Let’s get something straight here. How long cannabis stays in your system and how long you feel the effects are two completely different things. Just because the effects wear off doesn’t mean that cannabis has left your system. How you’ll feel depends on what type of cannabinoid you consume, how you consume, and how much you consume. But how long it stays in your system depends more on how often you consume.
How long cannabis stays in your system.
In less than 30 seconds Derek Riedle, Publisher of Civilized, clarifies how long cannabis generally stays in your system. Take a look:
Cannabis stays in your system longer if you consume regularly because it continuously builds up over time. Cannabis compounds are fat-soluble, so they build up in the body’s fat stores. Fat is difficult for our bodies to eliminate, which makes breaking down built-up cannabis compounds a greater challenge. A regular consumer is considered someone who partakes multiple times per week to daily. Studies show that occasional consumers, someone who partakes in cannabis two or three times a month, are able to eliminate cannabis from their system much faster.
Riedle brings up an interesting point at the end of the video: legalization’s implications on cannabis drug-testing policies. If you live in a U.S. State where adult- and/or medical-use is legal it does not necessarily mean that you are exempt from drug tests. While cannabis may be legal in your State, it remains illegal on a federal level. Even in a State like California, where both medical and adult-use are legal, employers in certain industries still have to implement drug-tests as per federal legislation. As more States step into legalization, so too are we seeing policies that protect employees, especially medical cannabis users, from drug-testing for cannabis. While this currently remains subjective to employers and is judged on a case-by-case basis if taken to court, it’s wise to be aware of your employer’s drug policy. If you’re in a situation where you need to quickly cleanse your system of cannabis, there isn’t really any easy fix. It’s recommended that you drink lots of water, abstain from consuming, and regular exercise to help flush it out of your system.
How long you’ll feel the effects of cannabis.
When it comes to cannabis, you have countless options. You can choose your cannabinoid, your strain, your consumption method, and how much to ingest. All of these choices may seem daunting, but really it just means that you can tailor your cannabis experience to meet your exact needs, whether they’re medical or recreational.
Now that we understand how long cannabis typically stays in your system, let’s take a look at a few of the factors that will affect how you feel after consuming cannabis.
THC vs CBD.
Our bodies contain a miraculous system known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). In short, the ECS contains endocannabinoids, similar to the ones found in the cannabis plant, that work to maintain vital functions in the human body. When humans consume cannabis, the phytocannabinoids from the plant engage with receptors in our ECS to provide a multitude of healing and therapeutic effects.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) provides a psychoactive experience. It is proven to relieve pain, alleviate anxiety and depression, stimulate appetite, help manage chemotherapy-induced nausea, and mitigate sleep deprivation. In addition to these impressive benefits, THC is also known for providing a sense of intoxicating euphoria, typically known as a high. The key to having an enjoyable THC experience is to start with a micro- or low-dose and consume slowly.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is non-intoxicating. It is known for its pain relieving, anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its ability to provide calming effects. It provides what many refer to as a body high. You won’t feel the same intoxicating effects as you would with THC, but you will enjoy a variety of relaxing and soothing effects.
A micro-dose of THC is considered 2.5mg, whereas a micro-dose of CBD is between 10mg and 20mg. The reason for the disparity between the two is because THC binds more effectively with the receptors in the ECS, so you need less to produce an effect. Moreover, THC actually elevates the effects of CBD because of its ability to bind more effectively with these receptors. And, because CBD provides milder and non-intoxicating effects, it helps to balance the elevating psychoactive effects of THC. If you want to experience the two look for ratio infused products, like 3Leaf’s Double Chocolate Cookie and Peanut Butter Cookie. They contain 5mg of THC and 5mg of CBD per cookie so that you can experience the relaxing sensations from THC and healing effects of CBD simultaneously – the best of both worlds.
If you want to learn more about what to expect from different doses of THC and CBD check out 3Leaf’s Ultimate Guide to Dosing Edibles.
Sativa vs Indica.
Sativa and Indica are strains of the cannabis plant. Anecdotally, Sativas tend to be uplifting and invigorating, whereas Indicas are known to be more relaxing and sedating. However, this evidence is rooted in culture, not science. There is little evidence to support the claims that one strain provides sedating effects while the other is energizing. So, it’s best to refer to cannabinoid profiles – look for dosage levels of THC and CBD – when you’re browsing cannabis products at a licensed dispensary.
A Note on Distillate
Distillate is another form of cannabis that provides a unique experience. It is a refined cannabis extract that does not have a strain profile, but rather a compound profile. Cannabis compounds, i.e. cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, can all be separated from the cannabis plant and isolated from one another. In a previous blog post, we take a deep dive into how distillate is refined to create one of the purest cannabis concentrates available. Because distillate can have such a high purity level, this means you can consume a disillate-infused edible with a lower dose and still reap a full range of benefits.
Edibles vs Smoking vs Topicals.
The onset of smoking or vaping cannabis takes effect within approximately 15 minutes of consuming. The effects peak within 30 to 60 minutes and tend to taper off within a few hours. When ingesting cannabis by way of smoking, the cannabinoids are quickly transported from your lungs to your bloodstream to your brain. The effects are pretty much immediate and last between two to four hours.
Cannabis infused topicals are a popular method for those who want to experience healing benefits with little-to-no psychoactive effects. A massage with a CBD topical is a fantastic way to help your muscles unwind after a strenuous workout, or alleviate pain and inflammation from arthritis. Topicals provide localized relief without the high. They allow the cannabinoids to absorb transdermally through the skin. The THC or CBD is then processed by way of CB2 receptors in the ECS rather than through the blood-stream, which lends itself to milder effects. The effects tend to last a couple of hours, but this depends on how much you use and where you apply it.
Edibles are a discreet consumption method and provide a healthy alternative to smoking. The effects of edibles take longer compared to smoking – up to two hours – but the benefits last longer. The effects of edibles take longer to feel because the THC or CBD is metabolized through the liver and then processed through the blood-brain barrier. Because of this process, edibles are considered more effective than most methods. And since they last longer – up to eight hours – edibles are perfect for relieving pain, getting a good night’s sleep, and promoting general wellbeing for extended periods.