Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

After copious amounts of research, you have finally concluded that CBD and its wealth of potential benefits could be a suitable option for you. You intently scoured the internet for days on end in search of high-quality products from reputable vendors before it dawned on you. Will CBD cause me to fail a drug test? Fearing the worst, you abandon the idea in favor of job security.

Sound familiar? If you have ever found yourself in this unfavorable situation or one similar, then you have come to the right place. This article is designed to take an in-depth look at the impact of CBD on standard drug screening practices, as well as how to avoid purchasing questionable products with high THC thresholds. 

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 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.  

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, which 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 as well 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).

Does CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?

Back to the question at hand: Will CBD cause me to fail a drug test? This commonly asked question, combined with a general lack of an insightful answer, is a primary factor that successfully deters many would-be consumers from adding cannabidiol to their daily health regimen. While it is true that CBD in itself should not be the culprit of a positive result on a traditional drug screen, CBD-specific tests do exist that are designed to screen for CBD (7-COOH-CBD), though they are incredibly uncommon and very rarely used. Additionally, there is an important side note that is widely misunderstood and rarely addressed.      

Legally extracted cannabidiol is derived from the hemp plant and is the primary practice utilized amongst reputable vendors of quality CBD products. Being sourced from hemp ensures that any active THC content is minimal and adheres to the legal limit set at no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. When isolated and appropriately extracted, the end product is legal nationwide and should not be the cause of a positive drug screen. There are, however, some possible exceptions that we will address below.

Some Things To Consider

CBD-infused products are available in a variety of different formats, each of which should be taken into consideration before consumption, especially by those mindful of possible upcoming drug tests. Understanding these categories will drastically help minimize the risk of a positive test result, thereby ensuring a pleasant dosing experience. 

  • CBD Isolate: By far the safest route for anyone required to submit to routine drug testing, these products undergo a specialized process to isolate the CBD molecule from all other present plant-based compounds. With proper extraction techniques, these products contain absolutely no THC and thus should not be responsible for a positive drug screen.    
  • Broad-Spectrum CBD: These products include added terpenes and cannabinoids in addition to cannabidiol, all of which originate from the cannabis genus. The exception is for THC, which is intentionally excluded from the formula. The absence of THC means that these products are safeguarded against drug tests that screen for cannabis use – you should not fail as a result of consuming a broad-spectrum product.
  • Full-Spectrum CBD: These products contain all cannabinoids and terpenes present in the extracted oil, including THC, thus the term “full-spectrum.” When sourced from hemp, the amount of active THC should be minuscule (less than 0.3%), though this does not necessarily mean that it will not be detected by standard drug tests. While the chances are that the amount of active THC is well below the detection threshold, there is still a slight possibility of testing positive for cannabis use.


Joshua Willard (Freelance CBD Content Writer/Editor)

*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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