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Does CBD show up on a drug test?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 30, 2019.

Official Answer

Theoretically, CBD should not show up on a drug test. However, because most CBD products are classified as a supplement, it is not regulated for safety and purity. This means that contamination of the CBD with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) may and does occur, and this may show up on a drug test, depending on the cutoff level of the test and other factors listed below.

This is more likely to happen if the CBD you are buying is marijuana-derived CBD rather than hemp-derived CBD. Hemp-derived CBD is required by law to contain less than 0.3% THC, although regular daily ingestion of high doses of this may still cause THC to accumulate.

Broad-spectrum CBD is also less likely to be contaminated with THC. This is because all the THC is removed in broad-spectrum CBD as opposed to full-spectrum CBD which contains all of the compounds that naturally occur in the plant they were extracted from. CBD isolate is also pure CBD, and typically comes from hemp so it shouldn’t contain THC.

If you want to pass a drug test, don’t take CBD; or if you are taking it legally within your State’s laws, then declare it (however it still may be contaminated with THC unless brought by a reputable supplier who guarantees it to be THC-free).

How much THC needs to be present to cause a positive drug test?

It is difficult to say how much THC needs to be present to cause a positive drug test because this depends on several drug and patient-specific variables, and also the cutoff value for the test.

The following variables affect the amount of time that marijuana (THC) and its metabolites remain detectable in the urine or other biological samples:

  • Frequency of marijuana use (the half-life of THC is 1.3 days for an infrequent user and 5-13 days for frequent users)
  • Presence of interacting drugs
  • How much is used and the route of administration
  • Last time of ingestion.

Several patient factors can also affect the result, such as body mass, urine pH, urine concentration and other medical conditions such as kidney or liver disease.

An estimate of the length of time marijuana (THC) is detectable in urine is:

  • Single-use: 3 days
  • Moderate use (4 times/week): 5 to 7 days
  • Chronic use (daily): 10 to 15 days
  • Chronic heavy use: More than 30 days.

Federal workplace cutoff values for marijuana metabolites are 50 ng/mL for immunoassay screening tests (one ng is a billionth of a gram). In a confirmatory test, a metabolite of marijuana is measured, called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid, and a positive test result is above 15 ng/mL. However, this can vary depending on the variables listed above and should not be relied upon to ensure a drug-free result.

Other Things to Know About Workplace Drug Testing

Despite the widespread use of urine drug tests, there appears to be some inconsistency in the interpretation of test results. Considering the significant consequences a false-positive result can have (such as loss of job or imprisonment), this is somewhat surprising. But it is also something to be aware of, because it may mean that what is considered a pass (a negative result) in some circumstances may be considered a fail (a positive result) in others.

Drug testing can be conducted on various biological specimens, such as urine, hair, blood, saliva, sweat, toenails, fingernails, and meconium. Urine drug testing is the most common way of workplace testing for specific drugs because it is not invasive, and samples are easy to collect.

Drug tests either test for the parent drug or at least one of its metabolites, or both. Concentrations of drugs in urine are usually higher than in blood and present for longer.

There are two main types of urine drug tests: screening and confirmatory tests. Immunoassay screening tests can be conducted on-site (point of care testing) or in a laboratory and allow large numbers of tests to be performed at once with relatively rapid results, providing an initial estimate of the presence or absence of drugs. There are three main types available, and all use antibodies to detect the presence of specific or classes of drug metabolites. Unfortunately, this can mean that substances with similar characteristics may be detected, resulting in false-positive results.

Some visual point of care tests are favored by pain management clinics or by clinicians treating people with substance misuse disorders. However, at times the results may be difficult to read (such as a faint color or an uncertain color) which can result in a subjective interpretation. These tests should only be considered preliminary and a follow up confirmatory laboratory test should be conducted, as with any screening test; however, this best practice may not always be followed.

Confirmatory tests (Drug of Abuse Panel tests) use gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to identify specific molecular structures and to quantify the amount of drug or a substance present in the sample. These are more accurate than screening tests, but are also more costly and time-consuming and are usually reserved for situations that have significant legal, academic, forensic, or employment sequelae. These recognize cannabinoids rather than metabolites so should be able to distinguish CBD from THC.

Cut-off levels were established to help minimize false-positive results especially in workplace drug testing (for example, passive inhalation of marijuana; eating poppy seeds on bread causing positive opiate results) and these tend to be higher than those used by clinical laboratories.

Official answer: Theoretically, CBD should not show up on a drug test. However, because most CBD products are classified as a…

Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

Posted on June 27th, 2020

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid, a compound that is found in all cannabis plants, including the marijuana, and hemp strains of the plant. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is another cannabinoid, found in large concentrations in marijuana plants. This cannabinoid is associated with the psychoactive high you experience when you take marijuana. CBD, on the other hand, gives you many of the same reported benefits of THC use, but without the psychoactive effects. CBD is therefore legal for sale, purchase, and use across the United States. Now, let’s take a deeper look at answering the question: “Does CBD show up on a drug test?”

Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

Studies suggest that CBD does not show up on drug tests. However, the issue is a little more complicated. If, for example, you extract CBD from a marijuana plant, other cannabinoids in that plant could produce a positive drug test. The two most common cannabinoids responsible for positive drug tests are THC and CBN (cannabinol).

Does CBN Show Up On A Drug Test?

Unlike THC, CBN has only mild psychoactive properties. And, like CBD, using CBN has been linked to certain health benefits, including mild improvements in sleep disorders. But CBN use can be complex.

That’s because CBN won’t show up on drug screening tests that are used to detect antibodies in your body. It may, however, show up on tests used to screen for certain compounds. Remember, drug screening tests are not conclusive. If you receive a positive result in a screening, you’ll likely be given a second drug test that detects THC. And CBN will not be detected in these confirmatory tests.

Does THC Show Up On A Drug Test?

Drug tests are designed to detect THC, even a small amount will produce a positive result in both screenings and in other drug tests that can distinguish between THC and the other compounds contained in marijuana.

THC is the reason why marijuana is still considered a controlled substance and is illegal for non-medicinal uses in many states. It is this issue of the legality of THC vs. CBD that makes the question of drug testing even more complex.

The Legal Limit For THC In CBD Products

As mentioned above, CBD will not trigger a positive drug test. However, this is only true when you’re dealing with pure CBD products. But full-spectrum CBD products do contain trace amounts of THC. Currently, the legislation allows CBD products to contain a concentration of no more than 0.3% of THC.

Most CBD products are not entirely pure but are produced within the bounds of the legislated THC concentration. This allows additional cannabinoids to work with the CBD to maximize effects in your body. So, a full-spectrum product is best for your CBD experience. But, even this tiny amount of THC may be detected in both screening and drug tests. So, if your employer conducts regular drug screenings, or if you are a professional athlete, be sure to discuss CBD use before taking any tests.

Some CBD users have found themselves in positions where they’ve been disciplined or even dismissed by an employer due to a positive drug test. Although CBD (with a concentration of less than 0.3% THC) is legal, its use can still be considered grounds for dismissal due to a positive drug test.

While this seems unfair, the reason is this: employees who are using marijuana recreationally can simply say that they are using CBD products. Drug tests cannot discriminate between legal CBD use and illegal marijuana use, so employers may struggle to implement policies and procedures that differentiate between the two.

Now, our full-spectrum, Tanasi CBD products are produced within legislated concentrations of THC. What does that mean for you? The trace amounts of THC may be detected in drug tests and screenings. So we recommend discussing CBD use and your employer’s policies before using any items from our online CBD store. Employers that conduct regular drug testing may not allow for the use of legal CBD products, and it’s best to follow company policies regarding drug use to avoid disciplinary action due to a positive drug test.

Now, if you aren’t subject to regular drug tests, you may still be able to enjoy full-spectrum CBD products. But another factor to consider is how long CBD stays in your body.

