Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant, may potentially relieve mild pain and anxiety. While many people are using CBD for these potential benefits, the fear of failing a drug test looms large for others. Because even with the legalization of hemp-derived CBD products in the US, there's still some uncertainty about how CBD interacts with the body.
Here, we'll cover the existing research on CBD and its interaction with the human body as well as what factors can affect how long CBD stays in your system.
How long does CBD oil stay in your system?
CBD may not produce the same intoxicating effects as THC, but it does get stored in the body. The time that CBD remains detectable in the body depends on several factors.
- Metabolism: A person's metabolism plays a prominent role in how fast CBD is metabolized and eventually excreted from the body.
- Frequency of use: Using CBD frequently will also influence the amount of time it remains in the body.
- Dosage: A large amount of CBD taken at a time will influence how long the cannabinoid remains in the system.
- Method of administration: Both the effects of CBD and its presence in the body are contingent on how the cannabinoid is introduced into the body. For instance, smoking or vaping CBD allows it to take effect almost immediately, while ingestion will delay the onset for an hour or two.
A 1991 study published in Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behavior examined the concentration of CBD in the blood after high doses daily. Over a six-week period, the research team administered a daily dose of 700 milligrams of CBD to 14 Huntington's disease patients. One week after the dosing ceased, the CBD remaining in the blood was just 1.5 nanograms per milliliter and was “virtually undetectable” thereafter.
A 2018 review of existing CBD studies found that the estimated half-life of CBD was two to five days for those who took a daily oral dose. Other delivery methods delivered varied half-lives.
Bottom line: While the time that CBD is detectable in the body will depend on the aforementioned factors, we can deduce that CBD will likely leave the system after a week or two.
How long is CBD detectable in urine?
We have some insight into how long CBD remains in the blood, but there is little research on how long CBD is detectable in urine. In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Pain, participants were given different types of CBD-rich cannabis products, including oils, capsules, and flower. Two hours after administration, urine samples from all 15 subjects tested positive for CBD. The researchers followed one participant after the last day of administration and found that CBD was no longer detectable in the urine after 24 hours.
It's important to note that, while existing evidence shows us that CBD can definitely be detected in the body for a certain period of time, most drug tests specifically look for the presence of THC. Therefore, accurate information on how long CBD stays in the body remains limited compared with information on THC.
Bottom line: Apart from the one study that showed CBD was no longer detectable in urine after 24 hours, there isn't much research on drug testing for CBD in urine.
How long do CBD oil effects last?
The consumption method plays a crucial role in determining how long it will take to feel the effects of CBD and how long they will last.
Oral ingestion is the most common method of CBD consumption. Administering a couple of drops of CBD oil directly into the mouth is certainly a convenient way to reap the potential benefits of this therapeutic cannabinoid. However, ingestion is not necessarily the most effective consumption method for those who want to feel the effects of CBD immediately.
Swallowing CBD oil prevents the cannabinoid from entering the bloodstream right away. Instead, it will travel first through the digestive tract and eventually on to the liver, where it will be broken down before finally reaching the bloodstream.
Studies show that when the liver metabolizes CBD compounds, they undergo what is called the “first-pass effect.” Enzymes in the liver reduce CBD concentration before the remainder is finally sent to the bloodstream and circulated throughout the body. While oral consumption of CBD has become popular for its ease of use, it can be an inefficient method of consumption compared with inhalation or sublingual administration. This is because only about 5% of swallowed CBD ends up in the bloodstream, meaning this method provides low bioavailability.
Bottom line: Whether you're ingesting CBD oil or CBD-infused edibles, it ultimately goes through the same lengthy digestive process, reducing the total CBD concentration in the bloodstream. With ingestion, it could take anywhere from one to two hours before the effects of CBD finally set in. From there, you may feel the effects for one hour to several hours, depending on the dose and your response to CBD.
The sublingual method is considered to be more effective than ingestion. CBD oil can be consumed sublingually by placing a few drops under the tongue and holding it for two to four minutes, then using the tongue to rub it into the tissue under the tongue and on the inside of the cheeks before swallowing the remainder. Using this method, CBD is transferred to the bloodstream via the mucous membranes located in the mouth, completely bypassing the digestive system and liver.
Bottom line: Consuming CBD products sublingually leads to higher bioavailability compared to consuming CBD products orally. Depending on the dose and your response to CBD, the effects from sublingual consumption should kick in within 30 minutes and last for one to three hours.
Inhalation is also an effective delivery method for CBD due to its rapid absorption and the efficiency of the lungs at transferring CBD into the bloodstream. Whether you're smoking a high-CBD strain or taking a draw from a CBD vape pen, the interaction with the body remains the same. When CBD is inhaled, the cannabinoids are sent directly to the lungs, where they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and put into circulation.
Bottom line: Existing evidence suggests that CBD reaches peak blood concentration within three minutes after inhalation, meaning any effects should be felt shortly after use. The effects should then last anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours.
Will CBD show up on a drug test?
In most cases, it's highly unlikely that CBD will cause a positive test result in a drug screening. Most drug tests are developed to look specifically for the presence of THC or related substances. On top of that, employers generally abide by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) guidelines, which include detection for THC but not CBD.
Keep in mind that even hemp-derived CBD products are legally allowed to contain up to 0.3% THC. This could cause hesitation for some CBD-curious consumers who don't want THC in their system or risk a false positive result on a drug test. However, the chances of failing a drug test from using hemp-extracted CBD oil are extremely slim. You would need to take an exorbitant dosage of full-spectrum CBD oil (estimates range from 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams per day) to risk a positive drug test result.
Consumers who want to be extra-cautious and use CBD with no THC should shop for a broad-spectrum oil or a CBD product that contains pure CBD isolate. Broad-spectrum oil is refined to exclude THC, while CBD isolates contain no THC or other plant-based cannabinoids. To ensure that your CBD contains no THC, it's important to source products from reputable manufacturers that provide a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab.
Based on existing research, CBD may stay in your system anywhere from 24 hours to a few weeks. That timeframe can change depending on a variety of factors including metabolism, consumption method, frequency of use, and dosage.
For those concerned about drug tests, there are different types of drug tests with varying detection thresholds for THC. The most commonly used drug screening method is the urine test, which typically has a lower threshold for detection. Under the SAMHSA framework, the cutoff limit for the presence of THC is 50 nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. Given the research, it would be very unusual to fail a drug test after consuming licensed, lab-tested CBD products.