Will CBD show up on a drugs test?

Posted by Christian on 9th Aug 2021

The fear of a failed drugs test is one prominent reason why people are suspicious about taking medical marijuana. The talk that THC can remain in your system for a month or even longer is enough to put somebody with an unapproving boss off. All federal employees face drug tests, and many private companies are adopting the same measures to ensure their staff aren’t stoned on the job.

But cannabidiol-based (CBD) products aren’t medical marijuana in the traditional sense. And, as the name indicates, they don’t contain any of the psychoactive THC (or at least not in noticeable levels) that can lurk in your system and flag up on a drugs test. So what’s the deal with CBD?

What does a drug test involve?

Drug tests analyze urine samples to detect the presence of various drugs, both prescription and illegal. Drugs tests are typically set-up to search for certain drugs, depending on the tester. In addition to urine samples, saliva, sweat, blood and hair samples can also be taken to identify what drugs a person has consumed, the amount and how long it has been since they have taken them.

Employers often require prospective employees to take a drug test, and they may also be subjected to random drug tests during employment. Others who might be required to take a drug test include those seeking parole and those taking part in substance abuse programs. Sports bodies have a banned substances list which athletes are forced to comply with through drug tests.

While marijuana use is one of the most common things drug screens look for, they can detect the presence of alcohol, barbiturates, cocaine, opioids and other illegal substances. Depending on the dosages taken and the regularity of use, a substance may be detectable for as little as a few hours and as long as a few weeks.

Research available indicates that the 40 to 50mg of THC taken in from a strong marijuana joint would, on its own, stay in the system for up to 48 hours. However, regular cannabis users would consistently be topping up their THC levels, meaning the substances could remain detectable for several weeks. These estimates are also influenced by the amount of marijuana being consumed and the regularity, the way the marijuana is being consumed, and the speed of a person’s metabolism.

Over the years, drug tests have become much more sophisticated, especially at detecting past drug use. Many are critical of this and the role of drug tests in the employment process, given that previous drug use is not indicative of a person’s current ability to do a job. In states where medical and recreational marijuana has been legalized, this is a hot topic.

Drug tests are conducted to identify and refer employees who have issues with alcohol or other drugs, and to create safe work environments, per the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Associations. Some companies are obliged to carry out drug tests to meet local, state and federal regulations.

Which marijuana compounds do drug tests search for?

Drug tests looking for marijuana usage involve an immunoassay, which detects whether psychoactive THC or 11-nor-delta9-caboxy-THC (THC-COOH), its main metabolite, is present in the system. Therefore, marijuana drugs tests have been set up to detect just psychoactive THC and not any other cannabis compounds.

Moreover, THC and its metabolites rarely cross react with non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN and CBG. Since the majority of CBD oil products, and especially those derived from hemp, contain very low levels of THC – if any at all – there’s no reason why a drug screen for marijuana usage should produce a failed result.

While the average CBD user will be perfectly fine, those who consume CBD in very high quantities, such as 1000mg or more, will naturally expose themselves to more THC than those consuming lower doses. Suppose you took 1000mg of CBD in an oil product which contained the maximum allowed 0.3% THC – in this scenario, 3mg of active THC will be in the body, which is theoretically enough of the psychoactive substance to deliver a failed test.

However, the majority of CBD oil products will consist of much less than 0.3% THC, reducing the risk of a positive result even further.

A study on CBD hemp oil and drug tests found that occasionally screenings threw up a false positive. In such cases, a sample would be referred to more extensive and precise GC/MS (Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry) testing. The samples in this study all then came back with negative results. However, the extra precision offered with GC/MS tests as opposed to immunoassay tests means much lower amounts of THC’s primary metabolite can be detected.

Ultimately, providing you aren’t taking CBD in huge potencies, there’s no reason why you should fail a drugs test. But if you are concerned about traces of THC being flagged up, perhaps consider switching from full-spectrum CBD oil to CBD isolate. CBD isolate products separate the CBD molecule from the rest of the compounds in marijuana, including THC, making them a 100% risk-free choice in this circumstance.

More on CBD isolate

CBD isolate products are all-natural, extracted from hemp and carefully refined to deliver a finished product in excess of 99% purity.

CBD isolate extracted through the supercritical CO2 process – which the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) generally regards as safe – using organic hemp, produces a concentrate consisting of hemp’s cannabinoids, fatty acids and other naturally-occurring compounds.

The purification process continues with the removal of excess wax and the filtering of plant material, with the result being a tasteless, odorless 99% CBD isolate powder. This versatile substance can be consumed in many ways – it can be dabbed, consumed as is or stirred into beverages and foodstuffs.

Vitally, with CBD isolate, there’s no danger of accidentally consuming THC, as the substance is manufactured with the goal of being as highly concentrated as possible in CBD. Unfortunately, you miss out on the benefits of full-spectrum with isolate, but if passing a drugs test is your number one priority, CBD isolate is the way to go.