How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?
Some of us take CBD (cannabidiol) to combat anxiety, to help us sleep, or to relieve aches and pains. Whatever the reason, we’re just happy it works! But after you stop using it, how long does CBD stay in your system?
This is important information to be aware of for several reasons. For example, if your doctor wants to put you on a prescription drug that may interact with CBD (like blood thinners), then you want to be sure that CBD has completely cleared your system. Or maybe you’re worried about CBD showing up on a pre-employment drug screening.
No matter the reason, here are several key items to help you figure out how long CBD may stay in your system.
How long does CBD stay in your system?
Every person is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The folks at iSum say, “If you use CBD occasionally, your body should get rid of its metabolites in less than a week.” But even they admit that the answer isn’t that simple.
In one study of individuals who used 700mg of CBD every day for six weeks, their blood plasma CBD levels, in the week following the end of their treatment, only reached 1.5ng/ml. Crazy, right?
After taking such a high dose for an extended amount of time, you might assume that their CBD levels would still be pretty high after just one week of stopping treatment. However, after reviewing their blood plasma, researchers concluded that CBD levels were virtually nonexistent.
While these instances do make it seem like one week is enough for CBD to leave your system, it’s important to note that the previous study only included 14 test subjects. While the results were the same across the board for all subjects, that’s not a wide enough test group to make a definitive statement about their findings.
Therefore, you can estimate that CBD will leave your system in about a week. Below, I list a few other items that can affect that timeline.
How you take CBD can affect how long it will be in your system
One of the things we love about CBD is that there are a lot of different ways you can enjoy it. There are lotions, salves, and edibles; vapes for those on the go; and oils and tinctures for those who want maximum therapeutic effects. Your CBD can be as convenient as you want it to be.
The important thing to remember is that each of these methods will stay in your system for different amounts of time. One study found that the half-life for CBD in the blood system was 3-5 days. That half-life, however, was heavily impacted by the ways people ingested their CBD.
The longer it takes for you to feel the effects of CBD, and how long those effects last, are good indicators of how long CBD will stay in your system. Generally, the longer the effects last the longer CBD will stay in your system. We’ve got an entire blog that goes into those details, so definitely check that out here.
But if you need those answers now, get the basics on your preferred method of ingestion below to help you get a good idea of how long it might be in your system.
This method refers to anything that has to pass through your digestive system to be absorbed. So this includes edibles, beverages, oils that you simply swallow, and capsules. Because the CBD has to pass through the digestive tract, this method has the longest waiting time for you to feel the effects (sometimes 1-2 hours). However, the effects of ingested CBD tend to last the longest. That means they’ll stay in your system for longer too.
While you can ingest some oils, you can get them into your bloodstream faster by taking oils and tinctures sublingually. This means that you place them under your tongue and hold them there for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before swallowing what’s left. This transfers the CBD into your system via mucous membranes as opposed to the digestive tract. The effects of this method can kick in after 15-20 minutes and last almost as long as ingested CBD effects.
CBD that’s inhaled kicks in the fastest, so it leaves your system the fastest too. Those who use a vaporizer can feel the effects in as little as 1-2 minutes. When you inhale CBD into your lungs, it passes through your alveoli to get into the bloodstream, so it makes sense that it would take effect so quickly. Generally, these effects only last a few hours.
Topicals are anything that you apply directly to the skin. This could include lotions, salves, facial mists, and even CBD infused cosmetics. There is, however, a lot of variability in how much CBD gets into your bloodstream with this method. Your skin is meant to be a protective barrier, but when applied in large amounts CBD can be absorbed into the bloodstream. It can take at least an hour before the effects are felt, and they can last for several hours.
How much you weigh can affect how long CBD stays in your system
Just like with other medications, body mass can determine how much you need to take AND how long certain compounds will remain in your system. Kyro put it best when they said, “people who weigh more tend to have more fat cells, which means they can absorb and store more CBD. So, by definition, heavier people with more fat will get prolonged effects of CBD.”
So if you weigh more, not only will you need to ingest more CBD to feel the effects, CBD could be stored in your system for longer as well. What makes things even more complicated is that your weight can affect things like your metabolism, altering how long CBD can be in your system.
Metabolism and lifestyle can affect how long CBD stays in your system
Honestly, lifestyle is a giant umbrella term that covers a wide variety of items. It can include how active you are, your diet, what your sleep cycle is like, if you work in a high-stress environment, etc. And all of those items can affect your metabolism.
The funny thing is, over time CBD can have a positive impact on the different aspects of your lifestyle; it can help you get better sleep, which can then help reduce stress, which could make it easier to eat healthier. You might be so happy with that lifestyle chain reaction that you take up exercising. CBD could do one of those things or all of those things--and it might do them in any order.
It’s important to remember though, that your lifestyle (and the way your body adjusts to your lifestyle) won’t change overnight. It can take an especially long time for our metabolism to adjust to any lifestyle changes. So if you’re trying to determine how long CBD will stay in your system, you need to consider your current metabolism and lifestyle.
Weedmaps says that a person's metabolism determines how fast CBD can be metabolized and excreted. Another factor that impacts how quickly the effects of CBD kick in (and how fast they’ll pass through your system) is the content of your stomach. CBD taken on an empty stomach will kick in faster, and “certain foods could enhance the bioavailability and increase overall CBD concentration in your body.”
Dose and Frequency
This one should be a no-brainer.
Your dose is the amount of CBD you take each time you take your CBD. Frequency is how often you take that dose of CBD. The larger the dose, the more CBD that’s in your system. If you administer your CBD quite often, the longer it will be in your system.
But you must take into consideration other factors. If you’re vaping a low dose of CBD several times a day, for example, it may not be in your system for a very long time. If, however, you live a very sedentary lifestyle and have a slow metabolism, then it may not leave as quickly.
If you’re worried about CBD causing issues for a drug screening, then caution is always best. Most drug tests are looking for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), but certain CBD products can contain trace amounts of THC in them. While it’s rare, certain CBD products can cause people to test positive for THC. If this is something you’re concerned about then get all the details here.
Regardless of WHY you need CBD to leave your system, give yourself a buffer. The generally accepted time frame for CBD to clear your system is about a week. If your BMI is higher than average though, give yourself a few extra days (possibly an extra week). If you take a particularly high dose of CBD and you take that dose frequently, give yourself more time.
For many of us, we can’t get enough CBD! But if you’ve had any experiences trying to clear CBD out of your system then drop us a comment down below. We’re always eager to hear tips and tricks from our readers, and if you give us some love on Instagram you may even be featured in one of our stories.
Hannah Walker is a mostly-retired University English instructor who spends her time freelance copywriting. When not doing that, she’s writing articles related to CBD, skincare, and/or media. With an MA in English-Creative Writing she’s probably working on a creative piece at this very moment. See more about Hannah’s work on her website or on Instagram.