Recently, interest in cannabidiol (CBD) has grown rapidly among consumers, and it continues to rise. As surveys show, 64% of Americans are familiar with CBD and CBD products and around 33% have used CBD at least once. Since CBD comes from cannabis — including marijuana and hemp — people are concerned that its use could potentially impact drug test results due to the presence of the illegal substance THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Urine drug tests specifically target THC and do not screen for CBD. However, some CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC due to the lack of strict oversight and regulation in the industry.
The legal threshold of trace THC levels on CBD products is 0.3% in most countries. Hemp-derived CBD products usually comply with this threshold due to its low THC levels, but marijuana-derived CBD usually has higher THC levels so it is important to check the source.
To ensure that the CBD product you want to purchase does not contain THC (or within legal thresholds), make sure to choose reputable brands, review the company lab reports, check for broad-spectrum or CBD isolate, research the company's extraction method, or read customer reviews.
In this article, we aim to provide comprehensive information about CBD and its potential impact on drug testing, enabling you to make well-informed decisions if you are interested in using CBD products.
What is CBD?
CBD is an oil extracted from cannabis plants, such as marijuana and hemp. Currently, research has shown that CBD can help treat various health conditions, such as:
- Sleep problems
- Neurological disorders
Notably, CBD is a non-addictive substance. It does not induce the “euphoric high” effect typically associated with THC — the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis plants responsible for the mind-altering effects associated with cannabis use.
CBD is commonly available in the form of oil, but can also be found as an extract, a vaporized liquid, capsules, pills, or soft gels. CBD is also an ingredient in different products, including skincare, gummies, and beverages.
Although CBD can be extracted from both marijuana and hemp plants, hemp-derived CBD products contain negligible amounts of THC (0.3% or less), which is legally acceptable in many countries. However, if the THC level is higher, it may indicate that the CBD oil was derived from marijuana and can result in a failed drug test.
How do drug tests work?
Drug tests work by analyzing the presence of specific drugs or their metabolites in biological samples, such as urine, blood, saliva, hair, or sweat. The most common type of drug test is urine testing, which involves the following steps:
- Sample collection
- Sample screening
- Confirmation testing
- Result interpretation
THC can also be detected in blood and saliva tests for a shorter period of time, while hair tests can detect THC use over a longer duration, potentially several months.
In the case of THC, it is the primary target of drug tests for marijuana use. When THC is ingested, it is metabolized in the body into various metabolites, which can be detected in drug tests. Standard urine tests typically have a detection window of a few days to a few weeks, depending on frequency and intensity of use.
Typically, the positive THC cut-off level in urine tests is 50 ng/mL, with 20 ng/mL being less common. When the concentration of THC metabolite in a confirmatory test falls below the confirmatory cutoff of 15 ng/mL, the test result is reported as negative.
Do drug tests screen for CBD?
Standard drug tests do not typically test for CBD (cannabidiol) specifically since it is not considered a psychoactive substance and is generally legal in many jurisdictions.
However, if you are on CBD, it is possible to have a positive urine drug test result if the product has THC contamination. Depending on the source or processing, some CBD products may contain THC levels ranging from acceptable trace amounts up to levels that can cause intoxication and be detected in drug tests.
It is also possible to get positive drug test results due to passive exposure to marijuana smoke. Marijuana is known for high THC levels and a study found that inhaling marijuana-derived 100 mg of CBD led to positive results in two out of the six participants.
What to do if CBD shows up on drug test?
Since CBD will not show up on drug tests specifically, a positive result is more likely due to THC contamination. There have been anecdotal reports of consumers testing positive for THC in drug tests despite claiming to have only consumed CBD products, suggesting that these consumers may have unknowingly consumed THC due to mislabeled CBD products.
It is important to understand the specific circumstances and discuss the results with the relevant authorities or your employer. If a THC-positive result is obtained in the initial screening, it is recommended to:
- Review the test results. Obtain a copy of the drug test results and verify the specific substances detected. It's crucial to confirm whether it was CBD or another compound, such as THC, that triggered the positive result.
- Provide documentation. If you have been using CBD products and believe that is the reason for the positive result, gather any supporting documentation. This may include proof of purchase, product lab reports, or information about the CBD product's THC content.
- Consult with your employer. Speak with your employer or the relevant authority responsible for administering the drug test. Provide an explanation of your CBD use and present any evidence to support your claim that the positive result is due to CBD consumption rather than illegal drug use.
- Know company policies. Familiarize yourself with your employer's policies regarding CBD use and drug testing. Some employers may have specific guidelines or allowances for CBD use, especially if it is for medicinal purposes. Understand the rules and regulations applicable to your workplace.
