Recognized as the preferred method for cannabis drug testing, urine screenings are often used as a benchmark to detect for cannabis use. Most urine tests utilize a specific sensitivity for the cutoff concentration of THC-COOH. The most common cutoff concentration point is 50 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), as suggested by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
In most cases, it’s highly unlikely that CBD will show up on a drug test. Usually employment drug tests look for the presence of THC or THC metabolites. Most employers abide by the guidelines set forth by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), which includes detection for THC but not CBD. Tests generally look for THC but how much and how long THC sticks around depends on what’s being tested.
While it’s possible that small amounts of THC that exist within a CBD product could accumulate and show up in a drug test, it’s still highly unlikely. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Upon inhalation, active THC can be found in the bloodstream within a matter of seconds and can be detected in plasma for several hours, depending on the frequency of use and dosage. According to a 2004 review published in the journal Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, the plasma concentration of THC peaks just three to eight minutes after inhalation and then decreases quickly with a half-life of about 30 minutes. The study claims that THC is detectable in blood for about five hours, but the THC metabolite THC-COOH has a detection time of up to 25 days.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has recently surged into the therapeutic spotlight for its perceived anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, pain-relieving, and seizure-suppressing properties. CBD products can be found in health and wellness aisles across the world — perhaps even at your local Walgreens or CVS — in many forms, some of which include CBD oil, tinctures, edibles, elixirs, and more.
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
For example, if someone smokes a joint and exhales near someone who doesn’t consume cannabis, THC can be transferred to the non-smoker’s head or body hair. The same study found that, after giving participants 50 milligrams of THCA every day for one month, no THC was found in the hair specimen samples, but THC-COOH was still detected. As for the detection period, the hair follicle drug test timeline is much broader than with urine and blood tests, sometimes detecting the presence of THC up to 90 days after use.
THC can be detected in a urine test for up to 15 days, depending on how often and how much you use. It leaves the bloodstream in about five hours, but substances your body makes from THC (THC metabolites) can show up for as long as 7 days. CBD tends to stay in the bloodstream from 2 to 5 days, depending on dosage and frequency. If you have been using CBD for a while, it can stay in your body for up to 30 days or more.
Topical products that claim to contain CBD—like shampoos, cosmetics or creams—should not cause any reaction during a drug test because they do not enter the bloodstream. In the case of CBD oils, gummies, teas or transdermal patches, the situation is more complicated. In a test of 84 CBD products obtained online, 18 contained THC.
The legality of CBD products can be confusing. CBD products made from certain cannabis plant varieties are legal only in states where marijuana is legal, due to the potential THC content. CBD products made from hemp variety plants are legal throughout the United States as long as they contain less than 0.3% of THC and do not make any medical claims. (A hemp plant is defined as Cannabis sativa that contains less than 0.3% THC.)
Factors in CBD Oil Showing on Drug Screen
CBD products can still be problematic, however, when it comes to drug testing. Though drug tests screen for THC, not CBD, many CBD products contain a trace amount of THC which will be detected in your bloodstream during a drug test.
CBD has taken off as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments. CBD products like CBD oil can be made from either the hemp plant or the cannabis plant, which are closely related varieties of the same cannabis species, Cannabis sativa. CBD products contain a cannabinoid—a chemical—called cannabidiol, which does not make you high. The substance in marijuana that causes a buzz is a different cannabinoid, called THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.
If you are concerned that THC in your CBD oil or other CBD product may show up on a drug test, you may be able to reduce the chance of that occurring, though there is no guarantee. Some of the factors that may increase the likelihood of a failed drug test are:
CBD will not show up in a drug test because drug tests are not screening for it. CBD products may well contain THC, however, so you can fail a drug test after taking CBD products. If you take CBD oil, you should plan accordingly if your work or activities require you to undergo drug testing.
CBD is one of many active chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. One reason it’s gaining momentum in popularity is because it is said to lack the component of the plant that causes a person to get high, which is called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
The conclusion is that it’s still theoretically possible for traces of THC metabolites to be present in the stomach acid in the instance where “less-purified CBD productions” are ingested.
Study of CBD Oil
CBD oil extracted from hemp is not supposed to have any more than .3 percent of THC. However, it’s not uncommon for sellers to mislabel their products as THC-free hemp when in reality, it’s a low-quality oil extracted from marijuana, which does contain THC.
As it turns out, depending on the source of the cannabis that is used to produce the CBD oil, some products do contain traces of THC (including low-quality isolates and many full-spectrum tinctures).
For instance, if someone who had direct contact with marijuana then touched your hair, you could feasibly receive a false positive on a drug screening that tests your hair.