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Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

Cannabidiol (CBD) shouldn’t show up on a drug test.

However, many CBD products contain trace amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s main active ingredient.

If enough THC is present, it will show up on a drug test.

This means that in rare cases, using CBD might lead to a positive drug test. It all depends on the product’s quality and composition.

Read on to learn how to avoid a positive drug test result, what to look for in CBD products, and more.

Most CBD products aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, it’s difficult to know what’s in them — even if these products are legal in your state.

Factors such as where the CBD extract comes from and how it’s harvested might make THC contamination more likely. Certain types of CBD are less likely to have THC in them than others.

CBD comes from cannabis, a family of plants. Cannabis plants contain hundreds of naturally occurring compounds, including:

  • cannabinoids
  • terpenes
  • flavonoids

Their chemical composition varies according to the plant strain and variety.

Although marijuana and hemp products are both derived from cannabis plants, they contain different levels of THC.

Marijuana plants typically contain THC in varying concentrations. The THC in marijuana is what produces the “high” associated with smoking or vaping weed.

In contrast, hemp-derived products are legally required to contain less than 0.3 percent THC content.

As a result, hemp-derived CBD is less likely to contain THC than marijuana-derived CBD.

Plant variety isn’t the only factor. Harvesting and refinement techniques can also change which compounds appear in CBD.

CBD extracts are typically labelled as one of the following types.

Full-spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD extracts contain all of the compounds that occur naturally in the plant they were extracted from.

In other words, full-spectrum products include CBD alongside terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids such as THC.

Full-spectrum CBD products are typically extracted from the marijuana subspecies.

Full-spectrum marijuana-derived CBD oil may contain varying amounts of THC.

Full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD oil, on the other hand, is legally required to contain less than 0.3 percent THC.

Not all manufacturers disclose where their full-spectrum extracts come from, so it can be difficult to assess just how much THC may be present in a given product.

Full-spectrum CBD is widely available. Products range from oils, tinctures, and edibles, to topical creams and serums.

Broad-spectrum CBD

Like full-spectrum CBD products, broad-spectrum CBD products contain additional compounds found in the plant, including terpenes and other cannabinoids.

However, in the case of broad-spectrum CBD, all of the THC is removed.

Because of this, broad-spectrum CBD products are less likely to contain THC than full-spectrum CBD products.

This type of CBD is less widely available. It’s most often sold as an oil.

CBD isolate

CBD isolate is pure CBD. It doesn’t contain additional compounds from the plant it was extracted from.

CBD isolate typically comes from hemp plants. Hemp-based CBD isolates shouldn’t contain THC.

This type of CBD is sometimes sold as a crystalline powder or a small, solid “slab” that can be broken apart and eaten. It’s also available as an oil or tincture.

Drug tests screen for THC or one of its main metabolites, THC-COOH.

According to Mayo Clinic Proceedings from 2017, federal workplace drug testing cut-off values were established to avoid the possibility that trace amounts of THC or THC-COOH would trigger a positive test.

In other words, passing a drug test doesn’t mean that there isn’t any THC or THC-COOH present in your system.

Instead, a negative drug test indicates that the amount of THC or THC-COOH is below the cut-off value.

Different testing methods have different cut-off values and detection windows, as listed below.

Urine

Urine testing for cannabis is common, especially in the workplace.

In urine, THC-COOH must be present at a concentration of 50 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) to trigger a positive test. (A nanogram is approximately one-billionth of a gram.)

Detection windows vary a lot according to dose and frequency of use. In general, THC metabolites are detectable in urine for approximately 3 to 15 days after use.

But heavier, more frequent cannabis use can lead to longer detection windows — more than 30 days, in some cases.

Blood

Blood tests are far less common than urine tests for drug screening, so they’re unlikely to be used for workplace testing. This is because THC is quickly eliminated from the bloodstream.

It’s only detectable in plasma for up to five hours, though THC metabolites are detectable for up to seven days.

Blood tests are most often used to indicate current impairment, for instance, in cases of driving under the influence.

In states where cannabis is legal, a THC blood concentration of 1, 2, or 5 ng/mL suggests impairment. Other states have zero-tolerance policies.

Saliva

Currently, saliva testing isn’t common, and there are no established cut-off limits for detecting THC in saliva.

A set of 2017 recommendations published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology suggest a cut-off value of 4 ng/mL.

THC is detectable in oral fluids for around 72 hours, but may be detectable for much longer with chronic, heavy use.

Hair testing isn’t common, and there are currently no established cut-off limits for THC metabolites in hair.

Private industry cut-offs include 1 picogram per milligram (pg/mg) of THC-COOH. (A picogram is about one-trillionth of a gram.)

