Find out if you can fail a drug test dues to hemp oil or CBD (cannabidiol) supplements. Plus info on how much THC is in hemp oil and CBD products. ConsumerLab.com's answer explains. Will hemp oil or other CBD products show up on a drug test? No! In this article we answer this question and cover how to choose a quality hemp products. Cases of CBD oil users failing drug tests are on the rise. Learn more about why this happens and how to avoid it.
Can hemp oil or CBD (cannabidiol) supplements cause me to fail a marijuana drug test?
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It is possible to fail a drug test for marijuana based on THC in a hemp oil, hemp seed, or hemp seed extract — the ingredient in many CBD oils and supplements. Unusually large amounts of hemp oil or hemp seed would normally be required to cause a positive drug test.
However, with hemp extracts, i.e., CBD oils, there is roughly a 10% chance of failing a drug test with low to moderate doses of CBD, and this will be influenced by individual variation in how THC is absorbed and metabolized. As dosage increases, the risk increases: one study found a 50% of testing positive with daily use of a moderately high dose of CBD. Note that some products contain very little THC and are, essentially, THC-free. For details, including the amounts of THC that ConsumerLab.com detected in specific products, see the What CL Found section of the CBD Oils & Hemp Extracts Review.
Will Hemp Oils and Other Similar Products Come up Positive on Drug Tests?
Hemp products have become very popular in North America over the past few years. With that popularity comes the question, “will hemp come up on a drug test”?
The answer is no.
But its not a simple no, so let’s dig a little deeper.
A quick intro to the confusion
First things first. We need to define our terms.A quick intro to the confusion
When we talk about hemp oil, we are talking about products that contain zero THC but do contain CBD. For this reason, we use hemp oil and CBD oil interchangeably.
Hemp seed oil on the other hand, means products that do not contain either THC or CBD. Hemp seed oil is mostly used in soaps and skincare products as a moisturizer, but it can also be found in food items like salad dressings.
For the purposes of this article, we are never referring to products using hemp seed oil, because they are not a concern as it relates to drug tests. What is a concern for drug testing is THC, so we’ll start there.
What is THC?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a cannabinoid present in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds. There are hundreds of cannabinoids, but THC is one of the two most popular (the other being CBD).
THC is psychoactive. It alters mental state – it’s the thing that causes people to feel “high”. THC causes sensations of euphoria, changed levels of concentration, relaxation and sedation. The occurrence and strength of these sensations depends on the type and dose of THC consumed, as well as other factors like environmental stimulus and an individual’s personal tolerance level.
In simpler terms, THC is like alcohol. Just because one beer makes one person sleepy doesn’t mean one beer will make all people sleepy. The same goes for THC.
And just like alcohol and other drugs too, it is illegal to drive or operate machinery under the influence of cannabis. (For the purposes of this article, we’re referring to legality in Canada and the United States). What this really means is that it is illegal to drive while impaired by THC. CBD won’t get you high, so it’s not what drug tests are looking for.
What is it then?
What are the drug tests looking for?
The primary purpose of drug testing is to detect the presence of one or more drugs in a person’s urine, blood, saliva, hair or sweat. If detected, the secondary purpose is to determine if the level of a substance has caused impairment or physiological changes. A drug test can be done for illegal drugs (ex cocaine), prescription (ex opioids) or legal/regulated substances (ex alcohol, cannabis).
One of the most common situations for a drug test to be administered is following a motor vehicle collision – or for motorists in general. According to Centre for Disease Control (CDC), 16% of motor vehicle accidents involve drugs, marijuana use being second most common. Alcohol is number one. Other commonly detected drugs associated with accidents are opioids, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine.
Professional athletes are often required to take a drug test prior to competing. Or in the case of the Olympics, after winning a medal. In this case, the drug test is looking for detectable levels of prohibited substances that enhance an athlete’s performance (ex steroids).
Employers sometimes require employees to take a drug test as well. These workplace tests are typically looking for the presence of legal OR illegal drugs which cause mental/physical impairment – and in turn be a safety issue for the employee and/or members of the public (ex forklift driver).
Now that we’ve covered the purpose of drug tests generally, we’ll focus specifically on CBD and THC.
How do drug screenings work with CBD/THC products?
Drug screening is not designed to detect CBD, because its not responsible for causing impairment. We’ll come back to why you can still test positive with hemp oil or other similar products in a minute. But before we do, THC screening.
Drug tests screen for THC-COOH, which is a metabolite of THC. A metabolite is a substance after it has been metabolized or processed in the body. Tests are not necessarily looking for zero THC, rather a THC levels below the required cut-off (varies). There are several ways to test for THC, the most common of which is a urine drug screening.
Urine drug screening is common for many substances, including THC. According to the Mayo Clinic, THC metabolites can have detectable levels in urine for:
- 3 days – single use
- 5 days – moderate use (4x per week)
- 10 days – heavy use (daily)
- 30 days – chronic heavy use
THC can be detected in plasma within a few seconds. Peak concentrations are obtained within 3-10 min of consumption (Ramzy and Priefer), and only remains detectable for about 5 hours. How the THC was consumed plays a role in this window, as does the length/depth of inhalation and how long held in lungs before exhaling (combustible). Blood tests are not very common since THC leaves the bloodstream very quickly as compared to urine.
Like a positive urine drug screen, the “passable amount” of THC in the blood varies by location, legal framework, industry and purpose.
The verdict is.
