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Will CBD Ever Make You Fail a Drug Test?



Most of us have or will have to take a drug test at some point in our lives. Passing or failing a drug test can have massive implications in your life, including your ability to keep your job or even to have custody of your children. Today, we are going to provide all the facts around CBD and drug testing so that you never receive an unexpected result on any drug tests you take. We’ll explore all the key terms around drug testing, whether CBD can convert into THC, and the differences between full-spectrum CBD products and isolates. 

The facts around CBD and drug testing

Table of Contents

1. CBD Drug Tests
    1.1 False Positives
    1.2 Types of Drug Tests
    1.3 Over-the-Counter Drug Tests
    1.4 Window of Detection
    1.5 Confirmatory Cutoff
    1.6 What Do These Tests Measure for Cannabis?
    1.7 Third-Party Laboratory Tests
2. CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum
3. Can CBD Convert to THC inside Your Body?
4. Will CBD Oil Produce a Failed Drug Test?
5. Final Thoughts on Cannabidiol and Drug Tests

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1. CBD Drug Tests

 

Having to take drug tests can be stressful for us all. No matter the reason you are having to take a drug test, we all want to get the right results. So the question in all our minds is: can you fail a drug test by taking CBD oil? By the end of this article, you’ll be able to answer this question with all the depth needed to answer it accurately.

Before we dive into the topic of cannabidiol (CBD) itself, we must first understand some essential terms around drug testing. To avoid misinformation, these terms are described here so that you can make informed decisions prior to any drug testing. Here are the key terms you need to know.

Before diving into the topic of CBD itself, let's first understand some essential terms around drug testing.

1.1 False Positives

A false positive is when a test result comes back positive but the results are false. A false negative is the same except for incorrect negative test results. Both of these issues have serious implications, but for this topic, the false negative is the important term for you to understand.

There have been examples of faulty tests leading to false positives for THC. The New York Times discussed one example of a hair follicle drug test that has consistently demonstrated false positives. These have had severe impacts on the lives of innocent people. [1]

False positive drug test results have had severe impacts on the lives of innocent people.

1.2 Types of Drug Tests

There are different types of drug tests that check for different combinations of illicit drugs. These tests use a variety of primary sources, ranging from urine and stool to hair and saliva samples. The topics discussed here relate to the more commonly used urinary and saliva drug tests. 

Compared to hair samples, these sources provide more details on the recent use of drugs. Since our hair grows slowly over months and years, the evidence of drugs inside hair follicles can go much further back in time. These tests are more expensive and less commonly used, but when they are, expect a much longer window of detection. We’ll discuss this phrase shortly. 

CBD Drug Testing: With hair samples, the evidence of drugs can go much further back in time.

Furthermore, different tests, called panels, are used to assess various sets of drugs. Ask your test provider about the drug panel you’ll be taking. The standard 10-panel test includes the following substances: [2]

  • Cocaine
  • Cannabis (THC) 
  • PCP
  • Amphetamines
  • Opiates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • Methadone
  • Propoxyphene
  • Quaaludes

1.3 Over-the-Counter Drug Tests

You can also purchase over-the-counter drug tests for personal use. While these can be useful for those waiting to clear their system, it should be noted that they tend to be less effective than laboratory drug tests. If a negative drug test can have serious implications for your life, do not completely trust these over-the-counter tests. Some people even buy multiple types of drug tests to provide more certainty. 

This is crazy:

No matter how many of these over-the-counter drug tests you take, none of them will be as good as the tests used by laboratories. There are providers who sell lab tests on the internet and elsewhere. These tests are sent to you so that you can fill up the tube and then send it back. The laboratory will then complete the test and return your results. While these are more expensive than over-the-counter drug tests, they are certainly more accurate.

No matter how many over-the-counter drug tests you take, none of them will be as good as the tests used by laboratories.

1.4 Window of Detection

The term “window of detection” describes just what you’re probably already thinking. This is the period where a substance is detectable. Different drugs have various clearance times due to the way our body processes and removes them. THC has a window of detection of roughly 3–30 days. CBD appears to remain detectable for only one day, but others suggest a range of 2–5 days. As noted above, hair follicle tests generally produce a much longer window of detection. [3]

The reason this window is so variable relates to the frequency and intensity of use. THC is a lipid that is rapidly dispersed around the body and even stored in fat cells. If you regularly consume THC, you likely have a good amount stored throughout your body. Once you stop consuming, these stored compounds are slowly released over time. [2] [4]

THC has a window of detection of roughly 3–30 days.

RELATED: THC vs. CBD: What’s the Difference?

If you have consumed THC, you should stop immediately and give your body time to clear out this substance. While 30 days is a decent guideline, if this test is critical to your well-being, try to have an even longer period. The breakdown of fat can re-release these THC compounds into your bloodstream. [4] 

But here’s the kicker:

There is little evidence to provide a solid suggestion here, but it would make sense to avoid the breakdown of fat in the days and the week prior to testing. You may want to enhance this breakdown prior to this pre-test period if you can. This would mean exercising and dieting to produce the breakdown of fat in the weeks before your test. Once you hit the 30-day mark before your test, shift to maintenance and avoid dieting or heavy exercise. This practice is not founded in evidence, so take it with a heavy grain of salt. 

1.5 Confirmatory Cutoff

These tests do not always come back positive when a tiny amount of a substance is found. Instead, what these tests do is set a certain level of compounds needed to receive a positive drug test. This is called the confirmatory cutoff and is used to avoid excess false positives. This term will come up later when discussing a recent study, so keep it in mind.

You might be wondering:

One of the reasons over-the-counter drug tests are less accurate than lab tests is due to differences in these cutoff numbers. Laboratory tests likely have lower cutoffs and thus have more specificity. This is yet another reason to not trust over-the-counter drug tests fully. 

