Does CBD Show on a Drug Test?
Updated: July 12, 2021
Full spectrum CBD products like those made by Cornbread Hemp contain THC in a legal amount, but what does that mean for those who might be subject to a drug screening? CBD products won't get you high, but can CBD make you fail a drug test, and does CBD show up on a drug test? It's a simple question... with a not so simple answer.
Many people suffer from impaired sleep cycles, a lack mental well-being, and bodily aches and pains. If you use full spectrum CBD oil and are concerned about failing a THC drug test at work, this article has information that you need to know.
Can CBD oil make you fail a drug test?
Many people have jobs that require hair or urine drug tests that must be medically reviewed. Most of these drug screenings are looking for THC in addition to other illegal drugs. While full spectrum CBD oil is not illegal, it still could cause a positive drug test, even if the products online contain less than 0.3% THC.
While these screenings might not look for hemp-derived CBD, they do look for THC, which is present in all full spectrum CBD products. Most CBD products are derived from specific strains of cannabis sativa, or hemp.2 According to the federal Farm Bill of 2018, hemp is defined as any cannabis sativa plant with no more than 0.3% THC. That's far from enough THC to make you feel stoned like you would from marijuana plants. But is it enough THC to fail a urine or hair test?
The answer is yes. Most THC screenings cannot distinguish between THC derived legally from hemp and THC derived illegally from marijuana.
Even though hemp plants have a low amount of THC at no more than 0.3 percent, that is enough to test positive during a drug test.3 We've found countless news reports of people losing their jobs and facing legal charges as a result of testing positive for THC while using CBD products with the federally legal amount of less than 0.3% THC. As unfair as it is, this kind of thing does happen, and it's something that both the Food and Drug Administration and congress is aware of.
With this in mind, you might think you need to avoid full spectrum CBD products that contain trace amounts of THC if your workplace will conduct random screenings. And to be honest, if you know a screening is in your near future, you should probably avoid ingestible CBD products altogether, no matter the dosage or serving size.
That's because even pure CBD isolate products, which go through a process to remove THC, can cause you to test positive on marijuana drug tests, depending on whether that test looks for THC metabolites, or all cannabinoid content in general. But even if your test is only for THC, both CBD isolate and broad spectrum CBD can often be cross contaminated with THC, which is mostly due to unreliable hemp processors and non-existent quality control procedures.
But there's a new type of drug test on the market that tests for the ratio between CBD and THC in your system. And that could be the best development in employer drug testing in years. Below, we will tell you the exact test to request if this is what you're looking for. But first we need to discuss the different types of CBD oils. This will help you understand why you need the specific test we will tell you about below.
Four Different Types of CBD Oil
If you are taking CBD oil while trying to pass a drug test, you will want to avoid products that say full spectrum, or products that contain trace amounts of THC. Workplace drug testing is generally looking for illegal drugs, which thankfully no longer includes CBD. However, if you are taking CBD oils or CBD capsules that say THC-free or CBD isolate, you may want to think twice!
Unfortunately, avoiding THC isn't as easy as choosing "THC-free" pure CBD isolates or broad spectrum CBD. In a 2017 study, researchers found that many products advertised as "THC-free," actually tested positive for THC.4 If THC exposure is something on your checklist for purchasing a CBD product, you might want to avoid CBD use altogether.
Even if a CBD product is advertised as "THC-free," that doesn't necessarily mean it is. That's just one of the many reasons you should always look for a third-party lab test. This report will give you the information you need to make an educated decision as to what type of CBD oil you have purchased, and whether it's worth the risk.
Broad Spectrum & CBD Isolate Drug Tests
Many online resources claim that there is no need to worry about failing urine drug tests if you're taking pure CBD isolate. Sorry, but that's just not true. Even CBD providers themselves, who are aware of the liability they take when making claims, have come out of the woodwork to say that isolate and broad spectrum CBD products are without risk of flagging positive during workplace drug testing.
While it is unlikely that CBD will trigger a false positive on a marijuana drug test, there are a couple exceptions to this rule that you should know about.
According to a 2012 study, a specific type of drug test used in labs across America can't tell the difference between CBD and THC.5 We don't know exactly how many labs use this specific method. But if this fluid testing method detects CBD in your system, it can flag you for a false positive for THC.
If you're one of the unlucky ones, 100% pure CBD could actually make you fail a drug test. The New York Times published an article about this in 2019, and it reminded us how little we actually know about CBD and detection thresholds in drug screening tests.
In 2019, a medically reviewed study found that a cannabinoid known as CBN, which is present in full spectrum hemp extracts, can trigger a false positive in lab tests for marijuana use—even in small doses.
This study only looked at three of the most common cannabinoids found in hemp, and one of them failed a test for drugs.6 This is alarming news, especially since cannabis plants could contain more than a hundred different cannabinoids, almost none of which have been found to produce any negative side effects in the human body.
Be especially wary of any CBD brands that claim you can take their product and pass a test. Any drug test has the potential to have CBD show as a positive THC result, even if the THC has been remediated through liquid chromatography or gas chromatography.
Employers Drug Testing for CBD Oil
Every employer that tests for THC does so under the incorrect notion that THC remains 100 percent illegal under federal law. But in 2018, the USDA announced that THC derived from hemp in no more than 0.3 percent of dry weight is now federally legal. Because tests for drugs cannot determine the origin of the THC it detects, whether from a legal hemp CBD product or illegal marijuana, businesses should not be allowed to use positive THC test results as grounds for termination. But most employers don't see it that way—yet.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) says that employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.7 If your doctor recommends that you use CBD for certain conditions and then you positive drug test for THC and fail a drug test, then what?
So far, this theory has only been tested against claims related to medical marijuana, not against hemp-derived CBD. But the USDA declared that hemp-derived THC is legal under federal law with a cutoff limit of 0.3 percent THC. That means this issue has become ripe for a court case, but as of yet, no such court case has emerged.
If you would like CBD protections in your state, contact your state legislators. Tell them to pass laws that protect hemp consumers. You might also bring up the fact that most employers don't test for any opioid pain medications, and that there is zero risk of CBD overdose, yet CBD users have to worry about getting fired. It doesn't make much sense for those of us who want to feel better without the stigma associated with illegal drug use.
Can You Sue a CBD Company?
Two women sued a CBD company because they claimed that company's products caused them to fail drug tests. In another case, a New York man sued another CBD company for failing a test that cost him his job, according to Consumer Reports.8
Fair warning: our hemp-derived CBD products are full spectrum, which means they contain a legal dose of THC. And therefore, our products could cause you to fail a urine drug test. Always make sure you know the levels of THC in any product you use.
Some Tips for Passing a Drug Test on CBD Oil
To calculate your actual chances of failing a CBD drug test from hemp-derived CBD, we refer to a 2001 study out of Berkley, California. During the study, researchers gave participants up to 0.60 mg of THC per day for 40 days, and only 1 out of the 15 participants failed a drug test.9
Although each dose of our organic full spectrum CBD oil contains slightly more THC than that, this study indicates that our full-spectrum CBD oil is unlikely to produce a positive result on a drug test. That's because the detection thresholds for THC metabolites are usually too high to pick up on trace amounts of THC found in a urine sample.
Regardless, here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of passing a urine drug test if you use CBD:
- Stop using CBD products two to three weeks before any urine tests.
- Find out which test you'll be taking: fluid or hair?
- Track your own THC levels with an at-home test.
- Drink plenty of water on the day of your test.
- Try cranberry juice too.
In the meantime, talk to your HR department or union steward about changing your employer's testing policies and contact your representatives in state and federal government.
