Can CBD Cause You to Fail a Drug Test?

Although cannabidiol (CBD) is derived from cannabis, either marijuana or hemp, it isn’t a drug people use to get high. That role belongs to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. CBD is known for having medicinal properties, and it is now legal in many states in the U.S. People are using CBD to treat everything from stress and anxiety to chronic pain and seizure disorders, and they are using it on a daily basis.

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Some people hesitate to try CBD, however, due to their employer’s drug-testing policy. The following are a few important things to know about CBD and drug testing.

Drug Tests Can Make Mistakes

If you are worried about failing a drug test due to CBD, you should talk with your employer about your concern. In general, companies use drug testing as a means of ensuring safety in the workplace and making sure that workers are not impaired while on the job. Thus, drug tests screen for THC.

However, different methods of analyzing drug tests can have different results. The most common test is a urine test, which screens for several drugs, including marijuana. Lab techs analyze the samples using two common methodologies.

The most up-to-date technique is known as high-performance liquid chromatography, and it does a good job of distinguishing THC from other cannabinoids. However, an older technique known as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry can sometimes mistake CBD for THC.

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CBD Products May Contain Some THC

Another concern related to drug testing is that some CBD products contain small amounts of THC, which can show up on a drug test. In most states, CBD products can have up to 0.3% THC. Furthermore, since CBD is not regulated by the FDA, customers rely on manufacturers or retailers to provide accurate information. But some CBD products may contain more than the legal limit, which further increases the risk of failing a drug test.

The only way to avoid THC completely is to use only CBD isolate, which is a pure form of CBD. However, many people feel that a full-spectrum product, which includes the full range of cannabinoids and essential oils in the plant, is much more effective because the other components enhance the benefits of the CBD.

CBN May Trigger A False Positive For THC

Full-spectrum CBD products may also contain cannabinol, or CBN. CBN is actually a by-product of THC that forms in the plant when THC is exposed to heat, and it shares many properties with THC. For this reason, the presence of CBN can sometimes trigger a false-positive drug test. As mentioned earlier, some drug tests are not good at distinguishing between different cannabinoids. Some urine tests that use antibodies to detect THC metabolites are likely to give a positive result due to CBN.

Tips for Passing A Drug Test When Using CBD

If you are using CBD, there is always a risk that you will fail a drug test, but the risk is a small one. In a 2001 study of the effects of consuming hemp on workplace drug tests, participants ingested a hemp product that contained 0.6 mg of THC every day for almost 6 weeks, and only one out of fifteen failed a drug test. To decrease your chances of failing a test, you can try the following strategies.

  1. Stop taking full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD products for at least two weeks before an anticipated drug test. Even though these products benefit from the entourage effect, they may contain detectable amounts of THC.
  2. Use only CBD-isolate products or topicals from a manufacturer you trust. Both of these entail a very low risk of failing a drug test. If possible, choose oils or capsules that provide a certificate of analysis (COA), which is an independent lab report on the content of a product and the percentages of its components.
  3. Stay away from secondary sources of THC, such as a friend’s marijuana smoke. While it is unlikely that breathing secondhand smoke will cause you to fail a drug test, it is still a small risk that you can eliminate.
  4. Check your THC levels with an in-home testing kit. Though not as accurate as laboratory tests, in-home urine tests can provide helpful information. A positive test for THC, for example, can indicate that there is a high level of THC in the CBD product you’re using.
  5. Drink as much water as you can on the day of the test. Drinking water dilutes the urine and helps your system to get rid of THC. It may help to hide small amounts of THC that occur in a full-spectrum CBD product.
  6. If your result comes back positive, request a CBD/THC percentage test. This is a new type of test that can differentiate between the two cannabinoids and provide evidence that a person has been using a CBD product.

How to Talk to Your Employer

Some employers have a strict zero-tolerance policy, and they are not likely to be understanding about your use of CBD. In most cases, however, employers are just trying to keep people from showing up to work high, and they are not likely to care about non-psychoactive health supplements.

It’s a good idea to have a conversation with someone in your HR department well before the issue of drug testing ever comes up. When you talk to HR, make sure to bring medical records showing evidence of the condition you’re trying to treat as well as a note from your doctor recommending CBD. It’s also important to know the laws of your state regarding CBD and THC limits.

Final Thoughts: Is It Worth the Risk?

CBD has achieved its legal status thanks to a growing body of evidence that it does no harm and offers a variety of health benefits. Doctors prescribe it for certain severe forms of epilepsy and recommend it for many other conditions.

People use CBD to get relief from anxiety, pain, and insomnia, all issues that can affect work performance far more than CBD itself. However, failing a drug test can lead to serious long-term consequences. If you’re using CBD and working for an employer with a rigid drug policy, you could lose your job along with your income and health benefits if you fail a drug test.

Interesting related article: “What is Cannabidiol?