Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?
Cannabidiol (CBD) shouldn’t show up on a drug test.
However, many CBD products contain trace amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s main active ingredient.
If enough THC is present, it will show up on a drug test.
This means that in rare cases, using CBD might lead to a positive drug test. It all depends on the product’s quality and composition.
Read on to learn how to avoid a positive drug test result, what to look for in CBD products, and more.
Most CBD products aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, it’s difficult to know what’s in them — even if these products are legal in your state.
Factors such as where the CBD extract comes from and how it’s harvested might make THC contamination more likely. Certain types of CBD are less likely to have THC in them than others.
CBD comes from cannabis, a family of plants. Cannabis plants contain hundreds of naturally occurring compounds, including:
Their chemical composition varies according to the plant strain and variety.
Although marijuana and hemp products are both derived from cannabis plants, they contain different levels of THC.
Marijuana plants typically contain THC in varying concentrations. The THC in marijuana is what produces the “high” associated with smoking or vaping weed.
In contrast, hemp-derived products are legally required to contain less than 0.3 percent THC content.
As a result, hemp-derived CBD is less likely to contain THC than marijuana-derived CBD.
Plant variety isn’t the only factor. Harvesting and refinement techniques can also change which compounds appear in CBD.
CBD extracts are typically labelled as one of the following types.
Full-spectrum CBD extracts contain all of the compounds that occur naturally in the plant they were extracted from.
In other words, full-spectrum products include CBD alongside terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids such as THC.
Full-spectrum CBD products are typically extracted from the marijuana subspecies.
Full-spectrum marijuana-derived CBD oil may contain varying amounts of THC.
Full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD oil, on the other hand, is legally required to contain less than 0.3 percent THC.
Not all manufacturers disclose where their full-spectrum extracts come from, so it can be difficult to assess just how much THC may be present in a given product.
Full-spectrum CBD is widely available. Products range from oils, tinctures, and edibles, to topical creams and serums.
Like full-spectrum CBD products, broad-spectrum CBD products contain additional compounds found in the plant, including terpenes and other cannabinoids.
However, in the case of broad-spectrum CBD, all of the THC is removed.
Because of this, broad-spectrum CBD products are less likely to contain THC than full-spectrum CBD products.
This type of CBD is less widely available. It’s most often sold as an oil.
CBD isolate is pure CBD. It doesn’t contain additional compounds from the plant it was extracted from.
CBD isolate typically comes from hemp plants. Hemp-based CBD isolates shouldn’t contain THC.
This type of CBD is sometimes sold as a crystalline powder or a small, solid “slab” that can be broken apart and eaten. It’s also available as an oil or tincture.
Drug tests screen for THC or one of its main metabolites, THC-COOH.
According to Mayo Clinic Proceedings from 2017, federal workplace drug testing cut-off values were established to avoid the possibility that trace amounts of THC or THC-COOH would trigger a positive test.
In other words, passing a drug test doesn’t mean that there isn’t any THC or THC-COOH present in your system.
Instead, a negative drug test indicates that the amount of THC or THC-COOH is below the cut-off value.
Different testing methods have different cut-off values and detection windows, as listed below.
Urine testing for cannabis is common, especially in the workplace.
In urine, THC-COOH must be present at a concentration of 50 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) to trigger a positive test. (A nanogram is approximately one-billionth of a gram.)
Detection windows vary a lot according to dose and frequency of use. In general, THC metabolites are detectable in urine for approximately 3 to 15 days after use.
But heavier, more frequent cannabis use can lead to longer detection windows — more than 30 days, in some cases.
Blood tests are far less common than urine tests for drug screening, so they’re unlikely to be used for workplace testing. This is because THC is quickly eliminated from the bloodstream.
It’s only detectable in plasma for up to five hours, though THC metabolites are detectable for up to seven days.
Blood tests are most often used to indicate current impairment, for instance, in cases of driving under the influence.
In states where cannabis is legal, a THC blood concentration of 1, 2, or 5 ng/mL suggests impairment. Other states have zero-tolerance policies.
Currently, saliva testing isn’t common, and there are no established cut-off limits for detecting THC in saliva.
A set of 2017 recommendations published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology suggest a cut-off value of 4 ng/mL.
THC is detectable in oral fluids for around 72 hours, but may be detectable for much longer with chronic, heavy use.
Hair testing isn’t common, and there are currently no established cut-off limits for THC metabolites in hair.
Private industry cut-offs include 1 picogram per milligram (pg/mg) of THC-COOH. (A picogram is about one-trillionth of a gram.)
THC metabolites are detectable in hair for up to 90 days.
There are several potential reasons why CBD use might lead to a positive drug test result.
There is potential for cross-contamination during the CBD manufacturing process, even when THC is present only in trace amounts.
Cross-contamination may be more likely for manufacturers preparing products that contain CBD only, THC only, or a combination of the two.
The same is true in stores and at home. If CBD oil is around other substances that contain THC, cross-contamination is always a possibility.
Secondhand exposure to THC
Although it’s unlikely that you’ll receive a positive drug test result after exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke, it’s possible.
Some research suggests that how much THC you absorb through secondhand smoke depends on the potency of the marijuana, as well as the size and ventilation of the area.
CBD products aren’t consistently regulated, which means that there typically isn’t a third party testing their actual composition.
A 2017 study from the Netherlands evaluated the accuracy of the labels provided on 84 CBD-only products purchased online. The researchers detected THC in 18 of the products tested.
This suggests that product mislabeling is fairly common in the industry, although more research needs to be done to confirm if this is also true for American CBD products.
Cannabidiol (CBD) shouldn’t show up on a drug test. However, many CBD products contain trace amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s main active ingredient. If enough THC is present, it'll show up on a drug test. Here's how much can be found in each CBD type, how to find a pure CBD product, and more.
