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  • Matthew O.

What Is THC half-life, and How Is THC Metabolized?


It is common knowledge that cannabis can get you high because it contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Cannabis has two major cannabinoids, THC and CBD (cannabidiol); both are responsible for the medicinal properties and the kind of reactions cannabis has in people’s bodies.


Cannabis has been decriminalized in several states, including Kentucky, and its recent acceptance has improved people’s knowledge of how THC travels through the body system. There are several tips on how to extend your high, knowing the duration it will stay in your body and when it is safe to take a drug test after your last consumption.


Cannabis has gained more popularity over the years, and now, more than ever, people are very interested in its chemical properties. As people keep on exploring the chemical properties of cannabis, new medical discoveries about this substance continue to surface every day. It’s imperative to understand the sensation cannabis forms at the biological level, hence the knowledge of how it reacts in your system.


At this junction, the critical questions include what is THC, how does it metabolize, how is it eliminated from the body, and what body part processes the metabolism processes? All these questions may be deep and vast, but the THC is an essential part of a whole discovery called the endocannabinoid system.


Cannabinoids in marijuana carry several substances into the body, which triggers certain vital body functions. Also, research has revealed that cannabis contains numerous cannabinoids and terpenes that can be medically useful. Many people are curious about the chemistry of marijuana, and some science categories study how substances engage with the body; they are called pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.


Subsequently, we will dive deep into these sciences to get the necessary knowledge on the metabolism of THC in the body and how it fades off from the system before drug tests can detect it.


The Half-life of THC

The half-life makes understanding the properties of any drug or substance easy. The half-life of any substance is how long it takes for its active components to get eliminated by half in the body system. The duration can vary based on the type of substance you consume and depending on certain biological factors.


For instance, the half-life of THC can depend on the frequency of cannabis consumption. For a chronic smoker that consumes a large amount of marijuana per day, the THC will stay longer in the body. Also, marijuana is fat-soluble, meaning the half-life will differ for someone with extra body fat.


The half-life of any substance is an essential consideration during medication prescription. It determines when to use a particular medicine, duration, and dosage. The half-life reveals whether a substance can cause withdrawal symptoms or develop an addiction to the user.


Half-life also determines the metabolites that stay longer in the body, which a drug test can detect. The misconception is that drug tests focus on the drug consumed; however, it's not because the drug can quickly disappear from the body. Drug tests focus on the chemicals your body develops once you use cannabis and other substances.


Drug tests can detect drug intake through the metabolites in the urine, blood, and hair for as long as days, weeks, or even months. As stated earlier, the half-life of any substance depends on the consumption frequency of that substance. For an inconsistent user, the half-life of the THC is 1.3 days, while it is 5-13 days for chronic users.


The half-life differs from a drug use test; it is more of chemical findings of how long a substance can linger in your system in some form.


The Metabolism of THC

You can either smoke or eat cannabis, and the modes of consumption also affect its half-life. While smoking cannabis, the THC-A converts to THC and passes through the lungs into the blood plasma. This is why people get high almost immediately when they consume marijuana by smoking.


The THC goes through the lungs and straight into the blood, from where it goes to the brain and other vital body parts and binds with various cannabinoid receptors. Once the cannabinoids hit the receptors, it triggers some bodily sensations. For instance, you develop munchies and euphoria once the THC hits the CB1 receptors.


From there, the cannabinoids move to the liver for metabolism, and there are two phases of metabolism. The THC versions in your liver are bioavailable and psychoactive, embodying the first phase of THC metabolism. The second phase converts the metabolites into excretion that will be later eliminated from the body.


20% of the cannabinoids get eliminated from the body through urine, while 65% get eliminated through a bowel movement.


Organs Responsible for THC Processes and the Location of THC Metabolism

Two enzymes are involved in the metabolism of THC: Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C) and Cytochrome P450. The two enzymes convert the THC into Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C) and Cytochrome P450. The enzymes add oxygen and hydrogen to the cannabinoids, altering how they react in the body.


For instance, the 11-hydroxy-THC is psychoactive from the onset and can help people manage chronic pains; also, it fades off from the body quicker. 11-Nor-9-carboxy-THC, on the other hand, spends more time in the body and is the metabolite that most drug tests detect, and It can linger in the body for more than a month.


It is worthy of note that some genetic factors affect the actions of the enzymes depending on each person, which is why the reaction of cannabis in people’s bodies differs. The metabolism of edibles slightly differs from smoked cannabis in that there is more 11-hydroxy-THC in edibles.


Remember that smoking immediately sends the cannabinoids straight to the bloodstream through the lungs; however, edibles require digestion first. This also necessitates that the cannabinoids pass through the liver sooner than they did for smoking. For edibles, THC goes straight to the liver from the digestive tract.


This means the liver generates more 11-hydroxy-THC from the THC from edibles than smoking cannabis. Research has also revealed that although the THC from edibles is not bioavailable as that of smoking, it is stronger.


Get a Medical Marijuana Recommendation in Kentucky


Medical marijuana will be legal in Kentucky in 2025! However, you can now use medical marijuana purchased from other states, so get a recommendation as legal protection!


Cannabis is a natural, safe alternative medicine without the harsh side effects that come with many prescription drugs. If you think you could benefit from medical marijuana, you probably qualify!


Schedule an evaluation online today with one of our knowledgeable, compassionate doctors. Why wait any longer than you have to for the relief you’ve been missing?


You’ll meet with your doctor virtually via a telemedicine appointment using your smartphone or computer, and together, you’ll discuss your condition and decide if medical marijuana is right for you.



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