Caution: Some Drug Tests Could Mistake CBD for THC!


Those CBD-infused gummy bears that you love so much may be legal, but they could still get you into trouble on marijuana possession charges. Yes, that’s right. Some popular drug tests can’t tell the difference between CBD and THC. When it comes to weed, drug tests typically only screen for THC, the compound responsible for making users high. So when your CBD shows up as THC, it can cause major problems.

You submitted an excellent cover letter, nailed your interview, and now all that’s standing in the way of you getting an amazing new job is a mandatory drug test. The question is, will that CBD oil you’ve been taking to relieve your anxiety cause you to fail the test?

Last December, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp – cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC – thus making CBD theoretically legal. As a result, CBD can now be found in stores all across the country, in the form of tinctures, capsules, edibles, topicals, and more. CBD-infused tea, coffee, and beauty products have also become a big hit.

If you’re ingesting any kind of CBD product, you need to be mindful of the fact that you could possibly fail a drug test.

Legal CBD Products May Make You Test Positive for Cannabis Use

Different kinds of drug tests have different detection thresholds. The type that you’re most likely to encounter is the urine test. Conventional urine drug tests for cannabis use target common metabolites of THC called THC-COOH. This is how they detect if there is THC in your system.

To pass a “pee test,” the amount of THC in the body must be below 50 ng/mL This is the limit that the National Institute of Health federally recommends.

According to law, CBD products may only contain up to 0.3% of THC. However, one of the big problems is that the CBD product you’re using could contain more than the legally allowed 0.3% THC.

As part of an experiment, Penn Medicine Researchers purchased CBD products online, only to find that one in five products contained up to 6.4 mg/ML of THC – high enough to cause impairment.

Research on CBD Oil and Drug Tests

Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers also discovered some troubling results during their quest to understand whether using CBD products can impact drug testing for cannabis.

The team conducted a study in which six individuals took pure CBD, both orally and using a vaporizer, and also inhaled vaporized CBD-dominant cannabis (containing 0.39% THC) on different occasions.

After dosing, they were administered urine tests to determine if they would test positive for cannabis use by using common drug-testing standards. The results revealed that pure CBD didn’t produce a positive result on a standard urine test for cannabis. However, two of six participants tested positive after they inhaled CBD-dominant cannabis vapor.

The cannabis used in the study was very similar to what is found in legal CBD/hemp products. Those who are subject to urine drug testing for any reason need to understand that even very small traces of THC in CBD products can trigger a positive result for cannabis use.

These findings are especially important for people who use CBD products daily. THC could potentially build up in your system due to repeated use, and this could further increase the chance of a positive drug test result.

CBD, THC, and Drug Tests

The chance of testing positive for THC (cannabis use) on a drug test depends on the type of CBD product you use, as well as how you consume it.

Most CBD products available today fall into three primary categories: Isolate (CBD only), broad-spectrum (all cannabinoids besides THC), and full-spectrum (may include THC). When you consume an isolate, you shouldn’t have to worry about failing a drug test. Always check the company website to verify that lab tests have been done by a third-party to ensure they are THC-free.

Full-spectrum CBD products are thought to offer the most benefits, but also come with the biggest risk in terms of drug testing since they may contain traces of THC. If you are using full-spectrum CBD products daily, it’s possible to build up nanograms of THC in your system, which means you could test positive on a drug test.

How you consume CBD also plays a big part in the impact it has on a drug test. For instance, when you ingest products that could contain THC – like oils, vapes, and edibles – the THC is likely to accumulate in your body and show up on a drug test. However, using these same products in the form of a topical – such as a lotion, salve, or balm – is thought to be much safer in terms of drug testing.

Mislabeled Products

Aside from the concern of drug tests mistaking CBD for THC, you should be cautious when purchasing CBD products. Some of these products contain more THC than they claim. For instance, a 2017 study in Jama reported that 18 out of 84 CBD products, all bought online, had THC levels high enough to cause impairment or intoxication.

What’s more, these elevated levels could be high enough to cause you to fail a drug test. Mislabeled CBD products are becoming an increasing problem for American workers. You can’t always trust what you read on the label.

For instance, a truck driver from New York, Douglas Horn, alleges that he lost his job after using one particular CBD product. Horn had a sample of the product tested, and found that contrary to the claim, the product did contain THC. He is now in a legal battle with the company behind the product. The lawsuit alleges there was enough THC in the product to cause a THC level of 29 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) in his urine.

Experts believe that the reason for these mislabeled products could have something to do with how THC levels are measured in the hemp plant. While hemp plants are supposed to contain no more than 0.3% THC, it’s based on the dry weight of the plant. The problem is that dry weight doesn’t always equate to what’s present in the finished product.

Final Thoughts on CBD in Drug Testing

CBD has started to become highly-regarded as a type of medicine for many patients. Even those who have never tried weed before, are seeking out CBD products for their anxiety, stress, aches, chronic pain, seizures, and more.

If you work in a position that requires regular drug testing, or if you’re applying for a new job that may require a drug test, you just need to be aware that you could test positive for cannabis use, if you are using CBD products. Whether it’s due to mislabeled products, or a build-up of THC, there’s always a possibility that THC will be detected.

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