MedicinalHow Long Does Cannabis & CBD Take to Work, and Why?


The continuing legalization of medical cannabis by different US states is a ray of hope that perhaps this form of treatment may help millions of people suffering from chronic diseases that are yet to be tamed by modern medicine. Inflammation, depression, psychosis, convulsions and Neurodegeneration are the health disorders that cannabis/CBD have been shown to manage therapeutically even better than approved medications. The limited clinical data that back these claims together with the federal classification of marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance only add to the confusion of using this form of treatment.

The fate of cannabis/CBD that is administered into the human body or its pharmacokinetics starts with absorption through bioavailability, distribution, metabolism and end in excretion.  Typically, the therapeutic effects of CBD kicks in within 1- 6 hours but it can take far shorter or longer depending on the following reasons:


  • The method of consumption/route of administration

The effects of cannabis/CBD are felt faster or slower depending on how fast it is absorbed into the bloodstream or its bioavailability. This is in turn affected by the form of the drug hence the administration route. The different forms of CBD include oils, lotions, capsules, e-liquids, tinctures, infusions and so forth.

Topical applications using lotions, patches and salves have the lowest effective time as it needs time to diffuse through the skin to reach the blood stream. As with oral consumption, the bioavailability is also greatly reduced (20%), because of the digestion process. CBD tinctures, lozenges and sprays that are administered sublingually get absorbed through the mucous membrane into the blood stream and have a maximum bioavailability of up to 35%. When you are using vaporization with either the vape pen or any other vaporizer device, CBD directly enters the lungs and then directly into the blood stream. This delivers a higher bioavailability rate of up to 56%. Intravenous administration involves direct injection of CBD into the blood stream. Although with an immediate bioavailability rate (100%), this method is not popular but unavoidable for patients with certain health conditions.


  • Type, quality and potency

The defining factor for bioavailability of CBD is the particle size. Smaller, highly extracted particles result in higher and faster absorption rate than larger particles hence the importance of the CBD type that you use. The quality of CBD is affected by the presence and levels of harmful ingredients, storage conditions, the infusions used and the production process. Low quality cannabis/CBD complicates the absorption process hence lower bioavailability.


  • Individual differences and dosage

Higher doses usually lead to a higher rate of bioavailability depending on the form of the CBD consumed and administration. As with individuals, factors such as weight, the symptoms you intend to relieve and their severity, whether you have eaten or not and the effect that you intend to achieve affects the time that your cannabis/CBD will take to work.

The dominant factor that anchors other factors in determining how long cannabis/CBD takes to work is the consumption method. The effect can be almost immediate (within a few minutes) as with injection to long hours (6 or more) with topical application and ingestion. The severity of the effect depends on the amount to dose administered among other factors.

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