How Long Does It Take CBD to Work and How Long Do Effects Last?

How Long Does It Take CBD to Work and How Long Do Effects Last?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis plants that people have been using in a number of ways since the times of ancient civilizations. 

As the CBD market expands and is expected to reach $29.91 billion by 2025, more and more people are looking into all the ways they can implement this cannabinoid into their wellness routine. The most common questions related to CBD are how long it takes for it to start working and how long the effects last, so if you’re interested in learning more about these topics, read on.

Factors That Influence How Long It Takes for CBD to Work

Before we get into the specifics and talk about how long it takes for CBD to work, we need to go over the factors that influence how quickly CBD gets absorbed in your body before the effects kick in.

Method of Intake

The first factor that can help you determine how long it takes before you start feeling the first effects of CBD is the method of intake. This is important because each one has a different impact on how much CBD gets absorbed into your bloodstream and how fast it happens. This is also known as bioavailability, and you can see how each consumption method has a different bioavailability:

  • Topicals are only absorbed into the upper layers of the skin and can’t penetrate the skin’s water barrier since they’re hydrophilic. In other words, they won’t end up in your bloodstream, meaning that topical CBD generally has 0% bioavailability, and you can expect to feel the first effects after about 15 minutes upon it being absorbed into the skin.
  • Oral products first go through the digestive system before they eventually reach the bloodstream and their bioavailability is between 13% - 19%. You can expect to feel the first effects within 45 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Sublingual products first go through the mouth tissues and mucous membranes before they ultimately end up in the bloodstream. Their bioavailability is between 20%-30% and you can expect to feel the first effects after about 15 minutes.
  • Inhaling CBD will give you the fastest results as the cannabinoid enters the bloodstream through the lungs and the bioavailability is over 31%. You can expect to feel the first effects within 10 to 15 minutes.

Based on how you consume CBD, smoking will get you the fastest effects followed by using sublingual products, edibles, and last but not least, topicals.

Dosage and Potency

The next factor that affects how long it takes before you experience the sedative, anti-inflammatory and other effects of CBD is the serving size and potency of your CBD. As a general rule of thumb, the more you take, the faster you’ll experience the effects. If you’re looking at general guidelines about how much CBD to take, you can check our previous article on the subject.

CBD Quality

As you might already know, the CBD market is expanding rapidly, though not all products are created equally and the market is still not as regulated as it should be, so you should always buy products that are third-party tested. Moreover, there are differences between CBD products in terms of how many cannabinoids they contain, so you can choose between full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate. 

Full-spectrum CBD products contain all the naturally occurring compounds and cannabinoids that the plant contains, including THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids and terpenes, and they work together via a mechanism called the entourage effect. This is why a lot of cannabis consumers choose to try exactly those products, especially people who take CBD for medical purposes. Remember to get a Certificate of Analysis of your CBD products, as the federal guidelines on legal CBD products are THC levels lower than 0.3%. For more information on how to use CBD as a medication, consult with your licensed physician.

Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum CBD and contains a lot of cannabinoids and chemical compounds that are naturally occurring in the plant they’re extracted from, however, they don’t contain the intoxicating cannabinoid THC.

CBD isolates are products that contain isolated CBD and no other cannabinoids. The effects of CBD isolates can be much less notable compared to the effects a user may experience when using a full-spectrum CBD product.

Individual Biology

Even if you were to take the same dose of CBD and use the same product as another CBD consumer, there’s no guarantee that you will get the same effects. This is because each person is different in terms of their body weight and metabolism.

Body Weight

CBD is fat-soluble, as are most cannabinoids, meaning that if you have more fat cells in your body, CBD will linger much longer, and the higher the body mass, the longer it will take for it to work.


Similar to how your metabolism affects how fast your body burns calories, it also has effects on how fast the body breaks down cannabinoids. People with a higher metabolism may have a faster onset of effects, although the body may get rid of the cannabinoids faster as well. Likewise, if you have a slower metabolism it will take longer to feel the effects, although the CBD will stay in your body much longer.


This is another factor where each person’s experience is different. For some people, it may take just a few servings before they start feeling the effects of CBD, and some can even feel them after the first dose.

How Long Does CBD Take to Work?

Based on the previous paragraphs, you may have concluded that the onset of effects of CBD is different for each individual, and you need to take all of the factors into consideration before you make an estimate. Generally, smoking CBD or using a tincture sublingually will produce the fastest effects, while edibles will need a long time before you experience the onset of effects. The former method of consumption may take about 15 minutes before you feel the initial effects (though this time varies from person to person) while using tinctures or consuming CBD edibles can take between an hour or two for the CBD to kick in.

What Affects How Long CBD Stays in Your System?

Much the same as how there are factors that affect how fast CBD starts to produce its effects on consumers, there are also factors that determine how long CBD stays in the body.

The Serving Size

The serving of CBD you take not only affects how long it takes for CBD to produce its effects, but it also affects how long CBD stays in your system. A larger serving size will mean that you’ll feel the effects for a longer period and they’ll be more intense. Remember to start low and go slow if you’re a newbie.

The Frequency of Use

If used regularly, CBD eventually builds up in the body and continued use may cause the effects to linger longer. However, if you’re an occasional consumer, CBD will clear from your system much faster. There’s also the case of tolerance levels, meaning that the more you consume CBD, you eventually build a tolerance to it and gradually stop feeling the effects so intensely, so you may need a larger serving to get the effects you’re after.

The Body

Your body mass index (BMI), metabolism, as well as your water content may also influence how long CBD lingers in your system. People with a higher BMI and a slower metabolism may free the effects of CBD much longer than those who have a lower BMI and a faster metabolism. 

The Level of Satiety

If you’re a person who consumes CBD on an empty stomach, the CBD will be eliminated faster compared to if you were to consume CBD on a full stomach. Eating before consuming CBD slows down the rate at which the body metabolizes the cannabinoid as it also needs to metabolize the food.

The Method of Use

The method of use will also affect how long the effects of CBD will last - the consumption methods with a faster onset of effects will eliminate the CBD from the body much faster, meaning the effects will not last long. In contrast, the consumption methods with slower onset of effects will take longer to eliminate the CBD from the body, meaning the effects will last longer, too.

Edibles take the longest to be metabolized, so consuming CBD edibles will give you longer-lasting effects, whereas consuming CBD sublingually will produce effects that have a shorter duration than edibles, and smoking CBD will produce effects that wear off the quickest.

How Long Do the CBD Effects Last?

As we mentioned above, the exact length of time it takes for the effects of CBD to wear off generally depends on the person, their unique body composition, as well as the serving size, frequency of use, level of satiety, and method of use. But as a general guideline, you can expect the effects to last anywhere between 2 and 6 hours

Final Thoughts

It may not be that easy to determine the exact amount of time it takes for CBD to work and how long the effects last since there are different factors that need to be taken into consideration as each person’s body is different and the research on CBD is still at its inception. Moreover, as the CBD market expands, new products pop up, which makes it much more difficult for consumers to keep up with all the novelty. Also, there are a lot of factors involved in determining just how long it takes before you feel the first effects and how long you can expect those effects to last, and this is unique to each person as not all bodies and metabolisms are the same.

But if we were to make a general approximation, it can take anywhere between 15 minutes and two hours for a user to feel the initial effects, and they can expect the effects to last between 2 and 6 hours. Keep in mind that all products are different, but if you can choose, opt for products that are organic, and have been third-party tested, so you’re sure that you’re getting the best option there is on the market.

Reading next

Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum vs Isolate: Explaining the Various Types of CBD Products
Beginners Guide to CBD Flower

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