Does CBD Oil Show Up on a Drug Test?
CBD is not the same thing as THC. These are two very different cannabinoids: one being the main therapeutic compound in CBD oil, and the other being the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Unlike THC, CBD oil does not get you high. However, it does share many of the same health benefits of marijuana, along with providing a few of its own. CBD’s ability to provide relief, without the high, is one of the biggest drivers behind its newfound popularity.
Yet, when you shop for CBD oil, you may notice a disclaimer warning you that the product may cause a false positive on a drug test for marjuana. Is this true, and if so, why?
Here’s everything you need to know about CBD oil and drug testing.
Can CBD Oil Make You Fail a Drug Test?
Yes, while unlikely, CBD oil can cause you to fail a drug test for marijuana. How is this possible? Cannabis testing screens for THC, not CBD. However, CBD oils can contain trace amounts of THC. Even though it won’t be enough to produce a high, it may be enough to cause a false positive result.
When you take a drug test for work, your employer will most likely require urine testing. Urine testing is the most common method of testing for marijuana, since it’s reliable, simple, and most importantly, can detect THC for up to 2 weeks after you last used it. Urine tests for marijuana analyze the concentration of THC in your urine by nanograms per milliliter. If more than 50mg/nl is detected, you’ll receive a positive test result.
Because CBD oil contains such low amounts of THC, you’d have to take extremely high doses on a daily basis for this to happen (think: a few thousand milligrams or more). However, some people do use CBD in those high amounts, particularly if they are taking it to cope with symptoms of a chronic health condition like arthritis.
Besides, there are other factors that could increase your risk of getting a false positive test result, even if you’re not using high amounts of CBD oil. These include:
- The CBD oil was extracted from marijuana, not hemp
- The CBD oil is full-spectrum, not isolate
- The CBD oil is mislabeled, and contains more THC than stated
- Your personal body chemistry may cause THC to take longer to metabolize
We review these in detail below.
CBD oils can be extracted from hemp and marijuana
CBD oil can actually be sourced from two strains of cannabis: hemp and marijuana. The vast majority of CBD oils are sourced from hemp. This is the case for two main reasons.
- Hemp naturally contains very low amounts of THC (0.3% or less), and high amounts of CBD. Since people take CBD oil use it to manage health symptoms, and often prefer it to marijuana precisely because it doesn’t have any psychoactive effects, most manufacturers extract their CBD oils from hemp. Marijuana has a different chemical composition, with significantly more THC and less CBD.
- Hemp is legal nationwide. In 2018, the federal government legalized industrial hemp and any products created from it, including CBD oils. Marijuana’s legal status, on the other hand, varies widely from state to state, whether it’s acceptable for both recreational and medicinal use, only medicinal use or in specific medical cases, or strictly banned.
Hemp’s cannabinoid profile and widely accepted legal status make it the preferred candidate for producing CBD oils. However, while most CBD oils are created from hemp for this reason, it is still possible to buy a CBD oil extracted from marijuana. Marijuana-based CBD oils will have higher amounts of THC.
CBD can be full spectrum or isolate
The type of cannabis CBD is extracted from impacts the amount of THC it may contain. So does the way it is processed.
When CBD is first extracted from the hemp plant, the oil will contain a rich profile of many cannabinoids besides CBD, including smaller amounts of THC, CBN, CBG, CBC, and others. In this state, CBD oils are known as “full-spectrum oils,” referring to their varied cannabinoid profile. Researchers hypothesize that when more cannabinoids are present, the CBD may be able to work more effectively. Some studies have confirmed these theories, demonstrating that full-spectrum CBD oils are more effective in relieving pain and inflammation.
While this may be the case, some people would prefer their CBD to contain no THC whatsoever, in order to avoid issues with drug testing. For these folks, there are broad-spectrum CBD oils and CBD isolates. With either of these, the CBD oil undergoes additional processing to either remove the THC while maintaining the presence of other cannabinoids (broad-spectrum); or completely isolate the CBD and remove any other cannabinoids or plant materials (CBD isolates).