THC metabolites are detectable in hair for up to 90 days.

There are several potential reasons why CBD use might lead to a positive drug test result.

Cross-contamination

There is potential for cross-contamination during the CBD manufacturing process, even when THC is present only in trace amounts.

Cross-contamination may be more likely for manufacturers preparing products that contain CBD only, THC only, or a combination of the two.

The same is true in stores and at home. If CBD oil is around other substances that contain THC, cross-contamination is always a possibility.

Secondhand exposure to THC

Although it’s unlikely that you’ll receive a positive drug test result after exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke, it’s possible.

Some research suggests that how much THC you absorb through secondhand smoke depends on the potency of the marijuana, as well as the size and ventilation of the area.

Product mislabeling

CBD products aren’t consistently regulated, which means that there typically isn’t a third party testing their actual composition.

A 2017 study from the Netherlands evaluated the accuracy of the labels provided on 84 CBD-only products purchased online. The researchers detected THC in 18 of the products tested.

This suggests that product mislabeling is fairly common in the industry, although more research needs to be done to confirm if this is also true for American CBD products.

Cannabidiol (CBD) shouldn’t show up on a drug test. However, many CBD products contain trace amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s main active ingredient. If enough THC is present, it'll show up on a drug test. Here's how much can be found in each CBD type, how to find a pure CBD product, and more.

Pure CBD Won’t Make You Fail a Drug Test, But…

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — As the CBD craze sweeps the nation, some users may wonder whether the cannabis extract can make them fail a drug test. A preliminary study suggests the answer is “no” — at least if the CBD is pure.

Researchers found that CBD, or cannabidiol, did not react with either of two commercially available tests used to screen for marijuana use. However, another cannabis compound — cannabinol (CBN) — did.

CBD and CBN are two of many chemicals found in cannabis plants. They differ from THC, the source of the marijuana “high.” CBD is present in marijuana but more abundant in hemp — cannabis plants that have little THC. CBN, meanwhile, is a THC derivative.

If you think CBD products are suddenly everywhere, you’re right: There has been an explosion since last year, when Congress lifted a decades-old ban on growing hemp.

Licensed farmers can now grow the plant, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. The result? CBD is turning up in everything from oils and lotions to coffee and cookies.

CBD is promoted for easing anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain, among other ailments. The jury is still out on those uses, but there is some science behind the compound. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug containing pure CBD — called Epidiolex — for treating certain rare, severe seizures.

CBN, meanwhile, is far less famous than its cousin, but it is used in products marketed as sleep aids.

Given that context, it’s important to understand how the compounds interact with drug screening tests, said Grace Kroner, lead researcher on the new study.

She and her colleagues at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City spiked three batches of urine samples with CBD, CBN and two other cannabis compounds — cannabichromene and cannabigerol.

The researchers tested each batch with two tests commonly used for THC screening. CBN reacted with one, while the other three compounds triggered no false-positives.

Why did only one test pick up CBN? The tests are known immunoassays — which means they use antibodies to detect drugs. Kroner explained that there are slight differences in the antibodies that test manufacturers use — so it’s possible to get different results.

Continued

While the findings may be a relief to some CBD users, there is a big caveat: The researchers used pure CBD. In the real world, CBD products are largely unregulated and may contain other compounds due to processing.

According to Robert Fitzgerald, a professor at the University of California, San Diego’s Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine, “It would depend on the purity of the product.”

On the positive side, he noted, immunoassays are only screening tests. They would be followed up by “confirmatory testing” that does distinguish THC from other compounds. But you could still have a problem if your cannabis product was contaminated with THC, Fitzgerald said.

Legally, Kroner noted, CBD products should only be produced from hemp plants with no more than 0.3% THC. But there’s no way for consumers to know for sure what’s in the products they buy.

A 2017 study found that about seven out of 10 CBD products did not contain the amount of cannabidiol stated on the label. And about one in five contained THC.

A false-positive on a drug test could have implications for people at work, and in their medical care. For example, some health care organizations do not allow patients to start opioid painkillers if they use marijuana.

It all points to the importance of taking “cross-reactivity” into account when a drug screening test comes back positive, Kroner said.

“Confirmatory testing should be done before any clinical decisions are made,” she said.

What should you do if you use any of these products and have a drug test coming up?

The simplest course is to refrain for a while, according to Kroner. But she also advised being up front about your CBD or CBN use — or any supplement use, for that matter — so that your test results can be interpreted in that light.

Kroner reported the findings Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry in Anaheim, Calif. Studies presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Researchers found that CBD, or cannabidiol, did not react with either of two commercially available tests used to screen for marijuana use. However, another cannabis compound — cannabinol (CBN) — did. ]]>