The 2018 Farm Bill made it legal for farmers to grow hemp plants with less than .3% THC. CBD went from barely legal to being showcased on grocery store shelves and infused into your favorite snack foods. While people are using CBD for everything from arthritis to anxiety to adding a splash of flavor to their favorite summer drinks, there are still questions about drug testing. Can CBD cause you to fail a drug test? The answer is complicated.
CBD is made from the hemp plant, not from marijuana. Drug tests typically only screen for THC – the compound in cannabis that gets you “high” – or one of the compounds created when your body metabolizes it, but there are stories of people being fired for using CBD products. Let’s talk about how that could be possible.
How Can CBD Impact a Drug Test?
CBD can influence drug test results in a couple of ways. First, it could be the product is mislabeled by intent or by accident. Drug tests look for THC, not CBD. Not all companies are practicing honesty in their labeling, and this could influence drug test results. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that out of 84 products purchased from 31 online CBD retailers, only 31% were accurately labeled. Some products were found to contain small levels of THC which were not reflected in the labeling. CBD is considered legal if it contains less than .3% THC, but some of the products in the JAMA report found THC concentrations up to 6.43 milligrams per milliliter.
Part of the problem is states use different measures for THC within the hemp plant. Some of the high levels could be because the dry plant was measured before being processed into hemp oil. It could be that the buds or flowers were measured instead of the whole plant.
Trace amounts of THC are allowed in CBD products. These trace amounts can build up in the body over time with regular use resulting in a detectable level of THC. This is the second way CBD products can result in a failed drug test. THC is fat-soluble, meaning any THC that is not immediately used by the body will be stored in fat cells and slowly metabolize. This means CBD products that contain THC could build up in the body and be detectable in a drug test.
How to Avoid a THC-Positive Drug Test
If you know you have a potential drug test coming up, there are several ways you can work to ensure that it is THC-free:
- Ensure the product you are using is THC-free. Check the labels online and take a few minutes to do an online chat or phone call with a customer service representative from the company.
- Research the brand before you buy. Double-check the product against the JAMA report, read reviews and ask questions before you make a final purchase.
- Check for a COA Certificate of Analysis. A Certificate of Analysis is a document issued by Quality Assurance that confirms that a regulated product meets its product specification. That’s a bunch of fancy words that mean a COA assures that the product contains what it says it contains on the label. Look for COA or Lab Results on a product’s website.
- Do not use CBD daily in the days before the test. Doctors say you need to be THC-free for two to three weeks to clear the THC from your system and pass a drug test.
What If You Fail a Drug Test Due to CBD?
If you fail a drug test and have been using a THC-free CBD product, talk with your employer or HR department. It is helpful if you have discussed your CBD use with a doctor and connected it with a diagnosis or medical condition. Any documentation you can provide could help make your case. Ask HR if you can retest a few weeks later and stop using CBD until the test.