One of the reasons over-the-counter drug tests are less accurate than lab tests is due to different confirmatory cutoffs.

1.6 What Do These Tests Measure for Cannabis?

The tests do not broadly assess the presence of cannabis inside your body; they are looking for a specific compound to prove prior use of cannabis. These tests most often look for THC-COOH, which is a metabolite of THC. By that, we mean that THC is processed or metabolized inside our bodies from THC to THC-COOH and then excreted. So, drug tests looking for cannabis use specifically look for detectable levels of THC-COOH.

RELATED: Does CBD Show up on Drug Tests?

1.7 Third-Party Laboratory Tests

When buying any CBD product, you should always look for a third-party laboratory test. These results help confirm that the product contains no more than what it is said to contain. All credible CBD companies will share these results, and any that do not state them should be avoided. (Click to tweet)

While these lab test results are critical for you to consider, you should also know the difference between CBD isolate and full-spectrum products.

When buying any CBD product, you should always look for a third-party laboratory test.

RELATED: How to Ensure the CBD Oil You're Using Is Pure

2. CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum

 

The big question here is whether CBD isolate or full-spectrum CBD products can trigger a positive drug test for THC. Legal full-spectrum CBD products in the USA can have up to 0.3% THC content. CBD isolates contain no THC at all. 

RELATED: Potential Benefits of Using Pure CBD Oil

So, one answer is easy; the other is a bit trickier.

A CBD isolate has absolutely no potential of ever leading you to fail a THC drug test. This assumes that third-party laboratory reports confirm the lack of THC presence in the product. (Click to tweet)

Here’s the deal:

In regard to full-spectrum CBD products, a positive drug test is possible. This is not really controversial, as the presence of even small amounts of THC can be detected by drug tests. Since full-spectrum products do contain THC, drug tests can come back positive. 

The presence of even small amounts of THC can be detected by drug tests.

RELATED: What Does "Full Spectrum CBD" Mean?

A very recent research letter was just released in November 2020 on this topic. They found that patients taking full-spectrum CBD led to positive drug tests for THC-COOH. More specifically, when an average dose was 34mg of CBD and 0.8mg of THC over four weeks, 50% of participants tested positive for THC-COOH. [5]

3. Can CBD Convert to THC inside Your Body?

 

There has been heavy debate around whether there is any conversion to THC from CBD-only consumption. (Click to tweet)

Inside laboratory conditions, researchers have been able to demonstrate the conversion of CBD into THC. That said, the CBD was placed in an acid solution that does not appear to be applicable to the human body. The one exception would be inside our gut, where there is a very acidic environment. One study found a conversion rate of 2.9% using an environment of artificial gastric acid. [6]

There has been heavy debate around whether there is any conversion to THC from CBD-only consumption

The implication here would be that oral CBD that is ingested might be processed into THC inside your gut in tiny amounts. So the question is whether there are any human studies to confirm these laboratory results.

Overall, there is little to no evidence of CBD to THC conversion in organisms after oral administration. A study on minipigs found no conversion of CBD to THC. For humans consuming CBD orally, there is no evidence that this transformation occurs. [6] 

A group of researchers released a paper discussing this topic in March of 2020. They found that the use of pure cannabidiol was able to produce a positive drug test for THC. To be clear, only one out of 218 urine tests actually screened positive for THC-COOH. Furthermore, this one result did not exceed the confirmatory cutoff. [7]

Moreover, the researchers noted that CBD products that contain THC are able to produce a positive test result. They described the need for accurate labeling and regulation of the THC content in CBD to avoid this issue. Finally, it should be repeated that they concluded that acute dosing of pure CBD will not result in a positive urine drug test using the current US federal workplace testing guidelines. 

RELATED: Hemp CBD vs. Cannabis CBD: There's a Difference

4. Will CBD Oil Produce a Failed Drug Test?

 

Now that we have all the information, you likely already know the answer. Taking CBD oil can produce a failed drug test if it includes THC inside. Full-spectrum CBD oils can produce detectable levels of THC due to the presence of no more than 0.3% THC content. While these amounts are small and will often fall under confirmatory cutoff levels, they can just as easily produce a positive drug test. The only way to guarantee you pass your drug test is by avoiding THC altogether.

The only way to guarantee you pass your drug test is by avoiding THC altogether.

RELATED: Will CBD Cause a Positive Drug Test?

5. Final Thoughts on Cannabidiol and Drug Tests

 

In summary, CBD alone is not able to produce a positive cannabis drug test. While there are efforts to develop CBD drug tests, this is another topic altogether.

Also, it makes complete sense that a full-spectrum CBD product could lead to a positive drug test due to the presence of THC inside.

There is no evidence that pure cannabidiol ever converts into THC or THC-COOH inside the human body. While some laboratory results have shown that CBD can convert to THC in acidic environments, there is not yet any proof of this occurring in the human gut. (Click to tweet)

There is no evidence that pure CBD ever converts into THC or THC-COOH inside the human body.

What’s the bottom line? 

Overall, if you have the critical need to pass a drug test, avoid products containing any THC. (Click to tweet)

If you are consuming full-spectrum CBD products or any CBD product that does not come with third-party laboratory results, cease immediately. The small amounts of THC inside full-spectrum products may not produce a positive result, but taking several weeks off can help you pass that drug test. If you are waiting for your system to clear, there are over-the-counter drug tests, but do not assume these are nearly as accurate as lab drug tests.

Sources:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/15/science/cbd-thc-cannabis-cannabidiol.html
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/10-panel-drug-test#detection-times
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4758796/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782342/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33146684/
  6. https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf
  7. https://academic.oup.com/jat/article-abstract/44/2/109/5611263

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