CBD itself doesn’t show up on a drug test. Having said that, many CBD oils contain small amounts of THC, the main psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis.
THC is one of the compounds drug tests look for. This means a CBD oil can potentially lead to a positive drug test.
Here’s what you need to know about avoiding positive drug tests and choosing the right CBD oil for yourself.
CBD, THC, and Drug Testing
The cannabis plant naturally contains hundreds of active compounds called cannabinoids, of which THC and CBD are the two most abundant.
THC is the main cannabinoid responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana use. That’s why most drug tests look for the presence of THC or its metabolites, which stay in the body longer than THC itself.
CBD, on the other hand, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, so tests don’t check for it. However, just because you’re using a CBD product doesn’t necessarily mean it’s free of THC.
Type of Cannabis
Cannabis plants come in two varieties: marijuana and hemp. Marijuana is high in THC, which is why it’s illegal in most countries.
Hemp, on the other hand, must contain 0.2% or less (0.3% in the U.S.) of THC. The vast majority of CBD oil products are extracted from hemp, which means they can contain very small amounts of THC.
However, it ultimately depends on how this extract is made and processed.
Types of CBD Oil
CBD oil and any other CBD product can contain one of three types of CBD extract: CBD isolate, full-spectrum, or broad-spectrum CBD.
CBD isolate is pure CBD and nothing else. It’s either sold in the form of a white, crystalline powder or formulated into CBD oil and other products. A recent 2020 research study confirmed that pure CBD does not result in a positive drug test.
Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the compounds naturally present in hemp, including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, vitamins, and other phytochemicals.
Since hemp naturally contains 0.2% or less of THC, this means full-spectrum CBD can contain trace amounts of THC. This small amount is not enough to cause intoxication. However, it may be enough to trigger a positive drug test.
Regardless, full-spectrum CBD is the preferred form for most people because its components work together in synergy, producing greater effects than CBD by itself.
Broad-spectrum CBD is identical to full-spectrum except for one key difference — all traces of THC are completely removed. It’s basically a more potent version of CBD isolate.
If you want to avoid THC due to concerns over drug testing, you have to use a CBD oil made with either CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD. This information is typically listed on the product description and the label.
It’s also a good idea to check how the CBD was sourced. Ideally, it should come from organic hemp plants cultivated in Europe or the United States. This information should be easy to find.
Be Wary of Mislabeled Products
Having said that, the CBD industry is infamous for its lack of regulation and mislabeled products.
For example, a 2017 study done in the Netherlands tested 84 products that were labeled to only contain CBD, finding that 18 of them contained detectable levels of THC. The researchers also noted that the THC levels were high enough to cause intoxication.
While the CBD industry has certainly improved a lot in the past several years, this does highlight the need to do your research when shopping for CBD products.
If you want to be certain that your CBD oil doesn’t contain THC, the absolute best way is to look at the third-party lab test reports.
Check Third-Party Test Reports
Third-party tests are done by an independent laboratory and check how much CBD and other cannabinoids, including THC, are present in a given product.
All reputable CBD companies provide third-party lab reports (also known as certificates of analysis or COAs) on their website to verify the potency and safety of their products.
Look for the section of the report called the cannabinoid profile or potency — it will list a table with names of cannabinoids and their levels. The results for delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC, and total THC should read <LOQ or ND, which means THC was not detected.
In short, CBD by itself will not show up on a drug test. But if your CBD oil is full-spectrum, it can contain trace amounts of THC, which means it may lead to a positive drug test.
The best way to stay safe with drug testing is to buy THC-free CBD isolate or broad-spectrum oil from a trustworthy company that provides third-party lab test documents.
Be sure to avoid full-spectrum products, read the product information, and most of all check the third-party lab test reports to confirm the lack of THC.