The immense benefits associated with CBD have its consumer base growing and growing. And even though it’s legal, with the lack of federal regulation surrounding CBD, lots of people, especially those new to CBD and the cannabis industry, have questions about drug testing—and rightfully so. The results of drug tests done by employers and healthcare professionals can have big impacts on peoples’ lives, affecting things like job status, child custody, government benefits, and even your ability to get certain necessary prescriptions. Thus, it’s fair to ask: Does CBD show up in drug tests? Does it cause people to fail them? 

Well, the answer is both yes and no—or not in the way you’re wondering about. Let’s break it down.

They don’t test for CBD, just THC

The CBD compound does show up in drug tests, but that’s not the point, because the biggest myth about this question is that they’re testing for CBD. They’re not. What they’re testing for is THC. Because unlike CBD, THC has psychoactive effects, so it’s not something that many employers want in their employees’ systems, particularly if they work in jobs where safety is a big concern, like healthcare or construction. Recreational marijuana is also still not legal in all states, so in those states testing is more broad. 

The distinction, therefore, is key: They don’t test for CBD, because it doesn’t cause a high and hemp is widely legal, because of the 2018 Farm Bill. 

But CBD use still could compromise test results

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that if you use CBD, you’re completely off the hook for drug tests, because some CBD products do have THC in them. There are different forms of CBD products, and they have varying ratios of CBD to THC and other cannabinoids and terpenes in them. For instance, a CBD isolate product technically is only CBD—or 99.99% CBD with no THC or other terpenes. Broad spectrum CBD products have the other terpenes, but they, too, do not (or should not) have CBD. Full spectrum products, however, do have trace amounts of THC. There can legally be up to 0.3% of THC in CBD hemp products, so if you’re taking full spectrum products, you have more of a chance of THC showing up.

Does CBD Show Up in Drug Tests

Many factors at play

Though, as you might expect, there are many factors at play here that determine whether or not you would have THC in your system after taking CBD. Even for full spectrum products that could contain up to 0.3% of THC, if you’re not ingesting large amounts of it, it’s unlikely for such a small amount of THC to show up in a drug test. If you are ingesting large doses of CBD products—along the order of 1,000 mg per day—then could in fact have THC show up in a test.

Other big factors are how long you’ve been using full spectrum products consistently, what your specific body makeup is and how long your body stores the THC in your system. Our bodies store THC and CBD in our fat cells, and then over time burn them as a THC-COOH or CBD-COOH metabolite. How long each body stores it and how long it then takes to be released is specific to each individual. So, it could be that even several days after ingesting a full spectrum CBD product, your body could still be holding onto THC and, therefore, would present that in a drug test.

False advertising

Perhaps the biggest issue in all of this is that there are far too many CBD products with incorrect labels. Without regulation, there are a lot of CBD companies trying to make quick money and not put their production processes and products through proper procedures to make safe products and accurate labeling. Products end up having labels that list far lower amounts of THC than are actually in them. We always talk about the importance of having third-party lab testing and only buying from companies that have the certificates of analyses on each product to prove it, and this is one of the very reasons for why that’s important. Learn more about buying well in our earlier post on how to spot fake CBD products.

Different kinds of testing

It’s also good to note that there are different kinds of drug tests, and they detect different things. Urine tests will show THC when the amount is anything larger than 50 ng/mL (which means you’re ingesting between 1,000-2,000 mg of CBD a day). Hair follicle tests will also show THC for anything greater than trace amounts, and the trick there is that the hair follicles hold on to data, per se, for months instead of mere days or weeks, so these tests are more likely to turn up with THC than even urine tests if you’ve ingested large amounts of full spectrum CBD or inaccurately labeled CBD. Finally, mouth swab tests fall into the same category as urine tests here. They do show THC when anything more than small amounts has been in your system. 

How to avoid failing a drug test

Drug testing is trending downwards, with increasing legalization of medical and recreational marijuana, but if you are in a position to be tested for THC and you do use CBD products, or would like to, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Only buy from reputable brands with third-party lab testing and accurate labeling. This is absolutely key. Then you know that the product is what it says it is and don’t need to worry beyond that.
  2. Take CBD isolate or broad spectrum products instead of full spectrum. These products have the THC stripped from them, so you shouldn’t run the risk of testing positive for THC if you’re using them. If you like the entourage effect from full spectrum products, then go for broad spectrum instead.
  3. When taking full spectrum products, limit consumption. Be smart about how much you’re taking if you’re going to keep using full spectrum CBD. Most people don’t need to worry about this, but if you typically take around or over 1,000-2,000 mg of full spectrum CBD product each day, definitely dial it back.

If testing is imminent and you’re on the higher end of the consumption scale of full spectrum products, it’s not a bad idea to stop taking the CBD for several days before your test. With CBD isolate or broad spectrum products, this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you’re concerned about the quality of those products that you’ve bought, then it’s also not a bad idea in that case. 

 

To recap, they don’t test for CBD. They only test for THC, and it’s the THC presence that causes people to fail drug tests. The problem in the industry right now is that there are simply too many brands that don’t produce high-quality products with appropriate production and testing measures, so they’re flooding the market with badly produced and mislabeled products, causing more people to fail drug tests for THC content they may not have even known about or intended to have in their system in the first place.

Thankfully, we only partner with companies of the highest caliber, so if you stick to the brands and products listed on our website and follow our guidelines above, you should be testing-safe.

Anthony Tribunella

Having experienced the benefits of CBD first hand when it was starting to gain popularity, Anthony decided to spend his working life championing it to the public and his peers in the wider CBD community. As a CBD innovator himself, Anthony likes to remain at the leading edge of scientific and product development to ensure that the potential of CBD has every chance of being fully realized.

See all posts by Anthony Tribunella

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