Does Cbd Show In Drug Tests? Here’s What You Need To Know
The growth of the global CBD market has been pronounced in recent times, and this trend is set to continue into the future.
According to Technavio, analysts are forecasting that this sector will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31% between now and 2022, with markets in the UK and the U.S. likely to explode.
Despite this, CBD is a relatively new supplement, and one that some people are naturally reluctant to consume.
One of the reasons for this is the dreaded workplace drug test, as while we’re all aware of CBD’s unique health benefits not all of us understand whether or not this will show up as a forbidden or prohibited substance.
We’ll explore this in greater detail below, while asking whether or not CBD is revealed by drug testing and how employees are likely to react.
Starting with the Basics – What is a Drug Test?
In generic terms, a drug test provides the technical analysis of a biological specimen, in order to determine the presence of specified parent drugs or their unique metabolites.
Or in layman’s terms, it’s a test (which is carried out one of the ways below), that shows if you have certain drugs in your system.
However, the process of testing is far more complex and diverse than this broad definition suggests, and while employers are beginning to recognise its importance they must also strive hard to identify the most relevant methods to suit their requirements.
Here’s a breakdown of the various drug testing methods, each of which is based on securing a specific biological specimen:
- Saliva Testing: Saliva testing is another nonintrusive method, and one that is becoming increasingly popular across the globe. The primary issue with saliva testing is that it may only be effective (and accurate) when detecting very recent drug usage, making it unsuitable for a number of workplace applications. According to studies, saliva testing may only detect cannabinoids when they’ve been consumed four to 10 hours beforehand.
- Blood Testing: Blood testing is the single most accurate method of drug testing, and one that provides a real-time breakdown of individual substances and metabolites in the human body. This method can even detect the precise amount of drugs in the system at the time of testing, with its main drawbacks being its cost and extremely invasive nature.
- Hair Testing: One of the most underused drug testing methods, hair testing is based on the premise that metabolites enter the blood vessels of the scalp before being filtered and retained by hair follicles. However, the primary issue with this method is accuracy, as it only detects historic drug usage and may produce positive tests for subjects who consumed cannabis months before. This negates the purpose of testing, which is designed to test an employee’s real-time suitability for work.
- Urine Testing: The most common method in the workplace is urine testing, and there are several reasons for this. Firstly, all metabolites (which are the structures produced by the metabolism of all ingested substances) use urine as the main excretory route from the body. Secondly, the process of securing a urine sample is simple and nonintrusive, making it ideal for a busy workplace environment.
- Perspiration Testing: We close with one of the newest testing methods, and one that is performed using a sweat patch that is affixed to the skin for a two-week period. However, this is an extremely costly and time-consuming method of testing, and one that’s primarily used to observe people on probation or those involved in child custody disputes.
Despite the evolution of these methods, mandatory drug testing at work has remained a source of controversy among some. It has been argued that this contravenes the Human Rights Act, for example, while others have suggested that it continues to erosion of civil liberties in the workplace.
This is why mandatory tests are restricted to a number of specific marketplaces and circumstances, including people who work directly with children or vulnerable individuals. Take teachers and intensive care nurses, for example, who may be required to submit to regular testing along with other healthcare professionals such as doctors.
Similarly, mandatory drug testing may also be used in safety critical industries, including those that involve the operation of heavy or complex machinery.
From an employer perspective, employers also have a duty to use drug testing methods responsibly and appropriately at all times. This means limiting mandatory testing to the type of staff members mentioned above, while also refraining from targeting individuals unfairly.
Ultimately, mandatory testing should only ever be used to safeguard members of the general public and each subjects’ colleagues, rather than a method of observing people’s behaviour outside of the workplace.
What Substances are Screened During a Drugs Test?
We’ve briefly referenced CBD and cannabis earlier in the piece, but drug testing procedures have been designed to detect a number of different substances and metabolites.
Most interestingly, different testing methods can be used to detect a variable range of substances, so employers will often select a viable technique that will help them to achieve their precise objectives.
Also, when performing a drugs test, they don’t actually test for cannabis, they test for delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC in layman’s terms), which is the compound in cannabis that gets you high.
