As CBD use grows and products become more readily available, a common concern among its users is whether or not consuming the compound can result in them failing a drug test. Given that CBD (cannabidiol) is one of many active chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, this concern is understandable and valid.
Drug testing is a typical pre-employment hiring and ongoing employment process. The main goal of screening for illegal drugs in the workplace is to mitigate the adverse effects of substance abuse. Lowered productivity and increased risk of physical injuries and fatalities are the most prevalent.
Professional athletes are also subject to frequent drug testing for obvious reasons. So too are criminal offenders and drug rehabilitation program participants among others.
Different Types of Drug Test Results
Drug testing screens for the presence of specific illicit substances including marijuana, cocaine, opiates, PCP (phencyclidine), amphetamines, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates. Tests samples can either be urine (most common), hair, blood, sweat, or oral fluids.
There are four possible outcomes of a drug test – positive, negative, false positive, false negative. A testing concept referred to as cut-off level is what determines the exact outcome of a drug screen. The concept relates to the concentration of a drug within a testing sample. Cut-off levels vary by the drug of abuse and source of the testing sample (urine, hair, blood, sweat, oral fluids). They also vary from one employer to the next.
If the concentration of a drug in a testing sample exceeds an established cut-off level, the test will be positive. A positive test, however, is not an indication of impairment or addiction. A negative result indicates either that no drugs were present or the amount was below the cut-off level.
If you consume a substance that contains a legal amount of a drug that is illegal in high amounts like hemp or poppy seeds, your drug test results may come back as a false positive. False positives are, however, rare when screening for marijuana.
Contaminating or degrading a testing sample yields a false negative result. Consuming excess amounts of water just before testing, or directly diluting the sample are two ways this may happen.
Will CBD show up in a drug test?
CBD will not show up in a drug test as the screening panel is not set up to detect for it.
When screening for marijuana, drug tests are looking for THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), marijuana’s primary ingredient that’s responsible for producing euphoric and mind-altering feelings.
Marijuana drug test panels also screen for THC-COOH (carboxy THC or 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol). THC-COOH is one of the most significant compounds produced by the metabolism of THC. This metabolite stays in your body longer than THC.
CBD Products That Contain THC
Despite CBD not showing up in a drug test, the possibility of failing a screening for illicit substances exists because CBD products can contain trace amounts of THC. CBD products are made from one of three types of extracts – full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate.
- Full-spectrum – Products labeled as full-spectrum contain all of the plant’s naturally occurring compounds including THC. Though the amount of THC can vary in these types of products, only content of less than 0.3 percent is legal.
- Broad-spectrum – The difference between CBD products labeled as full spectrum and those classified as broad-spectrum is that the latter contains no THC.
- Isolate – Isolate extract is the purest form of CBD. These type of products do not contain any additional compounds from the source plant.
What You Need to Know About THC
THC and its metabolites have an elimination half-life of 20 hours. However, since these compounds are fat soluble, they are detectable several days or even weeks after entering the body.
The period within which a drug is detectable in a testing sample is called the window of detection. This timeframe varies between individuals as it’s affected by various factors, including the amount and frequency of drug taken. Percentage of body fat (body mass index – BMI), metabolism, and general health also play a role.
How products containing THC are consumed also plays a role in their detectability. Ingested cannabis remains in the body longer than the smoked variety.
Urine testing is the most common way to screen for the ingredients in cannabis. THC is detectable in a urine sample up to approximately 1–30 days after use. The Australian standard drug screening cut-off level for THC in urine is 50 ug/L.
The window of detection for THC in a blood specimen is 3 – 4 hours. THC is detectable in hair tests up to 90 days after consumption and approximately 24 – 72 hours after use in saliva tests.
How to Avoid a Positive Drug Test When Using CBD
Legal CBD products should have less than 0.3% of THC. However, since the industry is poorly regulated, you will come across manufacturers who cut corners. CBD users should, therefore, always err on the side of caution. Especially if they are subject to regular and random drug screening.
Taking the following measures may help reduce the likelihood of a failed drug test.
The first thing you can do is avoid any products that contain THC. Use broad-spectrum or isolate based products. If you must take a full-spectrum product make sure the THC content is 0.3% or lower. Also, stick to the recommended dose to prevent THC from accumulating in your body.
Buy your CBD from reputable sources only. CBD products are everywhere. You can even find them at random gas stations. While we are not saying that these products cannot be trusted, where you buy your CBD products is a good indication of their quality.
Before committing to a brand or company, CBD users should engage in exhaustive due diligence. Find out where they source their industrial hemp and what their product processing techniques are. Also, be sure to read and verify lab reports of a product’s contents. The reports should be from a third-party testing company.
Where possible, stop taking CBD 3 to 4 days before a drug test. This break gives your body time to metabolize the compound and excrete it. Also, limit your contact to marijuana to avoid second-hand exposure.