Monday July 15, 2019

By Andrew Ward


CBD is the cannabinoid challenging THC as the most prevalent product on the cannabis market today. With its ability to be sold as an oil, edible, vape cartridge, lotion and so much more, CBD has found its way into just about every product on sales shelves. It’s even showing up in major stores and big box retailers. While the benefits of CBD are well known, some are concerned about it causing them to fail a drug test. We dove into the topic a bit more to help unpack the situation. 

Will CBD Show Up On a Drug Test?

It’s important to understand that even though CBD is non-psychoactive, the small amounts of THC present can potentially show up on a drug test. There are many reports of CBD consumers failing a drug test for THC – although it is an unlikely outcome in most scenarios. For CBD to show up on tests, most cases seem to suggest that a person would have to consume significant amounts of full-spectrum cannabidiol. The standard employment drug test can also confuse people, and rightfully so. CBD is part of the cannabis plant, and the test is looking for cannabis, right? Not exactly. Instead, the standard test is looking for THC metabolites, not CBD. While they have their similarities, CBD and THC are chemically different. Often, a ‘cannabis screening’ will be a partial misnomer as CBD is not going to be factored in. Keep in mind, however, that tests can vary. Thresholds alter depending on the test type. A urine test may catch CBD before a hair test as the latter is designed to detect more substantial cannabis consumption.

Most importantly, if you are in a situation where you simply cannot fail a drug test, do not consume CBD. It’s never a guarantee that you’ll pass your drug test unless you abstain from consuming 100%.

While tests for certain drugs could be on the rise as use increases, there seems to be very little concern for CBD use. As a non-psychoactive substance that has a growing reputation as a therapeutic option, very few are likely to care if a person is consuming it. That said, government jobs, schools and others could still be inclined or obligated to screen for CBD. There have been reported instances of people losing their jobs over CBD. In most cases, those affected say that they did not consume THC at all and strictly used CBD. If that’s the case, then how did they fail their drug test?

Monitoring Your CBD

The best way to avoid failing a drug test due to CBD is by thoroughly vetting the products you consume. Testing standards and legislative changes have made it much easier for a person to purchase CBD from reputable retailers who work with state-tested producers. In these environments, CBD is often tested and verified to be free of other contaminants and have THC levels below the legally allowed .3%.

cbd isolate
The best way to avoid failing a drug test due to CBD is by monitoring the products you consume. photo credit

When buying from other sources, like convenience stores, mom and pop shops and even some delivery services, the customer can run into mislabeled or miscategorized CBD products. In these instances, the shop or service is likely working with producers that are not passing their state tests. Such adverse outcomes have prompted many consumers to opt for CBD isolate or distillate to avoid any outside contaminants. That said, even then, these products do run a small chance of not being what they're billed as. Products could contain THC or other cannabinoids or contaminants. 

Whether in this case or using a full spectrum CBD oil, the consumer may be taking in small doses of THC as well. Remember that many small doses of THC can still add up. While still unlikely, a heavy consumer of CBD could trigger a positive THC test. As such, it is critical that consumers pay attention to what they put in their bodies. 

Just like when shopping down the grocery aisle, it is essential that consumers study the product information before making any purchases. Whether online or in-store, consumers should verify that the product is lab tested and/or offers certificates of authenticity to verify its contents. If in-store, start by reading the label. If online, look for the company’s lab tests to confirm its contents. If you can’t find the information straight away, the best idea is to search online. Typically, a query like “[Company Name]” + “certificate of authenticity” or “lab tests” should yield results. If they don’t produce the needed information, consider another CBD option. 

What If I Fail a Drug Test Because of CBD?

Consider yourself one of the few stuck in this unfavorable situation. If CBD has been the only substance you’ve consumed, there are options to remedy the incident. The first thing is to communicate with the company. Those already working for the company may have better success convincing the boss or HR to let CBD slide, or conduct another screening. New hires and applicants should do the same and attempt to correct the situation. However, the company may already sour to a person bringing this sort of baggage to the role, even though they have done nothing wrong. 

Drug test
Even though CBD is non-psychoactive, the small amounts of THC present can potentially show up on a drug test. photo credit

As such, going through HR first may be the best course of action for either situation. This is particularly true if you have legal evidence from your state to show precedence for your case. Be sure to keep in mind potential changes in the law. Citizens in Nevada no longer have to worry about cannabis of any kind resulting in a failed drug test. The same could happen in other states if legislation were to pass. 

If granted a re-screening, it may be best to quit consuming CBD until taking the test is complete. Even if the company is aware of the situation, the better safe than sorry route could further ensure that nothing fishy occurs this time around. That said, some cannot simply stop taking their CBD and need it to function on a daily basis. While no outcome is guaranteed, hopefully, most employers, especially in legal states, will understand your situation in case another positive were to show up. 

Final Thoughts

If the products are appropriately labeled and aren’t consumed in large quantities, the likelihood that you’ll fail a drug test for consuming just CBD is minimal. However, people have lost their jobs, children and other valued parts of their lives thanks to CBD triggering a positive result in a drug screening. 

To avoid such an outcome, it is that much more important that you examine the labels and search for authentic CBD products. Don’t take a chance on unverified CBD oil and products. Instead, take the few extra minutes and know what you are putting in your body. Just like any other supplement, the ultimate responsibility falls on the consumer. While we’d all love to have a perfect world where no producer is failing tests, we know that is not the case, and won’t be anytime soon. So, keep an eye out and good luck on that test!

Have you heard of anyone failing a drug test because of CBD? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Vaping 360 (license)

Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.

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