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Can CBD Make You Fail a Drug Test? Ask a Pharmacist

Can CBD Make You Fail a Drug Test? Ask a Pharmacist

Posted by Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD on Apr 30th 2020

Full spectrum CBD oil contains the cannabis compound THC, but what does that mean for those of us who have to take a drug test?

By now, you probably know that cannabidiol CBD products won't get you high. But can CBD oil from the cannabis plant make you fail a drug test? It's a simple question... with a not so simple answer.

If you are one of the many CBD oil users who are concerned about failing a THC drug test, this post has information that you need to know. Please keep reading, and we will tell you exactly what to ask for to prove to your employer that your positive THC test is from using products that contain full spectrum CBD oil, and not illegal marijuana use.

Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

Can CBD Oil Make You Fail a Drug Test?

If you have a job that requires operating heavy machinery or some type of equipment, you most likely have to take a drug test for substance abuse from time to time. Most of these drug screenings are looking for THC in addition to other illegal drugs, but this does not include CBD oil.

While a drug test might not look for hemp-derived CBD oil, they can 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 a cutoff limit of 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 drug test or hair test?

The answer is yes.

Even though hemp plants have low levels of THC at no more than 0.3 percent, that is enough to produce a positive drug test.3 We've found countless news reports of people losing their jobs or facing legal consequences from a positive test for illegal cannabis use, even though the products they use are federally legal. As unfair as it is, this kind of thing does happen.

With this in mind, you might think you need to avoid full spectrum CBD products that contain THC if your workplace conducts drug screenings.

Will THC-free CBD Make Me Fail a Drug Test?

Maybe! Even though there are CBD users who pass drug tests with no issues, not all drug tests are made the same. Even a pure CBD isolate product can produce a positive drug test, depending on whether the test looks for THC metabolites, or if it looks for any cannabinoid content in general. So keep in mind that some THC-free products can cause a false positive drug test for illegal marijuana drug use.

The good news is that there is a new type of drug test on the market that tests for the ratio between CBD and THC in your system. It could be the best development in employer drug screening tests in years, and could be a saving grace for CBD hemp cannabis users. We will tell you the exact test to ask, but first we need to discuss the different types of CBD oils.

Different Types of CBD Oil

Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum CBD Chart


Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Full spectrum CBD oil contains the entire range of cannabinoids naturally found in the cannabis hemp plant, including small amounts of THC. Products that contain all hemp compounds together have been shown to have an effect on the human body, called the "entourage effect." This process encourages the endocannabinoid system to operate to its fullest.

Legal full spectrum products contain less than 0.3% THC. While this small amount of THC will not get you high, it will help the other cannabinoids work better. Scientific research supports the idea that full spectrum CBD oils are the most effective. However, THC-free products are still being sought out by CBD users.  

Broad Spectrum & CBD Isolate

Broad Spectrum CBD oils are made with extracts that have had the THC compound removed. The manufacturing process takes place in a laboratory, and usually involves taking apart the entire chemical structure of the extract and piecing it back together, leaving out the THC. CBD isolates are similar, except all of the cannabinoids are stripped out except for the single CBD compound.

Many online resources claim that there is no need to worry about failing urine drug tests if you're taking broad spectrum oils or 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 pure CBD isolate and broad spectrum CBD products are without risk of flagging positive during a drug screening test.

Look For a Certificate of Analysis

 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.

False Positive Results on Drug Tests

While it is unlikely that you will have a positive test while using CBD oil, 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 marijuana even if your product is 100% CBD. 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.

Just last year, a medically reviewed study found that a cannabinoid known as CBN, often called CBD's "cousin," can also 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.

While many who use CBD products pass their drug tests just fine, you should keep these risks in mind when taking CBD. And be especially wary of any CBD brands that claim you can take their product and pass a drug test. Luckily, there's a new type of drug test that could ease the concerns of many CBD users, which you can find below.

Employers Drug Screening for CBD Oil

According to the 2018 Farm Bill, THC derived from hemp in no more than 0.3 percent of dry weight is now federally legal. Since drug tests 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 test positive for marijuana 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 oil products. But the USDA declared that the legal amount of THC is less than 0.3%. That means this issue has become ripe for a court case, but as of yet, none have occurred.