- Seek legal advice. If you encounter challenges or face potential consequences, consider seeking legal advice to understand your rights, obligations, and potential courses of action.
Ensuring that your CBD products do not contain THC
Many CBD products are marketed aggressively without standardization and validation from respective regulatory agencies such as the FDA.
In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association previously revealed that 21% of 84 samples from undercover purchases tested for significant amounts of THC in CBD products. Additionally, the study identified that only 30.95% of the products were accurately labeled.
To ensure that CBD products do not contain any THC or only contain trace amounts within legal limits, you can take the following steps:
- Choose reputable brands. Purchase CBD products from reputable manufacturers that have a track record of quality and transparency. Look for companies that provide comprehensive information about their sourcing, manufacturing processes, and third-party lab testing.
- Review lab reports. Look for CBD products that have undergone third-party lab testing. These reports, often available on the manufacturer's website or upon request, provide detailed information about the product's THC content. Ensure that the lab report indicates non-detectable THC levels or within legal limits (usually less than 0.3% in many countries).
- Check for broad-spectrum or CBD isolate. Broad-spectrum CBD products and CBD isolates are formulations that have had the THC removed or isolated. These products should not contain any THC or contain it only in trace amounts. Look for products specifically labeled as “THC-free” or “broad-spectrum” to minimize the risk of THC presence.
- Research extraction methods. Different extraction methods can affect the THC content in CBD products. CO2 extraction is commonly used and generally results in minimal THC presence. Research the extraction methods employed by the manufacturer to ensure they align with your requirements.
- Read customer reviews. Consider reading customer reviews or seeking recommendations from trusted sources to assess the reputation and reliability of specific CBD products. Positive reviews and feedback can indicate a higher likelihood of THC-free or low-THC products.
Does the form of CBD make an impact?
CBD products are available in different types with varying levels of THC. Depending on your choice of products, it may affect drug test results.
|Form of CBD||Impact|
|Full-spectrum CBD||This CBD product contains additional compounds like THC, flavonoids, and terpenes. This CBD type is more likely to contribute to positive results in urine drug tests.|
|Broad-spectrum CBD||Similar to full-spectrum CBD, this type contains multiple compounds except THC. It is mostly sold in the form of oils and will not affect drug test results.|
|Isolate CBD||This is the purest form of CBD that contains only CBD without any additional compounds. It is CBD directly extracted and isolated from hemp plants and should not contain THC.|
|Synthetic CBD||These are produced chemically and completely free from THC, with purity of >99.5%. It is structurally identical to plant-derived CBD and is suitable for consumers wishing to avoid THC due to workplace drug testing conflict.|
Do CBD gummy bears show up on a drug test?
CBD gummy bears, like other CBD products, typically contain CBD extract derived from hemp plants. When properly manufactured, CBD gummies should not contain significant levels of THC (typically less than 0.3%).
While the chances are low, it is theoretically possible for consuming CBD gummies with trace amounts of THC to result in a positive THC test on a drug test. The risk increases if you consume large quantities of CBD products or use products from unregulated sources.
It is also important to note that CBD gummies are different from THC gummies. While THC gummies can have a THC content of over 20%, CBD gummies are legally required to contain less than 0.3% THC, despite both being derived from cannabis plants.
Does CBD show up on a 10-panel drug screen?
In general, CBD itself does not show up on a 10-panel drug screen, which typically tests for common illicit substances such as THC, cocaine, opioids, and amphetamines. However, some CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, and if the THC level exceeds the test's detection threshold, it may result in a positive THC result on the drug screen.
Does CBD show up on drug tests in nursing mothers?
CBD is not typically measured in drug tests and limited research suggests that CBD use by nursing mothers may result in positive drug test results. Due to potential risks and the lack of information, the FDA strongly advises women to avoid using CBD or THC during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Always consult with healthcare professionals before taking any medications/supplements while nursing.
Does CBD show up on CDL drug test?
CBD itself does not show up on a CDL (Commercial Driver's License) drug test, which focuses on detecting substances such as THC, cocaine, opioids, and amphetamines. However, some CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, which could potentially lead to a positive result for THC on a drug test. It is advisable to use CBD products labeled as "THC-free" and from reputable sources.
- Centre for Medicinal Cannabis. CBD in the UK.
- The MIT Press. CBD: what does the science say?
- Journal of Medicinal Toxicology. Interpretation of workplace tests for cannabinoids.
- Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Pharmacodynamic effects of vaporized and oral cannabidiol (CBD) and vaporized CBD-dominant cannabis in infrequent cannabis users.
- Journal of the American Medical Association. Labeling accuracy of cannabidiol extracts sold online.
Show all references
- US FDA. What you should know about using cannabis including CBD when pregnant or breastfeeding.
- US Department of Transportation. CBD notice.