The rising popularity of products made from cannabidiol (CBD) is increasingly making people ask does CBD show up on a drug test and stoking concerns about testing positive for another well-known member of the cannabinoid family: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). But why is CBD so popular? CBD is an FDA-approved treatment for the Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and the Dravet Syndrome, both severe forms of epilepsy. In addition, CBD has pain-relieving, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties, according to the PubChem database of the National Center for Biotechnology Information. CBD also shows huge potential as an anxiety-inhibiting treatment, a meta-review of several studies by Esther M. Blessing, Maria M. Steenkamp, and other researchers shows. Some people use it as a sleep aid, although it’s efficacy as a soporific seems to vary from person to person.
So, Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?
It shouldn’t, in theory. Drug tests are designed to detect 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is also known as THC-COOH or carboxy THC. This is one of the metabolites formed in your body after you ingest cannabis whether by smoking it, eating it, or absorbing it sublingually. Because THC-COOH is stored in the fat cells, it persists in the body long after THC is processed and excreted. Sensitive tests may be able to detect the metabolite weeks after your last hit.
However, workplace drug tests are not designed to look for CBD. This is because there is little point in testing for the cannabinoid as it is not psychoactive. It is possible to design a test to detect CBD and its metabolites but you don’t need to worry. The process would require special analytes and changes to testing procedures that would, in turn, lead to extra costs, which your employer, current or prospective, would have to bear. There is no motivation for any company to go through all this hassle considering that CBD does not impair the ability to work.
Detection thresholds differ by type of test. Hair tests, for instance, tend to be less sensitive. Unless you are a habitual user, hair tests are unlikely to be positive. Oral and urine tests are another matter, however. They are generally more sensitive and can detect very tiny traces of THC.
Reasons CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?
In theory, your drug test shouldn’t turn positive if you are using CBD. In practice, however, you may fail a test for several reasons:
Using the Wrong CBD Product
You may have failed your drug test because of using the wrong CBD product. Full-spectrum products contain all of the compounds found in hemp, including THC. If you use a full-spectrum CBD product with THC levels exceeding the legal maximum of 0.3%, chances are that your test will be positive. You should avoid these products if a negative result is critical to your career.
Broad-spectrum CBD products, on the other hand, contain all of the compounds found in the hemp plant, minus THC. These products are less likely to trigger a positive result but should be used with care nonetheless.
CBD isolate products, as you may have probably guessed, contain pure cannabidiol. If you want to use CBD and avoid the risk of failing a drug test, these products should be at the top of your list — if not the only thing on it.
Second–Hand Exposure To THC
While unlikely, it is possible to test positive for THC from inadvertent exposure. If there’s an upcoming drug test you’re worried about, avoid being around heavy smokers just to be on the safe side.
Contaminated CBD Products
If CBD is improperly extracted, it can become contaminated with levels of THC that are high enough to trigger a positive drug test. This is a particular concern when using products that use cheaper extraction methods.
Deceptively Labeled Products
A 2017 study by Penn Medicine showed that nearly 70% of CBD products sold online are mislabeled. It is not unusual for retailers to brand products containing THC levels exceeding the legal limit as ‘THC-free.’ This is mainly because CBD products are mostly unregulated by comparison.
How To Avoid a Positive Drug Test While Using CBD
There are several things you can do to eliminate the risk of failing a drug test while using CBD products. First, conduct thorough research before making any purchase. Ensure that the product that you are planning to buy is sourced from hemp and has been extracted using the right methods. Most credible firms use carbon dioxide extraction, which yields pure, potent products.
Reputable companies also provide third-party testing reports to buttress their claims. These reports can help you find out the proportions of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids in the products that pique your interest.
If a drug test is imminent, sticking to laboratory-tested CBD isolate may be the best way of avoiding nasty surprises. Isolate has other advantages: it is cheaper than its full- and broad-spectrum counterparts and often has more doses per serving.
Is It Legal To Use CBD?
That depends. CBD is illegal in all jurisdictions where hemp or its products are outlawed. The cannabinoid is generally legal in countries and regions where hemp products are legal too. CBD is also typically legal in areas where cannabinoids are permitted for medical use, as long as users follow established restrictions. It may be legal to use CBD in jurisdictions that regulate hemp separately from cannabis.
In theory, you should not fail a drug test if you exclusively use CBD. These tests are designed to look for THC and its metabolites, not CBD. Companies do not bother testing for CBD because it is not psychoactive and does not interfere with psychomotor functions.
However, if you have been using CBD products contaminated with trace amounts of THC exceeding the legally permitted maximum, your test is likely to come back positive. You can also fail a test if you have been exposed to second-hand THC-laden smoke, or if you have been using a product with more THC than indicated on the label. Using laboratory-tested CBD isolate is the best way of eliminating the risk of failing a drug test.