If you would like CBD protections in your state, contact your state legislators and tell them to pass laws that protect cannabis consumers. You might also bring up the fact that there is zero risk of CBD overdose, yet CBD users still have to worry about getting fired. It doesn't make much sense to be punished for wanting to feel better by using a federally legal product, and we think employers should see it that way too.

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

However, CBD manufacturers are not responsible for an individual's workplace tests, unless they are misleading with their product labeling. If you get fired for a positive drug test result while using Cornbread Hemp, that’s not right, but it’s also not our liability. We fully and openly admit and warn you that our CBD products contain legal amounts of THC. And therefore, our products could cause you to fail a urine drug test.

Passing a Drug Test on CBD Oil

To calculate your actual chances of failing a drug test from hemp-derived CBD oil, we refer to a 2001 study out of Berkley. 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.9

Although each dose of our organic 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.
  • Use only topical CBD products like our USDA organic CBD balm.
  • 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.
  • Talk to your HR department or union steward to change your employer's testing policies.
  • Contact your representatives in state and federal government.

It's also helpful to know that about 5-10 percent of drug tests produce false positives. This is well-documented, and it's a reason to ask for a re-test if you fail the first time. 10

Drug Tests for CBD-THC Ratio

Thankfully, there is a little hope to full spectrum CBD users today. LabCorp, a drug screening company, now has a test that they say can determine the ratio of CBD and THC metabolites in your system. So it can tell if you're taking a CBD oil product or an illegal product by measuring exactly how much THC and CBD is 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: CBD Oil and Drug Testing is Tricky

Most workplace drug tests are designed to pick up on THC and other illegal drug use, so the odds are in your favor to take CBD products and pass a drug test. If you think you find out what type of drug test you'll be taking, this can help you know what steps to take to avoid failing a drug test.

If your employer tests for THC, you should avoid any CBD products that are labeled full spectrum, as they contain a trace amount of THC that may cause you to fail a drug test. 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. However, keep in mind that some tests can't tell the difference between CBD and THC, and even a THC-free product may cause you to test positive for illegal substance abuse.  

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. And ask your employer to test you with the LabCorp CBD/THC Ratio Test, or Test #701907.

We encourage you to do proper research before trying any CBD product derived from cannabis plants. 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 very small amounts of no more than 0.3% THC that may show up on a urine drug test. If all else fails, play it safe with a topical CBD product that won't put you at risk. Best of luck, and stay safe!

References

1.

Urine Testing for Detection of Marijuana: An Advisory. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published May 8, 1998

2.

Hilderbrand RL. Hemp & Cannabidiol: What is a Medicine?. Mo Med. 2018;115(4):306-309. Under heading “CBD extracted from Hemp”

3.

Urinary Pharmacokinetic Profile of Cannabinoids Following Administration of Vaporized and Oral Cannabidiol and Vaporized CBD-Dominant Cannabis. J Anal Toxicol. 2020;44(2):109‐125. doi:10.1093/jat/bkz080

4.

Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708–1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909

5, 6.

Andrews R, Paterson S. Production of Identical Retention Times and Mass Spectra for Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Following Derivatization with Trifluoracetic Anhydride with 1,1,1,3,3,3-Hexafluoroisopropanol*. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Volume 36, Issue 1. January/February 2012. Pages 61–65.

7.

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? ADA National Network. Published July 26, 1990. Accessed July 1, 2020.

8.

Gill LL. Can You Take CBD and Pass a Drug Test? Can You Take CBD and Pass a Drug Test. Published May 15, 2019. Accessed July 1, 2020.

9.

Leson G, Pless P, Grotenhermen F, Kalant H, ElSohly MA. Evaluating the impact of hemp food consumption on workplace drug tests. J Anal Toxicol. 2001;25(8):691-698. doi:10.1093/jat/25.8.691.

10.

Laino C. Drug Tests Not Immune from False Positives. CBS News. Published June 1, 2010. Accessed July 1, 2020. 1st sentence

All rights reserved. The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to health information or medical advice from licensed health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using CBD products.

Cornbread Hemp works with suppliers who guarantee hemp plants with less than or equal to 0.3% THC content. With these trace amounts of the cannabis compound THC, it is possible that users may fail a drug test. Cornbread Hemp does not take any responsibility in the instance a customer fails a drug test while using any products derived from the hemp cannabis plant.