How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?

While much research has been done on how long THC stays in the body, CBD has not been afforded the same attention. In this article I will explain how CBD is metabolized and how long it stays in your system. I will also discuss how different delivery methods impact onset time and bioavailability. I will cite a study about CBD metabolites. Finally, I will address CBD and drug testing.

Does CBD Stay in Your System for a Long Time?

The conventional wisdom is as follows:

With moderate use, CBD will stay in your system for about 7 days after your last dose. With frequent use, more than 10 mg/day for several weeks, CBD may take as long as 21 days to leave your system

Factors That Affect How Long CBD Stays in Your System

  1. Delivery Method
  2. Metabolism
  3. Frequency of Use
  4. Dosage
  5. Age – the older you are, the slower you metabolize drugs
  6. Use of other medications

How Long Does It Take to Feel The Effects of CBD?

When you ingest or inhale THC, it is very easy to recognize its intoxicating effects. Not so with CBD which is much more subtle. Its effect is much more of a low-key reduction of symptoms or of an increased sense of well-being.

The delivery method you choose will determine how long it takes for the effects to kick in and for them to dissipate.


Smoking or vaping CBD flower should provide effects within 15-20 minutes. They typically last for a few hours. The average bioavailability of smoking is 31% and as much as 50% with vaping.

Oral Applications

Oral sprays, tinctures and sublingual drops have a slower onset than inhalation but are faster than edibles. The CBD is absorbed through the lining of the mouth which then enters the bloodstream. The effects should be felt within about 30 minutes. They typically last for about 6 hours, depending on the dosing size and strength. Bioavailability is from about 6-15%.

Nasal Sprays

Nasal delivery has one of the fastest onset rates with high bioavailability of about 40%. Because of all the veins in the nose, CBD quickly enters the bloodstream and moves rapidly to the brain. Its absorption rate is 6-8 times as much when compared to oral applications. That results in the need for much smaller doses to achieve the same effects.


The effects of edibles and capsules take the longest to kick in. Depending on the individual’s metabolism, cannabis history and whether or not they ate prior to taking an edible, the onset may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. A high dosage and strength can provide relief for more than 6 hours. Bioavailability is 13-19%.


Effects may be felt in as little as 10 minutes, lasting for up to several hours. The bioavailability of topicals and transdermal patches is about 45%.

How Is CBD Metabolized?


This includes edibles, infused foods, capsules, and tinctures and oils to some degree. They are absorbed by the gastrointestinal system and metabolized by the liver into other compounds. Studies indicate that the cannabinoids hit peak blood levels about 1-2 hours following ingestion.


This includes vaporizing and smoking. The cannabinoids are absorbed by the cellular lining of the lungs after they pass through the respiratory tract. Studies indicate that cannabinoids hit peak blood levels within 10 minutes.

Regardless of the delivery method, the liver processes the cannabinoids which become metabolites. Researchers are now aware that some cannabinoid metabolites have therapeutic value with unique qualities. Example: THC becomes THC-COOH (hydroxy THC) which has much greater psychotropic effects.

Study on CBD Metabolites

Cannabis researchers, Istvan Ujvary and Lumir Hanus, published a paper, Human Metabolites of Cannabidiol: A Review on Their Formation, Biological Activity, and Relevance in Therapy which appeared in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Their research identified some twenty CBD metabolites, most of which was done by way of animals studies or in a laboratory setting. No biological activity of human CBD metabolites has been identified. The most common CBD metabolites are hydroxylated 7-COOH derivates; these include 2-OH-COOH, 10-OH-7-COOH and other similar chemical structures. This study is a starting point for further research investigating the following:

  1. Can the known medicinal effects of CBD be linked to any of its metabolites?
  2. Are there any drug interactions affecting the therapeutic outcome of any non-CBD medicines when used in conjunction with CBD?
  3. Can any of the metabolites be used as a model in order to develop new therapeutic applications?

CBD, along with its many metabolites, has an affinity for fat molecules. The human body stores them in adipose tissue. This means that someone with a high Body Mass Index (BMI) would retain CBD metabolites much longer than someone with a lower BMI. This is due to their high lipid solubility, which refers to the capability of a substance or compound to dissolve in lipids, fats, or oils, affecting their volume of distribution.

CBD and Drug Tests

For patients only taking CBD, there should be no cause to worry about failing a drug test. There is no known drug test for CBD or CBD metabolites. Taking CBD will not trigger a false-positive on an employer-mandated drug test. There are no accounts, either, of those taking extremely high doses of CBD testing positive.

Sources:, How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System? Jessica McKeil, Feb 13, 2020, Human Metabolites of Cannabidiol: A Review on Their Formation, Biological Activity, and Relevance in Therapy, March 23, 2016, How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?, Andrea Nesteroska, Jan. 2020, Why Bioavailability Matters For CBD, Cannabis Nasal Sprays? Do They Really Work? June 14, 2019