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Will CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

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Since hemp was legalized in 2018, increasingly more Americans have been turning to hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) to improve their general health and wellness. Recent statistics reveal that 1 in 3 Americans have tried a CBD product, with a majority of users being aged between 18 and 29. However, the close relationship between CBD which is federally legal and THC which is not poses a challenge to CBD users in the work space; will CBD show up on a drug test?

Most workplaces have strict anti-drug policies and subject employees to frequent drug tests, the same goes for all the major sports leagues. Failing a drug test can have dire consequences such as being put on probation or even losing a job opportunity or career. It is therefore not surprising that many people are concerned about CBD showing up on a drug test.

The truth is that it is very unlikely that CBD will show up and cause you to fail a drug test. CBD is chemically different from the psychoactive cannabinoid THC which is usually screened for in most drug tests. Therefore, having CBD in your system should not be a cause of concern, unless the CBD product had some THC in it. That’s where the challenge lies. Even negligible amounts of THC can be picked by some drug tests.

The quality of most of the CBD products in the market leaves much to be desired. Some CBD products are made from marijuana and contain high amounts of THC. While a third-party test should pick this up, some CBD products are not subjected to independent testing while others have product labels that are misleading. It's easy to be deceived into believing that a CBD product has zero THC while in actual sense it has significant amounts of THC.

False positives for THC may also arise in drug testing. This happens when a test falsely indicates the presence of THC. From this brief introduction you can see that there are several factors that compound CBD showing up on a drug test. The next sections break down everything that you need to understand about how CBD impacts a drug test and what you should do to be on the safe side.

How Do (Marijuana) Drug Tests Work?

Marijuana drug tests use biological samples such as saliva, urine, blood, or hair to test for the presence of THC in the body. The most common drug test is the five panel test that tests for the presence of active metabolites from PCP, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and amphetamines. The 9 panel test screens additional drugs including barbiturates and benzodiazepines.

Urine is the most frequently used biological sample in drug tests. However, simpler tests that use oral fluids have now become commonplace. They are non-intrusive, easy to use, and give instant results. Most marijuana tests have a cutoff level of 50 ng/ml. This means that a test will turn out positive if the THC level exceeds this amount. However, some tests will detect as little as 15 ng/ml of THC.

What’s The Difference Between Drug Screening and Drug Tests?

The two terms are often used interchangeably but they actually mean different things. Drug screening involves quick and efficient testing that produces instant results. They confirm the presence of a drug; it's either present in a sample or it is absent. They are also relatively affordable, but may not be as accurate. Therefore, they are mostly used to confirm the presence of a drug but are usually followed up with a drug test when the screening result is positive.

Drug tests are more accurate than drug screens. They also require a longer waiting time as the sample is sent to the lab for specific testing that gives detailed information. Drug testing is often used to confirm the results from a drug screen.

Will CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?

Drug tests screen for the presence of THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis sativa and not CBD which is non-psychoactive. Therefore, CBD should not show up on a drug test.

Most CBD products contain little amounts of THC. Legal hemp derived CBD should not exceed 0.3% THC. However, some drug tests are very sensitive and will pick up trace amounts of THC and hence give a positive result. In such a case, it may be necessary to carry out a specific drug test that will show the exact amount of THC in one’s system. A false positive result is recorded when a test picks THC erroneously.

Causes of False Positive Results

Getting a false positive result after consuming a CBD product can be quite scary. However, you need not worry if that happens to you. If you are sure that you haven't consumed a marijuana product but still turn a positive drug test, it is your right to request for a repeat test.  Here are a few reasons why you might get a false positive result after consuming CBD:

  1. Consuming a CBD supplement that has high amounts of THC
  2. Certain drugs can give false positive results for marijuana. They include NSAIDS, efavirenz, pantoprazole, and dronabinol.
  3. Consuming a CBD product that is contaminated with THC
  4. Inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke in an enclosed space

How to Avoid False Positives

False positive results don't surface frequently. They only occur in about 5-10% of cases. Here are three things that you can do to avoid false positive results.

Purchase CBD Products From A Reputable Source

Reputable CBD vendors will subject their products to third-party testing. The certificate of analysis from the independent testing should show the exact concentration of THC in the CBD product. You should not purchase CBD products that exceed 0.3% THC or those that lack third-party testing results.

Avoid Medications Prior to the Drug Test

If you can avoid taking medications prior to the drug test, do so. Otherwise, you can consult with your pharmacist to let them know that you're about to go through a drug test and hence they should eliminate or substitute drugs that may trigger false positive results for marijuana testing.

CBD Isolate Versus Broad Spectrum Versus Full Spectrum

CBD products come in three forms; isolate, broad spectrum, and full spectrum. CBD isolate contains pure CBD with zero THC. This is the most ideal form of  CBD to ingest when you’re about to take a drug test. Broad spectrum CBD does not contain THC, but it may contain THCA which converts to THC when it is exposed to heat. Full spectrum CBD contains small amounts of THC. If you consume full spectrum CBD regularly and have a slow metabolism, you might turn in a false positive result for marijuana. But again, the chances of this happening are very slim.

Will Consuming CBD Make Me Fail A Drug Test?

It is highly unlikely that consuming CBD will cause you to fail a drug test. Standard drug tests screen for the psychoactive cannabinoid called THC that causes the typical marijuana high. Therefore, drug tests should not test positive due to the presence of CBD.

However, you should be wary of CBD products that have THC in them as they may cause you to fail a drug test. Always check results from third-party testing to ensure that the THC concentration does not exceed 0.3%. One sure fire way to be on the safe side when consuming CBD products is to ensure that it has zero THC.

Some medications may also trigger false positive results. In very unlikely circumstances, second-hand smoke from a marijuana smoker might be the reason why you fail a drug test. In case you doubt your drug tests results, always request for a repeat test and let the employer know all the reasons why you might be having false positive results.

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.