The cannabis plant is certainly having its moment and CBD is fast becoming a highly popular compound in the wellness space, and studies are exploring its therapeutic uses.
But you’re not here for that. The question here is, will CBD make you fail a drugs test?
This question is becoming more critical with CBD appealing to a wide range of people, whose careers depend on regularly avoiding positive drug tests.
From athletes to HGV drivers, CBD oil is becoming a supplement of interest for everyone who might be drug tested!
But the answer isn’t as clear cut as you might think, and there are three main variables to consider:
Cannabis plants can be either classed as marijuana or hemp, and the latter is what CBD is extracted from. Hemp plants naturally contain traces of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound in cannabis which gets you high and is drug tested for.
Cannabidiol is world anti-doping (WADA) approved, and on its own is legal in most countries, but the risk stems from other cannabinoids such as THC.
WADA covers a wide range of sports and has outlined that CBD is an approved substance, whereas any other cannabinoids are not.
Outside of professional sport, the risk predominantly comes from a single compound called THC – the compound which gets you high. THC is present in trace amounts in full-spectrum CBD products, otherwise known as whole plant CBD extracts.
Dependent on where you live, the legal THC limit per product for possession could be up to 1% THC in Switzerland or 0.3%/0.2% THC in USA/EU and ‘non-detectable’ THC in the UK.
Although, this limit is in respect to the possession of THC and not the presence of it in your system. Drug tests are likely to be much stricter, especially with respect to the workplace or professional athlete testing.
It also depends on the type of drug test carried out, for example, urine drug tests are less accurate than blood tests, but the duration of detection is much longer.
In contrast, drug tests of a hair sample can detect banned substances across an even more extended period.
It’s critical to note that THC is also found in other related CBD products outside of oils too, including full-spectrum CBD paste, and full-spectrum CBD extract. Anything classed as full-spectrum is strictly off-limits for those looking to stay in the clear with a drugs test.
If you are drug tested, using CBD Isolate based products are your best bet.
Products derived from CBD Isolate are free of anything but pure (99.9%+) cannabidiol, and while this is thought to be less effective than a broader hemp extract due to a lack of the entourage effect (synergy of cannabinoids), it’s safer to use if you are drug tested.
Failing that, using products which do not contain detectable levels of THC such as broad-spectrum CBD oil and concentrates are a wise move.
Broad-spectrum CBD is a full spectrum product minus any detectable levels of THC.
But what does non-detectable mean exactly?
Due to natural variations in the chemical makeup of the hemp plant, product batches can vary significantly in both THC and CBD levels, along with potential contaminants in the supply chain.
CBD is not currently regulated by the FDA and quality control is a problem.
Genuine companies will test their products with a third party, usually both during the manufacturing process and with the finalised product. Ensuring it is both labelled correctly and that it doesn’t contain any contaminants.
However, the devil is in the detail, especially for products which are not CBD isolate based but are thought to contain zero THC.
As the CBD industry isn’t regulated, in Europe there isn’t a defined threshold when a product is determined to contain a ‘non-detectable’ level of THC. While the phrase sounds like there is 0.00% THC in the product, this is potentially false.
Third-party labs define non-detectable levels according to how precise the testing equipment they are using is, it varies but the lowest level of detection usually seen in the UK is around <0.001% THC for a test to fall into the non-detectable THC bracket. But again, it depends on the parameters of the equipment used and can vary.
Looking at the level of detection (LOD) in third-party test certificates of analysis (CoAs) for cannabinoid potency will outline at which thresholds the lab equipment can detect THC and other cannabinoids.
For example, if the LOD is 0.05% THC, then any samples submitted to that lab which contain <0.05% THC metabolites will automatically fall into the non-detectable or 0.0% THC bracket.
Being aware of issues like these can ensure you avoid a positive drug test as you might not buy the item if you knew the testing limit!
The LOD information is usually on all CoAs, and you should review a copy before buying any CBD oil. If the information isn’t on there, then reach out to the lab/brand to find out the answer.
LOD is crucial as it could be as low as <0.001% at ISO accredited UK third party labs, you should not assume all labs test at the same accuracy.
Due to the lack of FDA regulation, it can vary depending on the exact equipment the lab uses.
This leads to a situation of self-assessment regarding THC content.
If a product is classed as not containing THC when it contains <0.001% THC, is that sufficient enough to avoid a false positive drug test?
While It’s highly unlikely someone using a third-party tested product containing non-detectable THC will test positive for THC on a drug test it is something to be aware of nonetheless.
Primarily due to limits in lab test detection thresholds likely being less sensitive than a THC urine test or hair sample.
As a result, if you want to be 100% sure you will not fail any drug tests CBD Isolate based products are your only sure bet as the end product is so highly refined it only contains pure CBD powder.
There is a possibility that zero THC products which are bottled and packed in facilities which handle full-spectrum CBD oils could cross-contaminate products in the supply chain.
The risk of this happening and resulting in someone to fail a drug test small, but it’s something to be aware of.
Most factories will have separate machinery for bottling CBD oil which contains zero THC to manage this risk and if not the machinery is cleaned using a strict operating procedure to avoid THC cross-contamination.
The risk increases if your CBD oil is bottled in a factory where they also manufacture high THC products from cannabis plants. While this is highly unlikely, it is possible given the change of tide in cannabis legalisation globally.
It re-iterates the fact consumers should ask questions about product traceability. Knowing what they are buying and only purchase products which are third party batch tested for which they have had time to review the CoAs, especially if they are subject to drug testing.
It sounds pretty extensive, more like your collecting information for your own study or something right? It’s pretty simple once you get acquainted don’t worry!
This depends on several factors and varies from person to person. These include:
A clinical study by the University of Arizona in 1991 administered an incredibly high daily dose of 700mg CBD to participants across six weeks. 7 days after the last dose, the detected level of CBD metabolites was 1.5 nanograms per millilitre of blood, and close to undetectable shortly after that.
The same study estimated the half-life of CBD to be between three to five days, suggesting that a few weeks of not using the compound would make it non-detectable in a blood test and you would not fail any drug tests.
Similar to CBD, the same factors apply and the time varies significantly according to these levers.
For example, THC can be detected up to 90 days after its last use via a hair sample in chronic cannabis users.
Data on how long THC is detectable in users of CBD products is currently an unknown and is likely a subject of future clinical studies post regulation of the CBD oil industry.
It’s currently unknown because the level of THC varies significantly depending on the quality and type of product purchased.
If the product is fully lab-tested and legal, you can rest assured that the product shouldn’t have an impact on your ability to drive.
On the other hand, untested CBD carriers the risk that the product contains much more THC than stated on the label, making driving both illegal and unsafe.
Nonetheless, the fact full spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of THC could be a (minimal) concern.
Especially if an individual has been using full-spectrum CBD oil frequently and is then subject to a urine test. Still, the magnitude of this risk is currently an unknown, and it’s for users to decide until we have clarity from clinical studies.
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Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nature & Bloom and its staff. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention for any disease. Nature & Bloom products have not been evaluated by the MHRA.