Will Using CBD Cause You to Fail a Drug Test?

CBD Using Employee

Cannabidiol (CBD) has a wealth of benefits that can be enjoyed by people in a wide range of professions. Individuals that might benefit most like athletes and military personnel are often subject to drug testing. CBD oil use and passing or failing a drug test for marijuana is a growing concern for many.

In this article, we take a look at common drug testing practices, specifics around testing for marijuana, explore how the contents of CBD products could impact the results of a drug test, and provide clear guidance to help you avoid testing positive for CBD use.

Drug Testing Basics

Drug tests or screenings are performed to test for the presence of illegal drugs or prescription medications in an individual. These tests are performed via analysis of urine, blood, saliva, or hair. The most common type of screening is urine drug testing (UDT).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) outlines testing guidelines that are followed by Federal agencies and private companies. These practices utilize a two-step testing procedure. First, a urine sample is taken and undergoes an initial screening. This less a reliable test that may result in a false positive. In the event of a positive result, a secondary confirmation test by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry or GC/MS is performed. This second test is highly accurate and reliable.

Who is Subjected to Drug Testing?

For employees, drug testing is most often performed when applying for a new job, in regular increments throughout employment, or during periods of questionable job performance including accident or safety related issues. Screening depth and frequency vary depending on where you live and your line of work. Drug testing is common for many U.S. employers, especially those in industries that involve public safety including federal transportation, airlines, railways, and hospitals.

Competitive athletes are also often subjected to regular screenings to prevent the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Athletes at professional and collegiate levels are the most common targets of this type of testing.

Drug tests may also be used as part of probation, parole, and for those with past substance abuse problems.

Which Substances are Screened for in a Drug Test?

Different drug tests screen for different substances. The level of testing depends primarily on the concerns and requirements of the employer performing the test. Most often, tests are classified by the number of panels which refers to testing for the presence of specific chemical compounds.

Generic 5 Panel Drug Test

A standard 5-panel drug test screens for the presence of the most common illegal street drugs:

  • Marijuana (presence of THC)
  • Cocaine
  • PCP
  • Opiates (incl codeine, morphine, heroin)
  • Amphetamines (incl methamphetamine)

Some employers may choose to include additional screenings in their test. By adding 3-5 additional panels, they bring the total to eight, nine, or ten panels total. These screenings look for the presence of additional prescription and street drugs including:

  • Oxycodone, Methadone or other narcotic prescription drugs
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • MDMA (Ecstacy, Molly)

Marijuana Screenings Test for the Presence of THC

1 Panel THC Marijuana Drug Test

Specific to marijuana use, it is important to understand that drug screenings are designed to detect the THC-COOH, the compound that results when the body metabolizes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the cannabinoid is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana use, it is the only compound in the plant that produces the 'high'. Common drug tests must detect at least 50 ng/ml of THC-COOH to be considered a positive result.

Most drug tests performed by any organization will check for the presence of THC. It is safe to assume that if you're drug tested, you'll be tested for marijuana.

Can Consuming CBD Oil Cause You to Fail a Drug Test?

This question has both a simple answer with an often misunderstood side note that we will address below:

The simple answer is no, consumed alone, cannabidiol (CBD) will not cause you to fail a drug test. However, many CBD products contain trace amounts of THC that could cause the user to fail a drug test.

This fact may catch many CBD users by surprise. Products containing trace amounts of THC will produce no psychoactive effects at standard dosages, yet these same products still put the user at risk for testing positive for marijuana use.

To avoid being caught off guard, there are some simple ways that you can audit and avoid CBD products that would put you at risk of failing a drug test.

Which Types of CBD Products Show up on a Drug Test Screening?


Water Soluble CBD Tincture

You may have heard the terms 'full-spectrum', 'broad-spectrum' or 'isolate' being used in CBD circles. These terms are used to reference the cannabinoid and terpene contents of a CBD product, and they help determine the overall effectiveness of the product. These terms are extremely important to our conversation here. The three different types are defined as:

  • Full-spectrum - These products contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the cannabis plant that the oil was extracted from. In the case of hemp extraction used to create CBD products, a full-spectrum extract will contain low levels of THC that may cause the user to fail a drug test.
  • Broad-spectrum - These products contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the cannabis plant that the oil was extracted from - minus THC. Through the process of chromatography, the THC cannabinoid alone is removed from the end product. The lack of THC in broad-spectrum products removes the risk of failing a drug test. These products have the benefit of maintaining maximum efficiency of the product through the entourage effect of the remaining compounds.
  • Isolate - These products undergo a special process to isolate the CBD molecule separate from any other plant compounds in crystalline form. Isolates do not contain any THC and thus will not cause the user to fail a drug test.

How Much Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Will Cause a Drug Test Failure?

Just as with marijuana use, high-dose, prolonged consumption of THC increase the likelihood of failing a drug test.

A review of anecdotal evidence on Reddit, however, revealed cases where minimal use of as little as 3-4 days may result testing positive for THC when using a full-spectrum CBD product:

  • One user failed a test after using full-spectrum 30mg capsules 2/3 times per day for an unknown amount of time.
  • One user failed a test after using 100mg of a full-spectrum CBD oil tincture per day for seizures for an unknown amount of time.
  • One user passed a test after taking a full-spectrum CBD oil tincture for 3 days ingesting 50mg of CBD and 5mg of THC over that period.
  • One user failed a test after taking an unknown dose of a full-spectrum CBD oil tincture for 3-4 days.

Can't Risk it? Explore THC-Free CBD Options

THC Free Icon

The simplest way to remove your risk of testing positive for marijuana use as a CBD user is to avoid any products that contain THC. You can do this by seeking out broad-spectrum or isolate based products.

Buyer beware - do not take any 'isolate', 'full-spectrum', 'THC-free' or similar marketing claims at face value. You should always seek out lab reports displaying a cannabinoid potency screening for the specific batch for the specific product you intend to use. Review this potency screening to verify that the product is indeed THC-free or within limits that you find to be acceptable. Reputable companies freely provide these lab reports - avoid companies that do not.

Originally Published: September 4, 2018 | Last Updated: October 1, 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles