Cannabidiol (CBD) has been in use since ancient times. It has, however, become more popular recently and has gained the interest of researchers interested in discovering potential medical applications. It is hypothesized that CBD could be used in the treatment of patients with chronic conditions to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve the mental health of people suffering from anxiety and depression. These and other potential benefits are still under scientific investigation and have not been definitively proven.

Because CBD use is believed to have comparatively few side effects while offering a wide array of health benefits, even skeptics who were previously opposed to the use of CBD are beginning to reconsider. CBD, one of the cannabinoids that can be extracted from the cannabis plant, is gaining popularity in the medical community. For example, in 2018 the FDA approved the use of CBD in the treatment of patients suffering from epilepsy. 

CBD is often touted as a natural substitute for pharmaceutical drugs that are often accompanied by adverse side effects. However, valid concerns have been raised about the use of CBD. One of those concerns relates to how long does CBD stay in the system. This concern has made some users—particularly those who periodically undergo mandatory drug tests—approach the use of CBD with caution.

How long does CBD remain in your body?

Both experienced users and those who are new to the use of CBD are interested in knowing how long it stays in the system. With intensive studies still being conducted on CBD use, it is difficult to provide a definite answer because a number of factors influence how long CBD stays in your body. These factors have an influence on how fast CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream and how quickly your body removes it from the system.

Initial studies indicate that CBD doesn’t last more than a week in your system. Results from one study showed that CBD was undetectable in the system one week after test patients discontinued the administration of CBD. More research is being conducted to determine a definite duration of how long your system will retain CBD. It is believed that light CBD users could eliminate the cannabinoid from their system within three days, while heavy users may take up to seven days.

Some of the factors that may influence how long your system retains CBD include the following:

  • Your age

  • Your gender

  • Your weight

  • Your rate of metabolism

  • The dosage taken

  • How frequently you use CBD

Does this mean CBD will show up in a drug test?

Many employers conduct mandatory drug screenings on their employees for the use of recreational drugs. One of the compounds that is usually tested is THC, which is responsible for the psychoactive effects and the high feeling users receive from using marijuana. While a drug test for CBD alone is likely to turn out negative, CBD products may contain traces of THC (usually less than 0.3%).

Prolonged use of CBD products with traces of THC could lead to a buildup of THC in your body and a drug test could turn out positive. CBD isolates, which don’t contain any other cannabinoids, are less likely to show THC on a drug test than full-spectrum CBD. Avoiding use of any CBD products for a week or more before a drug test may also significantly reduce the chance of any positive results.

When buying CBD products, always buy products that are clearly labeled with the contents and ingredients used. Always buy your products from reputable CBD manufacturers and vendors who rely on third-party testing to verify the contents of their products.

How long does it take CBD to work, and how long do the effects last?

Some people feel the effects of CBD immediately after consumption. Others take a while before the effects are noticed. The time depends on the mode of consumption because that primarily determines how fast the CBD enters the bloodstream, as well as the bioavailability of CBD in the body. For example, users who take CBD sublingually or smoke it are likely to experience the effects faster because it immediately enters the bloodstream. Furthermore, the CBD will have higher bioavailability since it doesn’t get broken down by the digestive system. 

CBD will remain in your system for a few days or even longer before you will able to completely eliminate it. Does this mean that you will feel its effects fully until it is cleared from your system? No, the effects aren’t as long lasting. Though the effects of CBD and how long they last depend on many factors, they generally don’t extend beyond a few hours after use.

Generally speaking, the sooner the effects begin, the sooner they clear out of the system. The fastest-acting ingestion methods result in the least amount of time in the body. Here’s how the different methods of consuming CBD influence how long it takes for the effects to begin and how long they last:

1. Sublingual usage

CBD oil tinctures are usually taken sublingually. A drop of CBD oil tincture is placed under the tongue for at least 30 seconds and the tissues under the tongue absorb it directly into the bloodstream. When taken sublingually, it will take less than 5 minutes after consumption to feel the effects of CBD. The bioavailability of CBD in the bloodstream is also higher since it bypasses the digestive system where it would have been broken down. 

2. Edibles

The reason edibles are so popular in the CBD market is that they allow discreet CBD ingestion from cookies, drinks, gummies, and other edible products. Taking CBD as an edible means it must pass through the digestive system first before it can become metabolized and absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that it takes longer for the effects of CBD to begin, and bioavailability is also reduced. Depending on your rate of metabolism, it may take up to an hour to feel the effects of CBD. Taking CBD edibles on an empty stomach can decrease the amount of time that it takes to feel the effects.

3. Topical application

CBD can also be infused in products such as topical creams and balms that are applied directly to the skin. This is mostly the case when the intended purpose is an analgesic effect on an affected area of the skin. When taken this way, CBD doesn’t have to enter the bloodstream to produce an effect. Instead, the CBD interacts with the ECS receptors on the skin, so the effect is felt in that particular area and not the whole body.

4. Inhalation

There are two ways to consume CBD through inhalation: smoking and vaping. To take CBD by vaping, you will have to pack CBD oil into an electronically heated vape pen or cartridge. When taken through inhalation, CBD moves through the lungs directly into the bloodstream. The bioavailability of CBD is also increased when taken this way. Just like in sublingual usage, the effects of taking CBD through inhalation are felt almost immediately.

How soon the effects of CBD wear off is directly correlated to the method of consumption. If the effects start immediately, it means the CBD gets processed faster by your body, so the effects won’t last as long. If you want the effects of CBD to last longer, it is better to ingest it in an edible.

Final Thoughts

The amount of time CBD will take to leave the system differs from person to person because metabolic systems, usage habits, and other individual factors vary.  Different CBD products also provide different results.

Since federally approved guidelines on the proper usage of CBD are yet to be developed, knowing the right dosage mostly depends on experimentation. There is minimal scientifically proven evidence that can be relied on at the moment. You will need to understand how your body works in order to know how CBD will affect you and how long it will last in your system.