In terms of coverage, urine testing is by far the most effective technique. This painless and accessible testing method can detect a huge range of substances and compounds, while it will also deliver results within a matter of days (and in some cases instantly).
- Marijuana (THC)
- Opioids (Narcotics)
Urine testing can even be used to detect blood-alcohol levels in some instances, but it’s far easier for employers to sample this using a simple breathalyser test.
To provide some context here, salvia testing has a far more restrictive reach, with this method only capable of detecting alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines. Remember, this testing method can only detect recent drug use with any accuracy, so it’s only really effective in unique circumstances.
Blood, hair and perspiration testing are similarly restricted in terms of the substances that they can detect, which at least partially explains why urine is the preferred biological specimen for employees.
So Will CBD Show on a Drugs Test?
A drugs test will identify the presence of THC (delta-nine Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is a psychoactive agent and one of at least 113 cannabinoids featured in cannabis.
This is the individual compound that will leave you feeling ‘high’ and euphoric after smoking marijuana, while it’s also the single biggest reason why cannabis remains an illegal and prohibited substance in the UK.
However, CBD will not show on a drugs test. High-quality CBD oils or isolates should contain no more than 0.3% THC as part of its composition, while some products are even sold entirely free from this compound.
At CBD Asylum, our CBD products are completely free from THC and therefore will not show on a drugs test.
You’ll notice that we’ve included marijuana on our list of detectable substances, but from a technical perspective, it’s important to recognise that employers are not looking for this directly.
If you commit to a urine drug test, this method will pinpoint active compounds that are indicative of a positive result.
THC is one of the most commonly recognised compounds in this respect, as it confirms that the subject has used cannabis within a detectable period (which may span a relatively long time in this instance as the substance is fat soluble and capable of being stored in cells).
Even if you use CBD products that have trace levels of THC, these are unlikely to register in your drug test results. This means that anyone who consumes CBD as a daily supplement is unlikely to fail a standard drug test, regardless of the precise method used by an employer or independent healthcare professionals.
After all, an employer would only be interested in outlawing potentially mind-altering substances or supplements that could impact negatively on your performance in the workplace. The non-psychoactive nature of CBD, therefore, makes it a safe and viable substance, and one that won’t raise any eyebrows.
We must also consider the fact that CBD is legal in the UK and most countries around the globe, it has also been approved by the World Anti-doping Association (WADA).
While the Cannabidiol compound was included on the organisation’s comprehensive list of banned substances until 2016, and detailed review saw it finally removed last year.
The Last Word – Heralding CBD as a Safe and Legal Substance
While some workplaces and industries may require their employees to submit to mandatory drug testing, very little is known about this or the processes used to extract samples.
This is why some people have been loath to consume CBD, despite its rising popularity and the immense range of health benefits that it offers to users.
However, we can see that CBD is an entirely safe and non-psychoactive compound and one that will not cause you to fail any conceivable type of drug test. Employers are also unlikely to have an issue with you taking daily doses of Cannabidiol, as this compound will not impair your performance in the workplace.
So even if you’re required to submit to mandatory drug testing by your employer, there’s no reason why you cannot embrace the benefits of CBD and safely integrate this into your daily dietary regime.
The growth of the global CBD market has been pronounced in recent times, and this trend is set to continue into the future. According to Technavio, analysts are forecasting that this sector will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31% between now and 2022, with markets in the UK…
Can You Take CBD and Pass a Drug Test?
Not always, even though it’s legal. Here’s how to protect yourself.
The 26-year-old video producer from Reno, Nev., was shocked when a drug test he took as part of a job application came back positive for marijuana. The problem? He hadn’t used marijuana, he says. Instead, J.C., who prefers not to use his name, had taken CBD, or cannabidiol, from hemp to help with sleep and anxiety. And unlike THC, a related compound in cannabis plants, CBD can’t get you high.
“I thought I was in the clear,” J.C. says. “From everything that I had heard, CBD oil wasn’t supposed to show up on drug tests.”
CBD is going mainstream. Late last year Congress made CBD from hemp legal at the federal level. And it’s increasingly found on store shelves, now even sold in some CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens stores. An estimated 64 million people have tried CBD in the past 24 months, according to a January 2019 nationally representative survey by Consumer Reports of more than 4,000 adult Americans, using it for pain, insomnia, anxiety, and other health problems.
But as more people try it, one unexpected “side effect” could be failing an employer’s drug test, and even losing a job as a result.
Consider Bianca Thurston of Pennsylvania and Coni Hass of California. They are jointly suing Koi CBD, alleging that they failed drug tests because of the company’s CBD product; Thurston lost her job. Or Douglas Horn, a truck driver in New York who alleges that he lost his job after taking a CBD product made by Dixie (aka Dixie Elixirs).
Koi CBD told Consumer Reports in a statement about the lawsuit: “Koi prides itself on providing the highest-quality products while being a leader in the industry. We take claims regarding our products very seriously. We are investigating this matter and the allegations, which at this time, are unproven and unverified. We remain focused on continuing to carefully craft and offer a full array of beneficial cannabinoid products.”
Dixie Elixirs did not respond to a request for a comment.
So how can you fail a drug test after taking CBD? The urine test most commonly used doesn’t even look for CBD but instead a compound created by the body when it metabolizes THC, says Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology at Quest Diagnostics, the largest administrator of drug tests in the U.S. “There isn’t going to be a laboratory analytical false positive confusing CBD with a THC metabolite.”
But Sample says that CBD products could have more THC than the label claims. CBD products from hemp sold in retail stores and online aren’t supposed contain more than 0.3 percent THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound in marijuana that can get you high.
It’s also possible that over time, the small amounts of THC allowed in CBD products could build up in the body to detectable levels.
And while New York City recently passed a law that, starting May 10, 2020, will bar many employers from testing prospective employees for marijuana, that is still the exception, even in states that allow marijuana for medical or adult recreational use. In fact, more than half of employers test job applicants for it, says Kate Kennedy, spokesperson for the Society for Human Resource Management, an industry group. That can help companies lower costs for disability insurance and workers’ compensation. Some people who work for the federal government or military or as pilots, bus drivers, train conductors, or truck drivers are also subject to drug testing.
So if you use CBD, especially if you are applying for a job or work in a sensitive field, you should be aware of the possible need to pass a drug test. Here’s more on how to do it, as well as advice on how to avoid that problem or deal with a positive drug test because of CBD.
CBD products often have more THC than claimed, research suggests. For example, a 2017 study in JAMA found that 18 of 84 CBD products, all purchased online, had THC levels possibly high enough to cause intoxication or impairment.
And those elevated levels might also be high enough to cause you not to pass a drug test.
That’s what Horn, the truck driver from New York, alleges happened to him after taking a product advertised to contain “zero THC.”
After losing his job because of the failed drug test, the lawsuit says Horn purchased a sample of the CBD product, had it tested, and found that, contrary to the claim, it did contain THC—enough, the lawsuit alleges, to cause a THC level in his urine of 29 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). That’s double the amount that typically triggers a positive result, says Sample at Quest Diagnostics.
Mislabeled CBD products are a growing problem for American workers, Sample believes. “It’s buyer beware,” he says. “There’s not always truth in labeling on the products.”
And he believes those high levels could be due in part to how THC levels are measured in hemp plants. While those plants are supposed to contain no more than 0.3 percent THC, that’s based on the dry weight of the plant. “But dry weight doesn’t necessarily equate to what’s in the finished product,” Sample says.
Plus, he says, in some cases that percentage is based on the weight of the whole plant, or on the weight of the buds or flowers, which tend to have more THC.
Adding to the confusion is that each state can determine how it samples and tests hemp plants for THC content, says Aline DeLucia, senior policy analyst for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. When sampling the hemp plant, “the closer you get to the flower, the higher the THC content. So some states collect the top 6 inches of the plant, while others do it differently,” DeLucia says. But “everybody is onboard that we need some kind of uniformity.”
And once CBD is turned into a “finished” product, such as an oil, a lotion, a tincture, a pill, or a vape liquid, few states dictate how those should be tested for THC, save for Oregon and soon Vermont. State agriculture departments, DeLucia says, don’t have jurisdiction over testing these products for safety.
