CBD and Drug Tests

CBD and Drug Tests

Published by Audrey Caldwell on 22nd Jul 2020

You’ve been taking CBD for inflammation and you’re pleased with the results, but now you’re worried that it might affect a job-related drug test. Could it cause you to test positive? It’s a legitimate concern but the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. In short, CBD (Cannabidiol) shouldn’t show up on a drug test, but here’s how it can happen: Many CBD products contain trace levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets users “high.”

If enough THC is present, a drug test will show “positive.” So what’s a CBD user to do?

Before we get too far into the hows and whys, you need to understand a little bit more about CBD and where it comes from.

What is CBD?

CBD is derived from the hemp plant, a relative of the marijuana plant. The two plants look the same and even smell the same. The big difference is their levels of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the ingredient that causes marijuana users to get high.

Marijuana contains anywhere from five to 20 percent THC while hemp usually contains no more than 0.3 percent THC. In fact, federal law currently defines industrial hemp as cannabis plants containing less than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight.

As a result, consumers who use CBD products from hemp shouldn’t have trouble on a drug test because the THC levels are supposed to be so low. Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens.

CBD and drug tests

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), “the administration of CBD alone should not trigger a positive drug test for the carboxy-THC metabolite. In instances where the administration of CBD products has resulted in a positive drug test result for carboxy-THC, this result is likely because the product itself possessed trace quantities of THC.”

A spokesman for Quest Diagnostics, the nation’s biggest drug testing company, said Quest doesn’t test for CBD, but it does test for THC. According to Leafly.com, the most common reason workers fail a drug test is due to the presence of THC. In fact, approximately 2.3 percent of all US drug tests that came back positive were for THC, Leafly.com notes.

“If you’re liberal with your hemp CBD oil use, you could hypothetically test positive for THC,” Greg Gerdeman, Ph.D., chief science officer at Colorado’s United Cannabis, makers of Prana Hemp and Prana Medicinals, told Leafly in an interview. If you take high daily dosages, even if the CBD contained only 0.3 percent THC, it’s possible the THC could build up in your system, causing you to test positive, Gerdman noted.

Here’s what this tells us: Not all CBD products are created equal. It’s important to read labels, look for certificates of analysis (COA) and verify if the product has been tested by a third party. You need to know what you are buying and how much CBD it actually contains.

Sadly, just because something is labeled as “CBD” doesn’t mean that’s what you’re getting, It also doesn’t speak to quality or purity. Do your homework and find out exactly what you are purchasing before you use the product. Only then can you be confident of what you are ingesting and whether or not it could possibly affect a drug test.

Mislabeled Products Equal Big Problems

Read the label and understand what you are reading. If you want to avoid problems with any sort of drug test, don’t skip this step. There’s a reason vigilance is merited: CBD isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so it’s buyer beware. According to one study conducted in 2017, approximately seven out of 10 CBD products tested contained different amounts of CBD than stated on the label. One in five of the products tested contained THC, something that could be a problem for someone who is taking a drug test as a condition for getting hired. The 2017 study in the Journal of American Medicine showed that 18 of 84 CBD products tested contained THC levels so high they could have caused some kind of intoxication, Leafly.com noted.

One of the issues is quality control and it’s up to the user to check it out. When you buy CBD oil online the products vary in quality, which could account for variations in test results. Personal chemistry, along with dosage can have an effect.

Tales of Woe

A cross-country truck driver named Doug Horn knows just how risky it can be to simply assume that hemp-derived CBD is THC-free, as proclaimed by the label. The New York truck driver had driven a truck professionally for nearly 30 years and never dreamed that taking CBD to soothe a back injury would cost him his job. The product label stated that the CBD contained no THC and he believed it.

“As an over-the-road trucker, subject to regular and random drug-test screenings, I was acutely aware that in addition to the prohibition from smoking marijuana, I could not take any product with THC in it,” Horn wrote in an sworn affidavit filed as part of his lawsuit. He sued the makers of Dixie X in 2012.

When his employer drug tested him, Horn failed. He came back positive for a “marijuana metabolite.” Additional tests showed high levels of THC, despite the manufacturer’s claims that their product contained no THC, according to theTruckersReport.com. Horn subsequently sued the company that manufactured the product he had used.

An Illinois trucker has accused a Florida company of fraud after he tested positive for THC after using gummies that were also labeled as having “no THC,” according to Landline.media.com. The trucker also failed a work-related drug screening as a result of using a CBD product that was allegedly THC-free. He also filed suit.

An Ohio truck driver who used CBD oil to soothe a knee injury also tested positive for THC. Truck driver Mike Harris has spoken openly about his experience.

States sample and test hemp plants for THC differently, said Aline DeLucia, senior policy analyst for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

When sampling the hemp plant, “the closer you get to the flower, the higher the THC content. So some states collect the top 6 inches of the plant, while others do it differently,`` Aline DeLucia said in an interview with Consumer Reports. She added that “everybody is onboard that we need some kind of uniformity.”

Plus, once the CBD is formulated into ready-to-sell products, states don’t have authority to test those products.

Protecting Yourself

While the benefits of CBD continue to be explored, its widespread usage has shined a light on the unregulated CBD industry. It’s important to note that the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements, and not all states require manufacturers to properly label their products. Reading labels on CBD products is important so you have a clear understanding of how much CBD the product contains.

Here are some tips to help verify whether the CBD you are purchasing is really what it claims to be:

  1. Determine where the hemp was grown. Look for products that use organic, U.S. grown hemp.
  2. Find out how the hemp was processed. CO2 extraction is the safest. Other forms use toxic solvents that may be unsafe.
  3. Look for CBD that has third-party lab tests that are readily available; you should be able to contact a company and ask for testing results. Review date and batch numbers.
  4. Is your CBD oil Isolate, full spectrum, or broad spectrum? There are three different kinds. Know the difference.


"Beware of lab-produced synthetic cannabinoids. These products are sometimes passed off as genuine CBD products but aren’t safe and may affect the brain in ways that can be dangerous and life-threatening, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Some consumers use this kind of CBD in vape."

National Institute on Drug Abuse

In Conclusion …

CBD oil products have a wide range of therapeutic uses and many studies have shown them to be effective. However, it’s important for consumers to do their homework, read labels and make sure the product they are using contains only trace amounts of THC. Because the CBD industry isn’t regulated by the FDA, users have to police the market themselves and self-educate to ensure they are getting what they expect. Check for a certificate of analysis, look for third-party lab tests and ask questions if you don’t understand something. CBD oil for pain, CBD oil for anxiety, CBD oil for pets and many other uses have been shown to be therapeutic. There are many top notch products available on the market to explore. Choose wisely and your CBD journey is bound to be a win!

Sources: WebMD, medicalnewstoday.com; consumerreports.org;leafly.com; phys.org; norml.org; thetruckersreport.com;