Will CBD Oil Result in a Positive Drug Test?
Arno Kroner, DAOM, LAc, is a board-certified acupuncturist, herbalist, and integrative medicine doctor practicing in Santa Monica, California.
CBD (cannabidiol) oil is a popular product for everything from pain control to anxiety to promoting sleep. However, with the rise of CBD comes the concern about failing a drug test due to detection of CBD oil. News stories are emerging across the country involving famous sports players, employees of companies, and others who have gotten positive drug screening results for the presence of THC—the psychoactive component of marijuana —even though CBD oil is said to be THC-free.
What are the odds that CBD oil users will test positive when subjected to illicit drug screenings, and what can be done to prevent it?
Does CBD Oil Contain THC?
When a drug test is performed, the active chemical in marijuana that gets detected in a positive screening is THC. However, most people are under the impression that CBD oil is THC-free.
As it turns out, depending on the source of the cannabis that is used to produce the CBD oil, some products do contain traces of THC (including low-quality isolates and many full-spectrum tinctures).
Breakdown of Cannabis
Cannabis is the umbrella term describing hemp and marijuana plants—two different varieties of the cannabis genus. Both marijuana and hemp can be described as cannabis plants; however, it is important to note that they are still two separate plants.
CBD is one of many active chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. One reason it’s gaining momentum in popularity is because it is said to lack the component of the plant that causes a person to get high, which is called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
The primary difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp is nearly void of THC. In fact, a cannabis strain must contain less than .3 percent THC to be classified as hemp. This is the reason hemp can be legally sold as various products.
Most CBD products are made from hemp, not marijuana.
There are many distinctions between marijuana and hemp that relate to CBD oil. Marijuana contains both THC (the psychoactive component) and CBD, whereas hemp contains CBD and only trace amounts of THC. Hemp contains many cannabinoids—CBD is only one example.
There are several techniques for extracting CBD oil from the cannabis plant. The extraction method determines whether the active CBD compound gets processed as a “full spectrum oil” or an “isolate.” A CBD isolate is a pure compound with no other active compounds or cannabinoids at all. A full spectrum oil contains other active plant compounds in addition to the CBD such as CBN (cannabinol) and cannabis terpenes (the part of the plant that gives the plant its aroma), and more.
Study of CBD Oil
While some CBD oils claim to be isolates, they may be full spectrum oils and actually contain more cannabinoids (such as THC) than they claim.
In a study conducted by researchers from the Lautenberg Center, researchers discovered that CBD was more effective for treating inflammation and pain when used with other cannabis plant compounds derived from a full spectrum product over a CBD isolate product alone. This is one reason that full spectrum products (those containing THC) are popular.
However, the distinction between full spectrum oils and isolates make all the difference if you are being tested for drug use.
Reasons for Failing a CBD Drug Test
There are several common reasons a person fails a CBD drug test.
1. Using Product With THC
The most common reason for a failed CBD drug test is that a person is using a CBD oil product that contains THC. Sometimes, this may be because a person purchases a low-quality product that does contain a small amount of THC—most manufacturers will claim their products do not contain THC, but this is not always the case.
2. Cross Contamination of THC
Very small amounts of THC present in the material that CBD is extracted from can get into the CBD oil in high enough amounts to result in a positive drug test. This scenario may be more apt to occur when CBD oil is purchased from cannabis dispensaries in places where cannabis is legal, as opposed to an online retailer.
3. Mislabeling of Products
CBD oil extracted from hemp is not supposed to have any more than .3 percent of THC. However, it’s not uncommon for sellers to mislabel their products as THC-free hemp when in reality, it’s a low-quality oil extracted from marijuana, which does contain THC.
In fact, one study discovered that almost 70 percent of the CBD products sold online were not labeled properly, “causing potential serious harm to its consumers.” The reason for this widespread mislabeling is that CBD products are not strictly regulated by the FDA.
4. Secondhand Exposure to THC
Inadvertent exposure to marijuana (via secondhand smoke) is unlikely to be enough for a person to get a positive drug test result, but it is possible. Being in a room with heavy pot smokers for several hours may cause the inhalation of enough THC containing smoke to result in a positive test.
A more likely secondhand exposure scenario is a positive marijuana hair test, resulting from direct contact with marijuana paraphernalia or from another person having THC on their hands.
For instance, if someone who had direct contact with marijuana then touched your hair, you could feasibly receive a false positive on a drug screening that tests your hair.
5. CBD Oil Breaks Down in The Digestive System
Some sources report that in rare cases, false positive test results have come from CBD oil that breaks down into very small amounts of THC in the stomach. Other studies, however, have refuted this.
The conclusion is that it’s still theoretically possible for traces of THC metabolites to be present in the stomach acid in the instance where “less-purified CBD productions” are ingested.
How to Avoid a Positive CBD Drug Test
If you take CBD oil, there are measures you can take to try to prevent failing a drug test.
- Do thorough research to ensure the CBD product you’re using is pure and that the company is legitimate.