CBD isolates are 99% pure CBD in its powdery, crystalline form. Pure CBD alone will not trigger a false positive on a drug test for THC, according to the latest research.
CBD products can be mislabeled
CBD isolates and broad-spectrum oils that are extracted from hemp shouldn’t contain any THC—so long as they’re accurately labeled. Currently, CBD oil is not regulated by the FDA. That leaves a lot of wiggle room for less upstanding manufacturers to get away with mislabeling their CBD oils.
In other words, some brands may claim that their CBD oils are 100% THC-free, even if their product is sourced from marijuana. Because there’s no regulation, they can get away with it. Unfortunately, the research confirms that they are. In 2017, researchers analyzed 84 CBD products sold online by 31 different companies. They found up to 6.4mg/ml of THC in over 20 percent of the samples.
Mislabeling most commonly occurs when a company doesn’t use a third-party lab to assess their oils. These labs use pharmaceutical-grade equipment to confirm that the cannabinoid content in the CBD oil matches what the label says, and that there are no mycotoxins, bacteria, or other harmful substances present. CBD brands who have nothing to hide will partner with third-party labs and share those lab results with customers.
Your body may metabolize THC more slowly
Lastly, THC gets metabolized differently by different people. If you take a CBD oil that has small amounts of THC—even a fully legal, hemp-based oil containing 0.3% THC or less—the THC may stay longer in your system simply due to your personal body chemistry and metabolism. This will also depend on how much THC the product contains, and the strength of the dose you are consuming.
For most people, THC metabolizes within a handful of days. Unless you are a heavy cannabis user, it shouldn’t stay in your system longer than a week.
How to Take CBD Oil and Pass a Drug Test
If you want to completely eliminate the risk of CBD oil causing you to fail a drug test, the safest option is to avoid using CBD oil. The risk is low, but it’s not impossible, even with oils advertised as being THC-free.
But, if you’d like to continue using CBD oil, while minimizing your risk of a false positive, there are a few precautions you can take.
1. Review the brand’s production processes.
Before purchasing from a CBD brand, review their website to see what information they share about their production processes. Trustworthy brands will go out of their way to share details on where they source their hemp (look for local farms, ideally based in the U.S.), and how that hemp is grown organically, sustainably, and pesticide-free.
They’ll also explain their extraction methods in-depth, outlining how they extract CBD from the hemp plant and to what extent other cannabinoids (including THC) are filtered or removed.
2. Use THC-free products or CBD isolates only.
Of hemp-based CBD oils, full-spectrum oils contain the highest amounts of THC. It should always be 0.3% or less, but it’s likely some THC will be present.
Many brands also offer THC-free versions of their products, or sell THC-free products exclusively, to cater to individuals worried about drug testing. A number of CBD brands also sell CBD isolates, sometimes called CBD powders, dabs, or crystals.
Here’s a quick list of brands who offer some form of THC-free CBD oils:
|Brands Who Only Sell 100% THC-Free Products||Brands Who Sell Both Full-Spectrum and THC-Free Products||Brands Who Sell CBD Isolates|
|Charlotte’s Web |
Not Pot CBD
|Lazarus Naturals |
Green Roads CBDistillery
3. Only purchase from brands who share third-party test results.
The fact that a brand relies on third-party testing indicates that they’re committed to producing safe, high-quality CBD oils. More importantly, they’re transparent about giving customers a way to verify the cannabinoid content of their products.
Typically, brands will share these lab results on their website. Look for a page called “Lab Tests” or “Certificates of Analysis.” Here, you should be able to click to view a PDF of the test result for any CBD oil they sell. There may also be a link on the product page. If you can’t find it, look for a QR code on the product label, or email the customer service team.
Here’s an example of a test result for a THC-free tincture, confirming that there is no THC: