How long it takes marijuana to leave your system and what to expect from a weed detox

How long it takes marijuana to leave your system and what to expect from a weed detox
Contrary to popular belief, exercising won't help you detox from weed faster, but it can improve marijuana withdrawal symptoms. Westend61/Getty Images
  • A weed detox is when you stop using marijuana for a period of time to clear your body from the drug.
  • It will take about 30 to 90 days of detoxing from weed for marijuana to leave your system.
  • To prevent marijuana withdrawal symptoms during your detox, stay hydrated, exercise, and eat right.

If you're one of the 12% of Americans who use marijuana, there may come a time when you want to take a break. Maybe you need to pass a drug test for a new job, or maybe you just want to clear your head from being high. Whatever the reason - you're headed towards a weed detox.

What is a weed detox?

A weed detox is when you stop using marijuana for an extended period of time in order to clear the substance and its by-products from your body, says Erik Smith, MD, a medical practitioner with cannabis health-tech platform Veriheal.

Drug tests are designed to identify metabolites or byproducts of THC - the compound in marijuana responsible for making you feel high.

THC is fat-soluble which means it's stored in fat throughout the body before being released back into the bloodstream, and then eventually excreted through your urine.

Therefore, detoxing from weed requires you to stop using it in order to give your body time to excrete the THC that's already accumulated in your fat cells.


How long does it take to detox from weed?

"A natural cleanse can take 30 to 90 days depending on multiple factors," Smith says. Some of these factors can include:

  • How much you smoke: Heavier smokers will have a higher accumulation of THC metabolites in their bodies.
  • Body fat: People with more body fat will retain more THC.
  • Metabolism and lifestyle: The process by which THC is excreted from the body is poorly understood, but researchers theorize that diet and stress can play a role.

For example, THC can stick around in chronic cannabis users for between one to three months after last use. However, if you're not a regular smoker, you'll likely only have to wait a few weeks. In fact, studies suggest that THC metabolites can be detected for between one to two weeks in users who smoked a single joint.

It's important to note there is likely no way to speed up the detoxification timeline, including chugging water, sweating in saunas, and consuming "detox teas" or other herbal concoctions.

"Many people have been convinced that using niacin, Certo, vinegar, detox teas, cranberry juice, bleach, and herbal remedies can quickly flush cannabis or THC out of the body," Smith says. "This is not possible and is totally unreliable."

Additionally, lab technicians are trained to identify inconsistencies in your urine caused by these products, Smith says.


"Lack of proper color, temperature, pH levels, uric acid, and creatinine levels could make the test inconclusive and you may find yourself either doing another urine test or worse a more definitive test that you cannot shake," Smith says.

Because THC is stored in fat, doing activities that break down or reduce your body fat - like exercising or fasting - could theoretically speed up the process, Smith says. But research suggests attempting to "sweat it out" can bring unintended consequences and even increase your chances of failing a test.

For example, in a small 2013 study, regular cannabis users were asked to abstain from using marijuana for 24 hours before completing 35 minutes of intense exercise. Researchers found the participant's blood THC levels, which were tested before and after they exercised, shot up dramatically immediately after exercise.

Marijuana withdrawal

If you regularly use marijuana, stopping use could cause a couple of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, including:

"Depending on the amount of marijuana used and a person's own genetics, you can start to feel withdrawal symptoms within the first 24 hours of stopping weed," says Monty Ghosh, MD, an addiction physician and clinical professor at the University of Alberta and University of Calgary. "Physiological symptoms usually resolve in a week, but psychological symptoms can last longer."


Note: For more information, read our article on marijuana withdrawal symptoms and how to get help.

Insider's takeaway

Detoxing from weed can be an uncomfortable process, particularly if you use marijuana to cope with other problems.

But taking care of your mental and physical health can help make the experience more comfortable.

Smith urges anyone undergoing a weed detox to approach the process holistically and focus on finding new hobbies, spending time with loved ones, getting outdoors, and taking care of your body by eating right and exercising regularly.

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