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Cases of CBD oil users failing drug tests are on the rise. Learn more about why this happens and how to avoid it. Will CBD show up on a drug test and lead to a positive result? The answer may surprise you. Click here for more.

Does CBD Show Up On a Drug Test?

Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer’s research.

Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Femi Aremu, PharmD, is a professional pharmacist with experience in clinical and community pharmacy. He currently practices in Chicago, Illinois.

Despite the fact that cannabidiol (CBD) is derived from cannabis—the same type of plant that marijuana comes from—CBD should not show up on a drug test. That said, it is possible.

Drug tests check for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) because that is the cannabis compound that makes people feel high. CBD products are typically THC-free.

However, CBD products can contain 0.3% of THC by law. In some people, that may be enough to yield a positive drug test result.

This article explains why CBD products may show up on a drug test as THC. It also details what to look for in CBD products so you can prevent a positive drug test.

Does CBD Oil Contain THC?

The active chemical in marijuana that gets detected in a positive drug test screening is THC. Most people are under the impression that CBD oil is THC-free, which is generally true. But not always.

As it turns out, depending on the source of the cannabis that is used to produce the CBD oil, some products do contain traces of THC. This includes low-quality isolates and many full-spectrum tinctures. A full spectrum oil contains other active plant compounds in addition to CBD.

Cannabis Types

Cannabis is the umbrella term describing hemp and marijuana plants—two different varieties of the Cannabis genus. Both marijuana and hemp can be described as cannabis, but they are two different plants.

CBD is one of many active chemical compounds in cannabis plants. One reason it’s becoming more popular is that it’s said to lack THC.

The primary difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp is nearly void of THC. In fact, a cannabis strain must contain less than 0.3% THC to be classified as hemp. This is why hemp can be legally sold in various products.

Most CBD products are made from hemp, not marijuana.

There are many distinctions between marijuana and hemp that relate to CBD oil. Marijuana contains both THC (the “high”-inducing element) and CBD. Hemp contains CBD and only trace amounts of THC.

Hemp also contains many cannabinoids, which is a name for the compounds found in cannabis. CBD is only one example.

There are several techniques for extracting CBD oil from the cannabis plant. The extraction method determines whether the CBD oil is an “isolate” or a “full-spectrum oil.”

A CBD isolate is a pure compound with no other active compounds or cannabinoids. The full-spectrum compounds may include other active chemicals, such as cannabinol and cannabis terpenes (the part of the plant that gives the plant its aroma).

Study of CBD Oil

While some CBD oils claim to be isolates, they may be full-spectrum oils and actually contain more cannabinoids (such as THC) than they claim.

A study conducted at the internationally known Lautenberg Center For Immunology and Cancer found that CBD was more effective at treating inflammation and pain when used with other cannabis plant compounds.

These compounds were derived from a full-spectrum product rather than a CBD isolate product alone. This is one reason that full-spectrum products (those containing THC) are popular.

However, the distinction between full-spectrum oils and isolates makes all the difference if you are being tested for drug use.

Reasons for Failing a CBD Drug Test

There are several common reasons a person can test positive for THC after taking CBD.

Using Product With THC

The most common reason for a failed CBD drug test is that a person is using a CBD oil product that contains THC. This may be a full-spectrum product. Sometimes, though, it could be a low-quality isolate product that contains a small amount of THC.

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Although most manufacturers claim their products do not contain THC, this is not always the case.

Cross-Contamination of THC

Very small amounts of THC present in the material that CBD is extracted from can get into the CBD oil in high enough amounts to result in a positive drug test. This scenario may be more likely to occur when CBD oil is purchased from cannabis dispensaries in places where cannabis is legal.

Mislabeling of Products

CBD oil extracted from hemp is not supposed to contain more than 0.3% THC. However, it’s not uncommon for sellers to mislabel their products as THC-free hemp when, in reality, it’s a low-quality oil extracted from marijuana. And marijuana does contain THC.

In fact, one study discovered that almost 70% of the CBD products sold online were mislabeled. This caused “potential serious harm to its consumers.” The reason for this widespread mislabeling is that CBD products are not strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Secondhand Exposure to THC

Inadvertent exposure to marijuana (via secondhand smoke) is unlikely to be enough for a person to get a positive drug test result. But it is possible. Being in a room with heavy pot smokers for several hours may cause the inhalation of enough THC-containing smoke to result in a positive test result.

