Drug tests identify tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or its metabolites. While these tests do not check CBD, some CBD products, such as CBD oil, contain small amounts of THC, which theoretically could make a person fail a drug test.
CBD products like CBD oil are derived from hemp, a legal type of cannabis that is low in THC. While some CBD products claim to be THC-free, contamination may have occurred in the manufacturing process. In some cases, the manufacturer’s marking may be incomplete.
Read on to find out if CBD use shows up on a drug test.
What is CBD?
Sativa hemp is an extremely versatile plant that growers grow for many purposes, ranging from food such as hemp seeds, hemp-based building materials to medicinal and recreational uses.
Scientists have identified over 400 chemicals in the cannabis plant, of which around 80 are biologically active.
The most important biologically active compounds in cannabis are the cannabinoids. These compounds are specific to the cannabis plant and are not found anywhere else in nature.
Some of the more common cannabidiol are THC, CBD, cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC).
THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis and is intoxicating. CBD has some psychoactive effects, so researchers are exploring its potential for treating mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. However, it does not have the same intoxicating properties as THC.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) refers to the products as CBD oil containing more than 0.2% THC is illegal.
THC binds to receptors in various parts of the brain. These receptors usually attach to endocannabinoids, which are natural compounds produced by the human body.
The areas in the brain that are affected by THC and its effects are listed in the table below:
|hipokamp||impairs short-term memory|
|the cerebral cortex||traces judgment and impressions|
|The base ganglia of the brain||they alter reaction times and movements|
|The hypothalamus||increases the appetite|
|The nucleus of accommodation||causes euphoria|
|Tonsil||causes panic and paranoia|
|Cerebellum||makes you feel drunk|
|Brainstem||controls nausea and vomiting|
|Spinal cord||reduces pain|
CBD does not seem to bind to the same receptors as THC.
Scientists are still not sure how CBD exerts its effects, but they believe it may increase endocannabinoid levels or bind to serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a hormone that regulates mood, happiness, and anxiety.
In animal studies and preliminary human studies, CBD oil has shown some potential therapeutic effects, including:
● reduce inflammation
● relieve pain
● manage anxiety
● manage psychosis
● support neuroprotection
● prevent vomiting
How do drug testing for marijuana work?
According to a 2020 article, urine tests typically target the following substances:
The urine test is the most common diagnostic test for marijuana. The urine drug test is an immunoassay that uses antibodies designed to target specific drugs or their metabolites – in this case, the presence of THC and its metabolites.
If the antibodies identify the drug, they will generate a signal that shows that the test is „positive”.
The European Workplace Drug Testing Association issues guidelines for drug concentration levels in urine screening tests.
If the test detects a drug below this concentration threshold, the test will be negative. If the screening test is positive, it may be necessary to perform a supplemental test.
Confirmatory tests, such as gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy or high performance liquid chromatography, are more accurate in detecting drugs and their metabolites.
Doctors must be extremely careful when analyzing positive results of cannabis tests as false positives and false negatives are possible.
People who have unexpectedly tested positive for drugs in their urine should speak to their doctor.
EWDTS notes that the test can detect weeds for 3 days after a single use of CBD products and more than 30 days after heavy use.
This is because THC is fat soluble and the body stores it in the body’s fatty compartments. When a person burns or processes this fat, they slowly release THC and the kidneys eliminate it and its metabolites.
Scientists are also interested in using breath and saliva tests to detect marijuana in certain situations outside the laboratory.
In theory, the traffic police could use breathing tests to check that a driver is not driving under the influence of alcohol on the road. However, this technology is new and not yet fully understood.
Can you fail a CBD drug test?
In theory, people can fail a drug test if they consume a CBD product such as CBD oil that also contains THC.
CBD-rich products like CBD oil are derived from cannabis or hemp that contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids, including THC.
In a 2019 analysis of 67 CBD and CBD oil-containing food products in Germany, researchers found that 25% of samples contained THC above 2.5 milligrams daily due to intoxicating side effects.
While manufacturers may claim to eliminate THC from their products, this may not be true. Sometimes the product has not been tested by a third party or is mislabeled, misrepresenting the actual THC dose.
People can also get a false positive for marijuana or THC on a urine test if they use other drugs, including:
● non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen and sulindac
One study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found that people exposed to passive or second-hand marijuana smoking can test positive for drugs in their saliva.
Cannabis-free volunteers sat for several hours in an unventilated room with five people, each smoking one cannabis cigarette.
Researchers found THC in the saliva of each of the volunteers without marijuana, but the amounts decreased with the time spent indoors. Scientists don’t know if exposure to secondhand marijuana smoking will result in a positive saliva test outside the test environment.
An older study looked at whether passive smoking of marijuana could cause a positive urine drug test.
Researchers collected 80 urine samples 24 hours after exposing non-cannabis participants to secondary cannabis smoke. Only two samples tested positive, but none were above the threshold or above the recommended level.
A drug test does not detect CBD because it has no intoxicating effect and is not an illegal controlled substance. Nevertheless, people who use CBD oil may still fail the drug test. CBD-containing products, such as CBD oil, may be contaminated with THC or mislabeled.
Other drugs may interfere with urine drug tests and cause false positives. People who wish to avoid testing positive for THC in a drug test should purchase CBD oil products from reliable sources that can confirm that the product does not contain THC.
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