There’s no doubt that CBD has been on everyone’s mind lately, with all the health benefits it could potentially have and the conditions it could alleviate (multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and the like). But even if we can legally use it where we live, does CBD show up on a drug test? Let’s see what the research says!
Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test or Not? Potential Causes for Concern
CBD is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant whose close cousin is THC. However, unlike THC, which produces that famous “high” feeling, CBD isn’t looking to leave us dazed. It doesn’t have the same mind-altering effects as THC; instead, it works in our favor by dealing with pain, mood regulation, inflammation, various mental health issues, and more.
And yet, not every state will look at using CBD as something we should be proud of. Because of its connection with THC and marijuana, CBD is subject to strict regulations and laws.
Because of that, hemp CBD products can legally have less than 0.3% THC. It goes without saying that if we don’t want to fail a drug test, hemp-derived CBD is a better option than marijuana-derived CBD. It will have less THC overall, which is the compound the tests screen for anyway.
But we cannot always know for sure how much THC our favorite CBD product has. Certain types can show trace amounts, and if the distributor isn’t trustworthy, there could be more THC than we expect.
Types of CBD and Trace Amounts of THC
All CBD products usually fall under one of these categories:
- Full-spectrum CBD
- Broad-spectrum CBD
- CBD isolate.
The main difference between these is in the contents. Full-spectrum CBD offers just that — a full spectrum of cannabis compounds, including THC, CBD, terpenes, flavonoids, etc. In contrast, broad-spectrum CBD contains all of those too, but the producer removes THC.
The safest (as far as drug tests go) is the CBD isolate, of course. As the name suggests, this is pure CBD that has been isolated from the plant extract. The manufacturer removes all of the other compounds.
But there’s another problem here — among shady distributors, cross-contamination may lead to our CBD products having more THC than we want. On top of that, there’s always a chance that a product has the wrong label on it or that THC has somehow ended up in our system (we have inhaled secondhand marijuana smoke, for example).
Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?
CBD won’t actually show up on a drug test because that’s not what testers are looking for. CBD doesn’t cause impairment, so technically, there’s no reason to see it as a sign of drug use. During the testing process, however, our urine, blood, saliva, or hair will be screened for THC or THC-COOH, one of its main metabolites.
One of the main reasons we could fail a drug test is the frequency of use of our CBD products and their potency. If we do opt for full-spectrum CBD and get a rather low dose, the test may not detect THC at all (or not enough to pass the cutoff value). On the other hand, if we are using large doses and taking CBD often, THC can build up. After all, the compound is lipophilic, so it can get stored in fat cells and remain there for a while, sometimes even up to a month!
Still, to stay safe, let’s take a look at the cutoff values and how long THC remains in our system:
Since urine tests are the most common, it’s imperative to watch our CBD use. The test will screen us for THC-COOH, and if there is 50 nanograms per milliliter or more of it, we will fail it. Usually, the test can detect THC metabolites up to 15 days after use.
Blood tests aren’t that common in office settings, and besides, THC goes through our bloodstream pretty quickly. At best, it stays in the plasma for about five hours, whereas metabolites may be detectable for another seven days. Since THC peaks after smoking marijuana, a higher test result is a good indicator of drug use and impairment. Typically, 1, 2, or 5 ng/mL of THC found in the blood is a clear sign of use.
Saliva and Hair
In the case of both of these tests, there are no established cutoff values to rely on. Besides, the tests aren’t that commonly used, especially in office settings. As a good rule of thumb, we could say that the cutoff for saliva would be 4 ng/mL, as recommended in 2017. As for hair, the usual private industry cutoff is 1 picogram per milligram.
In terms of how long THC will remain detectable, we cannot say for sure. It may stay in the saliva for about 72 hours or longer in the case of heavier users. When it comes to hair, metabolites are detectable for a whopping 90 days.
So does CBD show up on a drug test? It shouldn’t, as the compound isn’t what the test screens for. Instead, they are looking to detect THC in our urine, blood, saliva, or hair, and that’s the compound that may give us a positive result in the end. Therefore, as long as our CBD products are completely THC-free, we probably have nothing to worry about.