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How Long Does CBD Take to Work

The Answer to This and Other Questions About CBD

As with most questions in life, the answer to “how long does CBD take to work” does not have an absolute, straightforward answer. There are several factors that affect not only how long it will take for CBD to begin working, but how long effects will last and how long it stays in your system.

In this article we will discuss how the type of CBD product you use, how much you use, the quality of the product you are using, how often you are using CBD, and your body composition all play a major role in how long CBD takes to kick in and how long it will last. We will also briefly discuss how to tell if CBD is working, reasons why CBD is not working for you, and a few other common questions.

How Long Does CBD Take to Work?

Delivery Method Matters

There are four (4) main methods by which users take CBD products. Each method differs in how long it takes the CBD and other cannabinoids to reach your bloodstream and target the Endocannabinoid System’s cannabinoid receptors. Once that happens, you will begin to experience the effects and eventual benefits of CBD. 

The method by which you take CBD will not only directly affect how long it takes to begin working, but how much is actually absorbed by your body. This is called bioavailability and it means that your body will actually use different levels of CBD based on the delivery method. For example, 5mg ingested may affect you differently than 5mg inhaled.

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Edibles (Ingestion)

Edible products such as CBD Gummies take a pretty long route to the bloodstream. The digestive system takes relatively much longer to pass through than other delivery methods. It can take up to two (2) hours after ingestion for a dose of CBD to take effect. Others may begin to experience the effects in as little as 20-30 minutes. How quickly it affects you depends on several factors that we will discuss further along in this article. The effects from edibles tend to last longer than other delivery methods as well. Many experience effects for about 6-8 hours.

When ingested, CBD must travel through the stages of the digestive system. During this process, some of the CBD is “lost” and never provides the body with the intended effects. This is called bioavailability. Edibles have a lower bioavailability than smokeables and tinctures, but higher than topicals.

Smokeables (Inhalation)

Inhaling CBD is the most direct route for CBD and other cannabinoids to enter your bloodstream. The lungs have a lot of surface area that is directly connected to the bloodstream so, for many, effects can be felt almost instantaneously. The direct connection to the bloodstream also allows a very high percentage of the CBD to actually be used by the body when using products such as CBD Flower or Pre Rolls (inhalation has a high bioavailability).  

Tinctures (Sublingual)

Products such as CBD Drops (also called Tincture and CBD Oil) are suggested to be used sublingually. This means that you place a few drops of the CBD Oil under your tongue. The mucus membrane will absorb the CBD after about 45 seconds and then you can swallow the rest. This method has a high bioavailability (a good amount of it actually gets used by the body) and a direct line to the bloodstream so effects can be felt relatively quickly. 

Some choose to use tinctures in a different way. You can get your dose of CBD by adding a few drops of CBD Drops to any food or beverage! A few drops in your coffee or water or breakfast bar can be a great way to get your day started. If you decide to do this (ingestions) instead of placing a few drops under your tongue (sublingual), the CBD will reach your bloodstream differently.

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Topical products such as CBD Muscle Gel or CBD Pain Relief Salve are applied directly to the skin where pain or inflammation relief is needed. CBD has a tough time getting through the skin to the bloodstream so it has a very low bioavailability. This does not mean topicals have no use. There are cannabinoid receptors at skin level and these are the receptors that topical products target. Effects are generally felt right away, but some may not feel relief for up to about 20 minutes


Your relative dose may affect how long it takes for you to begin to feel the effects from your dose. For example, a 30mg dose will probably take effect more quickly than a 5mg dose. Everyone’s a little different when it comes to proper dosing. Those of us with higher levels of pain or anxiety or other ailments may benefit from higher doses. The same is true for heavier individuals.

To find your perfect dose, begin with a small dose, maybe about 10-20mg, and see how that feels for about 6 hours. After that, if you feel like a higher dose would benefit you more, go ahead and jump that dose up. There is no such thing as too much, but at some point, more is just unnecessary. 

Is Your CBD High-Quality?

