “how long does weed stay in the system of an athlete”. The simple answer is, THC can stay in your system for anywhere from 2 to 45 days in general. The specific number is hard to determine without taking into account a number of factors.
Key factors that influence how long THC stays in the system of an athlete:
When it comes to flushing weed out of your system there are a number of factors at play that can affect how long it takes the body of an athlete to get weed out of its system. For a first-time athlete smoker, it can take up to 3 days before you will test negative for marijuana. If you’ve smoked more than once recently, that timeline will look closer to 5 to 7 days. For the self-proclaimed pothead athletes, they will have to put aside the bong for up to 30 days before their system will completely rid itself of the cannabinoids.
The first and most important factor is how often you “burn one down”. The reason for this is pretty simple. After you inhale, the THC travels into your lungs and subsequently into your bloodstream. It then travels to your brain (this is what makes you high). When the THC reaches your liver, a glucuronide molecule attaches to it which transfers the Delta-9 THC into THC-COOH-glucuronide. After this happens, your body will attempt to dispense of the THC through urine and stool, the THC that does not escape returns to the bloodstream.
The issue is that THC is very lipid-soluble. This means that a percentage of the THC you inhale will stay trapped in your body fat tissue and increase the time it takes for your liver to metabolize it. The more THC you introduce to your body, the more will get backed up in your fat tissues, extending the amount of time it is traceable in your system.
Another factor in THC metabolism time is the potency. Cannabis such as kief or dabs with a higher THC content will lead to longer metabolizing times than consuming THC in a lower potency such as flower.
Besides potency and frequency, a factor to take into consideration is the consumption method. When you smoke marijuana, the effects are apparent within 15 minutes and last for the better part of two hours. If you’ve ever indulged in a pot brownie or any other edible, you’ll know that, when eaten, THC takes considerably more time to reach the receptors in your brain and get you high. But once it does the effects last for closer to 5 to 7 hours. The extended high is correlated with your body’s metabolism speed. Consumed THC stays in your system for much longer than when inhaled.
Types of Drug Tests:
The four common methods of drug testing are as follows: blood, urine, hair follicle, and saliva testing.
The most common way blood tests are used is in instances of injury, DUI, and accidents. This is because THC filters out quicker in the blood than in urine. In the event of a blood test, THC would typically be untraceable after 1 to 3 days. This is because blood tests check for THC-9 (or its cousin THC-8) and not THC-COOH, the state THC would most likely be found in the blood.
These are most commonly used to check for weed in the system of athletes. This is because THC is traceable and most accurately found in urine for the longest period of time. The metabolism time for urine tests varies widely depending on the frequency of use:
- For light users smoking occasionally, THC is traceable for 2 to 6 days
- Occasional to moderately frequent users, THC is traceable for 1 to 2 weeks
- Frequent users, THC is traceable for 10 to 15 days
- For the heaviest of users, THC can be found in their system for 30 to 45 days
The reason that urine tests can sense THC for so much longer than blood tests is that they test for THC-COOH as well as its original THC form.
Hair Follicle Drug Test
This is a test usually administered to heavy smokers and will provide an unreliable result for light smokers. THC, when consumed frequently or in large amounts, will make its way to your hair follicles via tiny blood vessels. Once there, THC will be traceable for up to 90 days. Due to the advanced machinery required, urine tests are usually preferred to hair follicle tests.
The last, and safest test is the saliva test which, for light users, will only detect THC within a 24-hour detection window. For heavy users, the window is slightly longer, yet still only 72 hours. This test, due to its small detection window is also not as popular as any of the above tests. For more information on blood, urine, and saliva tests check out this paper published to the National Library of Medicine.
How Can Athletes Beat a Drug Test:
There are numerous ways for athletes to beat a drug test, from vinegar, drain cleaning products, to laundry detergent and baking soda, HOWEVER, these methods are easily detectable and can be extremely dangerous. When it comes to tricking a drug test there are methods that, when employed smartly and safely, can be recommended:
Drink large amounts of fluids:
Drinking large amounts of certain fluids (alcohol not included) has the ability to speed up the process of flushing THC metabolites which, when employed a few days before, can trick a drug test. As an athlete already drinking lots of liquids, this means that your body will naturally get rid of weed in your system faster. This method can be dangerous due to the risk of water poisoning, a disruption of the brain that dilutes electrolytes, specifically sodium, and can lead to sickness and even death.
A safer alternative is cranberry juice which does a better job of flushing metabolites than water. When using this approach it is recommended to take a safe dose of vitamin B to assure that your urine is not over diluted, which can be a red flag for testers.
if you find yourself in a jam, with just a few days before your test, and a month before your body will naturally expel all the THC, safe detoxing products that will cleanse your urine and blood can be effective. With this method, you can expect THC levels to be untraceable within 3 to 6 days depending on how heavy a user you are.
At the end of the day, there are a million and one techniques online detailing how to fool a drug test, and while those outlined here are the safest and most consistent, the only way to truly assure weed is out of the system of an athlete is to abstain from marijuana in the weeks or months leading up to your athletic season.