- Ensure that the CBD oil is an isolate product extracted from a viable industrial hemp supply, and is not a low-quality tincture.
- Ask questions about product processing techniques and the possibility of cross-contamination.
- Avoid secondhand exposure to marijuana use via pot smoking or hair contact from THC users.
A Word From Verywell
In theory, getting a false positive on a drug test from CBD oil should be relatively impossible from pure CBD oil containing less than .3 percent THC. However, because CBD oil is not very well regulated, there is no guarantee that a product contains pure CBD oil, or that its concentration is at a safe or effective level. It is best to use utmost caution and do your research when purchasing a quality CBD oil product to ensure its purity, especially if you need to undergo drug screenings.
Cases of CBD oil users failing drug tests are on the rise. Learn more about why this happens and how to avoid it.
Does CBD Oil Have THC? Ask a Pharmacist
Posted by Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD on Aug 31st 2020
Does CBD Oil Contain THC?
Learn the facts from our pharmacist
When people want to try CBD oil, they may have a lot of questions about THC content. Thanks to the stigma the government placed on marijuana in the early 20th century, people are wary when it comes to THC exposure. So naturally people want to know: Does CBD oil contain THC? The answer: Federally legal full spectrum CBD oil does in fact contain trace amounts of THC. 1 But you may be surprised to learn how important THC is to get maximum benefits from CBD products!
1) What is THC?
2) What is CBD?
3) How is Hemp CBD Oil Made?
4) Hemp vs Marijuana
5) Does CBD Oil Have THC?
6) Does CBD Oil Need THC to Work?
7) Can CBD Oil Make You Fail a Drug Test?
8) Side Effects From CBD Oil
9) Is CBD Oil Legal?
10) How to Shop for CBD Oil
11) Does CBD Have THC Conclusion
What is THC?
Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 2 is a cannabis compound that causes the euphoric effect commonly associated with marijuana intoxication. Depending on how much THC you ingest, THC can make you feel mellow and worry free. If too much is taken, this cannabinoid can produce an experience that is something much the opposite. 3 Regardless, THC has been the fuel of the American counter-culture since before Woodstock.
Until just a couple of years ago, any amount of THC compound was 100 percent illegal under federal law. But the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, otherwise known as the Farm Bill, changed the legality of THC to not entirely illegal. This legislation changed the definition of “hemp” to mean any cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3 percent THC in it’s chemical makeup. As a result hemp cannabis products with low THC content, like full spectrum CBD oil, are now legal at the federal level. 4
Since the passage of this bill, hemp derived CBD products containing minimal trace amounts of THC hit the market hard and fast. So fast that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to pass any real regulations on hemp derived CBD products.
What is CBD?
THC and CBD are just a couple of at least 150 cannabinoids found in the chemical makeup of cannabis plants. 5 Cannabidiol (CBD) is the main compound thought responsible for many of the wellness qualities that cannabis plants may provide. 6
Both CBD and THC are known to interact with the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS is a network of cannabinoid receptors that overlays the central nervous system in the human body. The cannabinoid receptors in this system are thought to interact with cannabinoid compounds that relay messages between the systems of the body. 7
CBD and THC interact with the ECS in different ways. THC more commonly affects CB1 receptors in the brain, hence the feelings of “getting high.” 8 And CBD tends to bond with CB2 receptors elsewhere in the body. Because of this, CBD has many different wellness applications 9 and can be used in tinctures, capsules, edibles, and lotions.
How is Hemp CBD Oil Made?
Hemp derived CBD oil is made by extracting the cannabinoids from hemp flowers and mixing it with a carrier oil, 10 most often coconut MCT oil.
With the introduction of hemp derived CBD products to the mainstream markets, legal CBD cannabis products have become a popular addition to the natural health market. However, there are still some stigmas attached to marijuana and THC due to legality issues in the past. So what is the real difference between hemp and marijuana anyway?
Hemp vs Marijuana
Hemp and marijuana are essentially the same plant: Cannabis sativa. They look exactly the same, and they smell the same. The only difference between federally legal hemp and marijuana is the THC level of each. In order for a cannabis strain to have federally legal status as a “hemp plant,” it must contain very small amounts of THC, no more than 0.3 percent. 11
Unfortunately because of the growing popularity of CBD oils and other CBD products, many companies have begun to intentionally label products as “hemp oil” in order to trick unknowing consumers into thinking they are buying an authentic CBD product. In reality, these products are actually just a cheap mix of hemp seed oil and some other carrier oil. So even if you see a bottle on a shelf listed as “hemp oil” – this doesn’t mean that it contains any actual CBD content.
Does CBD Oil Have THC?
Any legal CBD product labeled “full spectrum” will contain THC in trace amounts. 13 There are also CBD products labeled “THC-free,” such as “broad spectrum,” and “CBD isolate.” 14 Broad spectrum hemp products have had the THC removed, leaving them with only CBD and a few minor cannabinoids. CBD isolate products contain just the single CBD compound by itself. 15 However, these products are considered to have inferior qualities when compared to full spectrum CBD products.
