How Long Does Marinol (Dronabinol) Stay in Your System?

Be aware of side effects and interactions when taking Marinol

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Marinol (dronabinol) is a pill containing synthetic THC, a class of medications called cannabinoids. It is used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

Marinol is also prescribed to treat loss of appetite and weight loss in people who have AIDS. Understanding how it is active in your body and how long it stays in your system can help you avoid interactions and know what side effects may be expected.

How Marinol Works

Marinol works by affecting the area of the brain that controls nausea, vomiting, and appetite. When taking Marinol you will also experience the effects of THC on mood, memory, and the senses as you would with medical marijuana. But in a capsule form, there is no need for it to be smoked.

As a prescription drug, Marinol has a standard dosage and concentration. Your doctor will prescribe when and how often to take the capsules, timing it for the best benefit around chemotherapy sessions, for example, or at certain times of day for appetite stimulation.

Marinol takes 30 minutes to 2 hours to take effect. The mental, mood and physical effects last for 4 to 6 hours, while appetite stimulation can last for 24 hours.

Side effects of Marinol include feeling "high," confusion, memory loss, anxiety, sleepiness, strange thoughts, hallucinations, unsteady walking, dizziness, nausea, vomiting. Discuss any of these side effects with your doctor as it may be necessary to change your dosage.

You should not operate a motor vehicle or machinery under the effects of Marinol. You could be cited for DUI even if you have a prescription.

Side Effects, Interactions, and Overdose

Discuss all of the medications, vitamins, and supplements you take with your doctor as it may be necessary to change your prescriptions due to possible interactions with Marinol. If you start or stop any medication, alert your doctor so adjustments can be made to reduce the risk of side effects.

Do not drink alcohol while taking Marinol. There can be possibly dangerous interactions with alcohol and drugs such as Valium, Librium, Xanax, Seconal, and Nembutal (benzodiazepines and barbiturates) that affect the central nervous system. You also should not smoke marijuana while taking Marinol as that will deliver more THC and could produce an overdose.

Possible drug interactions can be seen with medications for anxiety, asthma, colds, inflammatory bowel disease, motion sickness, Parkinson's disease, seizures, ulcers, or urinary problems, as well as amphetamines, barbiturates, muscle relaxants, sedatives, and sleeping pills.

Marinol should be taken only as directed. To avoid possible unpleasant side-effects and possible overdose do not take a larger dose, take it more often, or take it for a longer period of time than prescribed by your healthcare provider. Some side effects of an overdose of Marinol include:

  • Changed awareness of time
  • Constipation
  • Decreased coordination
  • Difficulty speaking clearly
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Dizziness or fainting when standing up too fast
  • Drowsiness
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling that you are outside of your body
  • Inappropriate happiness
  • Memory problems
  • Mood changes
  • Red eyes
  • Sharper senses than usual

Potentially dangerous side effects are seizures and a fast, pounding heartbeat. If those occur, call your doctor immediately.

How Long Marinol Remains in Your System

The synthetic THC in Marinol is absorbed by your body similarly to the THC naturally occurring in marijuana. It is also stored, broken down, and excreted the same.

Marinol is broken down and excreted in the urine for two days to 5 weeks. During this time period, it will be detected in urine drug screens.

Some of the THC in Marinol is stored unchanged in fat cells in the body. When it is released from fat into the body, it can again exert its psychoactive properties, as well as be metabolized and be excreted in the urine. The half-life of fat-stored THC is about 10 to 13 days. THC can also be stored in hair follicles, where it may be detected for up to 90 days.

How long the THC from Marinol persists in your body depends on your metabolism, body mass, age, hydration level, physical activity, health conditions and other factors, including how long you have been taking the medication.

If you have to take a drug screen for employment or other reasons, be sure to disclose you are taking a prescription for Marinol so this can be taken into account.

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Marinol (dronabinol). Highlights of prescribing information.

  2. May MB, Glode AE. Dronabinol for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting unresponsive to antiemetics. Cancer Manag Res. 2016;8:49-55. doi:10.2147/CMAR.S81425

  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Marijuana-impaired driving: a report to Congress.

  4. Crean RD, Crane NA, Mason BJ. An evidence based review of acute and long-term effects of cannabis use on executive cognitive functionsJ Addict Med. 2011;5(1):1–8. doi:10.1097/ADM.0b013e31820c23fa

By Buddy T
Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism.