If you’ve been taking CBD oil under the assumption that it didn’t have any THC in it, you could be mistaken. While CBD won’t get you high, many products on the market today (even those made from hemp) do contain trace amounts of THC. For those who are subject to drug tests or screenings, this can present an obvious problem.
You don’t have to search too hard online to find folks who failed a drug test after taking CBD oil (or other types of CBD products). There are products out there called ‘CBD isolates,’ which are supposedly 100% THC-free. However, product labeling cannot always be trusted due to the minimal regulations that surround the current hemp/CBD market.
Failed a drug test after using CBD? You’re not alone. While some CBD oils claim to be THC-free, product labeling is not always 100% accurate.
It’s our goal to get to the bottom of how you may have had a failed drug test after taking CBD oil. While it’s unlikely that CBD will make you fail a drug screening, it does happen from time to time.
If you’re one of the few who have not been so fortunate, this article is for you. We’ll discuss the various types of CBD products that are out there, as well as potential differences between products for sale online and products for sale in places like medical cannabis dispensaries.
First, though, let’s take a look at some basic drug screening and employer/employee relationships here in the US. We’ll discuss what you can do (if anything) in the event of having to explain a failed drug test due to CBD oil.
Do Drug Tests Even Look for CBD?
Employers perform drug tests to check for all kinds of illicit substances. This includes, of course, marijuana. Many companies craft their own drug testing policies (as long as they follow applicable law) and frequently make hiring decisions based on the results of a candidate’s screening.
In the majority of cases, employers abide by SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) guidelines. This keeps them protected in a legal sense. A typical drug screen for marijuana uses a urine sample to detect the presence of THC or one of its metabolites (i.e., THC-COOH).
In other words, most drug tests don’t look for the presence of CBD. Rather, they look for THC – marijuana’s psychoactive component. The problem lies in the fact that some CBD oils do, in fact, contain trace amounts of THC.
At less than 0.3% in hemp-based oils, these trace amounts are negligible in terms of producing a high. They are not negligible, unfortunately, when it comes to showing up on a drug test.
So how can you know whether the CBD oil you consume has enough THC in it to fail a drug test? Well, there’s no real clear answer to this. We can, however, take a look at some cutoff figures to help get a better idea.
THC Cutoff Levels & How They Relate to Failing a Drug Test After Taking CBD Oil
As per SAMHSA, the cutoff limit for the presence of THC in an individual’s system is 50 ng/mL. Any detection of THC over this amount can result in a failed drug test.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of variables and contributing factors that influence the specific amount of THC that is present in a person’s body at any one moment. These include things like metabolism, body mass index, gender, and more.
It is extremely difficult to gauge exactly how much cannabis (or CBD oil) it would take to surpass the 50 ng/mL cutoff.
It’s even more difficult to gauge when talking about the small, trace amounts of THC that are present in a standard bottle of CBD oil. Say an individual takes a large (i.e., 1,000 mg) dose of CBD oil that contains up to 0.3% THC. This could theoretically result in the ingestion of 3 mg of THC.
On a urine test that scans for the presence of THC or its metabolites, this could result in a failed drug. (For reference, a standard-sized joint with high-quality marijuana will contain about 50 mg of THC; an amount that will cause most individuals to fail a drug test).
Why CBD Shouldn’t Make You Fail Your Test
At more “regular” doses (i.e., 3-5 servings per day of standard CBD hemp oil), the estimated THC consumption is around 0.5 mg. This amount would produce a failed drug test less than 0.2% of the time.
According to these numbers, you have about a 1-in-500 chance of failing a drug test after taking normal daily servings of CBD oil made from hemp. Still, users must be wary of the fact that not all CBD oil labels out there are accurate. And certainly, the quality of all of them is not equal either.
Knowing the Different Types of CBD Oil Can Lower Your Risk of Failing a Drug Test
If you want to take CBD oil but are worried about failing a drug test for marijuana, your best bet is to use an oil that has 0% THC. Oils with zero percent THC content are generally known as CBD isolate oils. These products contain nothing other than the CBD compound by itself.
Here’s a brief list of other types of cannabis oils and CBD oils:
Cannabis oils/tinctures are typically only found in licensed dispensaries in states that offer legal medical or recreational marijuana. If you’re using cannabis oil, make sure you know and understand the oil’s cannabinoid content. This should be clearly printed on the label of the bottle. Unlike hemp CBD oil products (see below), product labels from state-licensed dispensaries can usually be trusted.
Still, cannabis oils and tinctures can be made from all types of marijuana strains. Some oils, for instance, will contain extremely high levels of THC that will almost certainly cause you to fail a drug test. If you’re concerned about THC content for drug testing purposes, make sure to ask the people in the dispensary for cannabis oil that is 100% THC-free.
CBD Oil from Hemp
Most CBD oils that you see for sale today come from industrial hemp – a distinct cultivar of the Cannabis sativa L. plant. Hemp contains THC levels of less than 0.3% by dry weight. As we discussed above, even a THC content at these levels can cause an individual to fail a drug test – especially if the CBD oil is consumed on a frequent or daily basis.
Furthermore, the specific THC content in a CBD oil made from hemp is not always accurate – regardless of what the product label might say. In fact, there are few regulations on the current CBD oil market, and thus a lack of oversight regarding things like label accuracy.
Full-spectrum CBD oils may contain trace amounts of THC. These trace amounts could show up on a drug screening, resulting in a failed test.
The bottom line is that, when it comes to CBD oils made from hemp, users are not 100% in the clear when it comes to passing a drug test. Go online and do a simple Google search, for instance, and you’ll find no shortage of people on forums who claim they failed a drug test after taking CBD oil made from hemp.
Full-Spectrum / Broad-Spectrum / Isolate CBD Oils
CBD oils made from hemp are often further categorized into full-spectrum CBD oils, broad-spectrum CBD oils, or CBD isolate oils. Full-spectrum oils contain all of the plant-based phytocompounds that are found in hemp. This includes both CBD and THC. If you want to use CBD oil but are worried about failing a drug test, full-spectrum products are probably not your best choice.
Broad-spectrum CBD oils, on the other hand, are oils that have been made from hemp but have had all traces of THC removed. These products contain most of the natural compounds found in hemp (i.e., cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc.), except for the trace amounts of THC.
And then you’ve got CBD isolate oils. These oils supposedly contain nothing but the CBD compound, all by itself. They should never result in a failed drug test. Unfortunately, not all products are labeled accurately. On more than one occasion, trace amounts of THC have been found in products labeled as CBD isolates.
“Why Did I Fail a Drug Test After Taking CBD Oil?” (Here are Some Reasons)
The most obvious – and likely – reason why someone would fail a drug test after taking CBD oil is that the oil contains small amounts of THC. As we discussed above, almost all marijuana drug screenings test for the presence of THC metabolites in your system. THC is the compound in cannabis that makes people high. CBD does not produce that same effect. We are not aware of any drug tests that specifically test for the presence of CBD, or any of its metabolites.
And even with products that are labeled ‘THC-free,’ you’re not entirely in the clear. Even in licensed dispensaries, for example, CBD oils have been found to contain contradictory levels of cannabinoids compared to the levels that are listed on the label.
There are other unlikely but not impossible reasons why you might have failed a drug test after taking CBD oil. If a manufacturer produces both THC-free CBD isolate products and high-THC marijuana products, they could potentially contaminate the isolate with residue from a high-THC extract.
It may be a 1-in-a-million chance, but there is a hypothetical possibility. And this goes for any CBD product, whether you buy CBD oil online or from an in-store dispensary.
Second Hand THC Exposure
Another reason you might’ve failed a drug test after taking CBD oil is you were simply exposed to THC unknowingly. Believe it or not, this is more common than you might think. There are several different ways that you can be second-handedly exposed to THC without even realizing it.
For example, you can inhale enough second-hand marijuana smoke to fail a drug test if the people around are smoking heavily in your vicinity. This is especially true if you’re hanging around in a poorly-ventilated room (i.e., a small indoor concert venue or an Amsterdam coffeeshop) for hours on end.
Although rare, it is possible to fail a drug test after secondhand exposure to THC.
Of course, to fail a drug test after second-hand THC exposure, you probably would’ve had to have been exposed to THC the day (or maybe two days) before your test. Otherwise, there’s little chance that second-hand smoke could be potent enough to linger around in your system.
Failed Drug Test, CBD Oil, and the Myth of Digestive Stomach Acids
There are some resources out there that may suggest you failed a drug test after taking CBD oil because the CBD molecularly broke down into THC after interacting with low-pH acids in your stomach and digestive system.
Indeed, evidence was published suggesting that CBD isomerizes into THC when exposed to highly acidic compounds like Simulated Gastric Fluid (SGF). There was a controversy not too long ago regarding a research paper published in the academic journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. In the paper, researchers noted that CBD degrades into psychoactive compounds by converting into THC via the presence of gastric acid.
