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Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

gloved hand holding urine sample cup

Source: monte_a/Shutterstock.com

Maybe you’ve already made CBD tinctures or other CBD products part of your daily routine, or perhaps you’re thinking about it. A common question that may come up for you then is if the CBD gummies you had at lunch or the CBD topical cream you used after the gym will show up on drug tests. 

With 14 percent of Americans saying they’ve used CBD products, it’s no wonder that some of us have heard of folks failing their drug tests and CBD products being blamed for it.

But are these people actually failing because of CBD? Or is there something else going on here? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more.

Why do employers do drug tests?

Generally speaking, employers are going to test for drugs for a few reasons. One is because drug abuse creates significant safety and health hazards. It also allows employers to refer employees who have drug problems for the appropriate help. And, in some cases, it is needed by State laws or Federal regulations.

Drug testing overall across the country has gone down in recent years. But of the places that still do them, few disclose the necessity of taking a drug test during the hiring process. As reported by Forbes, only 0.66 percent of job postings mention regular drug testing.

So if you enjoy the benefits of your CBD products, it’s best to be aware that the potential is there.

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How do drug tests work?

There are four kinds of drug tests that a person might encounter in the workplace. 

Urine Screens: This is the most common type of drug test. It’s the classic pee-in-a-cup and send it away for analysis scenario that you’ve probably seen on television shows, movies and most likely had to do yourself if you’ve ever been drug tested. These tests generally screen for cocaine, marijuana, amphetamine, opiates and alcohol and can also look for nicotine. Ninety percent of drug testing will be in this category. 

Saliva-Based Swab: Using a mouth swab to collect a sample, it’s quick and meant to detect recent drug use. It can detect alcohol, cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine use within the past few days and marijuana use within the past 10 hours.

Hair Follicle Testing: This test is rarely used because it rarely detects recent drug use. However, it can detect drug use up to 90 days ago and as recently as about five days prior. It’s non-invasive, which is good. It can screen for cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamine and phencyclidine (PCP). 

Blood Tests: The most invasive drug testing form, it must be performed by trained phlebotomists and analyzed in a proper lab. However, it is the most accurate of all the tests and can detect cocaine, marijuana, amphetamine, opiates, methamphetamines and nicotine. These tests can specifically target THC in marijuana weeks after use and alcohol use up to 24 hours after consumption. 

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Do drug tests look for CBD?

The short answer is… NO.

Employers never screen for CBD because cannabidiol is legal under federal law, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, and it is not a psychoactive substance. 

Therefore, a drug test will never screen for CBD specifically. The differences between CBD and THC are vast and you will not fail a drug test because of CBD alone. 

man holding up urine sample

Source: Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock.com

Can CBD products cause me to fail a drug test?

Okay, so if employers don’t ever test for CBD, why do you have that friend-of-a-friend who used some sort of CBD product and then failed their drug test at work?

It wasn’t the CBD that made them fail, but most likely another famous cannabinoid contained in some CBD products. 

You’ve no doubt heard of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive cannabinoid that gives people euphoric feelings, red eyes and the munchies. It’s the main reason people use marijuana recreationally. And, yes, as we said above, it is tested for.

You’ll find THC and other beneficial cannabinoids in full-spectrum CBD products because they may provide synergistic benefits, though only at levels of 0.3 percent or less, which abides by federal law. Still, it could be enough to trigger readings on a drug test and cause a person to fail. 

full spectrum broad spectrum illustration

Source: About time/Shutterstock.com

To avoid this issue and continue using CBD products safely, you can opt for THC-free broad-spectrum CBD, including other cannabinoids. Or, if you want to go a step further, you can use CBD isolate products. These use pure CBD extract and filter out all other cannabinoids and compounds from the hemp plant. 

It should be noted that an older style of technology has been falsely detecting CBD as THC in drug tests and delivering incorrect results for thousands of people. The method is called gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry with the derivatization agent trifluoroacetic anhydride (TFAA). If you fail a test that used this method and have used only THC-free CBD products, you should contest the results. Many have, and they won their cases.

Are you still worried about a drug test after using CBD products?

If you’re still unsure about your CBD use because of an upcoming drug test or think that a new employer might test you during the hiring and onboarding process at your new gig, you have some options.

Remember, again, that your employer will never test you for CBD. What you’d likely be trying to get rid of is THC. How long THC stays in your body will be a mixture of individual variables. This includes how much you’ve consumed, how much body fat you have, your metabolic rate and other variables like exercise and eating habits. 

To detox naturally, it can take up to six weeks, and you’ll want to include plenty of exercise, lots of water and eat as healthy as possible. 

However, we’ll say it one last time: If you’re using broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate products, you really don’t have anything to worry about because no one drug tests for CBD!


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