Cannabidiol oil, known as CBD, is one of the primary cannabinoids found in marijuana. Unlike THC, it’s not psychoactive, so it’s not used recreationally. No large studies have been conducted to elucidate any health benefits, but CBD is FDA approved for intractable seizures in patients with Dravet Syndrome.

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Since it comes from the cannabis plant, it’s common to wonder if CBD shows up on a drug test, but it’s not something you should worry about. Drug tests that are trying to pin cannabis use are looking for THC or THC metabolites, not CBD.  Assays typically look for Delta-9-THC which stays in serum and urine for days to weeks. Older tests may have caused false-positives but new ones are pretty specific.

“Because CBD is chemically distinct from THC, it is unlikely that pure CBD would be detected in these types of drug tests,” says Brenda Gannon, a toxicologist and laboratory director at Steep Hill Arkansas. “However, hemp-based CBD products often contain trace amounts of THC.”

I Only Smoke CBD, Why Did I Fail My Drug Test?

Assorted cannabis products, pills and cbd oil over medical prescription sheet - medical marijuana concept iStock / rgbspace
If you were to test positive for marijuana but you only intake CBD, it’s most likely because the CBD you’re taking it’s mixed with THC. To be considered CBD, a product must have less than .3% THC content, which is extremely unlikely to affect a drug test.

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“If the product contains only CBD and has had the THC removed, then an individual being tested would not be expected to test positive for marijuana or marijuana metabolite,” said Barry Sample, Quest Diagnostics Director of Science and Technology.

With the passage of The Farm Bill of 2018, the FDA is now in charge of regulating all hemp based CBD products. While CBD has always fallen under FDA jurisdiction, until recently it was federally illegal, so there was no need to regulate its usage.

In its statement, the FDA emphasizes that although hemp is no longer an illegal substance under federal law, the FDA continues to regulate cannabis products under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FD&C Act”) and Section 351 of the Public Health Service Act.

In fact, as of recently, the FDA has taken the position that CBD cannot be legally sold in either supplements or foods, even though the Farm Bill of 2018 removed hemp (THC <0.3%) from list of controlled substances. However, when purchasing CBD online, you could still run the risk of purchasing from illegitimate vendors and consuming CBD that is advertised as being hemp-based, when really it isn’t.

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How Do I Know If My CBD Is Laced With THC?

CBD & THC Chemistry If you want to rest assured that your CBD does not contain enough trace amounts of THC to show up on a drug test, you’ll want to look into your brand and strain’s origin, as well as reviews from other consumers.

Knowing where your CBD comes from and how it’s extracted can help you confirm that it’s pure. For instance, if your CBD comes straight from hemp, it’s unlikely to have any THC in it as hemp is essentially void of THC (unless the product has been tampered with.)

Though they are both types of cannabis and contain CBD, hemp and marijuana are totally different plants, with hemp containing no psychoactive properties and able to be sold in various products even in states where cannabis is not legal.

CBD extracted from the marijuana plant, however, has the possibility of being cross-contaminated with THC, as the plant it was taken from still contains the psychoactive ingredient. Buying from a trusted retailer is also important, as mislabeling of a product is the most likely way that your CBD oil would contain more THC than you thought.

Low quality oil taken from a marijuana plant could be advertised as pure CBD taken from hemp and we could be none the wiser. A recent study published by Penn Medicine found that almost 70 percent of CBD products bought from online retailers were not labeled accurately, so you definitely want to be careful.

Does The Type Of CBD I Use Matter?

There are three types of CBD—full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. A product is classified as on of these three types according to the contents of the refined extract taken from the original plant.

  • CBD Isolate - CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, which only extracts CBD and isolates it from other compounds like terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids. It’s typically taken from hemp and is unlikely to have significant if any levels of THC.
  • Full Spectrum - Full spectrum CBD contains all the compounds found in the plant that it’s taken from. This allows the CBD to work in tandem with its fellow cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils to enhance its ability to remedy certain symptoms. Full spectrum is thought to be a more effective CBD product than the isolate, but is also more likely to contain trace amounts of THC.
  • Broad Spectrum - Broad spectrum is where full spectrum and CBD isolate meet in the middle. It contains many compounds other than CBD, but the THC is completely removed. Like with full spectrum, broad spectrum’s other terpenes and cannabinoids help magnify the CBD’s effectiveness, but there’s little to no risk of coming into contact with THC.

Does CBD Affect My THC Levels?

cannabis oil pen on cannabis leaf Though CBD oil itself is unlikely to show up on a drug test, it could enhance THC’s ability to stick around in your body if you’re smoking as well. A recent study found that CBD may affect your body’s hepatic metabolism, slowing down its ability to process THC resulting in higher serum/brain levels of THC.

If you’re a consistent THC consumer who also uses CBD, you may show higher THC concentrations for a longer period of time than you would if you just smoked. There is also data to suggest that there is in vivo conversion of CBD to THC in the acidic conditions of the stomach. As such, excessive CBD usage may also lead false positives.

Final Thoughts

Though your CBD could technically carry traces of THC, they are unlikely to be large enough to fool a drug test into a false positive. Still, whether you’re taking a drug test or not, it’s a good idea to do some research regarding how the CBD oil is extracted and whether your retailer is legitimate so that you can make sure you’re getting the best product for your buck. The last thing you want is to buy shady CBD oil that doesn’t actually serve its purpose and could actually cost you your job.