Not all CBD products are made with the same attention to quality. Many companies choose not to test their own products at third party lab facilities. Instead, they trust the supplier’s lab-results and this can result in products that are not as advertised. Issues could be lower potency, higher than legal levels of Delta-9 THC, or contaminates. Low quality products may not affect you as you would expect. Be sure to check for lab-test results from the CBD brand you choose. If you have questions, a representative should be able to provide you with an informed answer.  

Consistency of Use

How often you use CBD can affect how long it takes for a dose to set in. Consistent use usually results in a quicker onset compared to occasional users. By taking CBD consistently (daily), your Endocannabinoid System (ECS) can restore balance (Endocannabinoid Deficiency). This can mean that CBD begins to affect you more quickly than without regular use.

Body Composition

Weight and Metabolism

Heavier persons may require a higher dose to achieve the same results a lighter person achieves with a lower dose. For example, 10mg to a 130lbs person may set in more quickly than that same 10mg to a 230lbs person. 

The same goes for individuals higher with a faster metabolism than those with slower metabolisms. Your metabolism is how quickly your body breaks down compounds like calories and CBD. Those with faster metabolisms may feel effects more quickly. Those same individuals may not feel the effects as long as someone with a slower metabolism. Factors that affect your metabolism include exercise, age, lifestyle, and genetic makeup.

Time of Day

Our bodies constantly change throughout the day. This can affect how long it takes for a dose of CBD to begin affecting you. If you take some in the morning before you eat, effects will probably set in more quickly than if you take CBD an hour after a meal. A dose of CBD after working out, while your blood is pumping and metabolism running high, may set in more quickly than a dose taken while lounging on the couch. 

how long does CBD take to work
How Long Does CBD Take to Work? by Thrive Flower

For Dogs and Cats and Rabbits and More

Some of you may be wondering how long does it take for CBD to start working on your dog, cat, or other pet. Just like humans, this answer is not so straightforward, but it is very similar to humans. Factors such as the type of product, the quality of the product, consistency of use, and body composition all play a role. Review the information in the sections above for more complete details.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Will the Effects of CBD Last?

Generally, the effects from a dose of CBD last about 4-8 hours. It will vary based on several factors including how much you took, your weight and metabolism, and the type of product you used. We suggest waiting at least 2 hours after a dose before taking more.

How Long Does CBD Stay in Your Body?

How long CBD stays in your system is dependent on which type of product you use, how much you use, how often, and your body. For many, CBD exits the system within 5 days. For sure this process could take weeks.

Why is CBD Not Working For Me?

There are several reasons you may not be experiencing the benefits you were expecting from CBD use. It could be that the product you are using is not quality. As we have mentioned before, please check for lab-results before buying any CBD product.

Your dose could also be an issue. It is not uncommon for someone to be taking a lower dose than what works for them. It is a bit tricky because there is not an exact answer for dosing. You have to find what works best for you. Start with a low dose and wait about 6 hours before taking more. Increase your dose slowly until you find what works best for you. There is no such thing as “too much CBD”. Nothing bad will happen, but at some point, taking more is just unnecessary.

CBD is not a fix-all. It cannot replace eating healthy, exercising, and leading a generally healthy lifestyle. If you are in pain or have anxiety, CBD can help you only if you are also helping yourself.

Will I Pass a Drug Test?

CBD does not produce the metabolite that marijuana drug tests look for. This metabolite (THC-OOH) is only produced by THC, never CBD. That being said, some products contain trace amounts of THC. The legal limit is 0.3% Delta-9 THC. At this level, you will pass a drug test. The concern is that not all products strictly adhere to the legal guidelines. It is not uncommon for products to contain over the legal limit of 0.3% Delta-9 THC. Be sure to check your lab-results before buying and using any CBD product.

Can You Build a Tolerance to CBD?

Unlike with THC use, your body does not build a tolerance to CBD. This means that 10mg today will affect you about the same as 10mg tomorrow and the next day and the next day and… you get it.

Can I Use CBD While Breastfeeding?

Studies have shown CBD and other cannabinoids can pass to the infant via breastmilk. For this reason, we do not suggest using CBD or other cannabinoids while breastfeeding.

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