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How Long Does CBD Stay In Your System? A Comprehensive Look

Date 22nd Apr 2021

How Long Does CBD Stay In Your System? A Comprehensive Look

Cannabidiol (CBD) has become a fast-growing popular wellness supplement. You can find it in everything from ediblescapsules,  and even tea.

However, despite its rapidly growing popularity, the CBD industry is still fairly new. Many first-time users have some apprehension (understandably) about trying CBD. After all, it is a cannabis-based product.

Some may be concerned about whether CBD can make them fail a drug test or want to know more about how long the effects of CBD last. In this article, we'll dive into those questions and more.

How Does CBD Work?

CBD is a naturally-occurring cannabis compound classified as a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids interact with our body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) to deliver its health benefits.

The ECS plays a significant role in our ability to maintain homeostasis (balance). It uses a complex set of lipid-based messengers (endocannabinoids), receptors (CB1 and CB2), and enzymes to relay information throughout the body. The ECS helps to support systems such as our sleep-wake cycle, hormones, stress, the digestive system, and so much more.

CBD helps keep levels of internally produced cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) high and interacts separately with other receptors to produce a unique set of benefits [1].

Unlike the other well-known cannabinoid, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD is non-intoxicating (it won't get you high).

You'll find that most CBD oils on the market are derived from hemp crops high in CBD. Hemp may only legally contain up to 0.3% THC, which isn't nearly enough to induce a high but may contribute to the overall benefits of CBD. 

How Long Does CBD Effects Last?

Determining how long the effects of CBD will last is sometimes tricky

As a general rule, you can expect the effects of CBD oil to last anywhere from 2-8 hours. However, CBD may interact differently from one individual to the next because of its unique interactions with the endocannabinoid system.

Remember, the ECS helps to maintain balance. Everyone's level of balance will vary depending on genetics, lifestyle, and health condition. Still, there are several other factors we'll outline here that can influence how long the effects of CBD will last. 

cbd cigarettes for Smoking CBD held by a girl in a field

Factor #1: Method Of Consumption

CBD is a unique compound that can be delivered through so many different methods from the classic CBD oils to CBD capsules and CBD lotionsCBD massage oil, and even CBD lip balm.

Whether you inhale CBD via a vape product or smoke hemp flower, eat it, or apply it to the skin will affect how long it takes for CBD to work as well as how long it lasts in your system. 

Vaping/Smoking CBD

If you're looking for the fastest way to feel the effects of CBD, smoking CBD is your best bet. It quickly enters your bloodstream via the lungs to travel throughout the body.

This CBD use method is also going to be one of the shortest lasting in terms of effects. You should feel the effects of smoking CBD within minutes. However, the effect starts to subside after 2-4 hours.

Edible CBD

Edibles can come in CBD softgels and capsulesCBD mints, and CBD Gummies too. It's the most popular and widely available method of getting your daily dose of CBD.

One of the downsides of edible CBD is that it's the least bioavailable, which means it's not absorbed as well into your system because of something called the first-pass metabolism. First-pass refers to the liver breaking down most active compounds before it gets a chance to exert its effects.

Both CBD and THC are affected by the first-pass metabolism, and oral methods only deliver 4–20% of the active compounds into the bloodstream [2]. One way to increase the bioavailability of CBD is to combine the compound with fat, such as an oil. The gut is used to processing fats, so CBD piggybacks off of the fat molecule and enters our system more efficiently.

Taking your CBD capsules or CBD gummies, or beverage with a high-fat meal may also increase the CBD absorption into the intestinal lymphatic system β€” which means CBD can be delivered through lymphatic transport, helping to better support the immune system [3].

It can take about 30 minutes to an hour to feel the effects of edibles. Still, you can feel the effects of them much last longer than any other ingestion method. You can expect CBD edibles to last anywhere from 4–8 hours.

Sublingual CBD

Sublingual (under the tongue) is another fast way to ingest CBD because of the micro-capillaries network beneath the tongue. Holding your CBD oil or CBD spray beneath your tongue before swallowing allows the active compounds to permeate through the thin mucus membrane and enter the bloodstream.

This method also saves the CBD from the first-pass metabolism, so you get more active ingredients into your system. You can expect the effects to last anywhere from 2–6 hours

Topical CBD

CB1 and CB2 receptors are present in virtually all types of skin cells, making topical CBD such as CBD lotions, salves, and ointments, a practical delivery method for CBD.

When you apply CBD to the skin, it won't enter the bloodstream. Meaning it will only affect the applied area with localized benefits [4]. Topical CBD is perfect for physical discomfort and minor skin irritations. Studies on transdermal CBD application also found that you could deliver potent CBD without evident side-effects [5].

You can start to feel the effects of CBD working anywhere from 30-90 minutes and depending on the product formulation, you may find relief for up to 6 hours

CBD clear skin cream

Factor #2: CBD Dosage

The higher the CBD per dose, the longer you'll feel the effects in your system as it takes longer to break down more of the compound. Therefore, a full dropper of a 12,000MG CBD Oil will feel much different than a full dropper of 500MG CBD oil

Factor #3: CBD Use Frequency

CBD doesn't typically remain in your system longer than a week after your last use. If you don't ever take a break from CBD, it can linger in your system for a few weeks, depending on your metabolism and frequency of use.

