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What is THC Half-Life & How is THC Metabolized?

Updated: Apr 14, 2023


The two main cannabinoids present in marijuana, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), are in charge of many of its therapeutic and recreational effects. Shortly after ingestion, cannabinoid receptors, a component of the body's endocannabinoid system, bind to marijuana and change their activity, causing the distinct effects that cannabis is known for.


You must already be aware that marijuana lingers in your body for far longer after the effects diminish, regardless of how frequently you use it. This is the cannabinoids' natural route through the body, so understanding what happens and how long it takes for them to be expelled could be useful whether you want to try detoxing or are getting ready for a drug test.


Therefore, this blog post will discuss the half-life of THC and its metabolism in the body.


How Does Cannabis Consumption Affect THC Movement Through the Body?

The psychotropic substance present in the cannabis plant is known as THC, or officially as delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol or delta9-thc. It is the primary cannabinoid that causes the euphoric and calming effects commonly referred to as "the high," but it also has some therapeutic benefits.


We must study the pharmacokinetics of THC, or more specifically, how THC flows through the body from absorption to the time it is excreted, to comprehend the half-life of THC and how long it stays in the body.


Depending on how you consume THC, your body will absorb it at a different rate. Since marijuana enters your bloodstream through your lungs, inhaling it usually leads to more rapid absorption. It enters your blood plasma within a few seconds and takes 3 to 10 minutes to reach peak plasma concentration.


On the other hand, because edibles need to be digested first, consuming marijuana will result in a slower dispersion. In this instance, 1 to 2 hours after consumption, THC will reach a peak concentration in the blood plasma.


What Is THC Half-Life?

The phrase "half-life" describes the time needed for a chemical to be removed from the body in half its original amount. Since THC-COOH is the most resistant metabolite, knowing its elimination half-life might help you estimate how long it takes.


You should be aware, though, that the half-life of THC isn't a fixed number and can vary widely. These molecules will have slightly variable half-lives since THC is broken down into several metabolites stored throughout the body.


Overall, THC is cleared from the blood and oral fluids the quickest (in a matter of hours). Still, it is eliminated from urine the slowest (in days and weeks), likely due to the longer half-lives of the metabolites, especially in heavy marijuana users.


Factors That May Affect THC Half-Life

The rate at which THC and its metabolites are cleared from cannabis users' bodies might depend on various circumstances, some of which are subject to change.


The amount of Marijuana Used

One of the main variables that can affect how long THC will last in the body is its frequency of consumption. Due to the long-term storage of THC metabolites in body cells, frequent users will likely experience metabolite accumulation following each use. As a result, compared to infrequent users, it will take significantly longer for them to be eliminated.


Dosage

The dosage also has a significant impact. Because medicinal marijuana users may require a higher dose to treat their symptoms, low doses will be processed and eliminated from the body much more quickly than high doses.


Metabolism

The half-life of THC and how your body will metabolize it can both be significantly influenced by your metabolism. Your THC tolerance is particularly important because different marijuana users react to THC's effects differently. However, some people have naturally quicker metabolisms and will eliminate THC metabolites more quickly than others.


Body Mass Index (BMI)

The body mass index indicates the percentage of body fat. People with higher BMIs are thought to store metabolites for longer since they are mostly kept in fat cells, though there may be individual variations.


The First Conversion of THC Activation

Raw cannabis is not psychotropic, which is a very significant fact. All marijuana strains, including cannabis, include cannabinoids in their inactive forms or acidic precursors. (Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa).


THCA is the name of the acidic precursor of THC (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). Although not psychoactive, it has the same anti-inflammatory qualities as THC. So, for instance, consuming raw marijuana won't cause you to feel high.


A chemical reaction brought on by aging (such as when marijuana is cured) or coming into touch with heat transforms THCA into THC. Decarboxylation is the procedure required to make marijuana psychoactive.


The cannabinoids are triggered by the elevated temperature when you smoke or vape marijuana. Similarly, marijuana must be decarboxylated before being used to create edibles like cannabutter or brownies.


How Is THC Metabolized in the Body?

Once THC enters the body, things start to become interesting. The manner of consumption has a significant impact on bioavailability and peak concentration. And second, because it follows distinct metabolic routes, how it is digested.


In essence, when you inhale marijuana, THC travels directly from the lungs into circulation, where it is then transported to the brain and the rest of the body. When you consume marijuana, it initially passes through your digestive system before reaching your brain and other organs.


For quicker elimination, THC must pass via the liver to be digested and converted into byproducts, often known as metabolites. Keep in mind that THC undergoes two conversions into several metabolites.


THC is metabolized in the body over 1.5 hours when inhaled and 3.5–10 hours when consumed.


Get Ready for Medical Marijuana in Georgia

Although there have been setbacks, medical marijuana will be coming to Georgia very soon! We hope 2023 will be the year that Georgia dispensaries finally open up to provide patients the relief they deserve.


It is best to be prepared when the time comes to access safe, legal medicine so you don't have to wait any longer for the relief you deserve. Subscribe to our newsletter and view our weekly blogs to learn about medical cannabis in Georgia!


If you are still determining if you qualify, we can help! Just give us a call.


You can reserve an evaluation online today with one of our compassionate cannabis doctors, and we'll make an appointment as soon as possible. Please let us know if you have any questions in the meantime!


You and your new doctor will discuss your conditions and whether you qualify for a Georgia Marijuana Card. And if you make your reservation online today, you'll save $25 off your evaluation!


Feel free to call us at (866) 781-5606, and we can help answer your questions about getting medical marijuana in Georgia.


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