A wave of cannabis legalization is sweeping across the nation. In December 2018, the federal government passed the Farm Bill, which made CBD legal under the FDA and moved it from the DEA’s jurisdiction to that of the FDA.
Additionally, more than 10 states have legalized recreational marijuana, another 13 have decriminalized the substance and 36 have legalized it for medical use. Overall, cannabis has come a long way since the early 2000s, when it was still largely considered a “gateway drug.”
As the availability of cannabis increases, many people are beginning to wonder how it might impact their drug tests. The short answer is that employers will be testing for THC and not CBD, so if you stick to CBD use then it should not affect you. However, as the industry is not regulated very well, it can be a bit more complicated than that.
What is the difference between CBD and THC?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is distinct from THC. Both are cannabinoids found in cannabis, but only THC gets you high; CBD has no psychoactive effects. THC is primarily found in marijuana and CBD is primarily found in industrial hemp.
For those who take CBD products, the law states that it is supposed to come from industrial hemp with less than 0.3% THC, but as regulation is limited, your CBD products might still have trace amounts of THC.
How do drug tests work?
There are a few different varieties of drug tests, but the two major ones are urine tests and hair tests. What differentiates the two is length of history tested and threshold of substance. Each test can be done on any amount of substances, but the standard is a 5-drug or 10-drug test.
Neither of these includes a test for CBD, but both will test for THC. The 5-drug test looks for THC, cocaine, opiates, PCP and amphetamines/methamphetamines. The 10-drug test adds barbiturates, propoxyphene, benzodiazepines and methadone.
Currently, some of the major drug testers, such as Quest Diagnostics, do not even have a test specifically for CBD. That being said, a few drug-testing organizations have said that they intend to develop a CBD test, though employers will have to pay extra to add this to their tests.
Will CBD products test positive for THC?
While there is an extremely small chance that your CBD products could make you test positive for THC, the possibility is there. If your CBD has the legal limit of 0.3% THC, you would need to take about 1,000-2,000 mg/day of CBD in order to test positive, which is an abnormally large dose.
As long as you are taking a normal dose of CBD, you are probably not at any risk of testing positive for THC. This does require you to know that your product has less than 0.3% THC. It is probably best to find THC-free CBD products if possible.
What should you do if you test positive?
In the extremely unlikely event that you do test positive for THC, you can try to explain to your employer that you take CBD on a regular basis. If your employer is not corporate, chances are they just want to ensure you are not getting high or are unable to perform the job. However, there is no way to know whether a test was from trace THC from CBD or smoking marijuana, so your employer would simply have to trust you.
If you are worried about the slim chance of testing positive, but still need to take your CBD, try having an upfront conversation with your employer. Tell them that you take CBD and why. Ask them if CBD will be tested on the drug panel, and explain that while the CBD product is not psychoactive, there is the potential for a trace amount of THC to be in your system. This will give you some wiggle room in case luck is not on your side.
Overall, CBD should not impact your drug-test results, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. Considering laying off the CBD for a bit while you prepare for your drug test, or talk to your employer beforehand. Whatever your situation, you should be fine as long as you research your CBD and do not abuse it.