So you started taking CBD oil in place of regular marijuana because you heard it didn’t have any THC in it, and it wouldn’t get you high — right? But guess what, lo and behold your work throws an out-of-the-blue drug screening at you and you fail. Miserably, in fact.
What the hell? What gives?
Well, while it is true that most high-quality therapeutic CBD oils contain zero THC (in which case it would be all but impossible to fail a drug test), some of the lesser-quality ones actually do contain trace amounts of the psychoactive substance, depending on what source of hemp/cannabis was used as the raw material and what method(s) were used to extract the active compounds.
In this article, we put on our Sherlock Holmes caps and do our very best to try and get to the bottom of your failed drug test after taking CBD oil. While it’s highly, highly unlikely that CBD will show up on a screening, it does happen from time to time. Fortunately, we’re here to try and explain why — and tell you how to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
Reason #1 for Failed Drug Test After Taking CBD Oil: “Low Quality Tinctures”
The #1 most likely reason why you failed a drug test after taking CBD oil is because you simply bought a low-quality product that contained a little bit of THC in it, even though it was advertised as THC-free.
Well, let’s back up just a little bit. First of all, almost all marijuana drug screenings test for the presence of THC in your system, because this is the compound that actually makes you high. CBD – even though it comes from the same plant species as marijuana – does not make you high at all (and thus it doesn’t show up on tests).
What sometimes happens, though, is trace amounts of THC that were in the same raw material that the CBD was extracted from, end up in your oil in a high enough volume that it becomes detectable on a test.
This happens a little bit more frequently when you buy CBD oil from actual cannabis dispensaries in states where marijuana is legalized (either recreationally or medically), rather than from an online seller.
The reason this is the case is because most dispensaries in legalized states that sell CBD oil extract their products from actual marijuana plants, rather than hemp plants.
While hemp and marijuana are of the same species of plant, the major difference is that marijuana contains the female flowering buds (which contain THC), while hemp only contains the male, non-THC parts. So even if you purchased a CBD oil that was extracted from a “very low THC” marijuana strain, there’s a possibility that enough THC was present for it to show up on the test. This is highly unlikely (and very unlucky), but it’s always a possibility if you’re buying CBD products that were extracted from marijuana strains.
CBD oil that was extracted from industrial hemp, on the other hand, is by law required to have no more than 0.3% THC by volume – far less than would ever be able to show up on any drug screening (unless you drank, like, and entire quart of it a day or two before your test).
The vast majority of CBD oils that are sold online and shipped to your doorstep, on the other hand, are sourced from industrial hemp (or at least they claim they are). This is because industrial hemp is legal in all 50 states, whereas marijuana is only legal in a select few.
Even still, though, some low quality online CBD sellers are extracting their oils from regular THC-containing marijuana, even though they label it as “THC-free” hemp. And since neither THC or CBD is regulated by the FDA, there is very minimal testing and they can get away with pretty much whatever they want.
[To learn more about the various types of cannabis plants, check out this article on the key differences between marijuana and hemp].
Reason #2 for Failed Drug Test After Taking CBD Oil: “THC Contamination”
Another potential reason that you might’ve failed a drug test after using CBD oil is because other, THC-containing products may have gotten mixed in with the original raw tincture supply.
Again, this is much more likely to occur at an actual marijuana dispensary than an online seller, as most dispensaries sell high-THC products in addition to their non-psychoactive CBD products.
For example, if a bottler or even a store clerk was handling a “THC-free” product (like your CBD oil) right after handling regular marijuana flower (or anything else that has THC in it), they could potentially contaminate the CBD simply from the residue on their hands. It sounds absolutely absurd, and it’s probably a 1-in-a-million chance, but there’s a possibility that it could happen.
Again, while we’re not necessarily recommending you buy CBD oil online as opposed to in-store, there’s probably less of a likelihood that you’ll encounter “THC contamination” from an online seller, given the fact that (most of them) use an industrial hemp supply and have no contact with actual marijuana.
Reason #3 for Failed Drug Test After Taking CBD Oil: “Second Hand THC Exposure”
Yet another reason why you might’ve failed a drug test after taking CBD oil is that you were simply exposed to THC without knowing it. Believe it or not, this is A LOT more common than you might think, and there are several different ways that you can be “back-handedly” exposed without really realizing it.
You could, for instance, hypothetically inhale enough second hand smoke to fail a drug test if you’re hanging out with people that are smoking heavily in the same are as you. However, you would really have to be in an extremely poorly ventilated room for hours on end for this to be a viable possibility. Moreover, it would’ve had to have happened like the day (or maybe two) before your test, otherwise there’s no way second hand smoke could be potent enough to linger in your system.
What’s more probable, in all reality, is if you fail a marijuana hair test from touching your head with THC on your fingers. This sounds really odd, but it actually happens fairly frequently as hair tests are usually much more rigorous than urine tests. You could do something as seemingly innocuous as pick up a joint or pass your friend a bowl (or have your girlfriend run her fingers through your hair), and get enough THC “stuck” to the hair follicles for it to show up on a screening.
Again, super unlikely, but definitely possible.
Reason #4 for Failed Drug Test After Taking CBD Oil: “Digestive Stomach Acids”
Lastly – and probably least likely of all to happen – is that you failed a drug test after taking CBD oil because the CBD molecularly broke down into THC after interacting with the acids in your stomach and digestive system.
Yep, it’s true — CBD has been shown several different times in laboratory settings to chemically decompose (there’s probably a more accurate scientific word for that) into trace amounts of THC when it is exposed to strong acids.
In fact, there was actually a huge scandal not too long ago about a pharmaceutical company that published this long-winded paper warning people that CBD can “make you high” because it converts into THC if it sits in your stomach for a period of time.
However, it was soon realized that the “publishers” of the paper were actually employees of the pharmaceutical company, who coincidentally were finalizing data for the release of their new transdermal CBD patch. In other words, it appeared that they were deliberately skewing data in order to make the transdermal patch look like a much a safer option than the CBD oil.
While it is true that CBD can break down into THC in the presence of acids, it is not nearly enough to get you high, as several high-profile scientists pointed out almost immediately after the “questionable” report was released. It could, however, possibly occur in a high enough quantity to have you fail a urine test, though this would be incredibly rare and unlikely.
Final Thoughts on Why You Failed a Drug Test After Taking CBD Oil
All in all, if you purchase a quality, reputable CBD oil that has been extracted from a viable industrial hemp supply with less than 0.3% THC content, it is all but impossible to fail a drug test. However, due to a few extenuating conditions like the ones mentioned above, it is hypothetically possible to be exposed to enough THC from a CBD product that you could fail a test.
In short, if you’re worried about an upcoming screening, be extra wary of exposure to second hand THC smoke (or contact with your hair), and make sure your preferred CBD oil is coming from a reliable, trustworthy manufacturer with a quality THC-free hemp supply.
- Full-spectrum Hemp extract
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