CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the second most frequently used active ingredients of hemp. CBD is derived directly from hemp plant, a relative of Cannabis sativa. CBD is the main active ingredient in hemp and does not cause a “high.” There have been no reports to suggest pure CBD could cause any health related issues.
CBD is a very popularly used natural remedy for many common ailments because of its anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and anti-anxiety properties. It is also used for insomnia as a sleeping aid. CBD can be found in the market in many forms such as CBD oil, edibles, tinctures, vape oil, sublingual drops, pills, capsules, creams, latte, lotions, etc.
CBD aids in the treatment of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety because of its psychotropic effects, but does not have similar intoxicating features of THC.
Both THC and CBD are elements of a chemical class called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are plants oils, and cannabis is loaded with more than 100 versions of them.
It should be noted that hemp is almost devoid of THC, a chemical in weed that causes a high. Legally, hemp should not contain more than 0.3% THC to be considered hemp.
Is CBD Hemp-Derived or Weed-Derived?
CBD can be derived either from Cannabis sativa or Cannabis Indica plants. Hemp is Cannabis sativa whereas weed is either Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica.
The hemp plants usually produce more of CBD while weed plants produce more of THC. Therefore, there is a substantial difference between hemp-derived and weed-derived CBD products. The hemp-derived CBD contains less than 0.3% of THC while the weed-derived CBD contains 0.3% or more THC.
Hemp-derived CBD products are federally legal as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC, thus lower chances of side-effects and addiction.
If CBD is not extracted properly, it could contain higher concentrations of THC, which may possibly show up on a drug test. Some hemp-derived CBD products end up containing more than 0.3% THC due to minimal FDA regulations.
Can CBD Surface on a Drug Test?
CBD does not show up on a drug test, but THC compound present in CBD products will cause a positive result.
Most CBD products contain trace amounts of THC (an active element of weed). A drug test can detect the presence of THC in the body if CBD products are consumed on a regular basis. The product’s quality and composition also matters.
According to Food and Drug Administration (FDA), products containing more than 0.3% THC are illegal and the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has classified them as a Schedule I drug.
Most CBD products are not regulated and standardized. Thus, it is difficult to find the ingredients present in the cannabidiol even if they are legally approved in the United States. The factors such as CBD harvesting and CBD extraction may also lead to THC contamination. Some types of CBD tend to have less amounts of THC in them compared to others.
Different Types of CBD
Cannabis plants contain hundreds of compounds that occur naturally including:
The chemical composition may vary according to the plant variety and breed. Harvesting and refining process can also change the compounds appearing in CBD.
Different Types of CBD Extracts
1. Full-Spectrum CBD
- Full-spectrum CBD extracts contain all the naturally occurring compounds in the plant after extraction. In other words, the extracts contain CBD, terpene, flavonoid and other cannabinoids such as THC.
- Full-spectrum CBD is usually extracted from weed subspecies.
- Weed-derived CBD oil may have variable amounts of THC.
- Hemp-derived CBD oil needs to have less than 0.3% THC legally.
- Most manufacturers do not furnish details about the extract derivativeness, so it is difficult to evaluate THC quantity in the given product.
- Full-spectrum CBD products are available in the form of oils, edibles, tinctures, topical creams and serums.
2. Broad-Spectrum CBD
- Broad-spectrum CBD products contain additional compounds including terpene and other cannabinoids found in the plant.
- During refining, all of the THC compounds are removed.
- Broad-spectrum CBD is not widely available and often sold in the form as oil.
3. CBD Isolate
- CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD and all the additional compounds from the plant are refined after extraction.
- CBD isolate is typically extracted from hemp plants.
- Hemp-based CBD isolates does not contain THC.
- CBD isolate products are available in the form of oil, tincture, crystalline powder or small solid blocks that can be consumed by breaking it into pieces.
It must be noted that products labeled “THC-free” may still contain traces of THC. It’s advisable to check the packaging labels.
Some of the potential therapeutic effects of CBD are:
- Reduces inflammation
- Prevents nausea and vomiting
- Relieves pain
- Controls anxiety, psychosis
- Promotes neuro-protection
CBD is assumed to boost serotonin levels in the brain and provoke the production of new neurons in the hippocampus, where emotions and mood evolve. Though this theory is not yet proven, CBD manufacturers market their products with promotional statements regarding its therapeutic benefits.
Approved CBD should contain less than 0.3% THC. Not all CBD products disclose their complete list of ingredients and consumers may not be aware of additional components, which may cause side effects.
Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?
CBD doesn’t show up on the drug test because there are no tests specifically designed to detect its presence in the body. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Controlled Substances Act forbids the possession of weed and states that CBD is not considered an illicit substance. The target is THC, which is the active psychotropic agent in weed.
Drug tests screen for THC or its metabolites. Passing a drug test doesn’t mean that there isn’t any THC or its metabolites present in the system. A negative drug test suggests that the amount of THC is below the cut-off level.
Different drug testing methods have different cut-off values and detection windows.
1. Urine Drug Testing
- This is the most commonly used drug testing method for cannabis, especially in workplace.
- In urine, a concentration of 50 ng/mL for THC will trigger a positive test.
- THC metabolites can be detected in urine for approximately 3 to 15 days after last use.
- Detection windows vary according to dose and frequency of use.
- The more frequent the cannabis use, the longer the detection period; more than 30 days.
2. Blood Drug Testing
- THC gets quickly eliminated from the bloodstream, so blood tests are less commonly used for workplace drug screening.
- THC can be detected in the plasma for up to 5 hours and THC metabolites for up to 7 days.
- Blood tests can indicate current impairment, such as driving under the influence.
- THC concentration in blood of 1, 2 or 5 ng/mL indicates impairment in cannabis legalized states, whereas other states have zero-tolerance policy.
3. Saliva Drug Testing
- Saliva testing is not a commonly used method for THC testing.
- No established cut-off limits for THC detection in saliva.
- THC can be detected in oral fluids for about 72 hours. In heavy and chronic use, it may be detectable for much longer period.
4. Hair Drug Testing
- Hair testing is also not a commonly used method for THC testing.
- No established cut-off limits for THC metabolite detection in hair.
- Private industries follow cut-off limit of 1 pg/mg for THC-COOH.
- THC metabolites can be detected in hair for up to about 90 days.
What might cause CBD use to result in a positive test result for THC?
CBD use can lead to a positive drug test result due to some of the possibilities below:
- Cross-Contamination: This can occur during manufacturing process even if only trace amounts of THC are present. Products labeled “CBD only” may contain traces of THC if it’s around other substances containing THC.
- Secondhand exposure to THC: Positive drug test result may occur if exposed to secondhand weed smoke. There are research studies indicating the absorption of THC via secondhand smoke depend on the size of the weed, potency and ventilation of the area.
- Product mislabeling: CBD products are not systematically regulated and no proper protocols to test their actual composition. Research studies indicate that some CBD-only products did contain THC in them. So, product mislabeling is also common in this industry.
- Reagents in Drug Tests Can Convert CBD into THC: Some labs still use the GC-MS method to analyze drugs that are nonvolatile, polar or thermally labile. To identify drugs easily, certain reagents are added to the specimens and run through the GC-MS machine. The CBD gets converted into THC under acidic conditions. Hence, if a person has been consuming only CBD and not THC, then this test may report a false positive for THC.
Can CBD transform into THC in the body?
CBD can turn into THC under acidic conditions. There are speculations that this chemical transformation also occurs in the human stomach.
Earlier in-vitro studies in 2016 indicated that simulated gastric fluid could turn CBD into THC. But it was later concluded that in-vitro conditions don’t represent the actual conditions and similar transformation doesn’t appear to occur in a human stomach. It was also pointed out that there were no reported side effects of CBD similar to those associated with THC.
How to ensure a CBD product doesn’t contain THC?
If considering using CBD, it is important to do extensive research on the products available. There are some CBD products that are safe to use.