How Long Does It Take for CBD (THC) to Leave the Body?

After being consumed or smoked, CBD, CBN, and THC are all broken down, absorbed by your body, and then expelled. This process takes time and the compounds can only be detected in saliva, urine, or blood samples during this process.

Typically, we believe that it takes between 2 and 5 days for these compounds to be entirely metabolized, leave your body, and not show up on a drug test. However, research has shown that this is not always true. Some people simply metabolize the CBD and THC slower than others and it can take weeks before all traces leave their bodies.

It may also depend on the delivery system. Edibles (CBD products that you consume), like pills, gummies, and other consumable sources need to pass through your digestive tract before they can be expelled. This process can take much longer than compounds that are absorbed through the skin, such as CBD oils, ones you consume under the tongue, like CBD tinctures, or like vape juices, which you absorb into the lungs.

The compounds will also disappear from saliva, urine, and blood at different rates. Commonly, saliva will be the first to be clear of CBD and related compounds, whereas blood and urine samples will take longer to be free of cannabinoids.

Which brings us to an important discussion: the type of test being used to detect illegal substances such as marijuana in your body.

What Tests Detect Marijuana Use?

There are a wide variety of tests available that are designed to detect THC. These tests all have one major pitfall in common: they cannot determine the degree of intoxication. This is an important factor when it comes to CBD use, where a positive test may be well within the legal limits of 0.3% for CBD but still trigger a positive test result.

On the other hand, the accepted methods of testing can detect other factors such as the time elapsed since the drug was used as well as the extent of use. These factors can play an important role in differentiating between illegal or recreational marijuana use and legal CBD use.

Saliva Testing

Saliva testing is widely considered to be an acceptable alternative to other forms of drug testing or screening. However, these tests have a limited window on the time that has elapsed between use and testing. Lab testing is only considered to be reliable within a 72 hour period after use . Saliva tests can detect minute concentrations of THC within this time frame. Tests may need to be confirmed with one of the other types of drug testing methods.

Urine Analysis

Urine samples can be tested for THC or THC metabolites. Urine testing can detect THC concentrations between 2 and 5 days after use. However, heavy use can be detected up to 2 weeks after use and chronic use up to 30 days or 1 month later. Although urine tests can detect minute concentrations, they are not reliable for determining use volume, or whether your drug use was a one time experience or for an extended period of time.

Blood Tests

Blood testing is considered to be invasive and is therefore the least common form of testing for THC. The tests are further limited because the compound leaves the bloodstream relatively quickly after use when compared with saliva, urine, and hair testing. Blood tests for THC are usually accurate for 24 to 72 hours after use but can detect THC for up to 7 days depending on an individual’s blood renewal system. On the other hand, these tests are accurate and are unlikely to produce a false-positive as is the case with saliva testing and urine analysis. It is unlikely that a blood test will be used to detect marijuana or CBD use.

Hair Testing

Hair testing has grown in popularity as the preferred method of drug detection. The reason for this is that it provides accurate results for a period of up to 3 months when testing a sample of just 1.5 inches in length.

Accuracy is also key, as false-positives are rare with this testing method. While extremely small concentrations can be detected, the hair test, like other testing methods, can not confirm the concentration of THC levels at the time of use. Still, it does provide a fair evaluation of regular drug use. The testing methods exclude environmental contaminants.

Summary

Although CBD will not show up in a drug test, products that contain the regulated amount of 0.3% THC may result in a positive test. With advocacy, we hope that drug tests will become more accurate, detecting relative concentrations of THC to allow you to enjoy legal CBD without fear of repercussions. In the meantime, however, you should speak with an employer before using CBD products; you may also choose a CBD isolate, confirm that it contains no THC, so you can avoid failing a drug test and dealing with the consequences of those unwanted results.

Does CBD show up on a drug test? Studies suggest that CBD does not show up on drug tests. However, the issue is a little more complicated.