A more likely secondhand exposure scenario is a positive marijuana hair test. This results from direct contact with marijuana paraphernalia or from another person having THC on their hands.

For instance, say that someone who had direct contact with marijuana then touched your hair. You could feasibly receive a false positive on a drug screening that tests your hair.

CBD Oil Breakdown in the Digestive System

Some sources report that in rare cases, false positive test results have come from CBD oil that breaks down into very small amounts of THC in the stomach. Other studies, however, have refuted this finding.

The conclusion is that it’s still theoretically possible for traces of THC to be present in stomach acid when “less-purified CBD productions” are ingested.

How to Avoid a Positive CBD Drug Test

If you take CBD oil, you can take steps to try to prevent failing a drug test:

  • Do thorough research to ensure the CBD product you’re using is pure and that the company is legitimate.
  • Look for manufacturers that have been accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
  • Ensure that the CBD oil is an isolate product extracted from a viable industrial hemp supply. It should not be a low-quality tincture.
  • Ask questions about product processing techniques and the possibility of cross-contamination.
  • Avoid secondhand exposure to marijuana use via pot smoking or hair contact from THC users.

Summary

CBD oil is usually marketed as THC-free, but that’s not always the case. Full-spectrum CBD oils contain other cannabinoids, which may include THC. Isolate products may be contaminated with THC, as well.

You have to be proactive to avoid failing a drug test if you’re taking CBD oil. Most important: Ensure that you’re using a pure product made by a reputable company.

A Word From Verywell

In theory, getting a false positive on a drug test from CBD oil should be relatively impossible from pure CBD oil containing less than 0.3% THC. However, because CBD oil is not well regulated, there is no guarantee that a product contains pure CBD oil or that its concentration is safe or effective.

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 a drug screening.

Frequently Asked Questions

Drug tests look for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the element in marijuana that causes a high. CBD oils can have trace amounts of THC even if they’re labeled “THC-free.”

Yes. If the products contain THC, you could test positive. If you know you’ll need to take a drug test, avoid full-spectrum CBD products that may contain small amounts of THC. Be sure you purchase products from a reliable source. And be wary of online retailers; researchers have found that 21% of online CBD and hemp products were mislabeled.

Drug tests do not typically measure CBD. Most tests check for THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. Depending on the frequency of use, THC can be picked up on a test anywhere from a few days for a single use or over a month for heavy daily pot smokers.

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CBD edibles take about 30 to 60 minutes to start to take effect. They last five to six hours, depending on your metabolism and dose. A CBD edible may show up on a drug test as THC metabolites for three days. However, if you frequently take CBD edibles, it can take up to 15 days to have a clean urine test.

The FDA strongly advises against taking CBD or THC products while nursing. Cannabis products can be excreted through breastmilk and are not safe for the baby. Cannabinoids can stay in your milk for up to six days, so “pumping and dumping” may not be a good option.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

Huestis MA. Human cannabinoid pharmacokinetics. Chem Biodivers. 2007;4(8):1770-804. doi:10.1002/cbdv.200790152

Nahler G, Grotenhermen F, Zuardi AW, Crippa JAS. A conversion of oral cannabidiol to Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol seems not to occur in humans. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):81-86. doi:10.1089/can.2017.0009

Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling accuracy of cannabidiol extracts sold online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909

Crippa JA, Guimarães FS, Campos AC, Zuardi AW. Translational investigation of the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a new age. Front Immunol. 2018;9:2009. Published 2018 Sep 21. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2018.02009

By Sherry Christiansen
Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer’s research.

Can You Fail a Drug Test Due to CBD?

As the medical marijuana industry continues to leave its footprint on the field of medicine, science — and the general population — are exploring new ways of experiencing it. Cannabidiol, or CBD, has stepped into the spotlight as a highly-regarded form of alternative medicine and has gained much traction in the medical marijuana industry. Furthermore, its list of benefits is no longer purely hypothetical. A growing body of research is finding that CBD could be highly beneficial to treat certain medical conditions. That doesn’t mean it’s workplace-friendly, though, which leads to the question: Can you fail a drug test due to CBD?

What is CBD?

CBD is a cannabis compound that many claim has medical benefits but without the feeling of being high — something that happens as a result of the THC in marijuana. However, in typical CBD products, there is no THC.

In fact, CBD can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC. This makes it an appealing alternative for treating issues such as:

It’s a suitable option for people who want to take advantage of its healing properties without getting “stoned” or resorting to traditional pain medication. It’s a welcome alternative, considering our country’s current opioid epidemic.

It’s even being explored for its anti-cancer properties — although to be clear, this research is still very much in progress.

Further adding to its trustworthiness is the fact that science has suggested CBD can safely be consumed even at high doses. People are giving it to their dogs and taking it for common needs like hair, skin, and nail health. More and more, CBD is becoming as common in people’s pantries as their daily multivitamin.

The Popular Consumption of CBD

CBD can be sourced from marijuana or hemp. In many cases, the oil is extracted to be consumed as a liquid, made into pills, or mixed directly into food. Some people prefer to consume it through vaporizer pens, which — because you’re inhaling it — offers a more or less immediate reaction. (Important to note, though, is that vaporizer pens can carry their own downsides.)

Others prefer to use it topically — for example, with CBD salves or creams that are applied directly to the body. This is a particularly interesting approach because since dermal absorption can’t produce psychoactive side effects, even if there is any THC present in the CBD, you still won’t feel high.

Can You Fail a Drug Test Due to CBD?

What does all of this mean for drug testing in the age of legal marijuana? Managing a drug-free workplace is becoming increasingly challenging for employers. Individual states are legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal and sometimes even recreational purposes. However, it’s still up to employers what they will and will not tolerate in the workplace. It can understandably be confusing trying to understand your rights as an employer along with your employees’ rights.

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Where does CBD fit into all of this? As it turns out, it’s a much more simple and straightforward answer than marijuana.

Again, it points back to the fact that CBD doesn’t get you high. According to Quest Diagnostics Director of Science and Technology, Barry Sample, CBD likely won’t show up on a drug test: “If the product contains only CBD and has had the THC removed, then an individual being tested would not be expected to test positive for marijuana or marijuana metabolite.” In other words, marijuana drug tests screen for THC, not CBD.

This is an important point, because CBD is still widely taboo, as people assume it’s the same as marijuana. However, because it doesn’t bring that kind of high, people who use it aren’t actually impaired. Thus, the risks that drug use brings simply aren’t there.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the recommended cutoff level of THC is 50 ng/mL to pass a drug test. Most employers and legal services prefer to use SAMHSA-certified labs as the standard since it’s more likely to hold up in court.

Most hemp oil or CBD products are usually sold with much lower levels of THC (compared to marijuana), so most CBD consumers won’t have trouble passing a drug test. For those using extremely high levels of CBD or hemp oil (over 2,000 mg per day), it’s possible, though unlikely, that this could produce a “false positive” result on a drug test. Even then, a follow-up test can provide more conclusive results.

While research has shown that it’s unlikely that CBD products alone would lead to a positive result on a drug test, it’s important to note that CBD was found to interact with the body’s metabolism of certain compounds. What this means is that CBD users who also use marijuana may actually show higher levels of THC for a longer period of time than when using marijuana alone.

So, it would seem that CBD alone is not enough to raise any red flags on a drug test; although, if you’d prefer to err on the safe side, refraining from taking even CBD if you’re expecting a drug test is likeliest the best approach.

Understanding federal and local laws and trying to protect your workplace without infringing on your employees’ rights can be a big undertaking. We can help. Maintaining a drug-free workplace all starts with having a bulletproof drug-free workplace policy. Whether you don’t have one at all or have one that could be improved upon, working with US Drug Test Centers can help protect you and your team.

We’ll help you address tricky questions such as:

  • If someone was prescribed marijuana by their doctor, can they come to work with it in their system?
  • Similarly, can they carry it on them on the business’s property?
  • If recreational marijuana is legal in your state, what does this mean for employees who fail a drug test?
  • If you allow a minimal amount of THC in employees’ systems, how much?

We can also help you manage all aspects of your drug-free workplace using our cloud-based software. Plus, with more than 20,000 locations nationwide, you’ll never have to drive more than a few miles before you find us. Drug testing has never been this convenient.

US Drug Test Centers is an industry leader in providing nationwide drug testing solutions for individuals and employers alike. To learn more about drug testing services, specialty drug testing, or to find a drug testing center near you, contact us at 866-566-0261 or order a test online.

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