28 Oct Does CBD show up on a drug test?
- CBD does not show up on a drug test, because cannabis tests usually target THC rather than CBD.
- There are many types of cannabis test, each with a different THC concentration threshold.
- Full-spectrum CBD and marijuana-derived products are more likely to cause a failed drug test due to higher THC content.
- Product mislabelling, cross-contamination and secondhand exposure can also contribute to a positive result.
- People subject to testing should check the THC concentration on a product’s Certificate of Analysis before buying.
CBD (cannabidiol) has become a hugely popular wellness supplement in recent years. But despite its widespread popularity, many consumers still have concerns, such as whether it shows up on a drug test.
The short answer to the question “Does CBD show up on a drug test?” is “No”, because drug tests usually target the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and its metabolites rather than CBD itself. CBD is a non-intoxicating compound that is legal in many countries and not classed as a drug, whereas THC has powerful intoxicating properties and is a controlled substance.
Therefore, people who are subject to drug tests do not have to worry about CBD showing up on a drug test, but rather about trace amounts of THC being present in some CBD products and leading to a positive result.
So how exactly do cannabis drug tests work? How much THC can trigger a positive result? And which CBD products are safe for people subject to doping tests? Read on to find out.
There are many different types of cannabis drug tests, all of which target THC or its metabolites (usually THC-COOH). Some of these tests can detect THC three days after a single use, and more than 30 days after heavy use. This is because THC is fat-soluble and can be stored in body fat for a long time. As the fat is burned, THC and its metabolites are released and then eliminated by the kidneys.
Urine or “immunoassay tests” are the most common type of cannabis drug test. They analyse urine samples in search of chemicals resembling a metabolite of THC. If detected, this produces a positive result; but if the THC levels are below the concentration threshold, a negative result is produced.
These immunoassay tests are inexpensive and deliver fast results, but false-positive and false-negative results are possible. For this reason, they are often used as an initial screening test, followed by confirmatory tests, which may use mass spectrometry, gas chromatography or high-performance liquid chromatography. While confirmatory tests are much more accurate than screenings, they are also more expensive and time-consuming, and it can take weeks for results to be produced.
Does CBD show up on a drug test?
As explained above, cannabis drug tests do not screen for CBD, only THC and its metabolites. This is primarily because CBD is not a prohibited substance, whereas THC is, due to its intoxicating properties.
Given that CBD is non-intoxicating and legal in many countries, there is little reason to target it in drug tests. However, THC can produce a cerebral high and impair cognitive functioning, making it worth testing for, particularly among people who work in safety-critical environments.
What THC levels show up on a drug test?
THC levels must be at or above an established cut-off value in order to trigger a positive result. Different testing methods have different cut-off values.
Urine tests are the most common tests for THC, particularly in the workplace. Levels of THC or metabolites must be below 50 ng/mL (nanograms per millilitre) to produce a negative result. Generally, THC metabolites are detectable in urine for 3-15 days after a single use. However, after heavy or chronic use, they can be detectable for more than 30 days.
Blood tests are less common than urine tests because THC leaves the bloodstream fairly quickly – it is detectable in blood plasma for only up to 5 hours, while its metabolites may be detected up to 7 days after use. Blood tests are often used to assess a person’s levels of cognitive impairment, such as when they are driving. In places where cannabis is legal, 1-5 ng/mL of THC may be considered enough to confirm impairment.
Cannabis drug tests using saliva are not common and no cut-off values have been established. However, a 2017 report on cannabis workplace testing in oral fluid suggested an initial cut-off of 4 ng/mL and a confirmation cut-off of 2 mg/mL. THC is detectable in saliva for 72 hours, and longer with heavy use.
Like saliva tests, screenings which analyse hair for THC metabolites are not common and have no established cut-off values. However, cut-offs of around 1 pg/mL (picogram per millilitre) of THC-COOH are used in some private industry tests. THC metabolites can be detected in hair up to 90 days after use.
How long is CBD detectable in urine?
While drug tests generally do not target CBD, some people are interested in how long CBD is detectable in urine. Different factors affect how long CBD generally stays in the body, but according to one study, the average half-life of CBD is 27-35 hours; however, high doses and regular use are likely to increase the half-life significantly up to several days.
CBD’s half-life in urine is thought to be around 24 hours. In one study, the urinary CBD levels of a participant were monitored after a single dose of CBD oil capsules. These urinary levels peaked after 3 hours, and CBD was still detectable after 24 hours, but not beyond this threshold.
Does CBD product type matter?
Different product types can contain varying levels of THC, so if you’re subject to drug testing, it’s important that you choose one with non-detectable THC to avoid a positive result.
Full-spectrum CBD contains all the compounds found naturally in cannabis, including cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. It’s usually derived from the marijuana subspecies of cannabis, which contains higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD than hemp. This means that full-spectrum CBD sourced from marijuana may contain more THC than products sourced from hemp, and there is a higher chance of THC showing up on a drug test.
While hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD products must legally contain 0.3% THC or less, there is still a chance of a positive result, particularly if the product is mislabelled or cross-contaminated.
Like full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD contains a range of compounds from the cannabis plant, but with one key difference: it contains little trace of THC. This means that a positive test result is less likely, making broad-spectrum CBD a safer option for people subject to drug tests.
CBD isolate is less common than full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD. Usually sourced from hemp, CBD isolate is CBD in its purest form, containing only CBD and no other plant compounds, including THC. This makes CBD isolate the safest product type for people who undergo drug testing.
Competing athletes should be aware that all cannabinoids except CBD are prohibited at any level by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), which means that using full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD could result in an anti-doping breach. Therefore, even though Naturecan’s broad-spectrum CBD has non-detectable THC (<0.01%), we do not recommend CBD for competing athletes as a precautionary measure.
How to choose a CBD product that’s free from THC
If you’re looking for a THC-free CBD product that won’t cause you to fail a drug test, broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate sourced from hemp are a good place to start. However, due to a lack of proper regulation in the CBD market, many of these products may contain traces of THC without stating this on the label.
Therefore, it’s important to choose a reputable company that offers proof of third-party quality testing for each of their products. You can then check the product’s Certificate of Analysis to verify the THC concentration.
Other factors that could contribute to a failed drug test
While it is more likely for people to fail a drug test by knowingly using a cannabis product which contains THC, it is possible to consume enough THC to fail a test without knowing it.
As explained above, the CBD market is not strictly regulated, so some products may have inaccurate label claims regarding CBD and THC concentration. A 2016 investigation into the label accuracy of CBD products sold online examined 84 products from 31 companies, finding that only 26 (31%) samples contained the amount of CBD stated on the label, and 18 (21%) samples contained THC in concentrations of up to 6.43 mg/mL.
Cross-contamination during production
Cross-contamination between products can occur during manufacturing, even among products which contain small traces of THC. Storing products with varying THC levels together in store or at home can also lead to cross-contamination, particularly if not sealed in packaging.
Secondhand exposure to THC
It is possible to absorb THC by exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke, but whether the amount of THC absorbed is enough to fail a drug test depends on various factors. One study exposed non-smoking people to high-THC marijuana smoke in a well-ventilated room for three hours, finding traces of THC in the blood but not enough to trigger a positive result.
In a similar study performed in a room without ventilation, the subjects showed positive urine tests in the hours immediately after exposure – suggesting that the ventilation of the environment was a key factor in determining whether the level of THC absorbed by secondhand exposure was above the cut-off or not.
Many people also wonder if secondhand exposure to THC can cause intoxication. While research is limited, the answer seems to be yes. For example, in a follow-up study to the one above, people exposed to high-THC marijuana in a confined space reported mild subjective effects and showed mild impairment in subsequent motor performance tests. However, the researchers noted that positive test results are likely to be rare and to occur only in confined spaces and in the hours immediately after exposure.
Is CBD safe?
Yes, CBD itself is considered safe and generally well-tolerated, according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO). However, consumers should be aware that poor quality products with no proof of independent testing may contain traces of THC or other contaminants, such as heavy metals and pesticides, which are not safe for consumption. In addition, CBD is not safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women as not enough studies have been performed on this group to confirm its safety.
Potential CBD side effects
Like most natural supplements, CBD may have mild side effects for some users. However, these are rare and usually caused by using low quality products or taking too much CBD. Potential side effects include a dry mouth, lightheadedness, drowsiness, reduced appetite, diarrhoea and nausea.
What drugs should not be taken with CBD?
Taking CBD with other drugs can increase the risk of experiencing negative side effects. Therefore, it’s important to talk to your doctor before using CBD if you take prescription medication or have a preexisting condition.
Using CBD with the following drugs can bring about or intensify some of the side effects listed above:
- Sleeping pills
- Muscle relaxants
- Seizure medications
- St John’s Wort
Many drugs are broken down by liver enzymes, and CBD may compete with them – this can increase the concentration of the drug to toxic levels, or decrease its concentration and reduce its effectiveness.Also known as “altered concentration”, this process can have dangerous side effects.
One study examined the interaction of five prescription CBD and THC medications with other drugs and found 139 medications that cannabinoids can interfere with, 57 of which could produce serious side effects. These 57 included:
- Amiodarone (heart rhythm medication)
- Levothyroxine (thyroid medication)
- Warfarin (blood thinner)
- Many seizure medications
To sum up: CBD does not show up on a drug test, because these tests screen for THC or its metabolites, not CBD. Full-spectrum CBD and marijuana-derived products are more likely to contain detectable levels of THC and cause a positive test result. Mislabeling, cross-contamination and secondhand exposure may also increase levels of THC in the body and could contribute to a positive result.
If you’re subject to cannabis drug testing, you can minimise your risk of a positive result by using hemp-derived CBD and checking the product’s THC levels in the Certificate of Analysis. If you are taking medication or have a medical condition, please speak to your doctor before using CBD to avoid any adverse side effects.
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