CBD doesn’t cause an intoxicating high, but even high-quality brands sell products (full-spectrum) that contain trace amounts of THC. For those who are subject to drug tests or screenings, this can present an obvious problem. There are plenty of reports outlining instances where people have failed drug tests after using CBD oil.
While there are THC-free CBD isolates and broad-spectrum products, we can’t always trust product labeling. This is due to the unregulated nature of the industry.
This article looks into reasons why you could potentially fail a drug test after using CBD oil. First, however, let’s analyze whether drug screenings can detect cannabidiol.
Do Drug Tests Even Look for CBD?
Employers perform drug tests to check for different illicit substances, including marijuana. Many companies create their own drug testing policies that must follow state law and make hiring and firing decisions based on the results.
Employees have protection in certain states. For instance, New York approved recreational marijuana laws that include employment protections in 2021. In the state, companies are not allowed to discriminate against employees who use recreational marijuana legally while off-duty. In New Jersey, organizations can’t complete adverse employment actions based entirely on a positive marijuana test.
However, not every state has such laws. California, a state that allows adult-use marijuana, doesn’t protect employees who use it outside of work hours.
Companies abide by SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) guidelines in states with no marijuana usage protection for employees. This practice ensures employers remain within the law.
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). Therefore, drug screenings do not check for CBD. However, full-spectrum CBD products, even those derived from hemp, can contain up to 0.3% THC.
At less than 0.3% in hemp-based oils, these trace amounts are negligible in 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 figures to help get a better idea.
THC Cutoff Levels
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. Certain employers look for lower levels of THC metabolites, just 20ng/ml in some instances. Clearly, this greatly increases the risk of failing a drug screening, even if you only use CBD oil.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of variables and contributing factors that influence the specific amount of THC 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 present in a standard bottle of CBD oil.
How Much THC Is in CBD Oil?
Like all high-quality brands, PureKana ensures its products contain less than 0.3% THC. However, its full-spectrum vanilla 1600mg CBD oil has just over 55mg of delta 9 THC per 30ml bottle as per its third-party lab reports. This represents a THC content of below 0.2%.
In Joy Organics’ 900mg Key Lime tincture, there is about 34.5mg of CBD in the 30ml bottle, the equivalent of approximately 0.12% THC according to the brand.
In fact, brands can have up to 90mg of THC in a 30ml bottle and remain within the 0.3% limit. Therefore, if you consumed a full bottle of either, you would ingest 34-55mg of THC. While as little as 3mg of THC can cause intoxication by itself, the huge CBD to THC ratio means you’re in no danger of getting high. The vast level of cannabidiol counteracts the intoxicating effects of delta 9.
Is This Enough THC to Fail a Drug Screening?
Yes, it potentially is, according to some research. A study published in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry found that smoking 27mg of THC in marijuana produced a THC-COOH reading of 180ng/ml in a urine sample approximately four hours later.
For occasional THC users, the cannabinoid’s half-life ranges from 1.4 days to 4 days, increasing to 7 days for regular users. Therefore, it would take a minimum of 2.8 days to go below the 50ng/ml threshold in the above example (180 becomes 90 in 1.4 days and 45 in 2.8 days).
A 2003 study found that failing a drug test was possible after using low levels of THC. Researchers gave seven people varying THC doses for five days and conducted numerous drug tests across ten weeks. One of the seven volunteers exceeded the 50ng/ml limit after using 0.47mg of THC per day. Six of the seven participants failed a test with a 20ng/ml limit after consuming the same level of THC.
Overall, the risk of failing a test with a 20ng/ml limit was 12.8% when using 0.47mg of THC a day and 5.1% when the dose was 0.39mg of THC.
A report by Johns Hopkins Medicine in 2019 found that a single dose of CBD could result in a failed drug test. The researchers gave six adults a vaporized dose of 100mg CBD and 3.7mg THC. Two of the six adults tested positive for THC metabolites at above the 50ng/ml limit.
This sounds like terrible news for CBD oil users, but there’s no need to panic.
Why CBD Shouldn’t Make You Fail Your Test
Although the dosage is higher for conditions such as epilepsy, it is rare for anyone to use over 100mg of CBD a day. Indeed, it is more common to use 50mg or less. If you consume 50mg of CBD via PureKana’s oil, you’ll ingest approximately 1.7mg of THC a day. By dropping to 15mg of CBD a day, you would fall below 0.5mg of THC.
However, the greater danger lies in how poorly the industry is regulated. While high-quality CBD oil might lead to a tiny chance of THC detection, plenty of brands don’t follow the rules.
Will CBD Oil Fail a Drug Test? – Reputation Matters
Only a handful of states have implemented strict laws relating to the CBD market. As a result, the industry’s ‘Wild West’ nature means there are too many brands selling products of dubious quality. Without accurate third-party lab testing, there is no way of knowing the THC content of products.
There is plenty of research that shows the scale of the problem. A study by Penn Medicine in 2017 analyzed 84 products from 31 companies. The researchers found that 21% of the samples had THC concentrations of up to 6.43mg per ml. It is a level that’s well over the 0.3% limit.
It’s essential to buy from reputable CBD brands that provide lab reports with their products. Otherwise, you’re more likely to fail a screening.
In 2018, the CDC released a report showing that CBD products in Utah poisoned up to 50 people. These items contained synthetic marijuana known as K2 and Spice. Overall, the risk of failing a drug test is much higher when you buy products from unknown brands or companies that don’t offer up-to-date third-party reports.
However, as the CDC report shows, failing a drug screening could be the least of your worries.
Does CBD Oil Fail a Drug Test?
Unfortunately, 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. A failure in your test results can lead to missed job opportunities or termination from a current position.
Even still, some CBD companies claim you can’t fail a drug test after using their products. If you come across any claims like this, take precautions.
If you are taking any product extracted from cannabis (even from low-THC industrial hemp), the possibility is there that you may fail a drug test. We’ve even heard stories of people failing drug tests after using CBD isolate, which is supposed to be 100% THC-free.
What Types of CBD Oil Products Are There?
If you’re interested in using CBD oil but concerned about failing a drug test, it is essential to know the type of products on the market. In general, you can expect to find the following:
- Cannabis Oil: Legally, you can only purchase this in a licensed dispensary in a recreational state or one with a medical marijuana program if you have an MMJ card. Cannabis oil typically has high levels of THC, so check out its cannabinoid content. Unless it comes from a strain such as Charlotte’s Web, which is high in CBD and low in THC, cannabis oil is likely to result in a failed drug test.
- Full-Spectrum CBD Oil from Hemp: This is the classic CBD option and should contain a maximum of 0.3% THC. However, as we explored above, it doesn’t provide a cast-iron guarantee of passing a drug test, especially if you use large amounts. Also, make sure the product comes with an up-to-date third-party lab report and is sold by a reputable brand.
- Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil: This is similar to full-spectrum, but with one significant difference, there is no THC. A broad-spectrum product gives you many other cannabinoids and terpenes and, supposedly, 0.0% THC. Some brands might have trace amounts (less than 0.05%). However, you’re on safe ground if the product’s labeling is accurate.
- CBD Isolate: A CBD isolate product contains over 99% CBD on occasion and 0% THC. Again, you shouldn’t fail a drug test if the isolate comes from a reputable company. Sadly, however, dubious companies sell low-grade products, and some CBD isolate users claim THC metabolites showed up in their drug tests!
Reasons for Failing a Drug Test After Using CBD
The main reason why someone would fail a drug test after using CBD oil is due to the product’s THC content. This tends to happen when products are mislabeled.
If you consume a large amount of properly-labeled CBD daily and it has up to 0.3% THC, a failed drug screening is possible, though it isn’t likely. It would also help if you calculated your THC intake by checking the product’s third-party reports and analyzing your daily consumption.
However, there are other potential reasons why a CBD product could result in a failed drug test. Some are more likely than others.
Cross Contamination with THC Products During Manufacture
If a manufacturer produces both THC-free CBD isolate products and high-THC marijuana products, they could contaminate the isolate with residue from a high-THC extract. This is a highly improbable scenario but hypothetically possible. Indeed, it could happen with any CBD product you buy online or in a licensed dispensary.
Find out if the manufacturer creates both THC and CBD products. Brands such as Elixinol and Provacan specialize in CBD-rich products from hemp. Neither sells THC products, so there’s no need to worry about possible contamination.
Second Hand THC Exposure
In this instance, your excuse is that you unwittingly inhaled THC through second-hand exposure. Whether it is a viable reason is another matter entirely! Research seems to show that failing a drug test due to second-hand THC exposure is incredibly unlikely.
Marijuana smokers exhale a relatively small quantity of THC. Therefore, it would take an immense amount of second-hand cannabis smoke exposure to fail a drug screening.
One study, published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology in 2015, looked into non-smoker exposure to second-hand cannabis smoke. Six experienced marijuana users smoked cannabis cigarettes across three sessions. The THC level of the cigarettes was 5.3% in session 1 and 11.3% in the subsequent two sessions. Six non-smokers were seated with the marijuana users in an alternating manner in a sealed chamber.
The maximum THC-COOH concentrations via GC-MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) testing revealed concentrations ranging from 1.3 to 57.5ng/ml. Overall, only one of the non-smokers produced a urine sample above 50ng/ml. The researchers concluded that while it is possible to fail a drug test in this fashion, it is rare and limited to the hours immediately after exposure. Also, it can only happen under environmental circumstances where exposure is apparent.
Ventilation is extremely important. If you find yourself in a poorly ventilated room where many people smoke marijuana, second-hand THC exposure could theoretically cause you to fail a drug screening. However, it is a hard sell!
THC Is Fat Soluble
Therefore, when you ingest it via a drop of oil beneath the tongue or edibles, it gets absorbed with other fats. Consequently, consuming a significant quantity of CBD edibles or full-spectrum oil could cause THC to accumulate in your body’s tissue in just 4-6 days. THC is detectable in the system for days to weeks, depending on the frequency of use.
Once again, third-party lab reports are essential! If you plan to consume 100+mg of CBD a day, especially through edibles or oil, make sure it is extremely low in THC.
According to the Boston Medical Center, anywhere from 5% to 10% of drug tests produce false positives. These incorrect results can happen due to the consumption of various medications, vitamins, or supplements. Here is a list of the medications that could cause a false positive drug screening result:
- CNS stimulants
- Proton pump inhibitors
- CND stimulants like Adderall
- Cough suppressants
Believe it or not, the following substances could also trigger a false positive:
- Poppy seeds
- Vitamin B supplements
- Tonic water
Can CBD Turn into THC After Consumption?
There’s a suggestion that CBD can molecularly break down into THC after interacting with low-pH acids in the stomach and digestive system. In a study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2016, researchers found that CBD isomerizes into THC when exposed to highly acidic compounds like Simulated Gastric Fluid (SGF).
However, according to a Project CBD article, some of the paper’s co-authors were scientists employed by a pharmaceutical company. Coincidentally, the organization was gathering data for the release of its new transdermal CBD patch. The Project CBD article suggests that the paper was published to make the transdermal patch look safer than oral CBD oil.
Regardless, CBD can break down into THC in the presence of acids. Yet, according to another study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2017, this process is unlikely to occur under normal circumstances in humans.
What Happens if You Fail a Drug Screening?
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. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the differences between CBD/hemp/ and marijuana.
Some say that the presence of CBD may result in a cross-reaction with the immunoassay on a urine drug test. The argument is that you could potentially fail a drug test from CBD oil because the assay “accidentally” reads the CBD compound as THC. However, we’re not aware of any evidence to support this claim.
If this was the case, however, most drug tests can be verified by follow-up GC/MS analyses to ensure that the failure was due to THC metabolites’ presence, 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. Please note that in this more accurate test, the cutoff point is 15ng/ml.
Final Thoughts on Why You Failed a Drug Test After Taking CBD Oil
If you purchase a high-quality 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. Brands such as Premium Jane, PureKana, and Green Roads tick all of these boxes.
However, don’t be fooled or manipulated by false claims that it is impossible because it has happened in the past. Rest assured, however, that such occurrences are a rarity.
To be as safe as possible, you can try a CBD isolate that claims to have a zero percent THC content. CBDistillery is among the leading lights when it comes to CBD isolate products.
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.
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