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The Burning Question: Does CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?

Disclaimer: This post is purely for informational purposes and should not be considered medical or legal advice.

Today, we’re going to try and answer the burning question that many prospective and current CBD users have: Does CBD show up on a drug test? 

The short answer is: Yes, using CBD products can show up on a drug test.

Why Does CBD Show Up On a Drug Test?

The moderately longer answer is: Drug tests aren’t testing for Cannabidiol (CBD). They’re testing for any trace amounts of THC that may be present in your product. 

Many CBD products do actually contain trace amounts of THC, better known as the active cannabinoid in recreational marijuana. When the Farm Bill of 2018 passed, the definition of hemp became cannabis containing “a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.” 

It’s this small 0.3% allowance of THC in certain CBD products that can, in rare cases, show up on drug tests.

The Different Types of CBD

In the rest of this post, we’ll be differentiating between three different types of CBD. Let’s take a moment to define them. 

Full-Spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD is the most common form of CBD on the market. That’s because it requires the least amount of processing. Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the cannabinoids present in the hemp plant at the time of harvest, including the trace amounts of THC allowed in the aforementioned Farm Bill. 

Broad-Spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum CBD, in that it contains all cannabinoids that are present in the hemp plant at the time of harvest. That is, except for one very important cannabinoid: THC. Creating broad-spectrum CBD does require more processing and specialized equipment which makes this form of CBD harder to find and often more expensive. 

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is sometimes referred to as “pure CBD.” CBD isolate is crystalized cannabidiol separated from all of the other cannabinoids present in the hemp plant. 

What’s the Difference Between THC and CBD? 

The difference between THC and CBD lies in their atomic arrangement which allows each molecule to affect your body in radically different ways. 

THC is psychoactive and responsible for the “high” feeling of intoxication users experience when using marijuana. CBD is believed to protect the natural compounds that our bodies make and help our natural biological systems run more efficiently.

Why Does Full-Spectrum CBD Show Up On a Drug Test?

Of the three types of CBD that we listed above, full-spectrum CBD is the only kind of CBD that still contains trace amounts of THC. Even in trace amounts, the THC present in full-spectrum CBD can still build up in your system if you use enough of it. 

That means the trace amounts of THC present in the following CBD categories can show up in drug tests should you use them frequently.

Hemp Flower

You’ll never find CBD hemp flower that’s completely THC-free; the genetics simply don’t exist yet. You may be able to find CBG hemp flower that has nearly zero total THC. 

Full-spectrum CBD Tinctures

Most tinctures will indicate whether or not they are full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or made with isolate as there are pros and cons to each. More full-spectrum tincture users report that they find them to be more effective than isolate or broad-spectrum tinctures, but again, they do contain trace amounts of THC. 

CBD Edibles 

Not too many CBD edibles are made with full-spectrum CBD extract— if the edibles are too strong, they will have a bit of a dopey taste. Sunset Lake’s CBD Chocolate Fudge does contain full-spectrum CBD hemp extract meaning that it contains trace amounts of THC. 

CBD Topicals

An exception to the full-spectrum rule— full-spectrum CBD topicals that contain small amounts of THC should not lead to a positive drug test. These external products should be safe to use because the cannabinoids will never actually enter your bloodstream.

Why Don’t CBD Isolate or Broad-Spectrum CBD Show Up On a Drug Test? 

Because of advancements in cannabis science, we can produce forms of CBD that don’t contain any trace of THC. 

Broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate are both forms of CBD with no THC included. Products containing either of these forms of CBD shouldn’t show up on a drug test. 

There are a few drawbacks with broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate products such as effectiveness and price. Both can be more expensive than full-spectrum CBD and not work as desired. 

How To Find Out if Your CBD Shows Up on a Drug Test? 

A good way to figure out if your CBD will show up on a drug test is by looking at your product’s certificate of analysis

All CBD vendors and retailers are required to have third-party analysis documents available. You can actually see all of Sunset Lake CBD’s certificates of analysis here. 

The first thing you’ll want to check is the cannabinoid summary— sometimes called the potency report. It will look like this:

Cannabinoid table of a certificate of analysis

You should see two numbers, one for “Total THC” and another for “Total CBD.” The latter is good to figure out your own CBD dosing schedule, but we’re more focused on the former for the purposes of this piece. 

If you’re worried about whether or not your CBD will show up on a drug test, look for products that contain 0.0% “Total THC.”

How Much THC Will Make Me Test Positive? 

Drug tests work by screening one of THC’s main metabolites, Carboxy-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH), or a piece of what’s left over after your body processes THC. 

Back in 2017, federal workplace drug testing thresholds were established to address the possibility of trace amounts of THC-COOH triggering a positive test. In other words, passing a drug test doesn’t mean that there isn’t any THC-COOH in your system. It means that the amount of THC-COOH in your system is so low as to not register above the threshold level. 

Different testing methods have different thresholds.

Urine Testing

Drug testing more often than not is done via urine test. 

In urine-testing, the THC-COOH threshold is 50 nanograms per mL. (One nanogram equals one billionth of a gram.)

THC-COOH is generally detectable in urine for approximately 3 to 14 days after use. In heavier cannabis users, THC-COOH may be present in urine for 30 days or longer. 

Saliva Testing

Saliva testing is less common than urine testing as there are no established thresholds for THC-COOH in saliva. 

That, and THC metabolites are detectable in saliva for around 72 hours— longer in heavier cannabis users. 

Hair Follicle Testing

Private industries do utilize hair testing to an extent. The most common threshold used in hair testing is around one picogram THC-COOH per milligram of hair. (A picogram is one trillionth of a gram.)

THC metabolites are detectable in hair for up to 90 days.

How Else Can CBD Show Up On A Drug Test? 

There are a few other reasons that CBD can show up on a drug test that you should be aware of. 

Product Cross-Contamination 

During any manufacturing process, there is the potential for cross-contamination, even when THC is present in trace amounts. 

Cross-contamination is much more likely to happen in facilities that manufacture both CBD and THC products, though it can still happen in CBD-exclusive facilities if broad-spectrum and isolate products are contaminated by full-spectrum CBD. 

Product Mislabeling

CBD products are not yet controlled via rigorous regulations meaning that while all CBD vendors should be getting their products tested by a neutral third party— a lot of them aren’t. 

Mislabeling and misrepresentation are unfortunately common throughout the cannabis industry as a whole. A CBD product labeled as THC-free may still contain THC, and it’s unlikely that the buyer will have any method of recourse. 

The best way you can help combat misrepresentation is by asking your CBD for their third-party certificates of analysis. 

The Takeaway: Does CBD Show Up On A Drug Test? 

If you’re taking full-spectrum CBD frequently or semi-frequently, then yes, your CBD may show up on your drug test. 

If you’re taking broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate products. Which you should be able to confirm by looking at a certificate of analysis, then you shouldn’t test positive on a routine drug test.

Updated February 18, 2022

Sources

“CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Pre-Review Report.” Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, World Health Organization 10 Nov. 2017

“Farm Bill.” USDA, United State Department of Agriculture, 2018, www.usda.gov/farmbill.

Moeller, Karen E., et al. “Clinical Interpretation of Urine Drug Tests.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, no. 5, Elsevier BV, May 2017, pp. 774–96. Crossref, doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.12.007.