Last, some states allow medical CBD products obtained through permitted channels to contain more than 0.3 percent THC. For example, the cutoff in Georgia and Virginia is 5 percent, Sample says, a level that is definitely high enough to cause impairment and a failed drug test.
Best bet: To increase the likelihood that a product doesn’t have more THC than claimed, look for a manufacturer that can provide a Certificate of Analysis, or COA, for its product. That document shows the results of a company’s testing for THC, CBD, and various contaminants. Though that testing is voluntary (except in Indiana and Utah) and the results aren’t confirmed by independent experts, for now it’s the best information available. If a store or website can’t provide you with a COA, look for another product. Read more about how CBD products are tested.
Small Amounts of THC Can Build Up
Many legitimate CBD products contain small amounts of THC. And when taken regularly over as little as four to six days, that THC can accumulate in the body, according to several studies.
That’s because THC is fat-soluble, says Norbert E. Kaminski, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University in East Lansing. So THC that isn’t immediately metabolized by the body will be stored in fat tissue. And “over time, THC and THC metabolites will be slowly released,” Kaminski says. As a result, it’s possible to test positive for THC and not pass a drug test, even after you’ve stopped taking the product.
Sample, at Quest Diagnostics, says that chronic, heavy users of marijuana could test positive even a month after they stop using it.
Best bet: Consider products that are claimed to be “CBD only” and have COAs showing that they contain zero THC. Also, you can try tracking your own THC levels with an at-home drug test, says Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York, who has studied the medicinal use of CBD. If you test positive but need to be THC-free, consider taking a two- to three-week break from the product to clear THC from your system, he says.
What to Do If You Failed a Drug Test
Talk with your employer. That’s what worked for J.C., in Nevada, after he tested positive for marijuana use. Armed with documentation from his doctor that he was taking CBD to treat anxiety and insomnia, he met with company co-founder Matt Ross, chief operating officer of the Slumber Yard—a website that tracks user experiences with buying and using mattresses—and explained why he was taking it. He even took the bottle in for his employer to see.
“I wasn’t familiar with CBD at the time,” Ross says. But he and his partner appreciated that J.C. addressed the situation. “He was really talented as a video editor, and we felt comfortable enough to get past it.”
If that doesn’t work, try your company’s HR department. If your employer resists, you may be able to seek protection through the Americans with Disabilities Act and state disability laws. Those laws allows people with documented needs to get exceptions, or “reasonable accommodations,” to account for their medical situation. While the ADA does not apply to marijuana—because it remains illegal on the federal level, even for medical use—it’s still worth asking your company’s HR department, says James Reidy, an attorney at Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green who focuses on drug policy issues with employers. That’s because CBD from hemp is now legal on a federal level.
If you have any documentation from a medical provider, that can help, too. And you may have more luck if you live in Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia. Those states have passed laws providing some protection for people who use medical marijuana, potentially including CBD, Reidy says.
Other states, such as likeCalifornia, Montana, Oregon, and Washington have laws to assure that companies located in those states do not have to provide “reasonable accommodations” for people who use medical marijuana, and leave it up to each employer to decide, Reidy says. In those states, though, it’s still worth asking your company’s HR department about it if you’ve failed a drug test for marijuana after taking CBD.
Ask for a retest. If you’ve stopped taking CBD for a few weeks or longer, or took CBD infrequently, and still test positive for marijuana, consider asking for a retest. Though there are safeguards in place to prevent errors, Sample says, in rare cases they do happen.
In addition, some companies might set the threshold for THC very low to catch as many people as possible, Earleywine says. But doing so means the test can generate “some false positives, people who look as if they’ve used THC when they haven’t.”
Stop or skip using CBD products if faced with an upcoming drug test. That’s the only way to ensure that your CBD won’t trigger a positive test result for marijuana. And that includes stopping use of topical CBD lotions, oils, and cosmetic products, says Kaminski at Michigan State University. And it’s best to stop two to three weeks before the test, he adds. That should allow for enough time for any THC and THC metabolites to clear out of your system.
If you have to pass a drug test, you might want to skip taking CBD. Here’s why and how to protect yourself, with details from Consumer Reports on whether you can take CBD and pass a drug test.