CBD and Drug Tests – What You Need to Know!

By: Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

There have been some reports recently about people failing drug tests while taking CBD.  These are usually blood tests conducted by employers and in some instances, employees have lost their jobs.

One woman in Pennsylvania, for example, who was taking CBD to help with knee pain, lost her job after testing positive for cannabinoids. (Of the hundreds of compounds found in the cannabis plant, around 60 of these are collectively known as cannabinoids).

In another instance, a video producer from Nevada took a standard drug test as part of a job application and was stunned when it came back positive for marijuana – even though he hadn’t used marijuana.  He had, however, taken CBD to help him sleep.

And in New York, a truck driver who was taking CBD claims he was fired after a routine drug test came up positive.

Given that CBD is not supposed to show up on routine drug screens, you would be justified in asking what is going on.  You may also be concerned about taking CBD if your employer requires periodic drug testing. So perhaps some additional information and context will put your mind at ease on both counts as well as help you to be proactive when selecting and using CBD if your healthcare provider believes it would be of benefit to you.

First, according to the well-known and respected Consumer Reports, more than an estimated 64 million people have tried CBD between 2017 and 2019 for a variety of health problems.  So these reported cases of a failed drug test represent a miniscule quantity when compared to the probable number of people who have tried or currently use CBD.

It’s also important to know that CBD itself does not show up on routine drug tests that are screening for mood-altering drugs.  In fact, standard employment-related drug tests do not include CBD and many of the nation’s testing laboratories do not even offer testing for CBD or its metabolites (what is left of CBD after your body metabolizes it) in blood or urine samples.  Most common drug screens also have very little cross-reactivity for other cannabinoid compounds such as CBD, CBG, and CBN.  But what does show up on routine blood or urine drug tests is another component of cannabis, THC (9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and its metabolites. THC is the psychoactive compound that creates a “high” when ingested.

So, were these people who failed their drug tests and lost jobs because of them lying?  Were they really using THC and hoping to get away with it by saying they were taking CBD?  Pretty doubtful since more than one of them have gone so far as filing lawsuits against the companies that manufactured and marketed the CBD product they purchased.  What is more likely is that they probably forgot, or didn’t follow, the golden rule of being a smart consumer – caveat emptor, or, buyer beware.

What you, as a potential CBD consumer, need to know is that most CBD products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or other regulatory bodies. This means that you are trusting the manufacturer’s word on the quality, type and purity of the CBD you are purchasing.  Unfortunately, labeling errors are probably more common than you might think.  One study in the Netherlands, for example, found that almost 20 percent of products labeled as “CBD-only” in one sample contained detectable amounts of THC, with some of these amounts high enough to possibly have a psychoactive effect.  More research needs to be done to determine the level of mislabeling in the United States, but it reinforces the importance of being an educated consumer.

The trace amounts of THC and compounds found in any given sample of mislabeled CBD can all be impacted by where the CBD comes from, how the plant source was harvested and even where it was grown.  And some manufacturing processes may increase the probability that the CBD you purchase may contain other compounds.  An analogy is when you purchase a food product and there is a warning about it being processed on machinery that “also processes peanuts and other nuts” so that you know you run a risk of consuming the product should you have a nut allergy.

The bottom line is that no matter what the labeling or the salesperson tells you, you cannot just assume that the CBD you are purchasing is in a pure, isolate form – which means 100 percent CBD. In fact, it may have trace amounts of THC or other compounds which, in certain amounts, could trigger a positive result on an standard drug test.  And, keep in mind, that these trace amounts probably won’t be enough to produce a psychoactive effect so the first you’ll know about the CBD you thought was pure not being so will be the results of your drug test.

How to be a Proactive and Educated CBD Purchaser?

Your best bet for ensuring that any CBD therapies you and your healthcare provider decide may be helpful to you will not trigger a positive result on a drug test is to follow the same precautions you would with any other product you will be putting in your body.  Just as you would read the nutritional labels on a food product, a nutritional supplement or an OTC medication, you need to do the same with CBD.

Here are some tips to ensure that you are as educated as possible about a CBD product before you purchase it:

  • Avoid any CBD product that makes health claims on its label or marketing information.  Since the FDA has, to date, only approved one CBD health claim (that for treating a specific form of childhood epilepsy), any company that promises its CBD will cure disease or an ailment may also be making other false claims, for example, about the purity of its product.
  • Do your research and check out the laboratory/manufacturer of the CBD product you are considering.  Only purchase from reputable companies who have their products tested by a recognized laboratory for quality and purity.
  • Purchase the isolate form of CBD .  There are other formulations, such as broad and full spectrum, for example, that may include other compounds present in the cannabis plant and not just CBD.  If you purchase anything other than isolate, you increase the risk of the product containing a compound that could trigger a positive result on a drug test. You can also check to see if the manufacturer can provide a Certificate of Analysis for its products. While this testing is not fool proof, it can go far in assuring you’re getting pure, isolate CBD. 
  • Since the CBD you may purchase most likely will have been extracted from the hemp plant (which cultivation is legal in all 50 U.S. states), try to determine in which state the source hemp was grown.  For example, states such as Colorado and Oregon have longstanding hemp farming and require rigorous testing the harvested hemp.  Also, it’s better to have the CBD extracted from hemp rather than marijuana.

If you follow all the above guidelines and you’re still concerned about an upcoming employer-required drug test, then talk with your healthcare provider about taking a short “CBD vacation” to ensure it and any possible contaminants will have been cleared from your system by the time you take the test.

Enjoy your healthy life!





Related Products

Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy