How Long Does CBD Stay In Your System?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, has grown in popularity over the past couple of years, particularly as a supplement. However, because it contains trace amounts of THC, it’s still possible that it is detectable in drug tests or screenings.
In fact, recent research has shown that drug tests can’t tell the difference.
This can be particularly worrisome if you are searching for jobs or need to consent to drug screenings for other reasons (e.g., being on parole). It’s a common misconception that CBD and THC are the same; while CBD is a natural supplement, it’s still possible for the THC metabolites to be detected during drug screenings.
There isn’t a simple answer for how long CBD stays in your system. It depends on a number of factors, such as how it was administered, the dosage, and the frequency of use.
Let’s take a closer look at the different ways you can take CBD and how your body processes it. Then we’ll walk through how long it will stay in different systems of your body.
How Your Body Processes CBD and Factors That Affect How Long CBD Stays In Your System
There are many different factors to consider that influence how long CBD stays in your system as well as how it affects you. How long it lasts and is detectable is not the same for everyone. It can depend on:
- Physical factors and genetics, such as your metabolism, age, and weight
- Last time it was taken
- Frequency of use
CBD is fat-soluble, meaning it’s stored in your body’s fat cells rather than the water cells. Therefore, your Body Mass Index (BMI) influences how quickly it is metabolized. The higher your body mass and weight, the longer it will take to leave your system.
Your method of intake can influence how it affects you as well as for how long it lasts. Popular methods and forms of CBD include:
- Dietary supplements
- Dried flower
If you smoke dried flower CBD or use a vape cartridge, the CBD enters your bloodstream within seconds. Therefore, brain effects associated with CBD occur the quickest in this manner.
If you take a dietary supplement or edible that contains CBD, the effects won’t be felt immediately. Your metabolism and diet can influence how soon you feel the effects. However, symptoms are often felt within an hour of digesting it.
Regardless of how you take it though, the effects can typically last between one to three hours.
But does the duration of its effects influence how long it stays in your system for?
How Long Does CBD Stay In Lab Tests?
Just because you no longer feel the effects of CBD doesn’t mean it is no longer detectable. The half-life of CBD is between 18 and 32 hours. However, it can be detectable on lab tests for much longer than that.
Most drug tests screen for THC, rather than CBD. THC is the main component of marijuana. However, as we mentioned, CBD contains trace amounts of THC.
If you pass a drug test after taking CBD, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have traces of THC in your system. It may just mean you’re below the detection level.
Different drug tests have different cut-off levels. Legally, hemp products can contain up to 0.3% of THC.
Furthermore, some tests are more effective at detecting THC and for longer periods of time. The type of drug screening you’re administered – and how long after you last took CBD – could influence whether it’s detectable.
It’s also worth noting that because CBD products are not regulated by the FDA, it’s possible that you could be taking CBD that is mixed with other cannabinoids, which could increase detectability. Also, it’s worth noting that the more frequently you use cannabis products, the wider detection windows become.
How Long Does CBD Stay In Your Urine?
Urine tests are the most popular and common method of drug screening for employers. The detection-window for THC through urine tests can vary widely.
It hinges mostly on the dose you took and your frequency of use. Typically, these metabolites can show up on a urine test anywhere between three days to two weeks after the last time taken.
According to the Mayo Clinic, THC metabolites can be detected for as long as 15 days post-administration among frequent and daily users. However, the research also suggests that these numbers can vary based on the dosage.
How Long Does CBD Stay In Your Hair?
Hair tests are known for being able to detect drugs for an extended period of time. These tests can detect the THC metabolites in CBD for as long as three months post-administration. However, hair tests are also very uncommon for THC and CBD.
How Long Does CBD Stay In Your Blood?
Although blood tests are not nearly as common as urine tests for screening for CBD and cannabinoids, they can be used to detect THC metabolites. The reason they’re not the preferred method of drug screening is because of how quickly THC is eliminated from your bloodstream.
Generally, THC is only detectable in your plasma for about five hours after you take it. However, THC metabolites and, therefore, CBD can be present for up to a week.
How Long Does CBD Stay In Your Saliva?
Similar to hair, saliva tests for CBD or THC are incredibly rare for employment or legal reasons. However, the drug components could be detected within minutes after you take it and could last for up to 36 hours, depending on the dosage and frequency of use.
If you consume CBD products in large amounts, and on a regular basis, it’s possible that this test – as well as the others – could detect it for longer.
Get Treated for Drug Addiction
If you’re trying to break free from the burden of cannabis addiction, know that it is possible. While some people may insist that you can’t become physically dependant on cannabis or cannabis-related products, psychological dependency can be just as disruptive.
For many people, making the decision to get help can be the hardest part. But you’ll be happy you did, and the sooner you take action, the better.
Help, treatment, and support are only one call away. Call Bedrock Recovery Center today to learn about the process.
Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products
Over the past several years, FDA has issued several warning letters to firms that market unapproved new drugs that allegedly contain cannabidiol (CBD). As part of these actions, FDA has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed to contain. It is important to note that these products are not approved by FDA for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease. Consumers should beware purchasing and using any such products.
CBD or THC? Common Drug Test Can’t Tell the Difference
Those cannabidiol-laced gummy bears may be entirely legal, but they could still get you arrested on marijuana possession charges.
By Amanda Chicago Lewis
In June of 2018 , Mark Pennington received troubling news from his ex-girlfriend, with whom he shared custody of their 2-year-old son. She had taken a hair follicle from the boy, she said, and had it analyzed at a lab. A drug test had returned positive for THC, the intoxicating compound in marijuana; evidently their son had been exposed to it, presumably in Mr. Pennington’s presence. He was told that, from then on, he would be permitted to see the child only once a week, and under supervision.
“I was mortified,” Mr. Pennington recalled recently. “My jaw hit the floor. I just knew from the bottom of my heart I hadn’t gotten any THC in my son’s system.”
However, Mr. Pennington had been providing his son with honey infused with cannabidiol, or CBD, a nonintoxicating compound that, like THC, is found in varying amounts in the plant known as cannabis. THC is federally illegal, and until recently so was all cannabis.
But last December, the Farm Bill legalized hemp — cannabis that contains less than 0.3 percent THC. With that, CBD became legal. It can now be found at stores across the country, in everything from tinctures and massage oils to coffee and makeup. Mr. Pennington, who lives in Colorado, where growing hemp for CBD has been legal since 2014 , worked for Colorado Hemp Honey, a company that sells CBD-infused raw honey across the country.
Mr. Pennington was despondent about possibly losing custody of his child, until he spoke with Frank Conrad, the chief technology officer and lab director at Colorado Green Lab, a scientific consultant to the cannabis industry. Mr . Conrad directed him to a little-known study published in 2012 in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology that showed that a common forensic drug testing method could easily mistake the presence of CBD for THC. In short, the drug testing lab may have erred; it was entirely possible that the CBD Mr. Pennington had given his child had caused the drug test to produce a false positive for THC.
Two chemists with Cascade Chemistry, a private chemical-research company in Eugene, Oregon, independently reviewed the study for The Times and confirmed the validity of the potential drug testing problem.
With Mr. Conrad as an expert witness, Mr. Pennington won equal custody. Now, on behalf of his son, he plans to sue the lab that did the drug test, to raise awareness of the problematic testing method, which could have broad implications for average Americans as CBD becomes mainstream.
“I can’t even estimate how many people this is going to screw over,” said Mr. Conrad, who has worked on a handful of cases similar to Mr. Pennington’s. (He is not working with Mr. Pennington on the lawsuit against the lab.) In one case Mr. Conrad consulted on, a couple in Florida was charged with marijuana possession after a CBD-infused gummy bear tested positive for THC. Another client was arrested for violating his parole after testing positive for THC, when he claimed he had only used CBD.
In every court case in which Mr. Conrad has explained the problem with this specific drug testing method, prosecutors have dropped the charges. “Anyone who’s on probation getting a random urine test — if this happens to them and they’re taking CBD oil, they’re going back to jail,” Mr. Conrad said.
Bruce Houlihan, director of the Orange County, Calif., crime lab and chair of the emerging drugs and opioids committee for the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, expressed concern. “If any labs are using this method, they’ll have to be careful,” Mr . Houlihan said. He added that there was no way to estimate how many drug testing labs might be accidentally mistaking CBD for THC, because forensic labs generally determine their methodology in house.
It is also difficult to estimate how many people in a year have suffered negative consequences, such as the loss of a job or parental rights, after testing positive for THC, because most drug testing data is private. Even data that is public can be difficult to parse. For instance, in many locales, official statistics around “drugged driving” do not distinguish between drivers who test positive for THC and those who test positive for other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine.
Nonetheless, a drug test that identifies CBD as THC could have serious consequences. Even in states that have legalized marijuana, it remains legal for employers, child protective services, public housing authorities and other entities to test for THC. And in a survey conducted earlier this year by the investment bank Cowen, 7 percent of adults in the U.S. — 17 million people — reported using CBD.
The drug testing method in question involves a common chemical analysis device called a gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry, or GC-MS, machine. Most such devices require the drug testing lab to add a chemical to a sample in order to identify trace amounts of illicit compounds, in a process called derivatization. Labs can perform derivatization using a variety of chemical agents, but one of the most common is called trifluoroacetic anhydride, or TFAA.
According to the 2012 journal article, TFAA when used by a GC-MS machine was unable to discern between CBD and THC. If a person who used only CBD were given a drug test that employed this device, method and chemical, the results would falsely report the presence of THC.
Many labs have upgraded from GC-MS analysis to a more precise technique called high-performance liquid chromatography, Mr. Houlihan said. But tests using GC-MS are still common, he said, and many of those may be using TFAA.
“Most labs using GC-MS toxicology, you have to derivatize,” Mr. Houlihan said. “TFAA is a common derivatizing agent.”
Barry Sample, the senior director of science and technology at Quest Diagnostics, the biggest purveyor of drug tests in the country, said he was familiar with the problem outlined in the 2012 paper, but said Quest Diagnostics did not use that methodology. “We use a different analytical procedure,” Dr. Sample said.
However, a woman who was fired from her job last year following a urine drug test from Quest Diagnostics has claimed that a CBD product caused her to test positive for THC. Because she is in ongoing legal proceedings with her former employer, she asked to be referred to only by her middle name, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth had been taking the CBD product for a few weeks when she went in for a scheduled drug test. The company that produced the product is based in Colorado and appeared to be legitimate, she said, so she was shocked when she failed the drug test. “They were reputable,” she said. “They had their lab results on their website.”
Elizabeth has been in touch with Mr. Conrad, but he is not serving as a witness in her case.
CBD products sold outside of state-licensed marijuana dispensaries are not yet regulated. As a result, many products that claim to contain CBD in fact do not, or they may contain more than the legal limit of THC, according to testing done by the Food and Drug Administration . This could cause some CBD users to test positive for THC, and adds to the confusion surrounding THC testing generally. Dr. Sample said that this was most likely the problem with the CBD product Elizabeth had been using, and likely why her Quest drug test showed that she had used THC. But Elizabeth insisted that the CBD product she purchased did not get her high and did not have any THC.
“I didn’t break any rules, so I should not be losing my job,” she said, adding that she has struggled since her termination. “I’m nowhere near making the amount of money I was before, and I’m not really working in my field, either.”
False positives in drug tests are just one of many issues that have arisen as law enforcement authorities attempt to catch up with the rapidly shifting laws around the cannabis industry.
“Prior to opening up this whole industry, there was really no research done on these compounds, because it was illegal to do the research,” said Rodger Voelker, an analytical chemist in Oregon who helped develop the state’s regulations for the types and amounts of pesticides that can be applied to cannabis crops, as well as how to test for their presence in consumer marijuana products. “These compounds have been around for a long time, but people did not know much about the chemistries. Regulatory agencies are the slowest to move. It’s always reactionary.”
For instance, there is no accurate test or threshold to measure intoxication from cannabis; the best available tests can only show whether an individual has used marijuana within the last few days. This makes it nearly impossible to determine whether a person is driving while under the influence of THC.