example of drug test equipment
Articles, Medical

Does CBD show up in drug tests? No, and here’s why.

Whether you’re a recreational user or a patient treating a medical condition, it’s understandable that you want to know the risks of using CBD products. Does CBD show up in drug tests? It’s an age-old question. With the medical marijuana industry growing exponentially, it’s easy to see why it’s on everybody’s minds. 

As this industry continues to expand throughout the United States and the world, our need for knowledge pertaining to the consumption of CBD becomes more important. We’ve found that many people are worried CBD will register “positive” on a workplace drug test. Before moving on, let’s start by saying it’s highly unlikely. Let’s dive in and examine why CBD does not show up in drug tests.

example of drug test equipment

Defining drug tests and how they work

Drug tests take urine, hair, sweat, blood, or saliva to analyze the presence of illegal and prescription drugs. According to Dixie Botanicals, one of the most common screening methods is urine drug testing, or UDT.

The two kinds of UDT methods are screening tests and confirmatory tests. Screening test use an immunoassay to detect certain substances. If the screening test comes back positive, the lab uses a confirmatory UDT to confirm which drugs are present.

But, rest assured… while drug tests have become increasingly sophisticated over the years, even tests designed to detect marijuana don’t indicate CBD levels in the panel. Dixie Botanicals explains that the majority of workplace drug screens testing for marijuana focus on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). That’s the psychoactive compound responsible for getting people “high” by binding with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These drug tests also screen for THC’s main metabolite, 11-nor-deltag-caboxy-THC.

Fortunately, cannabidiol (CBD) does not put most companies at risk, however it can still be a good idea to check with your company HR department (or, if you’re not comfortable having that conversation, checking your workplace policies) to find out if having CBD in your system would put you at risk in case of a drug test. So, does CBD show up on a drug test? Not likely.


Why doesn’t CBD show up on a drug test?

The truth is, drugs tests are not designed to screen for CBD. Employers require drug screening to determine risks associated with impairment. The absence of THC and its metabolites makes it relatively safe to assume it comes to passing these screenings with flying colors.

Even though these two compounds are derived from the cannabis plant, at a molecular level, they’re actually quite different. Employers and other administrators are practically never looking for CBD, because it does not put them at risk when it comes to legal protection, productivity, safety, or federal mandates.

The majority of employers are using 5-panel or 10-panel drug screens that screen for metabolized THC and various other substances. But CBD? It’s not on these panels. Although CBD and THC are cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, drug tests focus on detecting THC.


cbd thc molecular similarities and differences

Image of CBD and THC molecular structures from FarmaPDX.com


Marijuana Break discusses these differences in depth, providing some insight. THC produces its euphoric effects by impacting the CB1 receptors found throughout our nervous system and brain. These molecules have no trouble binding with CB1 receptors, allowing for CB1 stimulation.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is also rather similar to anandamide, a bliss molecule and naturally occurring endocannabinoid. Resembling anandamide allows THC’s stimulation of CB1 receptors. In turn, this creates the euphoric feelings that come with ingesting the substance.

CBD has the opposite effect on CB1 receptors. This compound actually suppresses THC’s CB1- activating qualities. CBD ingestion lessens the psychoactive impact of THC because CBD is known for antagonizing CB1 receptors rather than stimulating them.

example of drug test equipment


What the experts say about CBD showing up on drug tests

Through The Cannabist’s email consultation with director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics, Barry Sample, we see that testing positive for marijuana or marijuana metabolite does not occur when ingesting only CBD. Sample stated, “If the product contains only CBD and has had the THC removed, then an individual being tested would not be expected to test positive for marijuana or marijuana metabolite.”

In another email response to The Cannabist, marijuana health and science researcher Paul Armentano is quoted responding to the question, “Not unless those products also contain quantities of THC. Drug tests screen for either THC or the carboxy-THC metabolite, not for CBD.”

The last question we need to ask is: do CBD products contain enough THC to impact a drug screen? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends a THC cutoff concentration of 50 ng/mL. According to USDrugTestCenters.com, SAMHSA certified labs are typically the go-to for testing since they tend to hold up best in court. With very little THC found in the majority of CBD products, it’s unlikely for CBD consumers to fail a drug test. While it’s possible for someone using in excess of 2,000 mg of CBD daily, a false positive as a result of CBD ingestion is still extremely unlikely.

hands holding cbd for life tincture showing oil inside dropper


Does CBD show up on a drug test? No, but you should still play it safe.

So—does CBD show up on a drug test? The overall answer is that it depends on whether or not the test screens for CBD, specifically. Most screenings for cannabinoids are only looking for THC and THC metabolite, in which case the answer is a definitive “no.” However, this doesn’t mean that testing for CBD is impossible.

Most drug tests don’t focus on screening for it because this substance does not have psychoactive properties. Simply put, CBD is part of a medical regiment, not a drug that poses a threat.

All in all, we still recommend you check your company policy regardless of its legality in your state or country. Most of the time, your typical employment drug screening will not screen for CBD, but on the off chance that a corporate insurance provider views CBD as a threat, you’d be well prepared to know ahead of time.

One tip for those ingesting CBD is to make sure your products are as pure as possible. While CBD is safe for drug tests, it’s always a good idea to know what you’re putting in your body. Some CBD products can have more THC than others. Elevated THC levels in a drug test can result in a positive screening and consequences from your employer or administrator. If you’re looking for high purity levels without the risk, try our 99% pure CBD isolate tinctures available non-flavored and in peppermint for a little zing!

And, if you want to learn more about cannabidiol in general, read through our Definitive Guide:

A Primer on CBD: the Definitive Guide

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *