For many of us, CBD—or cannabidiol, a compound found in the Cannabis sativa family of plants— has become an integral part of our daily wellness routines. Over the last year and a half iin particular, we have relied on full spectrum CBD products to help alleviate stress, anxiety, systemic inflammation and to care for our skin.
And having experienced the many benefits of CBD, we can’t imagine our days without this wonder compound. But with more people getting vaccinated and life opening back up, some of us who were fortunate enough to work remotely are now being called back to work on site. Now, we’re faced with a tough question that we might haven’t had to consider before: Does CBD show up on drug tests?
Read on for what you need to know before returning to work.
Does CBD contain THC?
While both CBD and THC—or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound that creates the feeling of being “high”—are found in the Cannabis genus, CBD is often extracted from industrial hemp plants, which cannot legally contain more than 0.3% THC. Marijuana refers to cannabis plants containing a higher level of THC, and this legal level can depend on where you live.
CBD works within the body’s endocannabinoid system to help regulate it and promote homeostasis, and while it may increase feelings of relaxation and ease stress and anxiety, it does not make you “high.”
However, CBD may contain trace amounts of THC. That’s because CBD—especially full spectrum CBD— is extracted alongside the other compounds from the hemp plant. While many of these compounds are still being discovered, we know that some of them, like CBG and CBN , act in conjunction with CBD to offer highly beneficial effects to the brain and body, making full spectrum CBD incredibly appealing for many consumers.
Depending on how the CBD is extracted and which plant (hemp or marijuana) it is extracted from, though, it is possible it may contain small levels of THC.
Does CBD show up on drug tests? It’s complicated.
Minute levels of THC don’t even register on most of our radar systems, especially since we can’t feel its effects. But if you’re heading back to work and you’re required to take a drug test, do you need to rethink using CBD regularly in your wellness regimen?
According to Consumer Reports , “‘The urine test most commonly used doesn’t even look for CBD but instead a compound created by the body when it metabolizes THC,’ says Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology at Quest Diagnostics, the largest administrator of drug tests in the U.S. ‘There isn’t going to be a laboratory analytical false positive confusing CBD with a THC metabolite.’”
However, Sample cautions that the amount of THC in a CBD product might actually be higher than the label states, depending on the product you’re using. Because there is little uniformity in how to test for THC levels in CBD products, different states may have varying degrees of what is deemed “acceptable”—and that can lead to complications on a drug test.
Aline DeLucia, senior policy analyst for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, tells Consumer Reports, “Adding to the confusion is that each state can determine how it samples and tests hemp plants for THC content. The closer you get to the flower, the higher the THC content. So some states collect the top 6 inches of the plant, while others do it differently.”
There’s also the possibility that trace amounts of THC could build up in your body
over time, resulting in a flag on your urine, blood, saliva or hair screening. So while CBD should not be lumped in with THC for its psychoactive properties, unfortunately, a drug test may do just that.
How can I continue to safely take CBD and go back to work?
To prevent the thorny issue of drug testing while taking CBD, it’s important to purchase products that have a COA, or Certificate of Analysis. “We know how important third party testing is,” notes Sarah Mirsini, founder of MASK CBD Skincare.
“That’s why each of our products has a COA that can be read on our website . Not only do our customers want to know how and where our CBD is sourced, they want to ensure they’re using the highest quality CBD in their natural skin care and other CBD products, and the amount of THC they can expect to find in each of these products.”
And while buying only CBD products that provide a COA is hugely helpful in ensuring you pass your company’s drug test, it’s important to have a plan, just in case. If a problem arises from your drug test, talk to your boss. While many of us who take CBD regularly can’t imagine life without it, many people are still being brought up to speed on what CBD is, and how it interacts with the body. Having a doctor’s note is always helpful, and if your company has an HR department, that may work in your favor, as well: Since CBD derived from hemp is legal on a federal level, you may be able to talk to your HR rep about the laws where you live and if you are protected by them.
Lastly, if you’re still nervous about passing a drug test because you take CBD, you may want to stop using CBD products for 3 weeks before your test, just to be safe. The good news is, CBD products are now easily obtainable on trusted sites like MASK and Iremia , so you can work CBD back into your daily wellness routine as soon as your drug test is over.