The fear of a positive drug test that gets you fired from your job is a common concern amongst some who are considering CBD products. After all, CBD is derived from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa L), a close relative of THC-rich cannabis marijuana.
Because of their close plant family relation, many assume that CBD use will result in a positive THC drug test. However, this is not always the case. No CBD product will have any more than trace amounts of THC content, with some containing none at all. It is usually this trace content of THC that can show up on a drug test – not CBD.
Keep reading to better understand how CBD and THC drug tests work and what you can do to avoid a positive test result for THC.
How Do Drug Tests Work?
Drug testing for cannabis use is designed to detect the presence of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, or a THC metabolite, 11-nor-delta9-carboxy-THC (THC-COOH. Using immunoassays, a type of antibody test, these drug tests can screen for THC in urine, saliva, blood, and hair.
Urine tests are the most common type of drug test used. They are relatively cheap and easy to administer and can detect THC for up to 30 days after last use. However, they are also susceptible to false positives from other compounds that cross-contaminate during the testing process.
Saliva tests are less common but are also less invasive and can detect recent THC use within minutes to hours. However, they are not as sensitive as urine tests and may not be able to detect THC use that occurred more than 72 hours prior.
Blood tests are the most accurate type of drug test for detecting THC. They can detect THC within minutes to hours of last use and are not as susceptible to false positives as urine tests. However, they are also the most invasive type of drug test and are not commonly used.
Hair tests are not as common as the other drug tests, but they are the most sensitive. They can detect THC use for up to 90 days after last use. However, they are also the most expensive type of drug test and are not as commonly used.
What Factors Affect Drug Test Results?
Just because you have consumed products with THC doesn’t always mean that you will test positive for THC on a drug test. Many factors can affect drug test results, including the type of drug test used, the sensitivity of the drug test, how much THC was consumed, how often THC was consumed, and when THC was last consumed.
For example, urine tests are less sensitive than blood tests and may not be able to detect THC use that occurred more than a few days prior. On the other hand, hair tests are the most sensitive and can detect THC for up to 90 days after last use.
In general, the more frequently you use THC-containing products and the higher the THC content, the more likely you are to test positive for THC on a drug test, even if you have only been using CBD products.
What About CBD?
Because CBD is legal in the UK (if the product meets the requirements of UK law), workplace drug testing for the compound isn’t usually an issue. So, even if your test did detect the presence of CBD or its metabolites in your system, it wouldn’t necessarily result in negative consequences from your employer – assuming CBD isn’t a fireable offence according to your workplace’s drug policy.
With the metabolite of CBD being so similar in structure to THC, there is a chance for cross-reactivity on some sensitive drug tests. However, this is very unlikely to happen on standard urine drug tests.
How to Avoid a Positive THC Drug Test Result
If you are concerned about failing a THC drug test due to using CBD extracts, you can do a few things to try avoid a positive result.
Many online and high street shop vendors sell detox kits designed to remove cannabinoid compounds from the body in “as little as one hour”. These kits are an option for those that use full-spectrum CBD products containing trace amounts of THC (<1mg per product) and must pass a drug test within 24 hours.
If you are a regular CBD user and are worried about failing a THC drug test, you could switch to using CBD isolates instead of full-spectrum products. CBD isolates contain no THC, phytocannabinoids, hemp terpenes, or flavonoids. So, they are much less likely to produce a false positive on a drug test.
Stop Using CBD Products
If you have an upcoming drug test and are worried about failing, the best thing you can do is stop using all CBD products for at least one week before the test. This should give your body enough time to metabolize and eliminate all traces of THC from your system.
Why THC-Free Doesn’t Always Mean Drug Test Safe
Just because a CBD product is marketed as THC-free doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to use if you are drug tested for THC.
Broad-spectrum CBD is often labelled as THC-free. This is because the process of making broad-spectrum CBD oil products involves additional filtration methods that remove all traces of THC from the final product. Many vendors use third-party labs to verify that these products are indeed THC free, but there are a few caveats to that designation.
Firstly, broad-spectrum products can be labelled as THC-free if they contain ‘non-detectable’ traces of THC. So, while these products may not result in a positive THC drug test, they could still have enough THC to show up on more sensitive tests – like hair follicle tests.
Additionally, broad-spectrum CBD products can also be labelled as THC-free if they are made from CBD isolate, with terpenes, phytocannabinoid blends, and other natural ingredients added back into the final product. However, low-quality extraction methods can lead to cross-contamination and leave trace amounts of THC in the final product. So, while the product may be technically THC-free, it could still contain enough THC to show up on a more sensitive drug test.
Finally, CBD products marked THC-free could be sold by less than reputable companies that don’t actually lab test their products for THC content. So, while the product may not contain any THC, there is no way to verify that claim without sending the product off for independent lab testing – which is often not worth the time or money for consumers.
Considerations When Buying CBD Products
To ensure that your CBD product won’t make you fail a drug test for THC, there are a few things you should look for when buying CBD products.
Firstly, only buy CBD products that come with a Certificate of Analysis (COA). This document is provided by an independent lab and contains information about the product’s cannabinoid content and any contaminants present in the final product. A reputable company will have their products lab tested regularly and will be able to provide you with an up-to-date COA.
Secondly, only buy CBD products from companies that use third-party lab testing. This ensures that an independent company has verified the product’s THC content before it hits store shelves.
Finally, make sure only to buy CBD products that are clearly labelled with all ingredients, as well as the product’s THC content. This will help you to verify that the product contains what it says it does and that it won’t contain any unwanted surprises that could cause you to fail a drug test.
Other hallmarks of a reputable company that you can trust to provide you with high-quality CBD oil that won’t make you fail a drug test include:
- the use of CO2 extraction methods
- organic, non-GMO hemp
- natural ingredients sourced from sustainable growers
- cGMP & ISO certified facilities
Purchasing CBD isolate or broad-spectrum products from companies that meet these standards will give you the best chance of avoiding a positive THC drug test.
Does the Form of CBD Matter?
CBD oil is the most common form of CBD on the market, but it’s not the only one. You can also purchase CBD in the form of capsules, edibles, topicals, vapes, and more.
So, does the form of CBD matter when it comes to drug testing?
In short – yes. The form of CBD you use will affect how long it stays in your system and, as a result, how likely you are to fail a drug test.
CBD Oil Tinctures
CBD oil tinctures are typically taken sublingually with cannabidiol drops placed under the tongue for about two minutes before swallowing. When taken this way, CBD tincture and its included cannabinoids typically stay in your system for around 2-5 days. However, this can vary depending on how much CBD oil you take, as well as other factors like your metabolism and the quality of the CBD oil you’re using.
CBD Edibles & Capsules
Edibles such as CBD gummies or CBD softgel capsules are also taken orally, but they tend to stay in your system for a more extended period of time. This is because CBD edibles and capsules are metabolized after being digested, with CBD oil in each product being more slowly released into your bloodstream over time.
CBD topicals are applied directly to the skin, so they’re not metabolized in the same way as other forms of CBD. Instead, CBD topicals absorb into skin and muscle tissue. Your skin acts as a barrier to the bloodstream, making it unlikely that CBD topicals will show up on a drug screening.
However, it is important to note that using CBD topicals on or near an open wound could potentially cause a false positive since the risk of the CBD entering your bloodstream is higher.
CBD Vape Liquid
CBD vapes are inhaled, which means they tend to stay in your system for a shorter period of time – around 1-3 days. However, this can vary depending on how much CBD you vape, as well as other factors like your metabolism and the quality of the CBD vape oil you’re using.
As you can see, CBD products that are taken orally (in the form of oil, capsules, or edibles) tend to stay in your system for the most prolonged period of time, while CBD products that are inhaled or rubbed on tend to stay in your system for the shortest period of time.
So, if you prefer broad or full-spectrum CBD products that stimulate the entourage effect, it may be best to choose CBD products that don’t stay in your system as long, such as CBD vapes or topicals. This way, you can create a CBD dosing schedule that will help you avoid having too much THC traces in your system at one time, which could increase your chances of testing positive for THC on a drug test.
Pick the Right CBD for Passing a Drug Test
When it comes to passing a drug test and being a CBD user, your best bet is to use CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD oil from a reputable company. These products will have the lowest levels of THC possible, and they’ll be free from any other contaminants that could cause you to fail a drug test.
Make sure to purchase your CBD products from a company that uses CO2 extraction methods, organic non-GMO hemp, and third-party lab testing. These are all standards you should look for when choosing a CBD company, as they indicate that the company is committed to producing high-quality, safe products.
With the right types of CBD products, you can focus on getting the wellness benefits you need without having to worry about failing a drug test.
1. Drug Testing, https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/drug-testing/
2. Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570572/
3. Conversion of Cannabidiol (CBD) into Psychotropic Cannabinoids Including Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): A Controversy in the Scientific Literature, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7357058/