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How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System? [Answered]

The answer to the question, “how long does CBD stay in your system?” is far from straightforward.

Cannabidiol itself is recognized as a safe and well-tolerated substance with no adverse health effects by the World Health Organization.

However, full-spectrum CBD products from industrial hemp can legally contain up to 0.3% THC. Some users of CBD oil claim that they’ve tested positive for THC-COOH metabolites despite never consuming marijuana in their lives. This has led to significant consequences such as lost jobs or parole violations.

The primary reason why people fail drug screenings after using CBD is simple; the product contains more THC than the legal amount. Yet it is technically possible to test positive by using CBD with 0.3% THC or thereabouts.

This article investigates how long CBD remains in your system after consumption and what this could mean for drug tests.

Do Marijuana Drug Tests Screen for CBD?

No. Drug screenings for marijuana do NOT look for CBD metabolites. Instead, they focus on the discovery of THC metabolites. The test is designed to see if there is evidence of marijuana use. The most common screening is a urinalysis, but employers can also request blood, saliva, or hair follicle tests.

cbd half life

We have heard anecdotal reports of people testing positive for THC metabolites despite using nothing but CBD. Indeed, some people claim they failed the test despite abstaining from the non-intoxicating cannabinoid for weeks. How is this possible?

Some Drug Tests Can’t Tell the Difference Between CBD & THC!

Many people don’t realize that a common forensic drug testing method can mistake the presence of CBD for the intoxicating compound THC. This was the finding of a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology in 2012. In other words, a drug test could cause a false positive for THC if you regularly use CBD.

Typically, if you test positive for THC-COOH in a drug screening, a second sample is exposed to a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) test. It is far more sophisticated than the initial test and likely to show a negative result if you legitimately don’t use THC.

However, the study above discovered that the error occurred during GC-MS testing! The GS-MS machine requires testers to add a chemical to identify tiny amounts of illegal compounds. The process is called derivatization. Many labs prefer to use a chemical called trifluoracetic anhydride (TFAA).

The researchers determined that when a GC-MS machine used TFAA, it couldn’t distinguish between CBD and THC. Therefore, if you only use CBD and your sample is tested by a lab that uses TFAA and a GC-MS test, it could produce a false positive!

What’s worse is that we have no idea how many drug testing labs have made this mistake. Due to this error, countless people could have lost their job, parental rights, or liberty. Bear in mind that several million Americans now use the cannabinoid!

Even if you use a CBD product with less than 0.3% THC, you’re potentially at risk. We hope that this issue has been fixed since the 2012 finding, but we have not seen any verification of this.

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What Is CBD’s Half-Life?

The University of Nottingham School of Health Sciences defines the half-life of a drug compound as “the period of time required for the concentration [of a drug] in the body to be reduced by one-half.”

For instance, if a drug’s half-life is 10 hours and you consume 100mg, 50mg is left in your body after 10 hours, 25mg remains after 20 hours, and so on. In general, negligible amounts of a drug remain in the system after 4-5 half-lives.

CBD’s half-life isn’t set in stone. A 2014 study published in Epilepsy Current suggested that the half-life of CBD was 1-2 days in humans when consumed orally. However, the compound’s half-life also depends on the method of consumption. A 2018 review of studies published in Frontiers in Pharmacology outlined the following half-life calculations for CBD based on how it was consumed:

  • Oromucosal Spray: 4 – 10.9 hours
  • Chronic Oral Administration: 2-5 days
  • IV: 24 hours
  • Smoking: 31 hours

This came after a 2012 study published in Pharmaceuticals calculated the following with regards to CBD half-life:

  • Chronic Oral Administration: 2-5 days
  • IV: 18 – 33 hours
  • Smoking: 27 – 35 hours

How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System? Relevant Factors

The length of time that CBD remains in the system varies from one person to the next and depends on various factors, including:

Individual Physiologic Factors: Water content, body mass index, body fat, and metabolism impact the length of time CBD remains in the system.

Frequency of Usage: CBD builds up in the body over time when used regularly. Users often need to consume the substance daily for at least a week to see if it has a positive effect. However, CBD will clear from your system relatively quickly if only used occasionally.

Dosage: The more consumed each day, the longer the cannabinoid remains in the system.

Consumption Method: As we discovered above, the half-life of CBD depends on how you consume it. Oral consumption appears to have the longest half-life, so CBD from gummies and other edibles will remain in one’s system the longest.

Food: CBD is eliminated from the body faster when used on an empty stomach.

Different drug tests also have varying detection windows, though there is little research on CBD detection in screenings.

That said, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Pain Research did make an interesting discovery.

The researchers administered a cannabis strain high in CBD to 15 participants in a control group. They tested the volunteers two hours after CBD consumption and found that all of them tested positive for CBD metabolites in their urine from 35 total tests. Also, the researchers created a time profile for one volunteer and found that CBD was detectable in urine for about 24 hours.

