Read on to learn more about how drug tests for cannabis work and what research says about CBD use potentially leading to a positive result. CBD doesn't show up on a drug test, but the CBD oil you use may cause you to fail a drug test. Our guide explains it all.
Does CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?
Dr. Jessica Cho practiced medicine with a single mission: Help patients attain wellness and create a life full of joy, vitality and balance.
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Table of Contents
- How Drug Tests for Cannabis Work
- Can CBD Use Lead to a Positive Result on a Drug Test?
- How to Make Sure a CBD Product Doesn’t Contain THC
Despite the widespread popularity of cannabidiol (CBD), a lot of confusion about the plant compound remains, including whether it shows up on a drug test.
CBD and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are both cannabinoids, or active constituents, of the cannabis sativa plant. However, while the intoxicatingly psychoactive properties of THC lead to a “high,” CBD doesn’t produce the same intoxicating effects.
Since the two cannabinoids are sourced from the same plant, it’s fair to wonder whether both THC and CBD would show up on a drug test. Read on to learn more about how drug tests for cannabis work and what research says about CBD use potentially leading to a positive result.
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How Drug Tests for Cannabis Work
Drug tests for cannabis aim to detect THC, not CBD. According to Kelly Johnson-Arbor, M.D., a triple-board certified medical toxicologist and co-medical director of National Capital Poison Center in Washington, D.C., there are a few types of drug tests that can detect the presence of cannabis in the human body.
One of the most common tests is the immunoassay. “In this test, a sample of a patient’s urine (or other bodily fluid like blood) is analyzed to look for chemicals that resemble the active metabolite, or breakdown product, of THC,” explains Dr. Johnson-Arbor. “The immunoassay does not test for the presence of THC itself, and the test does not provide information about the degree of impairment or amount of THC to which an individual was exposed.”
Immunoassays are inexpensive and accessible, and they provide fast results. However, because false positives and false negatives can occur, they’re considered presumptive screening tests. Dr. Johnson-Arbor says many organizations use confirmation drug testing as a next step.
“Confirmatory testing using mass spectrometry is often used for forensic or workplace drug testing and is considered the ‘gold standard’ for drug testing because it’s the most accurate way to detect the presence of a drug in a person’s urine or blood,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. Mass spectrometry is an advanced method of testing that detects compounds based on their unique chemical structures and, for confirmatory testing, is typically combined with other advanced testing methods. Mass spectrometry, however, is more expensive and time consuming than immunoassays, it requires highly trained staff, and results may not be available for days or even weeks.
Drug tests can detect THC for three days after a single use and more than 30 days after heavy use. “THC is fat soluble and can be stored in body fat for a long time,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. “Chronic THC use can lead to accumulation of THC in fatty tissues, and the THC can then slowly release into the bloodstream over time.”
What Level of THC Leads to a Positive Result on a Drug Test?
There’s no standard level of THC evaluated across all drug tests. “Different laboratory test manufacturers may have different cutoff levels for positive THC test results,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor.
With that said, the cutoff level for THC on an initial immunoassay test is 50 nanograms per milliliter of urine. “This amount represents the concentration of THC metabolites in the urine but doesn’t reflect the actual amount of THC used by the patient being tested,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor.
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Can CBD Use Lead to a Positive Result on a Drug Test?
CBD use can lead to a positive drug test result if the CBD product consumed contains higher levels of THC than the label indicates—a discrepancy that’s not as uncommon as you might think.
“CBD products are largely unregulated and may contain unwanted contaminants, including THC or other illicit drugs,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. “In one study from 2017, an analysis of 48 CBD products revealed that less than one-third of the products had accurate labeling about their CBD concentration, and 21% contained THC  Bonn-Miller M, Loflin M, Thomas B, et al. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. .”
Another analysis in F100 Research of 67 CBD-containing food products in Germany found 25% of the samples contained THC above the lowest observable adverse effect level (LOAEL) of 2.5 milligrams per day.
If you use CBD products regularly, it’s important to keep in mind that they might contain potentially problematic ingredients. CBD itself may not get you high or yield a positive drug test result, but products containing higher amounts of THC than the manufacturer claims might.
Does the Type of CBD Matter?
CBD is derived either from hemp, a specific strain of the cannabis sativa plant, or from THC-containing cannabis. Hemp-derived CBD should contain no more than 0.3% THC, per the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), but product testing reveals it can sometimes exceed this federally legal limit.
A small 2021 study in JAMA Psychiatry evaluated urine samples of 15 participants who used full-spectrum, hemp-derived CBD and found detectable levels of THC in seven study participants four weeks after discontinuing use. The researchers concluded that using hemp-derived products specifically doesn’t always mean you’re in the clear when it comes to drug testing  Lachenmeier D, Habel St, Fischer B, Herbi F, et al. Are Adverse Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) Products Caused by Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Contamination?. F1000Res. 2019;8:1394. .
“Since the possession, growth and sale of cannabis remains illegal on a federal level, any positive drug test for THC can have serious legal consequences, regardless of whether it was caused by use of contaminated CBD products,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. warns. With that said, broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate products are less likely than full-spectrum CBD to be contaminated with detectable levels of THC due to the extraction methods used specifically to remove THC from the formulations, as well as other terpenes and cannabinoids in the case of CBD isolate.
How to Make Sure a CBD Product Doesn’t Contain THC
Unfortunately, it isn’t easy for the consumer to be sure how much THC is in a particular CBD product.
“Since the CBD industry is largely unregulated, there is no definitive way to know whether a particular CBD product does or does not contain THC,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. “While manufacturers may provide test results for their CBD products that claim that the product does not contain THC, the test results are often representative of only a sample batch of CBD manufactured or sold by the company at a single time. These results do not reflect the composition of every available CBD product sold by the company.”
That said, you should always look for a Certificate of Analysis (COA), which details the compounds found in a CBD product. You can usually find it on the company’s website, or you can request one from the company. If they don’t provide a COA, it should be considered a red flag as it may mean the company isn’t testing their products—or they are and don’t want to reveal the results of those tests to consumers.
Long story short, yes, CBD may yield a positive result on a drug test. There are certain actions you can take to determine whether the product you’re buying contains the lowest amount of THC possible, but there’s no guarantee that the labeling is accurate due to the lack of regulation of CBD products.
Does CBD Show on a Drug Test? Everything To Know
As CBD becomes more widespread and accepted, it’s raised many questions on if CBD will show up on a drug test. Given CBD’s association with cannabis, many make the mistake of connecting CBD with marijuana.
So does CBD show up on a drug test? What about if CBD oil shows up on a drug test? The answer is a bit complicated.
How CBD oil affects a drug testing screening mainly depends on the type of CBD product, but there’s a lot more to unpack. Let’s take a look at how CBD can affect a drug test and if you can fail.
Does CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?
Yes, CBD can show up on a drug test, but that’s only if the drug test screening tests for the cannabinoid CBD. However, that’s never heard of because it’s not something employers or law enforcement look for by default. Drug tests are designed to look for illicit substances, like THC, narcotics, steroids, etc.
Since CBD is federally legal and doesn’t impair or artificially improve athletic performance, there is no reason organizations need to test for CBD. It would be a waste of time and money.
Does CBD Oil Show Up On A Drug Test?
While CBD itself doesn’t trigger a drug screen, the CBD oil you use might do so. In this case, the issue isn’t CBD, but if THC is present or not. Some hemp CBD extracts, such as full-spectrum CBD oil, contain up to 0.3% THC that a drug test may show positive for THC.
However, don’t worry because you can easily avoid that awkward situation if you choose a broad-spectrum CBD oil.
How to Not Fail a Drug Test Using CBD Oil
Since CBD isn’t a concern, the issues about drug testing come from any THC your oil might contain. While hemp CBD extracts can legally carry up to 0.3% THC, there are plenty of THC-Free options.
THC content – if any – depends on the CBD oil you choose. There are three possible options:
- Full Spectrum
- Broad Spectrum
- CBD Isolate
All of these CBD products differ in fundamental ways.
Full-spectrum (“whole-plant”) CBD oil is the densest option. Manufacturers try to extract and retain all the cannabinoids and terpenes from the host plant. Granted, a significant amount is lost during extraction, but the diversity remains.
Having so many other critical compounds is vital for the “entourage effect” – a synergistic relationship where cannabinoids and terpenes complement each other. The process helps increase CBD oil’s potency.
Unfortunately, full-spectrum contains up to 0.3% THC , so it’s best to avoid these types of CBD products if you don’t want to risk failing a drug test.
Full-spectrum extracts also carry the complete flavor profile of their source plant. Many people like it, but for some, the “hempy” taste is hard to overcome, even when mixed with food or drinks.
CBD Isolate is the complete opposite of full spectrum. While the latter extracts and keeps as much as possible, the former is processed to remove everything but CBD.
Although this leaves behind a product that contains up to 99.9% CBD, don’t let these numbers fool you. Isolate may offer incredibly high purity, but the lack of terpenes and other cannabinoids wipes out the critical entourage effect.
Consequently, isolates are less effective than full-spectrum.
But it’s not all bad news. Many people prefer isolates because they contain no THC. They’re also flavorless, making it easy to mix with juice, smoothies, dressings, and more. Flavor-focused vendors may also prefer isolate in their edibles.
Broad-spectrum CBD oil is a happy medium between THC-laced full-spectrum and THC-free (but rather hollow) CBD isolate.
Like full-spectrum, the broad-spectrum oil extraction process aims to keep every cannabinoid and terpene except THC, making it THC-Free. With compounds to fuel the entourage effect and no THC to trigger a drug test, broad-spectrum offers the best of both worlds.
Admittedly, you’ll still notice the “hempy” flavor. But it’s a small price to pay for being able to have your cake and eat it too.
So the best way to pass a drug test when using CBD oil is to avoid products with THC. Sounds pretty straightforward, but this is where “buyer beware” should always be at the back of your mind.
Unfortunately, the CBD industry’s lack of regulation means labels can still be deceiving. When shopping around, you have to keep a sharp eye on minor details. We’ll cover these tips and tricks shortly.
For now, let’s see why THC could still make its way into allegedly “THC-free” products.
Factors That Can Lead to A Positive Drug Test with CBD Oil
Even if you choose a THC-Free product, that’s no guarantee. A company can follow the correct extraction process yet still ship a product with detectable levels of THC.
There are three main ways this can happen.
Using A CBD Product That Has THC
Using a CBD product containing THC, such as full-spectrum CBD, is the most common way to fail a drug test. Despite THC being found in minor amounts, it definitely can trigger a positive for THC.
Many manufacturers still claim their products are THC-Free when they do, so it’s crucial to buy CBD from a reputable company.
Mislabeling of CBD Products
Mislabeled CBD products were (and likely still are) a huge issue. When the Food and Drug Administration tested several CBD products , about 70% contained more or less CBD than advertised, while some didn’t have any CBD.
Even worse, many of these products “contained a significant amount of THC.” This is a huge problem considering CBD oil is famous for treating certain forms of childhood epilepsy. Inadequate or deceptive labeling means some parents could be accidentally giving THC to their kids.
You’re also going to have a hard time telling an employer that you consume no more than 0.3% THC when a drug test seems to say otherwise.
With cannabis being semi-legal in the U.S., you’d think this is a positive thing for hemp and “marijuana” advocates. However, it’s proven to be a double-edged sword – and complete nightmare – for hemp producers.
There’s a massive issue with having high-THC and low-THC cannabis chemovars growing in the same state. The layout often leads to cross-pollination, affecting THC levels of industrial hemp.
Hemp farmers have no choice but to destroy any crops exceeding 0.3% THC. If producers don’t consistently test their plants and products, you could receive something with substantially more THC.
How Can You Make Sure That a CBD Product Doesn’t Contain THC?
The best way to make sure that a CBD product doesn’t contain THC is to inform yourself. Checking for THC is easy if you know where to look. Once you know what makes a good CBD product, buying your first one will be a breeze.
Check the Label
Check the label to see if the CBD product is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or pure CBD isolate. If it mentions “CBD” but does not mention if it’s full-spectrum or broad-spectrum, then it’s most likely a CBD isolate.
For the most effective results, purchase broad-spectrum CBD over CBD Isolate for the very reasons we talked about earlier.
Also, purchasing broad-spectrum won’t have you asking, “Does CBD show up on a drug test” as it’s THC-Free while containing a spectrum of other cannabinoids and terpenes.
Check Third-Party Lab Reports for THC
Third-party lab reports are a must-have before you buy from a CBD company. Having no lab reports is a huge red flag. Never buy from a company that doesn’t prove what they’re selling.
Full-spectrum results shouldn’t show any higher than 0.3% THC. Isolate and broad-spectrum should show non-detectable levels of THC or “ND.”
Tests are typically categorized by batch and product, so it’s easy to find the information you need.
Below is a picture of a third-party lab report on a full-spectrum CBD oil. As you can see, it contains THC.
Below is an image of a broad-spectrum CBD oil. As you can see, it contains non-detectable levels of THC while containing other cannabinoids, fueling the entourage effect.
Buy from a Reputable Company
For the most part, CBD is an untamed land. We have to have faith that the company we buy from is honest about being “the best.” Of course, this is impossible to quantify or prove, so to truly find the right source, you need to read between the lines.
A reputable CBD company offers some key signs of quality. They don’t all have to be there, but enough to create a well-rounded, potent, safe, THC-free CBD oil.
When you research, look for the following:
- Updated Third-party lab reports
- CO2 extracted
- USDA Certified Organic or “organically grown”
- No chemical pesticides or herbicides
- Grown locally or in-house
- Sustainable farming
How Much CBD Will Make Me Fail a Drug Test?
No amount of CBD will make you fail a drug test unless that test is modified for CBD. The real issue is whether your product contains THC.
A CBD oil with small amounts of THC may not be much on its own. But if you consistently consume a full-spectrum product, your body could build up THC and test positive down the road.
The best way to guarantee safety and get the same benefits is through broad-spectrum CBD oil.
How Long is CBD Detectable in Blood?
Blood tests aren’t the primary choice, but they still get used to testing for illicit substances like THC. No test exists explicitly designed for CBD. Unfortunately, this means we can only guess based on THC.
A 2012 study in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry found THC detectable in the blood for three to four hours. However, this doesn’t mean it’s out of your system – not by a long shot.
Depending on several factors, CBD could remain inside you for days or weeks.
How Long is CBD Detectable in Urine?
According to one 2018 study from Frontiers in Pharmacology , CBD has a half-life of two to five days. However, all this means is you’ll eliminate half of the CBD within that time period.
Although we don’t know how long CBD will show up in a theoretical test, THC can show up anywhere from three to 30 days .
CBD might follow the same range. However, this all depends on things like dosage, metabolism, size, body fat, and more.
How Long is CBD Detectable in Hair?
Hair tests are rarely used for THC, and they’re unheard of with CBD. There haven’t been any studies because it’s not really of interest to researchers.
Follicle tests have the longest range, with THC metabolites detected up to three months after consumption. CBD’s timeframe, however, remains a mystery.
Video to Summarize CBD and Drug Tests
So Does CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?
Again, CBD won’t show on a standard drug test because it’s not a concern for employers or law enforcement. However, choosing the wrong CBD oil, such as full-spectrum CBD oil, could show positive for THC.
Stick with a broad-spectrum as it’s THC-Free to save yourself potential complications down the road. Remember to do your research and know how to read the CBD product labels. Look up the vendor’s reputation and make sure they’ve never had issues with inaccurate labeling.
CBD is a tricky area to navigate, but with the right tools and information, you’ll be able to avoid failed drug tests with CBD oil contaminated with THC.