However, it came to light via a Project CBD article that some of the co-authors of the paper were scientists employed by a pharmaceutical company that, coincidentally, was gathering data for the release of its new transdermal CBD patch. The Project CBD article suggests the paper was published in order to make the transdermal patch look like a safer option than oral CBD oil.
Regardless, it is, in fact, true that CBD can break down into THC in the presence of acids. But, according to at least one other scientific publication, this is unlikely to occur under normal circumstances in humans.
Is CBD Isolate a Fool-Proof Way of Passing a Drug Test?
If your concern is failing a drug test because of CBD oil, you’re better off using a CBD isolate oil than a full-spectrum CBD oil. Still, nothing is guaranteed in today’s loosely-regulated market. If you want to be safe beyond the shadow of a doubt, simply wait until the drug test is over to start taking your CBD.
Of course, that’s if you have a scheduled drug test and can plan accordingly. The more difficult scenario is for those people who are subject to frequent/periodic drug testing at random times throughout the year. This can include individuals on parole, individuals in work release programs, in pain management clinics, or even government employees who are subject to zero-tolerance drug policies and randomized drug testing.
The sad reality is that, in the past, there have been hard-working, 100% drug-free people who have lost their jobs after taking CBD oil with trace amounts of THC in it. For people in situations like this – i.e., people who need to use CBD but are subject to periodic drug testing – we don’t have a perfect answer for you. While it is uncommon to test positive for marijuana after using CBD products, the possibility is there.
For example, remember the numbers and statistics that we talked about above. Even though these numbers were assuming an individual was taking full-spectrum CBD oil with trace amounts of THC in it, there is still a risk even with CBD isolate oils that are supposedly 100% THC-free. This is due to mislabeled products on the manufacturer’s behalf.
So What Happens if you Fail a Test?
If you have failed a drug test after using CBD oil, you could try and speak with the Medical Review Officer (MRO) to explain your situation as clearly (and respectfully) as possible. Some people still highly stigmatize cannabis in many parts of the country. And unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the differences between CBD/hemp and marijuana.
As far as people who say that the presence of CBD may result in a cross-reaction with the immunoassay on a urine drug test, there is no evidence that we’re aware of that supports this. The argument is that you could potentially fail a drug test from CBD oil because the assay “accidentally” reads the CBD compound as THC. Again, we are not aware of any valid scientific evidence that supports this.
If this was the case, however, most drug tests can be verified by follow-up GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) analyses to make sure that the failure was due to the presence of THC metabolites, and not some other compound(s).
As a last resort, you can always ask to see the report of the screening. Initial false positive readings are not unheard of. Still, a GC/MS is one of the only ways to verify whether or not this is the case.
The Bottom Line: You (Probably) Won’t Fail a Drug Test After Taking CBD
The bottom line of this article is that people who use CBD oil can (and have) failed marijuana drug tests before. This is true even for hemp-based oils that contain less than 0.3% THC. Of course, failed drug tests can result in missed job opportunities or termination from a current job.
Even still, there may be CBD companies out there that claim you cannot and will not fail a drug test after using their products. If you come across any claims like this, take precautions.
The simple fact of the matter is that if you are taking any product that has been extracted from cannabis (even from low-THC industrial hemp), the possibility is there that you may fail a drug test. As we discussed above, we’ve even heard stories of people failing drug tests after using CBD isolate, which is supposed to be 100% THC-free.
Final Thoughts on Why You Failed a Drug Test After Taking CBD Oil
All in all, if you purchase a quality, reputable CBD oil extracted from a viable industrial hemp supply with less than 0.3% THC content, the chances are low that you will fail a drug test.
However, don’t be fooled or manipulated by false acclamations that it is impossible. It is indeed possible, and it can – and has – happened in the past. Rest assured, however, that such occurrences are a rarity.
Under normative circumstances, it is unlikely that taking a normal daily serving (or servings) of high-quality hemp CBD oil will result in you testing positive on a marijuana drug test.
To be as cautious as possible, however, make sure you are only purchasing your CBD from reputable manufacturers. To be as safe as possible, you can try a CBD isolate that claims to have a zero percent THC content.
Lastly, please don’t misinterpret any of the information in this article as medical or legal advice. Any individual who consumes marijuana, cannabis, hemp extract, CBD oil, or any other CBD product is doing so under their own discretion and is responsible for any potential negative consequences.
If you’re worried about an upcoming drug test, be extra wary of exposure to second-hand THC smoke, and make sure that any CBD oil or CBD products you consume comes from a reliable, trustworthy manufacturer with a quality hemp supply.
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