Can I fail a drug test with CBD oil?

Can I fail a drug test with CBD oil?

News headlines about people in sports, entertainment and other fields testing positive for THC – a psychoactive component of marijuana, has made users of CBD apprehensive about failing generic drug screening.

Both hemp and marijuana derived from cannabis plants contain THC and if CBD is derived from hemp it is likely to contain lesser THC than CBD derived from marijuana.

Drugs of abuse examination is the disclosure of illicit or prescribed elements in the blood, urine, sweat, saliva or hair. Many different classes of drugs can be screened, including: Amphetamines • Benzodiazepines • Cocaine • Opiates • Barbiturates • Cannabinoids • Methadone • Phencyclidine

Though CBD or cannabidiol does not show up during drug tests, presence of THC above prescribed limit in body fluids due to regular use of CBD oil and CBD laced food products can lead to positive results during drug tests. The presence of THC in people that use CBD or cannabidiol depends on the quality and composition of their products.

This article discusses difference between CBD and THC, how drug tests are done and also essentials that regular users of CBD products should keep in mind before buying their favorite food and therapeutic items containing CBD. To understand the relationship between THC-CBD and why they overlap let us first understand these components.

Difference between CBD and THC

CBD oil or cannabidiol is used for mitigating chronic pain and mental health issues like anxiety, depression and sleeplessness followed by cancer treatment related side effects like nausea and pain.

THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis or marijuana plant and is secreted by its glands. It is harmful as it interferes with brain’s capability to process information by inducing delusions, hallucinations and even psychomotor impairment. Over a period of time THC can lead to decrease in memory, cognition abilities and even IQ.

Both hemp and marijuana derived from cannabis plants contain THC and if CBD is derived from hemp it is likely to contain lesser THC than CBD derived from marijuana.

Types of CBD products in the market

Products that are made from CBD Isolate (purest form of CBD) do not contain any other compounds from cannabis plant as these are derived from hemp. So products made from CBD Isolate which is sold in the form of crystalline powder or slab don’t contain THC and users of CBD products derived from CBD Isolate need not worry about failing drug test.

Broad-spectrum CBD products contain several compounds of the cannabis plant along with terpenes and cannabinoids. As all traces of THC is removed from this CBD form it is often sold as oil. despite the fact that there are reputable brands on the market that label their products correctly, it is wise to be careful when considering use of broad-spectrum CBD products.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain all the cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant like terpenes, flavonoids and cannabinoids like THC. These are extracted from subspecies of marijuana. The legal limit of THC in full spectrum CBD oil derived from marijuana is set to 0,2% or 0,3%, there is always a chance that you can fail a drug test with CBD oil made from full-spectrum extract. This is why although full-spectrum offers the biggest therapeutic potential and the widest range of benefits people prefer products made with CBD Isolate.

Why THC traces are present in present in CBD users?

There are several CBD products in the market that are made from cannabis extracts like CBD Isolate, full-spectrum extracts or broad-spectrum extracts which contain varying amounts of THC due to their extraction methods. Sometimes their harvesting methods can lead to THC contamination which is why some CBD products are likely to have more THC than others. Manufacturers sometimes mislabel their CBD laced products and unsuspecting users end up with excess THC in their body which shows up in the tests. Cross contamination can also happen during CBD manufacturing process when manufacturers are making products that contain either only CBD or only THC or a combination of both.

THC is ingested via edibles or a drop of oil under the tongue and is absorbed along with other fats and stored in body’s fatty tissue. There are over than 80 different THC metabolites which are formed when THC is broken down in the liver – the most significant ones are 11-OH-THC (11-hydroxy-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and THCCOOH (11-nor-9-carboxy-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Research shows that THC can be detectable in the system for up to 30 days, but it’s usually only present in heavy cannabis users for nearly 90 days.

Depending on how much CBD you consume, how often you consume it, body weight and diet, it’s possible for THC to accumulate in your body in as little as four to six days and trigger a positive drug test. There’s every possibility that off the shelf CBD products you are using may contain more than the legally permissible THC limit of 0.3%. Recently when researchers from Penn Medicine analyzed the ingredients of their range of CBD products that were going to be sold online, they found that several of them had nearly 6.4 mg/ML of THC – which is way above permissible limit.

Tests done to check presence of THC

THC metabolites are fat-soluble and can appear in drug tests depending on the time and quantity of CBD ingested and the type of test. So drug tests check for presence of THC and its metabolites and cut off values were established to avoid triggering positive test for small traces of the component. So negative drug test implies that amount of THC-COOH is below cut off limit. Each of the tests listed below have their own detection levels.

Urine drug test

The presence of THC is most commonly checked with urine test. Most workplace drug tests are done via urine test and if THC-COOH concentration is more than 50 nanograms per milliliter then it triggers positive report. Usually THC metabolites are present in urine for nearly a couple of weeks after use.

Blood drug test

Blood testing is not common as THC traces get eliminated fastest from the bloodstream and is present in plasma just for five hours. Blood tests are only carried to check current usage similar to alcohol test during suspicion of driving under influence.

Saliva drug test

As there no legal cut-off limits for THC in saliva this test is not very common. THC presence can be traced in oral fluids till 72 hours but it stays for longer periods in chronic users.

Hair drug test

Although this is the least used method for testing the presence of THC, it is the most efficient one as metabolites of THC can be detected for up to 90 days. Cutoff rate is 1 picogram per milligram of THC-COOH.

How cannabis drug tests work

Drug tests have varied thresholds for detection and the cutoff level of THC in the body recommended by National Institutes of Health and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is below 50 nanograms per milliliter. To touch that peak a user has to consume around 2000 mg of CBD products containing 0.3 percent or less of THC. This is quite unlikely as clinical trials and research studies show that CBD users consume just 100-800mg/day.

What to look for while buying CBD laced products to avoid THC

CBD extracts from hemp do not contain more than 0,2% or 0,3% of THC but mislabeling, contamination and acidic conditions in the stomach can lead to positive drug results. So if you want to use CBD products then check if the CBD is derived from hemp or marijuana as the former is a safer bet. Then check if CBD is full spectrum, CBD isolate or broad spectrum which should be clearly mentioned in the label by manufacturer. Always start with products that have low concentration of CBD per dose whether it is an edible product, tincture, dose or something else. Try to find out where the product has come from and check if it is USDA-certified organic, solvent-free and free of additives and pesticides. Pure CBD Isolate derived products made from hemp are the safest of them all.


While the statements above list the common reasons for non-marijuana users to test positive for THC it is advisable to source CBD products from trusted sources. To be on the safer side users have to avoid products that make tall health claims as most of them are not approved by USFDA. Though CBD does not show up on drug tests, the industry is not regulated on a consistent basis and each state has its own regulations. To avoid THC traces as a regular CBD user ensure that the products purchased contain only CBD isolate in prescribed limits.

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