Guest Blog by: Joy Hughes, a writer of health, nutrition and all things cannabis. Having experienced the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids first hand, she's been spreading the word ever since. She currently travels the country in an RV with her husband and beloved beagle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know that according to the National Institutes of Health, more than 60% of CBD consumers use it to help alleviate issues stemming from medical conditions?
And of that 60%, more than half of those users report feeling relief from either chronic pain, anxiety, or depression.
But here’s the issue…
While the stigma surrounding CBD is fading, there’s still plenty of concern when it comes to drug testing—especially for people who are federally employed, play a sport, or are on probation.
In fact, over a dozen federal law enforcement employees, who consume CBD products in place of pain medications, are under disciplinary action due to testing positive for THC.
This can be disconcerting, especially considering the products they were consuming were derived from hemp and not marijuana.
So if you’ve ever asked the question, “Will CBD oil make me fail a drug test?”.... this article is for you.
But first, let’s look at the different CBD products on the market today and why they matter when it comes to drug testing.
Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and CBD Isolate
Whether you’re new to the CBD market, or you consider yourself a cannabis veteran, chances are you’ve heard of the following three CBD product variations:
- Full Spectrum CBD. This contains all parts of the hemp plant, including terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids like THC.
- Broad Spectrum CBD. This contains all parts of the hemp plant, with the exception of THC. Before broad spectrum CBD products hit the market, formulators will remove any trace amounts of THC.
- CBD Isolate. This is considered the purest form of CBD. It contains no other nutrients from the hemp plant.
While full spectrum CBD products are considered the most effective variety, they’re also the most likely to cause a failed drug test.
So, consuming broad spectrum and CBD isolate products would be a no-brainer, right?
Well, not quite…
You may be surprised to learn that some consumers have tested positive for THC on both broad spectrum and CBD isolate products. And these are the two CBD products that claim they contain “Zero THC.”
What’s more, they’re both hemp-derived.
CBD buyer beware
Due to a lack of regulation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the CBD industry, a lot of CBD products are inaccurately labeled.
Back in 2017, researchers at the University School of Medicine in Pennsylvania analyzed the CBD and THC concentrations of 84 CBD products from 31 different companies. And they found measurable levels of THC in 18 samples. That’s more than 1 in 5!
Now, there are two things we’d like to point out from this study:
- The amount of THC could possibly produce intoxication or impairment in people who are sensitive to the substance, especially children.
- The amount of THC found in all 18 samples could possibly show up positive on a drug test.
It’s also important to point out that nearly 70% of CBD products sold online contain inaccurate labeling—they either overstate or understate the amount of CBD in the product.
What’s more, ABC7 Chicago also conducted their own little experiment and had 8 CBD products tested by a lab in Morton, Illinois.
They quickly found that all 8 samples contained levels of THC that was well above the legal limit of 0.3%. Which means, inaccurate labeling of CBD extracts could be the reason some people are failing drug tests.
If you’re in the market for CBD, it’s imperative that you look at the Certificate of Analysis (COA) for each specific product you’re considering.
This means the product has been tested by an accredited, independent third party. It will show you the percentage of each cannabinoid found in the final product, including THC, if there’s any present. COA’s are easily accessible on reputable CBD brands’ websites.
After choosing a reputable CBD company with clean COA’s, there’s something else to consider..
CBD oil and Drug testing
It might surprise you that many drug testing techniques have wrongfully misidentified CBD as THC.
In a nutshell, some drug tests use a method for identification called Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) to help identify the drugs and cannabinoids consumed.
But in order to do so, they need to add a chemical to help with the derivatization process. Trifluoroacetic Anhydride (TFAA) has often been that chemical, though other chemicals have been used as well.
(Don’t worry, this will all make sense in a minute.)
However, according to documented research, TFAA and GC-MS can cause CBD and THC to be indistinguishable. Additionally, researchers noted that other chemicals do not cause this issue.
For this reason, many employees, students, and others who claim to have only consumed hemp-derived CBD are failing drug tests.
Until a standard of accurate testing methods are applied across the board, false positive drug tests will likely continue to be a problem. Of course, this will need to happen at regulatory or administrative levels, and is unfortunately out of the control of CBD users.
Now there’s one other point we’d like to address…
Can CBD convert into THC in the body?
Online research could lead you down rabbit trails of inaccurate information. One such example is the notion that CBD converts into THC in the human body.
When a drug test is issued, the tester is looking for a specific metabolite of THC. (They don’t actually look for CBD at all.)
But because the chemical structures of CBD and THC are so similar, some researchers were concerned that CBD could actually convert to THC from stomach acid.
But studies aren’t all that convincing. Even the researchers from these studies agree that this idea “deviates significantly from physiological conditions in the stomach.”
Bottom line: That’s probably one less thing you need to worry about.
Still, many people wonder: “Why are good employees, students, and professional athletes enduring disciplinary actions over a federally legal substance?”
Is CBD legal?
According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is legal on a federal level as long as it contains 0.3% THC or less. This means hemp and all of its derivatives (other than Delta-9 THC) are no longer on the federal list of controlled substances, thus classifying it as an agricultural commodity.
This doesn’t mean that CBD is completely out of the woods, though.
As mentioned earlier, the FDA has yet to make a move on regulating the CBD market.
This is why you need to be vigilant about what CBD labels say. Because hemp-derived CBD products are allowed to contain no more than 0.3% THC, it’s best to check the fine print on the product’s label and COA to make sure you’re in the clear.
The future of CBD drug testing
As more states continue to legalize and self-regulate cannabis products, the risk of false positive drug tests will hopefully decrease.
That is, of course, if accurate testing is standardized across the board, and if hemp companies accurately label their products.
Thankfully, there are a few reputable CBD companies that accurately label their products, and actually warn their customers that the presence of THC found in their products could cause a failed drug test.
This isn’t something you hear from those hemp companies who are only out to turn a profit.
In the end, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here at Naternal, your safety is our highest priority. We also want you to know all the facts regarding our products and other products that are available on the market today.
We’ve worked alongside scientists and doctors. And we’re confident that as drug testing becomes more sophisticated, the chance for testing positive for THC after consuming CBD will likely be eliminated.
For now, we strongly suggest that if you’re required to participate in drug testing, you should not ingest hemp oil.
Instead, speak with your healthcare provider, employer, and/or drug screening company to see what other options you may have regarding CBD consumption.