Cannabidiol (CBD) has recently surged into the therapeutic spotlight for its perceived anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, pain-relieving, and seizure-suppressing properties. It can be found in health and wellness aisles across the world — perhaps even at your local Walgreens or CVS — and comes in many forms, some of which include CBD oil, tinctures, edibles, elixirs, and more.
CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis, which some say provides the benefit of relaxation without the high that THC provides.
Although hemp-derived CBD products are available in states where recreational cannabis isn’t legal, some people might worry whether their use of CBD oil will show up on a drug test. Even in states where it is legal to buy THC-heavy cannabis from a retail store, some employers still screen employees for cannabis use. It’s a valid concern considering that even CBD products derived from hemp are legally permitted to contain traces of THC, 0.3% or less to be exact, perhaps leaving some consumers to wonder whether there’s a small amount of THC in their CBD oil — and whether that will show up on a drug test.
“I think that people who are afraid of testing positive should use isolate that is third-party tested to have no THC or extremely minute trace amounts that result in no THC. That’s the simple and safest thing,” said Dr. Joseph J. Morgan, Professor of Cannabis Education at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and medical adviser.
CBD products derive from hemp, a federally legal low-THC type of cannabis. While some CBD products claim to contain no THC, contamination may have occurred during the manufacturing process. In some cases, the manufacturer’s labeling may be incomplete.
Keep reading to learn whether CBD shows up on a drug test.
What is CBD?
Cannabis sativa is an extremely versatile plant that growers cultivate for numerous purposes, ranging from food, such as hemp seed, hemp-based construction materials, and medicinal and recreational uses.
Go to source over 400 chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, of which about 80 are biologically active.
The most important biologically active compounds in cannabis are cannabinoids. These compounds are specific to the cannabis plant and appear nowhere else in nature.
Some of the more abundant cannabinoids include THC, CBD, cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC).
THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis and is intoxicating. CBD does have some psychoactive effects, which is why researchers are studying its potential in treating mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. However, it does not have the same intoxicating properties as THC.
The Food and Drug Administration FDA state that products that contain more than 0.3% THC are illegal, and the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) list them as a Schedule I drug.
THC binds to receptors in different parts of the brain. These receptors normally attach to the endocannabinoids, which are natural compounds that the human body produces.
The following table lists areas in the brain that THC targets and its effects:
|Hippocampus||impairs short-term memory|
|Neocortex||impairs judgment and sensations|
|Basal ganglia||alters reaction time and movements|
|Nucleus accumbens||causes euphoria|
|Amygdala||causes panic and paranoia|
|Cerebellum||causes a feeling of being drunk|
|Brainstem||controls nausea and vomiting|
|Spinal cord||reduces pain|
Should you worry about CBD oil showing up on a drug test?
In most cases, it’s highly unlikely that CBD oil will show up on a drug test. Most employment drug tests specifically look for the presence of THC or THC metabolites. Most employers abide by the guidelines set forth by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), which includes detection for THC but not CBD.
But what if your CBD oil contains small traces of THC? Many top CBD manufacturers have products with no presence of THC. Although hemp-derived CBD products are legally allowed to contain a maximum of 0.3% THC, some prospective consumers may still be reluctant to try CBD that contains even a small amount of THC. Thankfully, there are ways to create hemp-derived CBD products without any hint of the intoxicating cannabis compound.
For instance, producers can isolate CBD compounds after the oil is extracted from the stalks and seeds from hemp plants. This process leads to pure CBD, effectively eliminating any THC and other plant-based constituents from the end product. Once isolated, the CBD can be mixed with liquid oils that contain fatty acids to improve absorption.
But how can you tell how much THC, if any, might reside inside your CBD oil? Can you really trust everything the label on the side of the bottle? The safest bet is to look for well-known CBD products that are independently tested.
“Buy from reputable forms that are third-party tested that have batch numbers, lot numbers, and retained batch samples. If they claim that either that their plants are genetically engineered for no THC or they use methods that purge THC, to make sure that that’s third-party validated,” Morgan said.
There are also different types of drug tests that can be used, all of which present different detection thresholds. For instance, a hair test is made to detect habitual substance use, so it will probably not raise any red flags even if you are consuming CBD oil that has low levels of THC.
Urine and oral drug screenings have a lower threshold for detection, so there is slightly more risk with these tests, according to a December 2018 article published in Vice. While it’s possible that the small amounts of THC that exist within a CBD product could accumulate and show up in a drug test, it’s still highly unlikely.
Under the SAMHSA framework, the cutoff limit for the presence of THC is 50 nanograms per milliliter. Following these guidelines, if an extremely high dose of 2,000 milligrams of CBD oil that contains 0.3% THC was consumed, there’s a slim chance of receiving a “false positive” result on a urine screening
Is there such a thing as a CBD oil drug test?
While it may be uncommon for anyone to screen for the presence of CBD, does a CBD oil drug test even exist? Technically, since CBD is a chemical that your body metabolizes, a specific test can be developed to detect it. But the average drug test will not identify any usage of CBD oil.
To obtain a CBD oil drug test, an employer or entity would have to pay a testing company an additional charge to change their testing regimen to include CBD. When you consider that this non-intoxicating compound won’t get you high or impair your ability at work, there’s really no need for a CBD oil drug test.
If you’re concerned that using CBD-infused products will cause you to fail a drug test, there are certain precautions you can take to ensure that no THC enters your system. Look for producers who create high-quality CBD products that contain zero THC, such as distillate or crystalline products.