How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System? Dosages

As one would expect, the higher the dosage, the longer CBD remains in the system. Unfortunately, there is a fair level of guesswork involved in calculating how long CBD remains in the system.

Like THC, CBD’s metabolites remain in the system long after it has expelled CBD itself. Therefore, while pure CBD molecules will quickly leave the system, their metabolites can linger for weeks.

We’ve outlined the likely amount of CBD that stays in your system according to regular daily dosage. Please note that these are broad estimates at best and only relate to smoked or eaten CBD.

Orally Consumed CBD (Daily Dose) 10mg

Time After Dose

What Remains in the System

2 days

5mg

4 days

2.5mg

6 days

1.25mg

8 days

0.625mg

10 days

0.3125mg

Smoked CBD (Daily Dose) 10mg

Time After Dose

What Remains in the System

1.29 days

5mg

2.58 days

2.5mg

3.88 days

1.25mg

5.17 days

0.625mg

6.46 days

0.3125mg

Orally Consumed CBD (Daily Dose) 50mg

Time After Dose

What Remains in the System

2 days

25mg

4 days

12.5mg

6 days

6.25mg

8 days

3.125mg

10 days

1.5625mg

Smoked CBD (Daily Dose) 50mg

Time After Dose

What Remains in the System

1.29 days

25mg

2.58 days

12.5mg

3.88 days

6.25mg

5.17 days

3.125mg

6.46 days

1.5625mg

If one smokes CBD, there is only a little over 3% left in the system after approximately 6.5 days. Orally consumed CBD takes about 10 days to reach this point.

Those who rarely use CBD may find that it leaves the system much faster. A study published in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring in 2005 found that a single dose of 1.35mg CBD and 2.5mg THC was only detectable in the blood for approximately six hours after consumption.

How Long Does 0.3% THC Stay in Your System?

While delta-9-THC has a half-life of just 30 minutes, it is worth remembering that drug screenings search for THC-COOH metabolites. These metabolites appear in the urine anywhere between 30 minutes and four hours after THC consumption.

In general, if you use marijuana once, it is potentially detectable for up to three days. Yet, in regular users, a urinalysis can find evidence of THC-COOH for 30+ days in some cases.

This is because the half-life of THC-COOH metabolites is substantially longer than delta-9-THC. One study suggests that THC-COOH’s half-life in urine is 30 hours in the first seven days after consumption and 44-60 hours in the subsequent five days.

Research suggests that the half-life of THC metabolites ranges from 25 to 55 hours in blood.

While it is unlikely that the 0.3% THC in legal CBD products will remain in your system that long, it does depend on how much you consume. A 10ml bottle of CBD oil, for instance, can contain up to 30mg of THC. Therefore, 1ml equates to 3mg of THC.

However, regular consumption of 1ml+ of CBD oil with close to 0.3% THC could theoretically put one at risk of failing a drug screening. With a half-life of 44 hours in urine, it would take over a week (176 hours) for your body to eliminate 87.5% of the THC metabolites in the system.

Interestingly, a study published in Sports in 2019 warned that a concerning number of CBD products on the market contained the equivalent of 2.5mg of THC per daily dose in Germany. The study authors suggest it is a level of THC consumption that could result in positive tests amongst athletes who use such products.

How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System: Final Thoughts

If you use full-spectrum CBD oil, it is the trace THC metabolites in such products that you have to worry about. There is research indicating problems with mislabeled CBD products, suggesting a real danger that the product you buy might contain excessive THC. Even if it has slightly below the legal 0.3% THC limit, regular excessive consumption might ensure that a detectable level of THC-COOH metabolites remains in your system.

As for how long CBD stays in your system, it depends on a huge number of factors. These include your body, CBD dosage, frequency of use, and consumption method. The fact that certain tests potentially mistake CBD for THC is a grave concern, and we’re not sure how many labs have made this mistake.

In any case, if you’re concerned about accidentally consuming too much THC, it is best to stick to broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate products. Brands like Joy Organics and CBDistillery are highly regarded and give you a rich array of choices.

A Final Word from Dr. Ted Valley on How Long CBD Stays in Your System

These remedies are, however, not reliable and provide only moderate utility. If your job is on the line, it would be best to err on the side of caution and skip out on your dose for at least 15 days so you will know with relative certainty you can pass the test. Remember that there are A LOT of variables regarding your ability to pass a drug test. Every person is going to be different.

CBD and THC, being fat-soluble molecules, will get absorbed into your body’s fatty tissue for later use, meaning that even if you haven’t used CBD for over a month and you start doing cardio training after a period of deconditioning, you will start to release these molecules into the blood as you burn fat for energy.

half life of cbd

Make sure you do your best to follow your company’s policies. And if you work for the DOD in any capacity – especially armed forces – you need to use your best judgment since consumption of hemp products is prohibited at this time!

Lastly, if you came to this article hoping to find an answer to the question “how long does CBD stay in your system,” hopefully, we were able to provide some good insight and valuable information! Thanks for reading, and as always, comment below and be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for the most up-to-date cannabis information.

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