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Does Cannabidiol (CBD) Show Up on a Drug Test?

Updated 09/06/2020

If you’ve been interested in introducing CBD into your routine but are someone who has to take drug tests for work, sports, or other reasons, you might be hesitant to explore what the hemp plant has to offer.  CBD is cannabidiol, which is a compound that naturally occurs in the hemp plant. The hemp plant is a member of the cannabis genus, as is marijuana. So, it’s natural that many people continue to wrongfully believe that CBD is a marijuana product.

We understand that because CBD is still a fairly new market. And, because it’s so closely related to marijuana, a lot of people remain hesitant to give it a try. This brings us to a common question we hear from CBD beginners, and that is whether or not it will show up on a drug test.  Well, today we are here to answer that question.

Common Drug Tests: The Basics

Regardless of your views on mandatory routine drug testing practices and the principals behind them, they remain a genuine reality for many working-class Americans today. Employers who enforce mandated screenings typically adhere to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) protocol to retain solid legal ground.

These guidelines utilize a two-step screening procedure that begins with urine analysis, or an immunoassay screening to be more precise. This type of drug screening has proven to be far less reliable. This is due to its tendency to register a false positive. In the event of a positive test, a final confirmatory Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis is conducted to verify the results of the first test. These screenings are unbelievably accurate and can detect even the most minuscule substance amount.  

Standard Drug Tests Don’t Test for CBD

First, let’s talk about CBD itself.  Standard drug tests do not search for the CBD compound specifically, because CBD is completely legal throughout the country, and therefore isn’t considered a drug. CBD is cannabidiol, which is the leading chemical compound in the hemp plant.  If you’re taking pure CBD, like in the form of a CBD isolate product, then you can rest easy.  CBD is not going to appear on a drug test, because drug tests aren’t looking for CBD.  CBD is completely legal in all 50 states. Hence, why testers have no need to search for it in your system.

There are Tests for Detecting CBD, But They Aren’t Used by Drug Testers, and are Extremely Expensive

Now, there are tests that do look for CBD, but drug testers don’t use them.  Why?  Well, because of the reasons explained above – they have no reason to, since CBD is legal.  Further, these tests are not used for drug-testing purposes but used by wellness researchers looking to study the half-life of cannabidiol.  They’re extremely expensive, and no drug tester would want to invest in one.

To sum it up: There are highly specialized tests for cannabidiol, they cost a lot of money to obtain, and are of basically no use to employers, sports administrators, etc.

The THC in Hemp Almost Definitely Won’t Show Up on a Drug Test

What drug tests do look for is THC. Now, what if you’re using a hemp product that contains THC?  Full spectrum hemp products contain the full spectrum of compounds that occur in hemp. THC is one of those compounds.  THC is the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana its ability to get a person high. 

Here’s the thing – in the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant, there’s only a trace amount of the psychoactive compound – no more than 0.3 percent.  This is within the legal limit, and too low to get you high.

Most Commonly Screened Substances

Drug tests are capable of screening for a range of illicit substances based primarily on specific requirements and concerns set by the employer. Typically, tests are categorized based upon the number of panels (or illegal substances), that are being screened. For example, the industry standard is the 5-panel drug test. It screens for the top 5 most commonly consumed illicit street drugs:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cannabis (THC)
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • PCP

Employers also have the option to screen for other drugs by purchasing an 8, 9, or even 10-panel test. These added panels can detect the presence of additional street drugs and unprescribed pharmaceutical medications such as:    

  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly)
  • Prescription Narcotics (Methadone, Oxycodone, etc.)  

Cannabis-Specific Tests

These tests are designed to accurately screen for cannabis use and nothing else. Or, more accurately, the presence of THC-COOH (11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol), a metabolized byproduct of THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) that is expelled through the urinary tract. These tests typically have a threshold of 50 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) to register as a positive for THC use. Nearly every drug test screens for cannabis use, and, in most instances, there is no way around this. Keep in mind that these tests are screening for the presence of THC (THC-COOH) and not CBD (7-COOH-CBD).

Four Types of Common Tests When Conducting a THC Drug Test

These tests are usually the ones initiated by the employer, company, group, organization, etc.

Urine Test

The most common in the workplace, 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.) [Source}

Blood Test

Not nearly as common due to the THC being quickly flushed out of the blood stream. Up to five hours max it can be detected in plasma (THC metabolites are detectable for up to seven days). States due vary as well when it comes to THC blood concentration levels [Source]

Saliva Test

Rarely used and there’s no definitive cut-off limits for detecting THC in saliva [Source]

Hair Test

An extremely rare testing method, there are no no established cut-off limits for THC metabolites in hair. THC metabolites are detectable in hair for up to 90 days. [Source]

Rare Exceptions

But there have been extremely rare cases of the THC in hemp causing a failed drug test.  This most likely occurs because the test was unusually sensitive due to a fluke, or the way in which your body metabolized the THC was unique, despite the fact that it didn’t get you high.

Other rare cases would be that they either used a CBD product that came from the marijuana plant rather than the hemp plant, or used a hemp-based product that was an anomaly in that it had more than the legal limit of THC, and the company did not test for this. CBD Product mislabeling could also lead to a failed drug test.

So, if you are really concerned, we suggest choosing a THC-free CBD product, and you’ll be good to go.

How to Ensure You Pass a Drug Test as a Hemp User

So, how do you make sure that you don’t end up being one of those extremely rare cases of failing a drug test because of your CBD routine?  Well, that’s easy. There are two types of CBD products that are completely free of THC, as the compound has been removed. Broad spectrum hemp contains every compound in hemp except for THC, all of which are perfectly legal.  Then, there’s CBD isolate, which is a pure CBD extract free of any other compounds.

Final CBD Drug Testing Opinion

CBD itself will not show up on a drug test, because drug tests do not look for CBD.  If you’re using a CBD product that contains the trace amount of THC found in hemp, the chances of you failing a drug test are still incredibly low.  But if you wish to play it conservatively, opt for a THC-free CBD product. Many of them currently exist on the market.

Also, make sure sure to do your research by looking for certain terms/identifiers such as USDA-certified organic, CO2-extracted, solvent-free, decarboxylated, pesticide- or herbicide-free, no additives, no preservatives, solvent-free, and lab-tested. Steer clear of any companies making health claims about their products, too.

To reiterate one last point: The chances of failing a drug test as a result of taking any CBD product that comes from the hemp plant is next to zero. But, if you really wish to be more cautious, invest in THC-free CBD products, which are widely available today at Pure CBD Vapors!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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