Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis, has gained popularity for its effects on the human endocannabinoid system. But how long does Delta 9 stay in your body? It can be detected in the human body soon after ingestion, for up to about 90 days, depending on the accumulation and the specific drug test used. However, it's important to understand how the body breaks down D9 and the factors that can affect how long it stays in your system. This blog post will explore how D9 works, its effects, how the body metabolizes the compound, and how various THC drug tests work.
What is Delta 9 THC?
Delta 9 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. It binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, affecting mood, appetite, memory, and other bodily functions. Delta 9 THC is different from Delta 8 THC and Delta 10 THC, other cannabinoids found in cannabis. Delta 8 THC is less potent than Delta 9 THC and may have fewer side effects, while Delta 10 THC is a newer cannabinoid with limited research on its effects.
Comparison of Delta 8 and Delta 10 THC with Delta 9 THC
Delta 8 THC is structurally similar to Delta 9 but has a slightly different molecular arrangement. Compared to D9, Delta 8 THC is less potent but still has psychoactive effects. Some people find the high of Delta 8 THC milder than Delta 9 THC, with a lower risk of anxiety or paranoia. However, that is not proven or verified by any official regulatory body.
Delta 10 THC is a relatively new and novel cannabinoid, with limited research on its effects and potential benefits. Currently, it is unregulated and not widely available on the market.
Compared to its cannabinoid cousins, D9 is the most abundant and well-studied of the three molecularly similar THCs. It is the predominant psychoactive compound found in cannabis and is responsible for the plant's well-known effects on the mind and body.
Delta 9 THC Effects
The effects of Delta 9 THC vary from person to person, but some commonly reported effects include:
- Euphoria and relaxation
- Heightened sensory perception
- Increased appetite
- Dry mouth and red eyes
- Impaired memory and coordination
- Paranoia and anxiety (at high doses)
While there is a range of possible outcomes when taking D9, the way the human body breaks down THC is pretty straightforward. From the moment it enters the body until it is eliminated, the journey through the body follows the same basic path.
How the Body Breaks Down Delta 9 THC
When Delta 9 is consumed, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain, where it binds to cannabinoid receptors. The body then breaks down the THC and stores it in fat cells. The breakdown of the cannabinoid is primarily done by the liver enzymes, which convert it into metabolites that are then eventually excreted in urine and feces.
The amount of time THC and its metabolites stay in your system can vary based on several factors.
Factors that Affect How Long Delta 9 Stays in Your System
The length of time Delta 9 THC stays in your system can vary based on various factors, including consumption method (type of THC products you are using), user-specific factors, and product potency and dosage.
Vaping / Smoking
THC is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream when smoked or vaped, and the effects can also wear off relatively fast- within a few hours.
Oral Ingestion (gummies)
Delta 9 gummies are absorbed more slowly when consumed as gummies and sent through the digestive system, and therefore the effects can last for several hours or more.
- Liver enzymes: The rate at which D9 is broken down and metabolized can vary based on the liver enzymes of an individual.
- Metabolism: Individuals with faster metabolisms may break down THC more quickly.
- Weight and age: THC can be stored in fat cells, so individuals with more body fat may store the compound for longer periods.
- Tolerance / Frequency of Use: Chronic users may have a higher tolerance and may break down Delta 9 THC more quickly. However, accumulated THC levels also depend on the amount of Delta 9 you consume from various cannabis products.
Delta 9 Product Potency
Higher potency, or percentage of THC, can result in higher levels of THC metabolites in the body, which may take longer to metabolize. Similarly, individuals who consume larger quantities of Delta 9, even at lower potencies per serving, will likely have more THC metabolites in their system, which could take longer to metabolize.
It’s important to note the difference between how long you feel the effects and how long the substance is detectable by a drug test. For example, the effects may wear off after a few hours, but if you’re a regular user, certain tests could show positive for up to about 90 days after you stop consuming THC.
Regarding drug testing, all three cannabinoids (D8, D9, and D10) can potentially show up on a drug test. We’re focusing on D9, so read for quick summaries of what different types of tests might be likely to pick up.
Does Delta 9 Show Up on a Drug Test?
The answer to this question depends on the type of drug screening administered. There are a few main types of drug tests that are commonly used to detect Delta 9 THC in the body:
Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) testing
This is the most common type of drug test and can detect Delta 9 THC in the urine, blood, or saliva. Saliva tests are often the easiest to administer. However, these tests can distinguish between D9 and other cannabinoids.
A blood test can detect Delta 9 from a few hours to a few days after consumption.
A urine test can detect D9 for up to 30 days after consumption, depending on factors like consumption method, frequency of use, and user-specific factors.
Hair Follicle Test
A hair test can detect THC for up to 90 days after consumption, but it is less commonly used than other drug tests.
Can You Speed Up Delta 9 Metabolization?
There are several things you can do to make your body process Delta 9 THC faster:
- Hydrate: Drinking plenty of water can help flush cannabinoids out of your system more quickly.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can speed up your metabolism and help your body break down THC more efficiently.
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can support your liver function, which helps support the processing of Delta 9.
- Wait it out: The only surefire way to get Delta 9 THC out of your system is to wait it out.
Depending on the factors listed above, it can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks for Delta 9 THC to leave your system. Occasional users will likely detox faster than chronic users.
As you see, there are many forms of THC with varying chemical structures, and they can be hemp-derived or from the other strains of the cannabis plant. There are many delta 8 products to sift through in addition to the growing number of Delta 9 THC products on the market.
Thanks to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived Delta 9 is federally legal, as long as the proportion of THC is less than 0.3% of the product's weight.
Whether you’re new to Delta 9 THC, or a seasoned partaker, knowing how it interacts with your body can be helpful. If you know that your job does scheduled or random drug tests, and you are worried about your test result, it is best to abstain from THC usage full stop, as even trace amounts can trigger a positive result.
If you are only an occasional user and you have an upcoming drug test, it’s safest to wait until after the test to partake. It can be tricky to compare your personal processing time with others. If your friend seems to process THC at a different speed than you, now you know some of the reasons why that might be.
While it may be tempting to speed up the metabolization process, the best and most reliable course of action is to wait it out and let your body break down Delta 9 THC while you support the effort with hydration and exercise. As always, consult a healthcare professional and get your doctor’s advice before using Delta 9 THC or any other cannabis or hemp product.
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