Will CBD Show Up on a Drug Test? All Your Questions Answered

Posted on August 8, 2019

According to Consumer Reports, 26 percent of Americans have sampled CBD in the past two years. While that can’t exactly be considered mainstream, between 40 and 57 percent of Americans are subjected to drug tests every year. With CBD use on the rise, there’s some grey area on whether CBD can make you fail a drug test.

Laws governing CBD consumption are relaxing across the U.S. There are only three states — Idaho, South Dakota, and Nebraska — where CBD is not permitted.

Currently, regulations for CBD come from the state level. The federal government’s rules regarding the substance are confusing, and depending on your employer, cannabis may or may not be permissible.

There’s no one-size-fits-all for CBD consumption. If you know of an employer-mandated drug test and you’ve been using CBD, check yourself. The only way to truly know whether THC will show up on a drug test is to take one at home beforehand. For the 26 percent of Americans using CBD, there are other steps they can take to protect themselves from a positive drug test.

What Makes CBD Different from Cannabis?

To shed some light on why the laws are so confusing, CBD is derived from cannabis, which is illegal throughout some parts of the United States. Cannabis contains two important molecules, THC and CBD.

While THC is psychoactive, meaning it alters your mental state, CBD is non-psychoactive, a strong factor in its increasing popularity for therapeutic purposes.

While major chemical components of CBD and THC are the same, the arrangement of the molecules differs slightly. The difference in their arrangement accounts for the difference in the way they interact with the brain, and therefore, why they have different legal classifications.

Drug testing

According to employers surveyed in Current Consulting Group’s Employer Drug Testing Survey, lab-based urine testing is the most popular form of drug testing. Instant urine screening and hair testing are the second and third most common methods.

In addition to screening for opiates, amphetamines, and more, drug tests look for THC. THC is the major component in cannabis that is psychoactive.

Although public opinion favors cannabis — as Pew Research indicates that 62 percent of American adults are in support of cannabis legalization — the employer survey from Current Compliance Consulting Report found that 87 percent of employers believe testing for cannabis is legal, and 70 percent believe it is a terminable offense.

So what does this have to do with CBD?

Does CBD Usage Show on a Drug Test?

An important breakthrough in the cannabis deregulation movement is addressing dosing standardization. CBD is sold in milligram amounts with instructions on serving sizes.

These standardizations, DISA, a workplace compliance survey organization, indicates CBD usage is unlikely to show up on a drug test so long as the user is not exceeding 1,000-2000mg of the product.

If the consumer only has CBD in their system, the test results are unlikely to be positive, as drug tests aren’t testing for CBD.

These assurances from DISA and others may be disproven by problems regulating the labeling and purity of CBD.

Agricultural engineering helps farmers isolate the CBD molecule in their plants, but even the purest CBD oils can have trace amounts of THC in them.

A CBD oil can contain no more than .3 percent THC to be legally sold in the U.S. The 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act approved these guidelines to allow farmers to grow hemp in the United States for the first time in decades.

Due to the drug’s murky legal situation, regulations on labeling and purity of CBD have been shown by a 2017 study to be irregular. For consumers, this means that even if the product ingredients do not list THC, it could be present in the product.

Finding Pure CBD

If you’re worried about drug testing, before you purchase CBD, contact the manufacturer to verify THC levels. It’s always a good idea to verify with your CBD supplier to avoid synthetics and other impurities.

Remember, no matter how official a CBD product or brand appears, the industry at large is still under-regulated. Unless you’re buying from a verified source, even if the ingredients are listed on the label, your CBD might contain THC, hemp, or even other synthetics.

When you’re purchasing CBD online or in the store, vet their branding. CBD is expensive to produce and lucrative to sell, a reputable product and a company will likely have a spiffy website, with clear information about their CBD and their processing.

If you want to ensure your CBD has no THC in it, ask the manufacturer, look up reviews, and look for third-party lab results. Testing results that come from outside the company offer unbiased verification of pureness. Lab results help verify the ingredients in a CBD oil as well.

If you aren’t sure of your CBD oil’s THC levels, you may want to take an at-home drug test before an employer-mandated one.

What About Medical CBD?

The FDA approved Epidiolex, a cannabis-derived drug and two “cannabis-related” drugs, Marinol and Syndros. The latter two contain a synthetic THC molecule.

These drugs are available to individuals with a “serious or life-threatening disease or condition.”

Despite this small deregulation, according to the DEA, all other forms of CBD remain illegal federally.

Many states consider marijuana legally acceptable for medical use. The best way to check compliance is to look at your state's laws.

What to Do If You Fail Your Test After Only Using CBD?

The FDA does not approve or issue prescriptions for CBD except in extreme circumstances. This means that there are no grounds for a medical review officer to expunge positive THC results from a drug test.

Lisa Gill with Consumer reports gives some tips in case you fail your test.

Be open and honest with your employer, CBD is mostly legal at the state level, and you may be able to find a solution to move forward after the test.

If your employer isn’t comfortable with that, look up your company’s drug policies and contact human resources.

With a note from a medical provider, or if you are using CBD from hemp (which is now federally legal), the test results may be overlooked.

Ask to be retested, check for THC in your CBD, and use an at-home drug test to verify your results beforehand.