Will CBD Oil Result in a Positive Drug Test?
Arno Kroner, DAOM, LAc, is a board-certified acupuncturist, herbalist, and integrative medicine doctor practicing in Santa Monica, California.
CBD (cannabidiol) oil is a popular product for everything from pain control to anxiety to promoting sleep. However, with the rise of CBD comes the concern about failing a drug test due to detection of CBD oil. News stories are emerging across the country involving famous sports players, employees of companies, and others who have gotten positive drug screening results for the presence of THC—the psychoactive component of marijuana —even though CBD oil is said to be THC-free.
What are the odds that CBD oil users will test positive when subjected to illicit drug screenings, and what can be done to prevent it?
Does CBD Oil Contain THC?
When a drug test is performed, the active chemical in marijuana that gets detected in a positive screening is THC. However, most people are under the impression that CBD oil is THC-free.
As it turns out, depending on the source of the cannabis that is used to produce the CBD oil, some products do contain traces of THC (including low-quality isolates and many full-spectrum tinctures).
Breakdown of Cannabis
Cannabis is the umbrella term describing hemp and marijuana plants—two different varieties of the cannabis genus. Both marijuana and hemp can be described as cannabis plants; however, it is important to note that they are still two separate plants.
CBD is one of many active chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. One reason it’s gaining momentum in popularity is because it is said to lack the component of the plant that causes a person to get high, which is called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
The primary difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp is nearly void of THC. In fact, a cannabis strain must contain less than .3 percent THC to be classified as hemp. This is the reason hemp can be legally sold as various products.
Most CBD products are made from hemp, not marijuana.
There are many distinctions between marijuana and hemp that relate to CBD oil. Marijuana contains both THC (the psychoactive component) and CBD, whereas hemp contains CBD and only trace amounts of THC. Hemp contains many cannabinoids—CBD is only one example.
There are several techniques for extracting CBD oil from the cannabis plant. The extraction method determines whether the active CBD compound gets processed as a “full spectrum oil” or an “isolate.” A CBD isolate is a pure compound with no other active compounds or cannabinoids at all. A full spectrum oil contains other active plant compounds in addition to the CBD such as CBN (cannabinol) and cannabis terpenes (the part of the plant that gives the plant its aroma), and more.
Study of CBD Oil
While some CBD oils claim to be isolates, they may be full spectrum oils and actually contain more cannabinoids (such as THC) than they claim.
In a study conducted by researchers from the Lautenberg Center, researchers discovered that CBD was more effective for treating inflammation and pain when used with other cannabis plant compounds derived from a full spectrum product over a CBD isolate product alone. This is one reason that full spectrum products (those containing THC) are popular.
However, the distinction between full spectrum oils and isolates make all the difference if you are being tested for drug use.
Reasons for Failing a CBD Drug Test
There are several common reasons a person fails a CBD drug test.
1. Using Product With THC
The most common reason for a failed CBD drug test is that a person is using a CBD oil product that contains THC. Sometimes, this may be because a person purchases a low-quality product that does contain a small amount of THC—most manufacturers will claim their products do not contain THC, but this is not always the case.
2. Cross Contamination of THC
Very small amounts of THC present in the material that CBD is extracted from can get into the CBD oil in high enough amounts to result in a positive drug test. This scenario may be more apt to occur when CBD oil is purchased from cannabis dispensaries in places where cannabis is legal, as opposed to an online retailer.
3. Mislabeling of Products
CBD oil extracted from hemp is not supposed to have any more than .3 percent of THC. However, it’s not uncommon for sellers to mislabel their products as THC-free hemp when in reality, it’s a low-quality oil extracted from marijuana, which does contain THC.
In fact, one study discovered that almost 70 percent of the CBD products sold online were not labeled properly, “causing potential serious harm to its consumers.” The reason for this widespread mislabeling is that CBD products are not strictly regulated by the FDA.
4. Secondhand Exposure to THC
Inadvertent exposure to marijuana (via secondhand smoke) is unlikely to be enough for a person to get a positive drug test result, but it is possible. Being in a room with heavy pot smokers for several hours may cause the inhalation of enough THC containing smoke to result in a positive test.
A more likely secondhand exposure scenario is a positive marijuana hair test, resulting from direct contact with marijuana paraphernalia or from another person having THC on their hands.
For instance, if someone who had direct contact with marijuana then touched your hair, you could feasibly receive a false positive on a drug screening that tests your hair.
5. CBD Oil Breaks Down in The Digestive System
Some sources report that in rare cases, false positive test results have come from CBD oil that breaks down into very small amounts of THC in the stomach. Other studies, however, have refuted this.
The conclusion is that it’s still theoretically possible for traces of THC metabolites to be present in the stomach acid in the instance where “less-purified CBD productions” are ingested.
How to Avoid a Positive CBD Drug Test
If you take CBD oil, there are measures you can take to try to prevent failing a drug test.
- Do thorough research to ensure the CBD product you’re using is pure and that the company is legitimate.
- Ensure that the CBD oil is an isolate product extracted from a viable industrial hemp supply, and is not a low-quality tincture.
- Ask questions about product processing techniques and the possibility of cross-contamination.
- Avoid secondhand exposure to marijuana use via pot smoking or hair contact from THC users.
A Word From Verywell
In theory, getting a false positive on a drug test from CBD oil should be relatively impossible from pure CBD oil containing less than .3 percent THC. However, because CBD oil is not very well regulated, there is no guarantee that a product contains pure CBD oil, or that its concentration is at a safe or effective level. It is best to use utmost caution and do your research when purchasing a quality CBD oil product to ensure its purity, especially if you need to undergo drug screenings.
Cases of CBD oil users failing drug tests are on the rise. Learn more about why this happens and how to avoid it.