Someone who uses CBD daily will have a build-up of CBD metabolites in their system over an infrequent user. Regular use of CBD will also help to improve its health benefits over time.

cbd mints held by a girl on a mountain

Factor #4: Genetics & Lifestyle

CBD experiences can vary wildly from one individual to the next, depending on their genes, metabolism, and lifestyle.

These factors can also influence how long CBD oil stays in your body, making it difficult to pinpoint precisely how long CBD oil lasts.

The Half-Life Of CBD: How Long Does CBD Stay In Your System?

In pharmacology, the elimination half-life of a compound refers to the length of time required for the initial dose concentration to decrease by half the initial dose.Understanding the elimination half-life gives us a better understanding of how long CBD oil lingers in your system.

For single doses of CBD and THC in humans, the half-life when taken orally is about 1–2 days [6].

Let's say you eat a CBD gummy with 20MG of CBD one day. The following day, you'll have 10mg of CBD, the next 5MG, and so on... You may not feel the effects of CBD at this point, but it doesn't mean it's not in your system.

The half-life differs depending on the ingestion method and how often you consume it. Smoking CBD or THC has a 31-hour terminal half-life, whereas edible CBD can have a half-life of up to 5 days with consistent use [7]. 

How Long Is CBD Detectable In Urine?

CBD may be present in your urine for up to five days with consistent use, as determined by the edible elimination half-life.

If you're wondering if CBD will show up on a drug test, you don't have to worry. CBD isn't a compound that most tests are searching for because it's non-intoxicating. However, if your CBD oil is full spectrum or you're using a marijuana-derived CBD oil that contains higher concentrations of THC, it may trigger a positive result. THC is a common compound detected on drug tests.

Full spectrum CBD contains a wide range of naturally occurring cannabinoids, including THC, and terpenes to deliver stronger and well-rounded effects. The trace amounts of THC in hemp-derived full spectrum oils won't produce any intoxicating effects.

That being said, with regular use, THC metabolites get stored in fat and filtered out through urine, which may appear on drug tests. 

THC-Free CBD Oils

THC-Free CBD Oils

If you're worried about drug tests or just want to have a CBD oil without THC in your system altogether, you have two options for THC-free CBD products.

  1. CBD Isolates Oil: CBD isolates are refined hemp extracts that only contain one compound, CBD. Because CBD isolates don't contain the other beneficial cannabinoids, you may find that you need stronger doses to hit the same level of effects.
  2. Broad Spectrum Oil: Broad spectrum CBD oil is our recommendation for those looking for a THC-free product because it still contains a diverse range of cannabinoids and terpenes to support CBD's effects, but it undergoes an extra distillation process to remove all THC compounds.

Still, the consensus is that a high-quality full spectrum CBD oil will deliver the best benefits overall because it can produce the full entourage effect. The of the main reasons full spectrum is recommended is that THC and CBD have complementary benefits to the endocannabinoid system and work better together than in isolation from each other.

CBD Methods Pros and Cons and How Long The Effects Last infographic

The Takeaway: How Long Does CBD Stay In Your System?

It's hard to say exactly how long CBD stays in your system since many factors are involved, from CBD method, frequency of use, and how strong your product is. Plus, individuals have very different CBD responses, affecting its effects and how long CBD says in your system.

We hope this article clarifies which CBD method is right for you and answered some questions regarding CBD and drug testing and some insight into potentially how long CBD stays in your system.

CBD has become a staple wellness supplement in many people's routines to support a wide range of lifestyles. If you're looking for more articles like this to learn about CBD, please be sure to check out our blog.

Resources:

  1. sources:

    1. Larsen, C., & Shahinas, J. (2020). Dosage, efficacy and safety of cannabidiol administration in adults: a systematic review of human trials. Journal of clinical medicine research, 12(3), 129.
    2. Huestis, M. A. (2007). Human cannabinoid pharmacokinetics. Chemistry & biodiversity, 4(8), 1770.
    3. Zgair, A., Lee, J. B., Wong, J. C., Taha, D. A., Aram, J., Di Virgilio, D., ... & Gershkovich, P. (2017). Oral administration of cannabis with lipids leads to high levels of cannabinoids in the intestinal lymphatic system and prominent immunomodulation. Scientific reports, 7(1), 1-12.
    4. Bruni, N., Della Pepa, C., Oliaro-Bosso, S., Pessione, E., Gastaldi, D., & Dosio, F. (2018). Cannabinoid delivery systems for pain and inflammation treatment. Molecules, 23(10), 2478.
    5. Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain‐related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European Journal of Pain, 20(6), 936-948.
    6. Welty, T. E., Luebke, A., & Gidal, B. E. (2014). Cannabidiol: Promise and Pitfalls: Cannabidiol: Promise and Pitfalls. Epilepsy currents, 14(5), 250-252.
    7. Millar, S. A., Stone, N. L., Yates, A. S., & O'sullivan, S. E. (2018). A systematic review on the pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol in humans. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 1365
Katrina Lubiano
Katrina Lubiano

Katrina Lubiano is a content writer in the health and wellness space based in Vancouver, Canada β€” Canada's epicenter for cannabis culture. When she's not working, she enjoys sailing, watercolor painting, and cooking.