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As CBD becomes more popular and commercially available, many users may worry whether or not using the cannabis-derived extract might lead to a failed drug test.

While there are plenty of products that claim to be 100% THC-free, product labeling cannot always be trusted due to the minimal regulations surrounding the current CBD market.

The answer to this question comes down to the type of CBD products you use and where you get them. 

Drug tests do not screen for CBD because they are non-intoxicating, recreational drugs. However, CBD products often contain trace amounts of THC that may result in a failed drug test. 

For years, drug testing has been the practice of many companies and businesses.

Employers can conduct tests to ensure that their employees are not putting themselves or others at risk by working under the influence of illicit substances.

While most CBD is no longer federally illegal, using the cannabis-based derivative could lead to a positive THC result on a drug test.

There may be a risk of failing if you use a low-quality product that contains more THC than it advertises—explaining why accurate lab reports are indispensable.

Will CBD usage result in a failed drug test?

A preliminary study suggests the answer is “no,”— depending on the purity of the CBD.

The study, conducted by Grace Kroner, lead researcher at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City, concluded: 

“It is important to note that the purity of many cannabinoid products is not regulated, so products may also contain varying amounts of THC, complicating the interpretation of results.”

In other words, because CBD is not very well regulated, there is no guarantee that a product contains pure CBD or that its concentration is at a safe or practical level.

Therefore, it is best to use caution and do your research when purchasing a CBD product to ensure its purity, especially if you may need to undergo routine drug screenings.

Furthermore, certain topical CBD products, like lotions and creams, are not likely to reflect on a drug test since these types of products do not enter the bloodstream.

CBD topicals bypass the CB1 and CB2 receptors and head straight for neurotransmitters that block signals for pain.

This is how CBD topicals effectively treat pain without the intoxicating sensation delivered by THC. 

Depending on the dosage and frequency, THC can be detected in a urological drug test for about two weeks after usage.

While it leaves the bloodstream in about five hours, THC metabolites produced by your body can show up for as long as seven days after use.

On the other hand, CBD can remain present in the bloodstream for two to five days, depending on dosage and frequency. Ultimately, if you have been using CBD for a while, it can stay in your body for 30 days or more.

Can the use of CBD lead to a false-positive drug test?

In the same medically-reviewed study mentioned above, researchers also found that a cannabinoid known as CBN, present in full-spectrum hemp extracts, can result in a false positive in lab tests for marijuana use—even in small doses.

The study goes on to say: 

“It is important for manufacturers and labs to carefully assess the cross-reactivity of assays since false-positive drug screens can cause serious consequences for patients.”

Be especially cautious of any CBD companies that claim you can use their products and still pass a drug test.

Any drug test has the potential to have CBD show as a positive THC result, even if the THC has been remediated through liquid or gas chromatography.

People can also receive a false-positive result for THC on a urine drug screening if they use other drugs, including:

Dronabinol

Certain NSAIDs, like Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Sulindac

Pantoprazole

Efavirenz

Research has also hypothesized that stomach acids may act as a catalyst that converts CBD to THC within our body. Below is a video that addresses this hypothesis:

But Could CBD Make You Fail a Drug Test?

What’s the difference between CBD derived from hemp and cannabis?

Understanding the chemical composition of hemp and cannabis is the key to making an informed decision about your CBD purchases.

Especially since conventional drug tests cannot distinguish between THC derived legally from hemp, and the THC derived illegally from cannabis.

Cannabis refers to a genus of plants with three species: Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis.

Hemp is not a different species of the cannabis plant. The above classifications have been devised to differentiate intoxicating cannabis from non-intoxicating cannabis.

Hemp is a Sativa species, while cannabis can be Sativa, Indica, or Ruderalis.

For hemp to be federally legal, it must contain less than 0.3% THC. Because of this meager THC concentration, hemp will not produce the intoxicating effects of marijuana usage.

In addition, it is typically grown outdoors and does not require the same tedious attention to lighting and temperature that cannabis does.

Physically, hemp tends to be tall and skinny, with sparse foliage that resembles bamboo.

Cannabis, on the other hand, can have a THC concentration of 30% or more depending on the strain.

It is used for recreational or medicinal purposes and is typically grown in meticulously managed and controlled conditions since cannabis requires precise exposure to light to flower.

Physically, cannabis appears bushy, with large, full foliage.

The main difference between the two plants is the amount of CBD they produce. Cannabis contains more THC and less CBD. Hemp contains more CBD and less THC.

Regardless of its cannabis source, the CBD molecule is identical. Hemp plants contain far more CBD, making them the more lucrative option for manufacturers and the option with the least potential legal ramifications.

You may have also seen CBD products marketed as full-spectrum or CBD isolate.

This refers to the contents of each form. CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, containing no other cannabis plant compounds. This form is typically derived from hemp plants.

CBD isolate is the crystalized form of CBD and is often sold as a powder. This form is also sometimes called CBD crystals.

How to Avoid Failing a Drug Test After Using CBD

If you are worried about THC from your CBD products showing up on a drug screening, there may be some ways to increase the likelihood of passing, though there is no guarantee.

Many factors might increase your chances of failing a drug screening.

For one, manufacturers often make products with THC and CBD, sometimes in the same facilities. This can lead to cross-contamination between CBD and THC products. 

Secondly, remember that the more CBD you take, and the more often you take it, the longer you may have traces of THC in your system. So again, based on these factors, it can take hours, days, or even weeks to leave your body. 

With this in mind, you might think you need to avoid full-spectrum CBD products that contain trace amounts of THC if your workplace conducts drug screenings.

But, ultimately, if you know a drug test is soon, you should probably avoid ingestible CBD products altogether and stick to using a CBD topical.

You can also try talking to your HR department or Union Representative about amending your employer’s testing policies.

Furthermore, you may find success contacting your state and federal government representatives.

Conclusion

Drug tests do not screen for CBD because it does not cause intoxicating effects and is not an illegal controlled substance.

Nevertheless, people who use CBD may still fail a drug test since small amounts of THC can be found in CBD products.  

In theory, getting a false positive on a drug test from CBD is unlikely from pure CBD containing less than .3 percent THC.

However, because CBD is not always very well regulated, there is no guarantee that a product includes pure CBD or that its concentration is at a safe or practical level.

Therefore, it is best to use the 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.

In addition, other drugs may interfere with urine drug screen results and result in a false-positive test. 

CBD can be derived from both marijuana and hemp. However, when used in low doses, Hemp-based CBD products are unlikely to result in a positive test because they usually do not contain high enough THC levels for detection.

Therefore, if an employee uses hemp-derived CBD, most individuals would have to consume a relatively large amount of the product to test non-negative. 

If you’re still concerned that CBD-infused products will cause you to fail a drug test, look for topicals, CBD isolate, or crystalline products. Just remember to purchase your CBD products from reliable brands and read the label.

Sources

  1. Drug Testing—What is a drug test?
  2. Comparative Cannabinoid Cross-Reactivity in THC Immunoassays
  3. Urinary cannabinoid detection times after controlled oral administration of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol to humans
  4. Investigation of interference by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in urine tests for abused drugs
  5. PPI and False-positive THC Screen: False Positive Equal False Allegation
  6. Efavirenz interference in urine screening immunoassays for tetrahydrocannabinol

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