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Should you worry about CBD oil showing up on a drug test?

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  1. Should you worry about CBD oil showing up on a drug test?
  2. Is there such a thing as a CBD oil drug test?

Cannabidiol (CBD) has recently surged into the therapeutic spotlight for its perceived anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, pain-relieving, and seizure-suppressing properties. It can be found in health and wellness aisles across the world — perhaps even at your local Walgreens or CVS — and comes in many forms, some of which include CBD oil, tinctures, edibles, elixirs, and more.

CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis, which some say provides the benefit of relaxation without the high that THC provides.

Although hemp-derived CBD products are available in states where recreational cannabis isn’t legal, some people might worry whether their use of CBD oil will show up on a drug test. Even in states where it is legal to buy THC-heavy cannabis from a retail store, some employers still screen employees for cannabis use. It’s a valid concern considering that even CBD products derived from hemp are legally permitted to contain traces of THC, 0.3% or less to be exact, perhaps leaving some consumers to wonder whether there’s a small amount of THC in their CBD oil — and whether that will show up on a drug test.

“I think that people who are afraid of testing positive should use isolate that is third-party tested to have no THC or extremely minute trace amounts that result in no THC. That’s the simple and safest thing,” said Dr. Joseph J. Morgan, Professor of Cannabis Education at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and medical adviser.

CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis, which provides the benefit of relaxation without experiencing the high that THC provides. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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While there are certain CBD products, such as distillate and crystalline, that contain zero THC, the fears of inexperienced consumers may still persist. Like most things in the constantly evolving cannabis space, there are a number of factors to consider.

Should you worry about CBD oil showing up on a drug test?

In most cases, it’s highly unlikely that CBD oil will show up on a drug test. Most employment drug tests specifically look for the presence of THC or THC metabolites. Most employers abide by the guidelines set forth by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), which includes detection for THC but not CBD.

But what if your CBD oil contains small traces of THC? Many top CBD manufacturers have products with no presence of THC. Although hemp-derived CBD products are legally allowed to contain a maximum of 0.3% THC, some prospective consumers may still be reluctant to try CBD that contains even a small amount of THC. Thankfully, there are ways to create hemp-derived CBD products without any hint of the intoxicating cannabis compound.

For instance, producers can isolate CBD compounds after the oil is extracted from the stalks and seeds from hemp plants. This process leads to pure CBD, effectively eliminating any THC and other plant-based constituents from the end product. Once isolated, the CBD can be mixed with liquid oils that contain fatty acids to improve absorption.

But how can you tell how much THC, if any, might reside inside your CBD oil? Can you really trust everything the label on the side of the bottle? The safest bet is to look for well-known CBD products that are independently tested.

“Buy from reputable forms that are third-party tested that have batch numbers, lot numbers, and retained batch samples. If they claim that either that their plants are genetically engineered for no THC or they use methods that purge THC, to make sure that that’s third-party validated,” Morgan said.

While it’s possible that small amounts of THC that exist within a CBD product could accumulate and show up in a drug test, it’s still highly unlikely. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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There are also different types of drug tests that can be used, all of which present different detection thresholds. For instance, a hair test is made to detect habitual substance use, so it will probably not raise any red flags even if you are consuming CBD oil that has low levels of THC.

Urine and oral drug screenings have a lower threshold for detection, so there is slightly more risk with these tests, according to a December 2018 article published in Vice. While it’s possible that the small amounts of THC that exist within a CBD product could accumulate and show up in a drug test, it’s still highly unlikely.

Under the SAMHSA framework, the cutoff limit for the presence of THC is 50 nanograms per milliliter. Following these guidelines, if an extremely high dose of 2,000 milligrams of CBD oil that contains 0.3% THC was consumed, there’s a slim chance of receiving a “false positive” result on a urine screening.

Is there such a thing as a CBD oil drug test?

While it may be uncommon for anyone to screen for the presence of CBD, does a CBD oil drug test even exist? Technically, since CBD is a chemical that your body metabolizes, a specific test can be developed to detect it. But the average drug test will not identify any usage of CBD oil.

To obtain a CBD oil drug test, an employer or entity would have to pay a testing company an additional charge to change their testing regimen to include CBD. When you consider that this non-intoxicating compound won’t get you high or impair your ability at work, there’s really no need for a CBD oil drug test.

If you’re concerned that using CBD-infused products will cause you to fail a drug test, there are certain precautions you can take to ensure that no THC enters your system. Look for producers who create high-quality CBD products that contain zero THC, such as distillate or crystalline products.

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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:

  • cannabinoids
  • terpenes
  • flavonoids

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

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.

Broad-spectrum CBD

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

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

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

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.

Saliva

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.

Cross-contamination

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.

Product mislabeling

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. ]]>