CBD and Drug Tests: Everything You Need to Know

The prospect of drug tests, even for those who haven’t used illegal substances, can be unnerving. This concern may extend to health supplements, like CBD gummies or tinctures, prompting questions about CBD’s visibility in drug tests. Here, we’ll explore the mechanics of testing for substances through hair, urine, and other methods of testing as we assess the likelihood of receiving a positive drug test result when using CBD and hemp products. We’ll also cover the different types of CBD oil used in these products, so you can make an educated decision on the best kind of product for you!

What Is CBD?

First, let’s revisit what CBD is. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in cannabis hemp plants, belonging to a group of compounds called cannabinoids. Mimicking the function of naturally occurring endocannabinoids within the body, cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, a complex network present in all humans and animals. This system regulates various bodily functions, including sleep, mood, memory, pain, inflammation, and more. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another major cannabis compound, CBD is non-intoxicating and does not produce a “high.” The CBD used in products is typically derived from the cannabis hemp plant, containing less than 0.3% THC.

Different Types of CBD Oil

CBD oil, extracted from the hemp plant’s buds, leaves, and stalks, comes in different forms: full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate. Understanding the types of CBD is crucial, especially if you may undergo a drug test. Reputable CBD companies provide this information on product labels and their websites, along with third-party laboratory reports known as Certificates of Analysis or COAs.

Full Spectrum CBD

Full spectrum CBD contains a broad range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds naturally present in the cannabis plant. In addition to CBD, full spectrum CBD products include traces of other cannabinoids, such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBG (cannabigerol), and CBC (cannabichromene). It’s important to note that the THC content in full spectrum CBD is limited to 0.3% or less, in accordance with legal regulations.

Full spectrum CBD preserves the full range of compounds found in the cannabis plant, working together synergistically in what is commonly referred to as the Entourage Effect. The Entourage Effect suggests that when consumed together, the various cannabinoids and terpenes may enhance each other’s beneficial effects and provide a more comprehensive impact on the endocannabinoid system.

Broad Spectrum

Broad spectrum CBD contains a variety of cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds found in the cannabis plant. Broad spectrum CBD contains a range of cannabinoids, such as CBD, CBG, CBC, CBN, and others, including non-detectable levels of THC. Since broad spectrum CBD products have detectable levels THC filtered out, they do not produce the psychoactive effects associated with THC. Users can experience the positive effects of cannabinoids without the “high” associated with THC or cannabis. While lacking detectable levels of THC, broad spectrum CBD is designed to leverage the Entourage Effect, wherein the combination of different cannabinoids and terpenes enhances the overall therapeutic effects.

Broad spectrum CBD is often preferred by individuals who are sensitive to THC or are subject to drug testing, as it reduces the risk of THC appearing in drug tests. It offers a middle ground for those seeking the potential benefits of multiple cannabinoids, while minimizing the presence of THC.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is a pure, crystalline form of pure CBD that is extracted from the cannabis plant and refined to remove all other cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant material, leaving only a highly concentrated form of CBD. CBD isolate is composed almost entirely of cannabidiol, typically exceeding 99% purity. It is the most concentrated form of CBD available.

Unlike full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD, which aim to capture the synergistic effects of the Entourage Effect, CBD isolate solely contains CBD. Some users prefer isolate for its singular focus on CBD without the influence of other cannabis compounds.

One of the defining features of CBD isolate is the absence of THC. CBD isolate products have all THC filtered out, making them a suitable option for individuals who want to avoid THC altogether. Since CBD isolate is devoid of THC, individuals who may be subject to drug testing or are sensitive to THC can use CBD isolate without the likely chance of THC showing up in drug tests.

Will CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

Now that we’ve gone over the different types of CBD and you’ve got a good understanding, let’s delve into the topic of CBD and how it can affect a drug test! In other words, is it possible for CBD to cause a positive result in a drug test and do different types of tests impact these outcomes?

Drug Test Types

Generally, CBD is not measured in drug tests, as it is non-intoxicating and not a controlled substance. However, these tests will test for THC, alcohol, and other substances like amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine, and opiates: therefore, CBD should not show up on a drug test. 

The THC in your hemp product, however, is a different matter. While there isn’t much THC in legal hemp products, there is a small amount in both full spectrum CBD and (undetectable amounts in) broad spectrum CBD. If you use these products regularly or in great quantities, you might potentially test positive for THC—even though you’re not using marijuana.

Urine 

Urine drug tests are one of the most common methods used to detect the presence of substances in the body, including drugs. These tests are frequently used in various settings due to their simplicity, non-invasiveness, and cost-effectiveness. 

The individual being tested provides a urine sample, usually in a designated container. The urine sample is then analyzed using various testing methods, most commonly immunoassay or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

Urine drug tests specifically target the THC content when screening for cannabis, so it’s important to remember that 50 nanograms of THC-COOH (one of THC’s primary metabolites) per milliliter will give a positive result. While there is very little THC in CBD oil, in the cases of full spectrum CBD, there is a small likelihood that a false positive may be prompted, especially if you consume a lot of full spectrum CBD. 

Hair

Hair drug tests are a less common method of screening compared to urine tests. These tests are capable of detecting THC down to one picogram per milligram. A picogram is an extremely small unit, approximately one trillionth of a gram. Hair tests can identify minute traces of THC and are effective for an extended period, potentially detecting drug use over the past 90 days.

Blood

Blood drug tests are less commonly used in workplace drug tests compared to urine tests. These tests are often employed by law enforcement agencies to detect recent drug use at the time of impairment. Blood tests can typically detect THC for up to seven days after consumption. In states where cannabis is not legal, any amount of THC in your blood is considered a positive test result. The specific cutoff limits may vary depending on the state, ranging between one and five nanograms per millimeter. 

Saliva

While less common than urine tests, saliva drug tests, also known as oral fluid tests, offer a convenient method for detecting recent drug use. These tests involve collecting a saliva sample, typically by swabbing the inside of the mouth. Saliva tests are designed to detect the presence of substances, including THC, within a relatively short time frame of up to 72 hours after consumption, but might be longer for habitual users.

While there aren’t well-established cutoff limits for THC detection in saliva tests, a probable standard is around four nanograms per milligram. Saliva drug tests are often used in situations where immediate or recent drug use is of concern, such as in roadside testing for impaired driving. 

It’s important to note that the detection times and cutoff limits may vary depending on the testing method and specific circumstances. Individuals subject to drug testing should be aware of the regulations in their jurisdiction and the specific parameters of the tests being administered.

Type of Drug TestTHC Detectable Window*
UrineUp to 3 days (6 weeks with heavy use)
HairUp to 90 days
BloodUp to 7 days
SalivaUp to 24 hours

*All time ranges are approximate and can vary depending on personal bioavailability factors and the amount of THC in your system. 

Weary of a Positive Test Result for THC?

To sum up, urine tests may detect THC, and even the minute amounts of THC found in full spectrum CBD could lead to a false-positive test result. Hair tests, though uncommon, are highly sensitive, detecting THC for up to 90 days. Blood tests are less common, but useful for detecting recent drug use. Saliva tests can detect THC for approximately 72 hours.

Considering these factors, it’s advisable to avoid full spectrum CBD if a drug test is imminent. Broad spectrum CBD, if used sparingly, is less likely to trigger a positive result. CBD isolate is considered the safest option. CBD products with non-detectable THC amounts, supported by third-party lab tests, provide added assurance. Additionally, being mindful of CBD usage is crucial, as even a small dose may produce desired effects. If concerned about a potential positive test result, transparency and honesty, backed by third-party lab tests and product packaging, can be valuable in addressing any discrepancies.

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