THC stays in your system anywhere from 24 hours, up to longer than 90 days.  I’ll explain more a little further down.  Whether you’re a newbie toker or a ganja guru – chances are you might be curious about how the human body reacts to THC.

Real quick let’s look at the super cool stuff THC does in your body.

how does does thc stay in your system

How long does it take to feel the effects of THC?

Ok, say you’ve just smoked marijuana (joint or vape pen) – or you’ve just eaten a pot brownie – and you want to know how long it will take until you get high?

Smoking will make you high very quickly, peaking within 15-30 minutes on average.  It’s a bit different with edibles, which take longer to make you feel high because the THC has to be absorbed by your digestive system.  You will start to feel high within one to two hours of when you ingest marijuana – patience is key here.  Don’t take more just because you don’t feel anything right away.  A good rule of thumb for edibles, is “start low and go slow”.

The high from smoking will wear off after 1-4 hours, while edibles can make you feel high for about twice as long.

What does getting high feel like?

Most people will feel some version of the following effects – but the experience can vary from person to person, so it might be different for you.

  • Sense of Euphoria (feeling happy)
  • Sense of Relaxation
  • “Enhanced” Sociability
  • Giggling
  • Altered Sensory Perception (more vivid sense of taste, sight, smell and hearing)
  • Increased Appetite (the munchies)

Getting high can impair your ability to drive a vehicle.  It’s not only a huge party foul, but it’s dangerous and illegal.  So take it from a tour company that spends lots of time on the road, don’t light up and drive.


Now that you have a basic understanding of the short-term physical effects of THC, let’s talk about cannabinoids.  When you smoke or eat cannabis, over 100 cannabinoids (naturally occurring chemicals that can make you high or relax your muscles) enter your bloodstream.

Here are two common cannabinoids you may have heard of:

  • THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the psychoactive compound that makes you high
  • CBD (cannabidiol) – does not have any “high” feeling, but in fact has many beneficial qualities including relief of muscle pain.

Why does cannabis get you high?

So, you might be wondering why cannabis gets you high.  The easy answer is, because your body has something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The endocannabinoid system is made up of receptors throughout your body that function like switches – turning on and off certain natural metabolic processes.  Two of the main functions of the ECS are thought to be anti-inflammatory and stress-relief, as well as regulating other important body functions.

One example of the endocannabinoid system in action is when people get a “runner’s high”.  It’s your body’s way of saying, “Hey, you just ran 10 miles, here are some feel-good chemicals.”

  • THC can attach to ECS receptors in your body, which causes feel-good chemicals like dopamine to build up, making you feel high. After a while the THC and dopamine dissipate, returning you to normal pre-toking levels.
  • CBD doesn’t attach directly to ECS receptors, but acts on them indirectly by controlling your body’s pain perception. Some athletes prefer to use CBD instead of Ibuprofen to help with muscle aches.

why does thc get you high question mark guy

How long after you smoke or consume cannabis, can THC be detected on a drug test?

Here are some of the short-term testing methods being used:

  • Breathalyzer – this way to test for marijuana is still in development, but should be able to detect whether you’ve smoke pot within the last two to three hours.  It functions similar to an alcohol breathalyzer.
  • Swab Test – Commonly used by law enforcement, and will only test for the active THC compound, but not how much.  If positive, you might be asked to submit to a blood THC test, which will test the levels in your blood.  Swab tests can only detect active THC for about 4-6 hours.
  • Blood Test – Similar to a blood alcohol test. You can test positive for THC on a blood test within seconds of smoking pot.

Can THC be detected with drug testing after 48 hours?

The short answer is: it depends.  Diet, exercise, metabolism, how much water you drink, and the amount of time since you last smoked or consumed cannabis can all affect how long THC stays in your system.  The biggest factor is how often you use it.

According to the Mayo Clinic, THC can be detected in your urine for the following times after last use:

Single Use – One time, THC will be detectable in your urine for up to 3 days.

Moderate Use – Approximately 4 times a week, THC will be detectable in urine for 5-7 days.

Heavy Use – Every day, THC will be detectable in urine for up to 10-15 days.

Chronic Heavy Use –  Every day – multiple times a day (think of your wake-and-bake friends), THC can be detected for over 30 days (in rare cases it’s been reported that THC can be detected for up to 95 days)

Other testing methods

Blood – THC can be detected in blood for 1-25 days depending on frequency of use

Hair – THC can be detected in hair for up to 90 days

Saliva – THC can be detected in saliva between 1-2 days for occasional users and up to 29 days for chronic users

Take a look at the chart below for a summary

how long does thc stay in your system graph

The take-home lesson

You’ve been provided with a ton of information, so here is a bite-sized summary:

Rule of thumb is THC can be detected in your system for up to 90 days — depending on how often you partake.

Cannabis is like any other drug — use common sense. Don’t even think about operating a chainsaw or driving a Zamboni while you’re high!

There are plenty of safe ways to enjoy cannabis:

  • Take a cannabis tour
  • Got the munchies? Take a food tour
  • Explore the great outdoors on a hike (after the hike help your muscles recover with a CBD oil massage.
  • Dust off your Fleetwood Mac albums (I mean…have you actually listened to ‘Dreams’ if you’re not high?).

But, remember — the most important thing is to have fun!

Curious about Cannabis?

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