Since the passing of the 2018 Agricultural Act, which federally legalized hemp production, CBD products have become the hottest items on the market. According to a Gallop survey from 2019, one in every seven U.S. citizens regularly used cannabidiol (CBD). That number has undoubtedly gone up as more and more people turn to the hemp-derived compound to find relief from issues ranging from chronic pain to anxiety.
But what if using CBD to alleviate your insomnia or arthritic pain caused you to lose your job, or worse—your child? Unfortunately, this nightmare has happened to a number of unsuspecting individuals. Let’s take a closer look at CBD and drug testing so that you can make sure this scenario never happens to you.
How Do Drug Tests Work?
Most drug tests look for delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or THC metabolites. CBD and THC both come from cannabis plants, but THC is the substance that creates psychoactive effects. THC metabolites, specifically THC-COOH, are the compounds leftover after the body has processed THC. THC-COOH metabolites can linger in the body for up to 90 days after the consumption of cannabis products.
Most organizations, including the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), administer a urine-based drug test. Urine tests use immunoassay procedures to detect THC. An immunoassay that registers more than 50 nanograms per millimeter is considered positive. Some employers designate the cut-off point at only 20 nanograms/ml. These stricter standards are more likely to cause a positive result from CBD use.
Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectronomy (GSMS) tests are more specific and accurate than traditional urine immunoassays. However, GSMS tests often use trifluoroacetic anhydride (TFAA). TFAA has the ability to change the CBD molecule into THC, which makes tests that use this chemical more prone to test positive.
Blood tests are less effective in detecting cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Cannabis compounds only remain in blood plasma for around five hours.
Most organizations don’t use saliva-based drug screening. In rare cases where saliva tests were implemented, the THC threshold was established at 4ng/ml. Cannabinoids remain in the saliva for about 72 hours.
Hair Follicle Test
Hair follicle tests can detect THC in the system for up to 90 days after consumption.
Saliva and hair follicle tests have an increased chance of showing a false positive.
Reasons Why CBD Users May Fail Drug Tests
Although most CBD users won’t fail a drug test, consumers should be aware of the factors that have caused false-positive test results for THC.
Mislabeled CBD Products
Mislabeled products are the number one cause of positive drug tests from CBD use. Unfortunately, the FDA has only approved a few pharmaceutical-grade medications derived from CBD, such as Epidiolex. The lack of FDA regulation has created an environment that allows unscrupulous CBD brands to mislead consumers through incorrect or vague labeling. You can avoid this pitfall by purchasing your CBD from a reputable company that provides Certificates of Analysis (COAs) for all of its products.
Buying CBD Products in Legal Recreational Cannabis States
Keep in mind that CBD products in states where recreational cannabis is legalized may contain more than .3% THC. Another problem in legal cannabis states is cross-contamination by THC in facilities that process both CBD and THC products. Consult the COAs of all products to make sure your CBD oils and edibles contain zero THC.
CBD Isolates vs. Full-Spectrum CBD
Manufacturers use a variety of ways to extract CBD. CBD isolates contain up to 99% pure CBD with no other components of the cannabis plant. Full-spectrum CBD is extracted whole and includes all of hemp’s cannabinoids and terpenes, including up to .3% THC. If you expect to be subjected to a drug test, you would be wise to choose a product containing CBD isolate rather than full-spectrum CBD.
Accumulation of CBD in the Body
Consuming higher concentrations of full-spectrum CBD for more extended periods may cause the .3% THC metabolites to register a positive result. All cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, dissolve in fats and can build up in the fat cells over time. A person’s metabolism and body weight may also influence test results.
The CBD-Stomach Acid Connection
Laboratory research from 2016 theorized that gastric fluids could transform CBD into THC. However, a follow-up investigation concluded that CBD’s transformation into THC does not occur in the human body. Consumers need not be concerned about CBD turning into THC during the digestive process.
How to Avoid a False-Positive Drug Test
You can still benefit from CBD and avoid a failed drug test if you follow a few simple rules:
- Choose products made from CBD Isolates.
- Make sure your CBD product comes with a Certificate of Analysis that registers THC content at zero.
- Inform your workplace that you’ve been taking CBD before any scheduled drug screening.
- Be extra careful with CBD products if you live in a state where recreational cannabis is legal.
- If you get a false positive on a urine test, ask if you can be retested using a GSMS test that doesn’t use the chemical TFAA.
HerbKing provides online access to COAs for all of our CBD products. If you have any questions about drug-testing and our products, please contact our friendly staff.