Does CBD Show up on drug tests?
CBD and other cannabinoids are making their way into more and more mainstream products, so it begs the question for many, Does CBD show up on drug tests? Studies have shown that when pure CBD, or CBD Isolate is used, there is no danger of failing a drug test. Making sure it is pure CBD and does not contain THC or its metabolites, is another matter altogether however – more on that later.
When considering using CBD, there are several aspects to consider from CBD type, whether it is being ingested or used topically to company reputability. When using CBD for the first time or if you have fear of failing a drug test, we have laid out the real facts so you can make an informed and safe decision.
What do drug tests look for?
A typical drug test is not actually looking for THC, CBD or many of the other legal cannabinoids. They are simply looking for the THC metabolite, THC-COOH, that can lead to a positive test result. Any form of THC, Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, CBN and now THCo, can all lead to positive results due to their chemical structures being very similar to THC and their end metabolite, THC-COOH. However, other derivates like CBN, which may sound less like THC than CBD, can also cause a positive result on a drug test. CBN is a degraded variation of THC which occurs through aging. Understanding the changes cannabinoids undertake can help to understand if there is any danger in taking a product now, or if there can be unexpected results months later as the product ages.
Lifecycle of cannabinoids
All cannabinoids start off as the same base cannabinoid called Cannabigerolic acid, or CBGa. From there, heat and time can change the structure turning each molecule into one of many other cannabinoids, from CBG to CBD to THC. Each have their own benefits and effects, and most are completely legal in the US currently due to the Farm Bill. However, some are able to create a false positive on a drug test looking for THC.
When heat is introduced to an acidic version of a cannabinoid, they become active. For example, THCa has no psychoactive effects on the body until it is heated. But once heat is introduced through vaping or smoking, it converts into the psychoactive cannabinoid we know as Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol. The process is better known as decarboxylation. It’s the same reason you cannot eat weed and get the feeling of being high but if you make butter or brownies out of the dried flowers, the process of heating or baking the brownies, decarboxylates the THCa into THC and it is then active, or rather psychoactive.
Our infographic on the lifecycle of cannabinoids helps to demonstrate how CBGa turns into many other cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, CBGCBL and even Delta-8. By using this infographic we can determine that there are several cannabinoids that become stable after initial conversion. CBG and CBD are the some of the safest cannabinoids since they do not further convert into other cannabinoids without additional processing called isomerization. This reduces the risk of failing a drug test when using isolated CBD and CBG to zero. We say reduces the risk of failing because there are other ways you can fail a drug test even though you may have purchased or used a hemp product that was supposed to have isolated CBG or CBD infused. This is due to unreliable isolations of cannabinoids and company unreliability.
What types of CBD Oil are there?
There are many iteration of CBD oil available on the market. There are isolates, which is not exactly an oil but is a often used interchangeably with other CBD oil types. Isolates single out and ‘isolate’ particular cannabinoids such as CBD and CBG. These are generally considered safer to use if you have to take drug tests since the cannabinoids are not being looked for within the tests. Many companies will carry products with isolates to cater to customers who are new to using hemp products or have to pass random drug testing.
Then there is Broad Spectrum CBD Oil and Full Spectrum CBD Oil. Full Spectrum CBD Oil is the closer to the plants original composition containing a wide variety of cannabinoids, waxes and fats and terpenes and can contain up to 0.3% THC. Broad Spectrum CBD Oil, is very similar to Full Spectrum but it has undergone an additional process to remove most of the THC. You can learn more about the benefits and effects of Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum vs Isolates here.
As stated, both iterations have a small amount of THC. Broad Spectrum is typically undetectable to lab testing equipment, but that does not mean it is not present in extremely small doses. When ingested, the small amount can add up in your bloodstream over time causing a positive result on a drug test. For those who must take drug tests for work or other reasons, avoiding Broad and Full Spectrum is best so there is no fear of unexpected results during a drug test.
Even if you follow these guidelines, there are still ways to fail a drug – which almost always is due to the company using unreliable or untested ingredients or outright dishonesty.
Topicals vs Edibles
CBD topicals undergo a very different process when used than consumables, or edibles. Edibles must be metabolized in order for the body to benefit. Topicals do not actually enter the bloodstream, unless it is a transdermal patch designed to pass through the outer layers of skin. Much like using rubbing alcohol doesn’t increase our blood alcohol levels due to its inability to transverse the outer layer of skin, cannabinoids like CBD, and even THC, cannot enter our blood to get metabolized. This means for the most part it is safe to use topicals even with very low amounts of THC like Broad and Full Spectrum CBD Oil. We say for the most part because there are still ways to get THC into your system even if you are using topicals.
Taking a bath shortly after applying topicals with any THC, namely, Broad and Full Spectrum CBD.
Wear gloves when applying topicals with THC to avoid any contamination of your bloodstream.
Do not touch your eyes, mouth or other permeable areas after touching or applying topicals with any THC.
Do not use transdermal patches with any THC as they are specially designed to pass through your skin and will enter your bloodstream.
If you have been or want to use Broad Spectrum or even Full Spectrum topicals, the chances of it being detected in your system is very, very low since first off, the THC amount is low in CBD products, but secondly, even if they do manage to make their way into your bloodstream via one of the methods above, it is likely to be lower than the test detect. While we do not recommend Broad or Full Spectrum topicals to those who fear failing a drug test, if that is your preferred CBD type, you really do not need to worry as much as you might think. But when it doubt, keep it out.
How Did I Fail a Drug Test When I Use CBD Isolate Products?
You may or may not have seen the slogan ‘Not all CBD is created equal.’ While this meant to convey that some CBD oils are better than others, it can also mean that not a CBD products have been extracted equally. When extractors removed the oil from the hemp plants, it undergoes many processes to get to become each type of oil or isolate. During the processing, it is important that the farm or extractor has an expertise in their craft in order to produce a good end product we can use as an ingredient in our products. Some extractors are like artists, crafting a beautiful portrait that all can enjoy. Others are not as handy and end up with less than perfect results that they then either do not test or would rather move on to another batch rather than refine their work and get the best oils or pure isolates. CBD companies who care more about the bottom line than their customers are typically the ones who purchase these unreliable oils and isolates.
Choose CBD Companies Wisely
There are only a few requirements a hemp company must actually follow to stay legal, and that mostly evolves around labeling and testing. Larger companies tend to go through more products and more batches of ingredients. Batches of ingredients can and will vary, sometimes by a few tenths of a percent up to several percent – and when THC is involved, these variations can make a world of difference.
Companies who care about their reputation, like we do, will generally require a test from the manufacturer and test the ingredients themselves to 1. know the cannabinoid makeup, and 2. ensure it is what they expected when they purchased it.
As more hemp growers and extractors enter the market, many advertise their oils and isolates as cheaper in order to gain a company’s interest in reducing their bottom line. They usually will also boast their reliability and consistency when the opposite is actually the case. When we first sought out companies, we went through many farms who claimed their products were pure or had a wider spectrum of cannabinoids in their oils. As a company who cares about what we were buying, we would consistently test the samples we were sent. Many times, we discovered hidden or undisclosed elements, from leftover THC in Broad Spectrum Oils and Isolates, to hidden pesticides or chemical solvents when the farmers claimed their products were extracted using CO2 which should never show solvents due to it being a solventless process.
For us, we learned how important it is to find a farm that is reliable and consistent and most important, caring about their CBD oils and isolates. It creates loyalty and most importantly, trust. While we still test every single batch of new ingredients we acquire, we no longer have unexpected findings and are able to safely promote a product as THC free when it is isolate because we have tested the product and know 100% of the cannabinoid makeup.
When in doubt, stick with CBD Isolate
Any company who tries to claim their Broad Spectrum is 100% THC free is one you should avoid. They know full and well that it is simply below detectable levels and not 100% safe for those who need to undergo drug tests. This is especially important when the CBD products are ingested as it can lead to a build up in the body of THC and an eventual failed drug test. A common rule of thumb is to just stick with CBD isolate products so you have a clearer picture of what cannabinoids are actually present.
Now that you hopefully have a better understanding of how CBD and other cannabinoids can make you fail a drug test, you should feel more confident in making the right decisions regarding CBD products. CBD, CBG and many other cannabinoids are wonderful, all-natural compounds that have a variety of benefits you can learn about here. Being screened for THC does not mean you have to avoid the benefits of CBD, but it does mean you need to be more cautious as to which companies you choose to buy from. If you follow this simple guide, you are sure to have success when picking your products.
And as always, be.Happy, be.Healthy, be.Essential!