It's also helpful to know that about 5-10 percent of tests for drugs produce false positives. This is well-documented, and it's a reason to ask for a re-test if you test positive the first time.10
Drug Tests for CBD/THC Ratio
If you ask us, companies should not discriminate against employees who use THC when not at work. Discriminating against employees who test positive for THC is something that belongs in the 1980's, not the 2020's. In fact, drug testing companies freely admit that THC intoxication only lasts a few hours, but detectible levels of THC can remain in a person's system for a month or longer. That means an employee can get fired for testing positive for something that had no impact on their workplace performance. That's just not right.
Thankfully, there is a little hope to full spectrum CBD users today. LabCorp, a drug testing company, now has a test that they say can determine the ratio of CBD and THC metabolites in your system.
If you take full spectrum CBD products and are facing a drug test at work, ask your supervisor or HR department about LabCorp Test #701907, the CBD/THC Ratio Urine Test. This is a potentially big deal that will allow more Americans to take full spectrum CBD oils without worrying about workplace discrimination.
We can't guarantee that this CBD/THC Ratio Urine Test will prevent you from experiencing workplace discrimination, but it's a huge step in the right direction. And it's vital that everyone knows that such a test is available. Ask for it by name: LabCorp Test #701907.
Final Advice: Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?
Most workplace tests for drug are designed to pick up on THC and other illegal drugs, so the odds are in your favor to take CBD oil or a CBD tincture and pass a drug screening. If you think you can respectfully ask your HR department what type of drug test you'll be taking, this can always be helpful information to know.
If your employer does test for THC, you should avoid any CBD products that are labeled full spectrum, as they contain trace amounts of THC that could cause you to fail a drug screening. If you don't know whether your product contains THC or not, look for the third party lab report to verify the cannabinoid content of the extract. If no third party lab report is available, don't take it!
Finally, if for some reason you do get drug tested while taking CBD oil, make sure to have a clear and concise plan to speak with your HR department and primary care physician, and even go as far as saving your receipts on your legal CBD oil purchases. Lastly, ask your employer to test you with the LabCorp CBD/THC Ratio Test, or Test #701907.
We wish CBD wasn't such a questionable substance when it comes to drug testing. Then again, we wish tests for drugs didn't screen for cannabis use at all. But for now, this is the way things are.
If you suffer from disrupted sleep cycles or, an interruption in your well-being or from various aches and pains, we encourage you to do proper research before trying any hemp based CBD product, and we urge you to proceed with caution—especially if you have an upcoming drug screening. It is better to assume that any high quality CBD products may contain at least a little THC and that it may show up on a urine test. Or, if all else fails, play it safe with a topical CBD product, which is much less likely to put you at risk.
Best of luck, and stay safe!
*All rights reserved. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for any health problems. In addition, the information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.*
About the Author
Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD
A board certified oncology pharmacist with 25 years experience at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. Leslie Mudd now serves as the Cornbread Hemp resident pharmacist and medical expert. Read Dr. Mudd's full author bio here.
Does CBD show up on drug tests?
Drug tests aren't testing for CBD, but they may be testing for THC. Even tiny amounts of THC can trigger some drug tests. In theory broad-spectrum and CBD isolate ought to be safe but it's better to be safe than sorry. Declare your CBD status to your HR department, or whatever body is administering the test, just to be sure.
Do CBD topicals show up on drug tests?
Drug tests aren't testing for CBD, but they may be testing for THC, a component of marijuana. It is unlikely that your THC levels will be high enough to trigger a positive outcome from a drug test, even if you're using a lotion or balm with THC in it, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Declare your CBD status to your HR department, coaches, or whatever body is administering the test, just to be sure.
Will CBD turn up on my military drug test?
The military tests aren't testing for CBD, but they may be testing for THC, a compound in marijuana. It is unlikely that your THC levels will be high enough to trigger a positive result, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Please note that some branches of the military forbid CBD use among their service people. Best to check with someone with decision-making power.
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