Given the upward trend of CBD oil use and the seemingly increasing sophistication of cannabinoid drug tests that screen for THC and its metabolites, some people are wondering – “how long does CBD stay in your system?”
According to the World Health Organization, CBD is a “safe and well-tolerable substance with no adverse health effects”. Additionally, CBD causes no high whatsoever. But believe it or not, some people have tested positive for THC metabolites after taking nothing but full-spectrum, non-psychoactive CBD oils. And of course, many of them have subsequently felt the consequences in terms of a lost job, a parole violation, etc.
To be fair, though, all full-spectrum CBD oils on the market will contain trace amounts of THC. The federal legal THC limit for industrial hemp (the source material for legal CBD oils) is 0.3%, but even at these levels (and even with an average daily dose), it is entirely possible to fail a drug test — all quality CBD oil sellers should disclaim this on their website. (Remember though that there is a difference between full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate, which is 100% THC-free).
Full-spectrum CBD oils contain trace amounts of THC that can cause users to fail a drug test.
In any regard, if you’ve got an upcoming drug test (or perhaps if you’re just plain curious), it may be worthwhile to know just how long CBD stays in your system for.
In this article, we get right down to it and try to answer this question for you. Of course, there is very, very little reliable data on the matter, so even though we’ve thoroughly researched, we are still doing our best to make sense of this all.
First Things First: Do Marijuana Drug Tests Screen for CBD?
To be clear, most drug screenings that test for the use of marijuana do not look for CBD – or any of its metabolites. Rather, what most employers are looking for is THC (the psychoactive compound of marijuana) in your blood, urine, saliva, or hair.
There have been people in the past that have tested positive for the presence of THC metabolites, however, even after taking nothing but CBD oil. And in some cases, people have failed drug tests even after abstaining from CBD oil for a couple of weeks.
If you know you’ve got an upcoming marijuana drug test and you know that the test will scan for cannabinoids, it may be crucial to know just how long CBD stays in your system for – even if you’ve been taking a 100% legal, hemp-based CBD oil (such as this one).
And on a relative side note, if you’re unsure what exactly your upcoming drug test will scan for, we have heard (though have not fact-checked) that you are within your rights to anonymously call either the employer or the drug test company (or both) and ask them outright.
Preparing for the Test: How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System For?
As we’ve mentioned, there is little reliable data out there that shows exactly how long CBD stays in your system for. If you’ve been taking a full-spectrum CBD oil and an upcoming drug test is concerning you, however, it’s not the CBD that you should think about – it’s the trace amounts of THC in the full-spectrum tincture.
As such, what you need to do is determine how long THC stays in your system, and treat the situation as if you’ve been using actual marijuana (marijuana with usual amounts of THC).
If you want to know how long CBD stays in your system for, the most reliable information probably comes from a 2014 publication in the scientific journal Epilepsy Currents. In the study, researchers suggest that the half-life of CBD after a single dose when taken orally is “about 1 to 2 days.”
Making Sense of It All…
What does this mean, exactly? 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.”
So for instance, if you take a single 20 mg dose of CBD orally, according to this data you would have approximately 10 mg in your body after 1 to 2 days. But what does this mean in terms of a drug test?
Calculating how long THC metabolites remain in your system depends on numerous individualized factors.
Well, most accounts (see reference studies below) estimate that drugs reach their “steady state” (i.e. the point in which the compound is effectively eliminated from the body) after 4-5 half-lives.
This may seem to imply a very simple calculation in terms of exactly how long it would take for a drug to become undetectable by a drug test, but in fact, the calculation can get very, very complex when you take into consideration certain variables, such as the frequency that the drug was taken, the metabolism of the individual in question, their sex, age, weight, etc.
Another study, published May 2012 in the journal Pharmaceuticals, claimed a bit longer of a half-life for CBD in terms of how long it remains detectable in humans. It found the magic number to be between 18 and 33 hours for IV administration, between 27 and 35 hours for smoking, and between 2 to 5 days for oral administration.
As you can see, it appears that for a CBD oil administered orally to be completely eliminated from the system, you are looking at a minimum of 4 days and a maximum of 25 days. Yes, we realize this is a pretty radical swing, but all things considered, it’s the best information that anybody has to go off of.
How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System? One Study Seems to Show Not Very Long…
With the above numbers in mind, it seems (according to one study at least) that the length of time CBD stays in your system leans more towards the former rather than the latter (more towards the 4-day mark than the 25-day mark).
The study in question appears in a 1991 publication of Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior. Researchers monitored CBD blood plasma levels among 14 Huntington’s Disease patients that were given 700 mg/day doses of CBD for a total of 6 weeks.
According to one study, the half-life of CBD is less than five days, so it doesn’t stay in your system for very long.
After the 6-week period was over, blood plasma CBD levels averaged at just 1.5 ng/ml among the 14 test subjects in the week immediately following administration of the compound. After this first week, the CBD levels were “virtually undetectable.”
As such, the study determines the “elimination half-life” for CBD to be between 2 and 5 days, with no apparent distinction between genders.
How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System: Final Thoughts
Again, if failing a drug test after taking full-spectrum CBD oil for a consistent period of time is a concern, it is actually the trace THC metabolites that you most likely have to worry about — not CBD. (There have, however, been some studies showing that even pure CBD can break down into THC in the stomach, but this is speculative in terms of the effects it might have on a drug test).
All in all, if an upcoming drug test concerns you, there are certain measures you can take to help reduce your risk of passing – even if you’ve smoked weed or taken CBD as early as the day before the test.
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.
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 – it is important for you to use your best judgment since consumption of hemp products is prohibited at this time!
Lastly, if you did in fact come to this article hoping to answer 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