The trace amounts of THC found in full spectrum CBD products are not enough to get you high. So, while legal full spectrum CBD products do have some THC, when you take CBD oil from a trusted provider, you don’t need to worry that it will potentially cause a “high.”
Does CBD Oil Need THC to Be Effective?
Studies show that all 150+ cannabinoids work best when they are working together. The combined effect of all cannabinoids together is known as the “entourage effect.” 16 A CBD oil that is labeled as “full-spectrum” will have the full range of cannabinoids and provide the best results. 17 So choosing to avoid THC could result in purchasing an inferior CBD product.
Can I Fail a Drug Test from CBD Oil?
Since CBD products are becoming more prevalent in mainstream wellness supplements, some companies have implemented CBD drug test guidelines. These suggest a cutoff amount where THC content can be admissible in negligible quantities.
There are new drug tests that can determine that the trace amounts of THC are low enough to be consistent with full spectrum CBD oil use. However, there are still lots of workplaces that do not yet have access to these more sophisticated tests. And there are those that don’t care to update their policies regarding CBD use at all.
So the chances are high that you will get a positive drug test result because of CBD oil, regardless of if you try to avoid THC by using broad spectrum products or not. It is best to consult with your company’s HR department to determine if their drug screening system would can tell the difference between legal CBD use and illegal marijuana drug use. When talking to HR about using CBD oils or tinctures, always get their guidance in writing.
If you’re not ready to use an ingestible CBD product yet, that’s okay too! CBD topicals are a safe way for first timers to introduce themselves to the potential wellness benefits of full spectrum CBD products. Our best selling USDA organic CBD Balm combines our signature Whole Flower CBD Oil with organic peppermint and arnica oils for a powerful, all natural blend to comfort muscles and joints.
CBD Oil Side Effects
CBD can be taken safely and effectively, without worrying about over consumption, because it does not affect the circulatory or respiratory systems. Additionally, CBD oil has not been found to have intoxicating effects. 18 However, some people may experience some mild discomfort if they have taken too much CBD. 19
One of the most important things to note when taking CBD oil – there is zero risk of overdose from CBD cannabis products, and taking the preferred amount should limit any unwanted discomfort.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
Yes, CBD is legal under federal law so long as it has small amounts of THC, no more than 0.3 percent. 21 However, cannabis laws are constantly evolving at a rapid pace at the state level. At least 33 states have legalized marijuana for medical use by registered patients with prescriptions. At least 11 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. 22 But there are some states that aren’t even on board with CBD legalization.
It is best to check the cannabis laws for your state (and the state laws of places you may travel to) when seeking any cannabis plant derived CBD product. You also want to purchase from a reputable company that provides third party lab reports to prove the CBD content, and the THC content, of all their products.
How to Shop for CBD Oil
Family-owned Cornbread Hemp is the first CBD oil brand from Kentucky to offer USDA certified organic CBD oils. They make it easy to shop for CBD oil by consciously choosing the better option at every step of the manufacturing process. They’re dedicated to providing high quality CBD oil made from Kentucky-grown USDA organic hemp flowers. This is different from many companies who don’t choose organic or source their hemp from overseas and from companies who use stems and leaves in their extract.
The supercritical CO2 extraction method that many companies employ can produce a harsh, bitter end product. Cornbread Hemp chooses to use organic sugarcane ethanol to gently extract cannabinoids from organic hemp flower. This potent extract is mixed with organic MCT coconut oil for optimum bioavailability. As a result, their USDA certified organic CBD oils are smooth and taste great naturally – no need for additional flavors or sweeteners.
Third party lab test results are via scannable QR code leading to each CBD product’s certificate of authenticity. The Kentucky laboratory they partner with does a thorough job of testing Cornbread Hemp CBD products for the presence of pesticides, residual solvents, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and microbials. Lab test results also prove each product’s potency, both for THC content and CBD content. All of Cornbread Hemp’s products are full spectrum and guaranteed to less than 0.3 percent THC.
Conclusion: Does CBD Oil Contain THC?
So, does CBD oil contain THC? It depends. Federally legal full spectrum CBD oil contains no more than 0.3 percent THC. 23 These trace amounts of THC in CBD oil are not enough to make anyone feel “high.” However, even trace amounts of THC in CBD products may trigger a positive drug test result.
You may think you need to avoid THC for whatever reason; maybe you still think you can pass drug tests with THC free products, or maybe you’re still skeptical of THC use because of its years of legal turmoil. Just keep in mind that the full potential wellness properties of hemp derived CBD products can only happen with all of the cannabinoids working together.
For the best results when using CBD oil, look for an organic full spectrum product from Cornbread Hemp. Their legal hemp oil CBD products have the widest range of cannabinoids, including small amounts of THC.
Full spectrum CBD products contain no more than 0.3% THC, which could cause you to fail a drug test, but is not enough to get you high. Learn more from Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD.