Will CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

By Viviana Echeverria

CBD has become quite the buzz word and for good reason: it has shown to reduce pain, nausea, inflammation, spasms, intestinal contractions, artery blockage, tumor cell growth and more all without causing a high.

However, since there are many types of cannabis-derived CBD products on the market made from the same plant as THC (everyone’s favorite recreational cannabinoid) and hemp-derived products with extremely low THC levels, many people are left wondering if CBD will show up on a workplace drug test. Though the simple answer is “no,” there’s a bit more to it than that. Here’s what you need to know about CBD and drug tests.

Drug Tests Weren’t Designed to Detect CBD

There are many reasons an employer might require drug screening – safety, legal protection, improved productivity, or even federal mandates – but the ultimate goal is to determine impairment, not a medical regimen. Therefore, most drug screens are not designed to detect CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid derived from either hemp or cannabis plants.

 

Rather, most employers use either a 5-panel or 10-panel drug screen, both of which test for THC-COOH (what THC turns in to after the body metabolizes it). In addition to THC, the 5-panel drug screen tests for cocaine, opiates, PCP, and amphetamines/methamphetamines while the 10-panel screen also tests for barbiturates, propoxyphene, benzodiazepines, methadone, and propoxyphene. Though the 10-panel test contains more recreational drugs, it also contains more pharmaceutical drugs which have become a growing epidemic over the last few decades.

High Doses of CBD Could Trigger a False-Positive

Because hemp products can legally contain up to .3 percent THC, regularly consuming extremely high doses of CBD products (between 1,000 and 2,000 mg/day, in fact) could trigger a false-positive result. However, it is unlikely that even high doses of daily CBD would surpass the federal limit of 50 nanograms THC metabolite per milliliter of urine.

Please note, a positive test would be the result of minute traces of THC in the body, not CBD.

Though tests are being developed to detect CBD metabolites, most employers don’t really care about it, they just want to know if you get high.

Medical Professionals Want to Know What Cannabinoids are in Your System

Though an employer’s reason for drug testing is to determine your ability to remain safe and productive at work, a medical professional has a whole different reason: to determine what medications to give you to keep you safe. Non-disclosure of cannabis consumption could alter the effectiveness of sedatives and other pain medications.

Because cannabis and anesthesia are both depressants, mixing the two could make for a dangerous mid-surgery interaction. Though surgeons recommend avoiding cannabis consumption prior to surgery to avoid a miscalculation in anesthesia, some medical professionals will conduct a pre-surgery drug screening to ensure all chemicals and medications floating around in the body be identified prior to putting you under.

Because many cannabis consumers don’t always have a clear idea of the specific cannabinoids they are ingesting, some researchers have suggested testing for both CBD and THC (in addition to other narcotics) as part of standardized pre-surgery testing procedures.

Many Employers in Legal States are Looking Past Positive Cannabis Tests

Though it’s still legal to test for cannabis in 420-friendly states, many employees have begun to look past results that test positive for THC. Largely due to the shrinking pool of eligible employees (because, let’s face it, if you can smoke weed, you probably will smoke weed at some point, right?) and largely due an inability to determine cannabis impairment on standardized tests, a growing number of employees are opting out of the cannabis-free workplace mentality.

Help Wanted
Few employers are requiring cannabis drug tests in cannbis friendly states.

So Will CBD show up in a drug test?

It's unlikely that CBD will show up in a drug test. If you have to take one for employment, chances are they will be screening for cannabis. But that actually means they're looking for the presence of THC or THC metabolites—not CBD. Technically, CBD is a chemical, and if you ingest it, your body will metabolize it, so it can be detected. But the average drug test is not designed to pick up CBD, or any other compounds found in cannabis other than THC, says Brenda Gannon, a toxicologist and laboratory director at Steep Hill Arkansas. She says that “because CBD is chemically distinct from THC, it is unlikely that pure CBD would be detected in these types of drug tests. However, hemp-based CBD products often contain trace amounts of THC." (This is because some researchers believe that a tiny bit of THC enhances the effects of CBD.)

If there’s a little THC in my CBD oil, will I fail my drug test?

Different types of drug tests have different detection thresholds. A hair test, for example, is designed to catch chronic substance use. So if your CBD oil only has trace amounts of THC in it (.3 percent is the standard amount if there's any in it at all), and you're not chugging it by the bottle, it still probably won't show up in a hair test. It's worth noting that because CBD isn't regulated, you don't ever really know what's in a product that contains it.

If you're taking a urine or oral fluid test, the detection thresholds are even lower. Gannon says that "depending on a number of parameters—including amount consumed, how often one uses CBD products, and body composition—it is possible that these trace amounts of THC could accumulate and then be detected in a drug test." "It’s possible, but it's highly unlikely," concurs Jamie Corroon, a postdoctoral fellow at the National University of Natural Medicine and the founder of the Center for Medical Cannabis Education.

Is there a drug test that could detect CBD?

Since it's not standard to test for CBD, it would take a very specific test to detect it—your employer would have to commission it (and pay for it). Gannon says this would involve “notifying the testing company that the employer would like to test for an additional analyte” and “paying the testing company an additional charge to cover expenses associated with CBD—such as having to purchase additional standards for detection and [slightly] modifying their existing standard operating procedures to include CBD.” And that's really unlikely, since CBD doesn’t get you high—and therefore won’t impair your ability to perform your job functions—and most companies don’t like to spend extra money for no reason.


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