Can CBD show up on a drug test?

Can CBD show up on a drug test?

The workforce population is in the tens of millions. Employees in all sorts of industries are having concerns when it comes to drug testing and the new CBD supplements that are popping up in the market. 

According to the media and other reports, people in the workforce who tend to use a lot of CBD for pain, CBD for anxiety, etc, can fail drug tests accidentally and unfairly.

A urine test is the most common workplace drug screening method. Employers who seek out urine tests aren’t looking for CBD, because CBD has never been found to impair judgment or motor skills. Failing of drug screening tests occurs when the worker tests positive for THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis. THC can exist in low amounts in some CBD products and then persist in the human body for weeks.

There have been one too many CBD product labels that have misstated the amount of THC, and it usually depends on the market you are shopping in. State regulated cannabis dispensaries require testing and monitoring, but outside of those systems, CBD products are unregulated in the market. In the past, products from unlicensed and unregulated stores have come back positive with higher traces of THC than allowed. 

Can CBD show up on a drug test? If you consume enough CBD on a daily basis, like around 1,000 milligrams a day of CBD, you could put yourself in the danger zone of being tested positive for THC. IF you fail a drug test you jeopardize your job, career, and future, and it can also lead people to lose access to important resources like education and welfare benefits, child custody, and prescriptions for pain medication.

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Can you fail a drug test for CBD?

You won’t fail a drug test for CBD, what you fail a drug test for is THC, and you could potentially consume residual THC in that CBD product.

Now the way drug tests work, employers collect and send off samples. Usually these are samples of urine that go off to the drug testing companies, where they run the samples through a machine that measures trace chemicals in the samples. What the professionals at the testing lab are looking for is evidence of a byproduct of THC, the main active cannabinoid in cannabis. Occasionally employers will ask for saliva tests, hair follicle tests, or even blood tests from their employees. 

Drug testing guidelines are very strict for federal employees.  A federal worker will fail a drug test if their urine tests positive for any more than a trace amount of the THC. A trace means just 50 billionths of a gram per milliliter of urine (50 ng/ml).

The most common reason that workers fail drug tests is testing positive for THC.  2.3% of all US drug tests came back positive for cannabis use in 2018.

Watch out for old technology...

There is more than one method to test samples for THC, and some of those methods are outdated. Those outdated methods can most certainly give off a false positive for CBD. One method is gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry with the derivatization agent trifluoroacetic anhydride (TFAA).

Thousands and thousands of false positives have caused an uproar in the workforce. CBD users have successfully challenged a failed drug test for THC if the lab used outdated methods, which can result in a false report of CBD as THC.

Why is there THC in my CBD oil?

CBD and THC are the two main components in the cannabis plant. Medical cannabis and industrial hemp are cousins—both create dozens of similar compounds called cannabinoids.

So CBD from “federally legal” hemp can still consist of up to 0.3% THC. If you ingest very high doses of CBD—in the thousands of milligrams per day—from federally legal hemp oil, that means you may also be ingesting at least 1 mg of THC as well.

Quite often in the industry you'll see that labels contain false information. The only tightly regulated store fronts would be state-licensed dispensaries. Outside of that, there is no mandatory oversight or any real tight regulation. 

Some products might claim to be THC free, but in fact do contain small traces of THC that could cause its user to fail their drug testing. 

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How much CBD will make me fail a drug test?

Failing a THC drug test because you took CBD depends on the source of your CBD, how much you took, over how long, your metabolism, and other factors like hydration levels.

Other factors

Beyond your CBD source, dosage, length of use, personal chemistry, and other factors determine drug test success or failure.

The human body stores THC in fat cells and burns it into THC-COOH later. With that being said, someone who smokes cannabis (containing THC) every day and then abruptly stops, can still fail a drug test far past a month later. 

You could theoretically take CBD hemp oil for a few months, at small amounts (like 50 mg/day), and never fail a urine screen for THC. It’s not clear how much CBD hemp oil would be needed—or for how long—to end up with more than 50 mg/ml of THC in your urine. But to be realistic, if you’re taking large amounts of CBD on the daily, depending on who your source is, you could potentially test positive for THC.

How long does CBD stay in your system?

When consuming CBD, it can last in your system anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on how it is consumed. The body turns CBD into the byproduct CBD-COOH in a matter of hours, and then it sticks around for at least several days. But it doesn’t matter, because no employer is testing for CBD-COOH they are testing for THC-COOH.

Can stomach acid turn CBD into THC? Unlikely

You might have hear through the grapevine that stomach acid has the ability to turn CBD into THC. That possibility is highly unlikely according to researchers. 

That misconception is the reason why a lot of CBD water companies are popping up and marketing hard to consumers. 

Can CBD show up on a drug test?

What’s the future of CBD drug testing?

Our country is trending towards no testing for non-safety jobs. Employers are slowly but surely loosening up their views on THC. Federal bills like the MORE Act are following suit.