Will CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?
To put it simply, CBD should not show up on your drug test. However, there are some important caveats to keep in mind if you want the benefits of cannabidiol but need to pass a drug test.
What Is CBD?
To understand why CBD should not show up on a drug test, let’s take a closer look at this substance. Cannabidiol is one of the main cannabinoids present in cannabis. CBD is non-psychoactive, unlike THC, which is the major psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana.
Why It Should Not Show Up
The lack of psychoactive effects in CBD is part of the reason why it should not appear on your drug test. Most drug tests for cannabis search for THC or the THC metabolites. The most common versions will check for Delta-9-THC, the most common form of THC. Delta-9-THC stays in the urine and serum for weeks. While it used to be more common to have false positives on drug tests, this is now rare.
CBD and THC are distinct chemically. As such, a test that looks for THC should not find CBD.
Watch Out for Products With Trace THC Quantities
The big issue with drug tests and CBD is that many cannabidiol products will contain THC in trace quantities. Legally, CBD products can have up to 0.3 percent THC content. This is a trace quantity of THC, but it is enough to count in some cases. The main branding or packaging of your CBD product does not need to specify that it contains THC in large print. However, you should see THC listed in the ingredients list or another area in the fine print.
THC Levels That Show Up
Since THC is the main culprit when CBD products show up on a drug test, it is natural to wonder how much THC you have to consume to fail a drug test. Unfortunately, there are some variations based on the person, thanks to differences in metabolism. To make up for this, there are official levels based on federal workplace drug testing limits. The thing to remember is that these limits indicate how much THC can be present. The amount of THC you must consume to reach that level will depend on your body chemistry.
In urine testing, the concentration of THC-COOH needs to be at least 50 nanograms per milliliters to cause a positive result. Most of the time, THC metabolites will stay in your urine for three to 15 days following the consumption. However, if you use it more frequently or in larger quantities, it can stay in your urine for more than 30 days.
Urine testing is the most commonly used in workplace drug testing.
Blood tests are less commonly used to check for drugs since THC leaves the bloodstream quickly. It only remains detectable in your plasma for five hours or less. The THC metabolites may stay in your blood for as long as seven days.
The blood concentration limit for THC will vary by state. Some states have zero-tolerance policies, especially if cannabis is illegal there. Where cannabis is legal, the limit maybe 1, 2, or 5 nanograms per milliliter.
It is most common for blood drug tests to occur in situations where your current impairment requires testing. One example would be when driving under the influence.
There are no established THC limits for testing in hair. Private industry cutoffs tend to be at 1 picogram (or one-trillionth of a gram) per milligram of THC-COOH. THC metabolites can stay in the hair for as long as 90 days.
You are unlikely to come across drug testing for cannabis via saliva. There are not any official limits for THC in saliva. In 2017, however, a Journal of Medical Toxicology recommendation suggested a limit of about 4 nanograms per milliliter.
THC usually stays in oral fluids for about 72 hours. If you use cannabis chronically or in larger amounts, it may stay detectable for much longer.
Under the Farm Bill of 2018, hemp-based CBD products are no longer illegal. Theoretically, the FDA must now regulate CBD products based on hemp. This was always the case, but prior to the Farm Bill, cannabidiol was illegal, and that meant there was no reason for the FDA to regulate it.
The FDA did recently state that it is illegal to sell CBD in foods or supplements despite the legality of hemp (with THC of less than 0.3 percent). This is somewhat limiting for those who sell products with CBD, and the challenges are still being worked out.
The Farm Bill and the FDA regulation also do not mean that all of the hemp you find for sale will be regulated. It is still possible to find illegitimate retailers that may lie about the content of their products. They may lie about the THC content of CBD products or whether the product is hemp- or cannabis-based.
Understand CBD Isolates Vs. Spectrums
One of the biggest factors influencing whether CBD will show up on a drug test is the type of CBD that you have. CBD can be an isolate or a spectrum, with two types of spectrums. Generally, isolates do not contain THC while full spectrums do. Broad spectrums should also be safe if you take a drug test.
If you need to pass a drug test, then you should always choose a CBD isolate. This is the purest version of CBD that you will find. It only includes CBD, extracting it and isolating it (hence the name) from the other compounds. This means that CBD isolates will not contain other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids. CBD isolates are usually hemp-based. Most CBD isolates will have absolutely no THC, while others will have very low quantities.
Full-spectrum CBD products sit at the other end of the spectrum. These include all of the compounds in the source plant, including the cannabinoids as well as the flavonoids and terpenes. As such, there will be THC in full-spectrum CBD products, which means you might fail a drug test. You may still pass one, however, since the product will still not have more than 0.3 percent THC if it is legal in the United States.
The reason for using full-spectrum products is the increase in efficacy. Experts believe that combining CBD with other cannabinoids, including THC, produces better results than CBD alone. This comes with a tradeoff of a higher risk of trace amounts of THC.
Broad-spectrum CBD products are a middle-ground between isolates and full-spectrum CBD products. You will find a range of terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids in these items. However, you will not find THC. Broad-spectrum CBD products should contain no THC, just as is the case with isolates. However, you still get to take advantage of other cannabinoids and compounds that can enhance the effects of the CBD.
Research Products Before Buying If You Need to Pass a Drug Test
If you need to know whether your CBD products will not show up on a drug test, then you need to do your research before choosing the products.
Evaluate the Brand
Start by evaluating the brand that you want to buy from. You can find information on the brand’s website, but this will be one-sided. Look at reviews from other individuals and third-parties to get a better idea of whether you can trust the brand. You could even do an online search for a brand review that includes the term “drug test.”
By buying from a retailer and brand with a strong reputation, you will reduce the risk of being intentionally or unintentionally misled. Some manufacturers may lie about the source of their hemp or THC products. Others may accidentally switch two products and give you one with THC. You can avoid both of those issues by choosing a reputable and established brand.
Research the Source
You will also need to pay attention to the source of the CBD. Start by confirming that the CBD is hemp-based as this almost always guarantees that there will be no THC. Most hemp does not have THC, although there are exceptions, including products that are tampered with.
You can also look at where the hemp was grown. If you do not want the CBD to appear on a drug test, opt for hemp grown in the United States whenever possible. Legally, that hemp can only contain trace quantities of THC, less than 0.3 percent. Typically, it will not have any THC.
Look at the Certificate of Analysis
To further your research, look for CBD products with a certificate of analysis. The best retailers offer this type of official analysis, although they may call it something else. In most cases, the certificate is the result of independent third-party testing of the product. It should indicate the quantities of CBD and THC as well as other ingredients. The lower the THC content on the certificate of analysis, the less likely it is to appear on a drug test. If you want to minimize the risk, only buy products with certificates of analysis that show zero percent THC.
Understand CBD’s Influence on THC Levels
We have established that CBD alone is unlikely to show up on a drug test, but will it increase your THC levels? This may be a concern for those who use products with trace quantities of THC that may or may not cause them to fail a drug test. If CBD were to increase the THC levels, supplementing your THC products with CBD isolates could cause you to fail a drug test even if you would not without the CBD.
Experts are still researching this potential connection, but it does seem that CBD may increase THC levels. That is because CBD might impact your hepatic metabolism. This slows the system’s THC processing ability, so your brain and serum levels of THC are higher. This will not affect most people, but if you occasionally consume very low levels of THC, it is worth consideration.
There is also some data suggesting that in vivo, CBD may convert to THC depending on the stomach’s acidic conditions. In that case, CBD could cause false positives.
Potential Causes for False Positives
Although false positives on drug tests from CBD are rarer than they used to be, this is still possible. You may fail a drug test after consuming CBD, even if you do not think it has THC, in the following situations:
Incorrect labeling, which may be intentional or unintentional, can lead you to consume CBD products that contain THC. That would result in a positive drug test. Because CBD products do not always fall under regulation, mislabeling is more common for these than other better-regulated products.
If the manufacturer of your product does not have strict methods to control cross-contamination, this is also a possibility. This cross-contamination can occur at the manufacturing level, during storage, or while being consumed.
You are unlikely to test positively for drugs after secondhand THC exposure or secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke, but it can happen. It will depend on the quantity of THC that you’ve absorbed via the secondhand smoke. That inhaled amount will depend on marijuana’s potency and the area’s ventilation and size.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that CBD alone should not show up on your drug test. However, if you take a CBD product that contains THC, there is a risk that you will fail the drug test. Hemp-based products, including CBD, legally cannot have more than 0.3 percent THC. This will not always show up on a drug test, but it might.
If you cannot fail a drug test but want to take advantage of the benefits of CBD, opt for a CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD. In this case, look at lab test results to confirm that your chosen product has zero percent THC. To ensure you get the promised products, without THC, always buy from a reputable source.