Before purchasing a CBD product, remember to:
- Read information about the product
- Check if the product is hemp-derived or weed-derived
- Check if the CBD is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or CBD isolate (pure)
- Opt products that list the amount of CBD
- Check for concentration of CBD per dose (may vary for different products such as oil, tincture, edible, lotions and so on)
- Check the place of manufacture for hemp-derived CBD products
- High concentrated CBD products are generally very expensive irrespective of their size and quantity compared to other products.
- Start using a low-dose product if possible and then gradually move on to higher doses.
Of note, the CBD products derived from weed and full-spectrum CBD products derived from hemp are more likely to contain THC. The quality of hemp varies in different states. Colorado and Oregon are most reputable states and have longstanding hemp industries and rigorous testing guidelines. Opting hemp-derived CBD products from these states may be beneficial.
How to Address a Positive THC Test if using CBD Products?
In general, initial drug tests do not measure the quantity of a drug. If suspected failed drug test due to CBD use, sensitive method such as GC-MS or RP-HPLC can be done to confirm the result. Confirmatory tests are used to identify specific drug and the amount of metabolite present.
Does CBD Vape Oil Show Up On The Drug Test?
There is no evidence to suggest CBD has caused any false positives, but CBD products with high THC content can contribute to positive drug test.
Accidental THC exposures from CBD products are not unusual. People who ingested CBD-infused gummy bear have tested positive for THC as well as people who claimed to have used CBD only products.
People who vaped pure CBD and consumed pure CBD capsules did not get positive results. Studies also show that people who use legal hemp-derived products for medical intent rarely do not test positive, but repeated use may accumulate THC and its metabolites in the system.
Since the popularity of using CBD is growing quickly, people should be wary of single dose or cumulative THC exposure as these now legal products may cause an unexpected positive drug test.
Regulation of 9-THC content and accurate labeling in CBD/hemp products may prevent unexpected positive result on a drug test and inadvertent drug effects.
Regular users of CBD vape oil should take necessary steps to avoid a positive drug test. They can use high quality CO2-extracted CBD vape juice. They should check for the THC concentration in the vape oil before they purchase.
Vaping is considered less harmful than smoking because of its low toxicity. CBD also aids in the recovery from habituation such as smoking cigarettes.
Is There a Drug Test For CBD Oil?
An average drug test will not screen for the presence of CBD. Since CBD is a chemical substance that the body metabolizes, specific test can be formulated for detection.
To conduct a CBD oil drug test in specific, the company or an entity has to pay extra amount to the testing agency in order to change their testing process to include CBD. If this non-intoxicating compound does not affect employee’s ability to work, then it is not required to have a CBD oil drug test.
Individuals using CBD products must ensure that they consume high-quality CBD products that have zero THC such as crystalline powder or distillate products to pass the drug test.
Can you fail a drug test due to CBD use?
A person can fail a drug test if consumes CBD product that contains THC and its metabolites. For CBD to be legal, it should be approved with certified strains of less than 0.3% THC. Even though these THC concentrations will not have any effect on the cognitive function, it might be detected in the normal drug test.
According to the SAMHSA standards, the recommended THC cutoff level is 50 ng/mL to pass a drug test. Most CBD products are usually sold with lower levels of THC, so most CBD consumers won’t find it difficult to pass a drug test. If CBD or hemp oil is consumed at high levels, there may be a possibility of false positive result on a drug test. In the event of a false positive result, a follow-up test can provide more definitive results.
Each drug test has different detection threshold limits. There are certain parameters such as frequency of CBD usage, strength of CBD oil and the person’s ability to metabolize the cannabinoids used to determine the trace amounts of THC.
To avoid testing positive for traces of THC and its metabolites, one should:
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated before taking the test.
- Stop taking weed for four to six weeks before testing.
- Stop taking CBD with THC compound for at least a week before the test.
NOTE: If hair and nail specimens are collected as part of testing, it may yield a positive result for traces of THC due to their longer detection period.
In general, no person will fail a drug test because of CBD, but may fail in some cases due to THC residue in the CBD product. Usually, drug testing companies mainly look for the traces of THC, which is the main active ingredient in weed. Other factors such as CBD dosage and length of use, and polypharmacy may influence the success or failure of a drug test.
How Long Does CBD Stay In Your System?
In general, CBD stays for around 2 to 5 days in the human body depending on its usage. People use CBD either by ingesting, inhaling or applying CBD topically. Most people take an oral supplement such as CBD oil drops or use CBD emollients.
It usually takes 20 to 30 minutes for the CBD oil to take effect after ingestion. The length of time it takes to leave the body depends on several factors including serving size, administration route (edibles, vaping, oil, tincture, etc.), taken with food or on an empty stomach, weight, age, etc.
CBD may take between 1 to 2 days or on the outside of 4 to 25 days to leave the system though there aren’t many reliable studies to determine this. There are determinations that urine test can detect THC metabolites between 10 to 15 days if used daily, may vary depending on the serving and usage frequency.
How Does the Body Process CBD?
People who consume CBD orally, the digestive system first processes the compound, it goes into the stomach and then ending up in the liver. Some of the CBD molecules are broken down by the liver and the rest is passed on to the bloodstream.
Some people place a few drops of CBD under their tongue. Here, the membranes in the mouth transfer this compound directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the liver. This is quite effective in getting most benefits out of the CBD oil.
Some people inhale CBD. After inhalation, the compounds get absorbed through the lungs (alveoli). Then the CBD molecules are sent directly to the bloodstream. However, it should be noted that vaping can cause internal injuries and even death.
After ingestion, the CBD molecules reach the bloodstream and the liver sorts through all the compounds and metabolize for disposal. The metabolites are eliminated out of the body system through urine or feces.
When used topically, most of the CBD never enters the bloodstream. It affects the skin receptors that render localized improvements in skin health.
There are several factors that determine the timeframe the CBD remains detectable in the body, to include:
- Metabolism: Metabolism plays a key role on how fast the CBD metabolism takes place and eliminated from the body. There may be variations in CBD effects if taken with food or on an empty stomach. Certain foods can increase bioavailability and overall CBD concentration in the body.
- Frequency of CBD Use: The frequency of CBD usage will also determine the time period it remains in the body.
- CBD Dose: The amount of CBD taken at a time will determine how long it remains in the system.
- Method of Administration: The CBD effects and the presence of CBD in the system will depend on how the cannabinoid goes into the body. The effect of smoking or vaping CBD is almost immediate, whereas when taken orally, the onset of effect will be after an hour or two.
- Drug Interaction: CBD may interfere with the metabolism of other drugs, thus speeding up or prolonging the time to excrete CBD from the body.
- Age: Age also plays a vital role in metabolism. Older people may metabolize CBD compounds slower than young people do.
Single-use CBD, even if taken highest dose, does not stay in the system for more than 7 days. However, in chronic and heavy users, it may take a week or more for the CBD to be completely eliminated out of the body. If the CBD is not completely excreted from the body after each use, the concentrations may accumulate overtime in the bloodstream and fat storage.
Points to Ponder
- Most CBD products are hemp-derived and contain THC less than 0.3%, which is federally legal.
- Weed-derived CBD contains 0.3% or more THC, so it is federally illegal.
- Identify the amount of THC present in CBD products before purchasing. THC should be nil or less than 0.3%.
- Many CBD products are commercialized for medical purposes due to minimal regulations by the Government.
- Opt for pure CBD products to get most benefits.
- Find out if the CBD product is contaminated with higher amounts of THC.
Though THC less than 0.3% is legal, different types of drug tests still follow variable thresholds for detecting THC. For example, an average urine drug test detects THC if cut-off level is above 50 ng/mL. Though consuming pure CBD with THC less than 0.3% has least chances of producing a positive urine drug test, one can still get a positive urine drug test if the amount of THC consumption exceeds 50 ng/mL.
CBD may yield a positive THC test if certain reagents are added during GC-MS analysis. The CBD gets converted into THC under acidic conditions, which contributes to a false-positive result for THC.
If an employee fails the drug test due to CBD use, confirmatory test such as GC-MS or RP-HPLC can be done for conclusive results.