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Scientists aren’t ready to give consumers a definitive “yes” or “no” about whether CBD can show up on a drug test. Like many aspects of the industrial hemp industry, the issue of drug screening for CBD is complicated. Currently, the best research points to “probably not” or “maybe.”
Most of the complications come from two factors:
The risk of having a positive result for THC and failing a drug test after you take CBD, however, is low. Just make sure that you research products thoroughly before you buy and start to regularly integrate CBD into your routine.
Employers, parole officers, parents, and other people who commonly administer drug tests usually focus on detecting chemicals that cause impairment. According to the World Health Organization, CBD doesn’t cause physical or mental impairment, because of this no one bothers looking for the chemical and you shouldn’t be at risk for testing positive.
It’s important to realize, though, that a laboratory could develop a test that detects pure CBD as an isolated cannabis compound. Laboratories have, after all, developed a variety of tests designed to look for certain drugs.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says that drug screenings commonly look for:
When SAMHSA says “marijuana,” though, it means THC, the cannabis compound most commonly associated with the inebriating effects of cannabis. Remember, pure CBD extracted from industrial hemp plants will not get you high.
There are, however, several types of drug tests that look for more substances. A comprehensive 10-panel test, for example, can detect all of the substances included in the previous list as well as:
Companies and law enforcement offices could ask laboratories to develop drug tests sensitive to CBD. At the moment, though, it doesn’t seem that many organizations care about drug testing for CBD. It’s therefore unlikely that this will become a concern.
There isn't sufficient research yet into how long CBD can stay in a person’s system. However, some studies show that the chemical can persist for about one week.
Scientists know much more about how long THC stays in the human body. Interestingly, it depends on how often you consume THC. For infrequent users who rarely come into contact with the compound, the body can eliminate THC within a few days. In habitual users, THC can remain in their systems for a month or longer.
Keep in mind that your hair also keeps a record of the chemicals you ingest. While a urine test probably won’t test positive for THC after a month of abstinence, a hair test can detect the compound after 90 days of abstinence. Hair tests, however, often produce a positive result for infrequent THC users, even if the person has taken THC within a few days.
Some places may choose to do a blood test or saliva test as well. These two methods both work to test for THC, but aren’t commonly used in work settings as THC is quickly eliminated from the bloodstream and saliva.
It gets a little complicated when you take a deep dive into whether CBD can make you fail a drug test. Some CBD products do not contain any THC - these are known as CBD Isolate or Broad Spectrum CBD oil. Without THC, you will not fail a drug test due to CBD.
That said, full spectrum CBD products contain trace amounts of THC. Legally, retail stores are not allowed to sell CBD products that contain more than 0.3% THC. While hemp extract does not create enough THC to get people high, it does produce a small amount of the compound. You might, therefore, find a small amount of THC in your CBD product. Though this is true, it’s important to remember there are still differences between hemp oil vs. CBD oil.
Some states further complicate the matter by allowing higher levels of THC in CBD products. In Virginia and Georgia, your CBD oil product could legally contain up to 5% THC. At that level, you may feel some impairment from the psychoactive chemical. The high amount of THC may also mean that you fail a marijuana drug test.
CBD is classified as a supplement and is not regulated by the FDA. This means companies can mislabel their products. Always ask for lab tests to understand the compound breakdown of the product you're purchasing.
Some researchers have found that external conditions similar to those that occur in the human body can convert CBD into THC. If that were to happen internally, then you could fail a drug test by ingesting CBD.
The latest research, however, shows that this conversion probably does not actually occur in the body. Laboratory conditions, after all, don’t match the human body perfectly. Even if some CBD gets converted into THC, your body should not contain enough of the illegal substance for you to fail a drug test.
You would have to take massive amounts of CBD oil before your body converted enough of it to THC to fail a drug test.
CBD isolate products will not make you fail a drug test. You must know, however, that taking some CBD products could put you at risk of failing your next drug test.
Failing a drug test likely comes from:
In an ideal world, you know exactly what your CBD products contain. Purchasing from a reputable CBD brand is the key!
Since you know that CBD products put you at a slight risk of failing a marijuana drug test, you should learn some ways to lower your risk. No one taking a legal CBD supplement for pain, depression, anxiety, and other health problems should suffer from testing positive for THC on a drug test.
You can limit your risk as much as possible by:
Failing a marijuana drug test can cause serious problems in a person’s life. In nearly all states, employers will not hire people who fail urine drug tests. As of June 2019, only Nevada has passed a law that prevents employers from rejecting applicants because of positive drug tests.
Even if you live in a state with legal marijuana, you can still lose your job or get rejected for a job for failing a drug test.
Many experts believe that more states will pass laws similar to Nevada’s in the near future. At this point in time, though, cannabis consumers have no protections outside of Nevada.
Ideally, taking CBD hemp oil shouldn’t make you fail a drug test. As noted above, though, some CBD products may contribute to the amount of THC in your system, which means you could fail a test without ever using the cannabis plant to get high.
Given how unlikely it is for hemp-based CBD to make you fail a drug test, most people don’t worry about taking CBD. The likelihood of failing a drug test is extremely low. The benefits of CBD, however, include:
The CBD industry is expected to reach $20 billion by 2020. That kind of money could attract companies that care more about profits than making great products. Some poorly-made products may contain THC that gets detected by marijuana drug tests.
You can avoid the risk of failing a drug test by choosing CBD products made by reliable companies that use organic, non-psychoactive hemp extracts. Don’t jeopardize your future by choosing cheap CBD that may contain THC and other chemicals. CBD offers many benefits, but you shouldn’t run the risk of failing a drug test.
Luckily, taking high-quality hemp derived CBD probably will not lead to a positive drug test. That means you can enjoy the benefits of CBD without worry.
Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy
Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.
Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.