A routine drug test does not screen for CBD, so using hemp oil or other related products will not cause a positive drug test. That said, the CBD industry is not strictly regulated in the United States, and in Canada there’s a big grey market. So it is possible to fail a drug test with a CBD product which is why we’ll talk next about how this can happen.
My drug test still showed positive. What happened?
What happened if I fail a drug test but I only used hemp oil or other related CBD products? Well, one of a few things may have happened.
You can fail a drug test with CBD when CBD oil and other related hemp products are supposed to be THC-free. Generally this means they contain less than 0.3% THC. If your drug test still showed positive, your CBD product may have had cross contamination during the manufacturing process.
In the many states in the US, CBD oil is legal but loosely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The industry lacks oversight, so CBD products lack labeling accuracy. Usually, it’s the opposite way i.e. hempseed oil is labeled as CBD oil to increase profit margins. But the same can happen where a cannabis product containing THC is labelled as CBD.
In Canada, CBD is regulated under the same Cannabis Act that governs THC. But there’s a huge grey market of CBD products available to consumers. What’s troubling is that these grey market products are often not sourced responsibly, not tested and not reviewed for their health claims. There’s a lot of room for error here, both cross contamination and mislabeling.
Its unlikely but still possible to test positive on a drug test after being exposed to secondhand smoke. Most combustible cannabis has THC content, which could be detected specifically on the hair.
Do the tests distinguish that the CBD hemp oil is not from Marijuana?
No, drug tests do not distinguish that CBD oil is from hemp and not marijuana. Remember, tests are designed to detect the cannabinoid THC or its metabolite THC-COOH, not the type of cannabis plant that it came from. The test doesn’t care if your product is made from hemp or marijuana plants or both, it only cares if there are detectable levels of THC present in your urine, blood, etc.
Still a bit confused on the basics of the cannabis sativa plant? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered with this helpful video.
How do I choose a quality hemp product that does not contain THC?
There are a few things you can do to ensure you choose a hemp oil or other CBD product that does not contain THC. Here’s our tips:
- Purchase CBD from a reliable source.
- Avoid products that make medical/health claims.
- Choose products that state the amount of CBD in the product.
- Go for CBD isolate rather than full spectrum CBD products, which are more likely to contain trace amounts of THC.
As we mentioned above, hemp products are sort of haphazardly regulated. In Canada, CBD oil falls under the Cannabis Act and can only legally be made by licensed producers (LP’s). LP’s have strict sourcing guidelines, but the flourishing grey market certainly does not! It’s the opposite in the United States, where in many states CBD oil is not only legal but unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. So its important to be diligent about your hemp products!
A final note
We started this article by defining our terms. In the cannabis space, terms are sometimes misunderstood and therefore misused. As we strive to overcome the stigmas of cannabis that go back to decades of criminalization, precision in how we talk about cannabis and its research is really important.
We challenge you to read all of your sources carefully, paying attention to how each article uses its terms. And if it all seems a bit overwhelming, take it slow. There’s a place for every woman in cannabis. We’re glad to have you here with us at empyri.
Author Bio: Jennifer is the president and founder of empyri. Jennifer’s passion for formulation and product development was set ablaze in 2019, when she incorporated the healing power of cannabis roots into her long-standing three-step skin care system. Armed with scientific evidence on the actives in cannabis roots and seeds, a clean and conscious brand was born. Using her masters degree in bio-chemical engineering, Jennifer is forging a path to . READ FULL BIO
Will CBD Oil Result in a Positive Drug Test?
Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer’s research.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Femi Aremu, PharmD, is a professional pharmacist with experience in clinical and community pharmacy. He currently practices in Chicago, Illinois.
CBD (cannabidiol) oil is a popular product for everything from pain control and anxiety to promoting sleep. However, with the rise of CBD use comes a concern about failing a drug test.
News stories are emerging across the country involving famous people who have gotten positive drug screening results for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the component of marijuana that can cause people to feel high. This is happening even though CBD oil is said to be THC-free.
What are the odds that CBD oil users will test positive when subjected to illicit drug screenings? And what can be done to prevent it?
This article explains why a positive drug test can happen with CBD use, which types of CBD are most likely to trigger one, and what you can do to avoid it.
Does CBD Oil Contain THC?
The active chemical in marijuana that gets detected in a positive drug test screening is THC. Most people are under the impression that CBD oil is THC-free, which is generally true. But not always.
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. This includes low-quality isolates and many full-spectrum tinctures. A full spectrum oil contains other active plant compounds in addition to the CBD.
Cannabis is the umbrella term describing hemp and marijuana plants—two different varieties of the Cannabis genus. Both marijuana and hemp can be described as cannabis, but they are two different plants.
CBD is one of many active chemical compounds in cannabis plants. One reason it’s becoming more popular is because it’s said to lack THC.
The primary difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp is nearly void of THC. In fact, a cannabis strain must contain less than 0.3% THC to be classified as hemp. This is why hemp can be legally sold in various products.
Most CBD products are made from hemp, not marijuana.
There are many distinctions between marijuana and hemp that relate to CBD oil. Marijuana contains both THC (the “high”-inducing element) and CBD. Hemp contains CBD and only trace amounts of THC.
Hemp also contains many cannabinoids, which is a name for the compounds found in cannabis. CBD is only one example.
There are several techniques for extracting CBD oil from the cannabis plant. The extraction method determines whether the CBD oil is an “isolate” or a “full-spectrum oil.”
A CBD isolate is a pure compound with no other active compounds or cannabinoids. The full-spectrum compounds may include other active chemicals, such as cannabinol and cannabis terpenes (the part of the plant that gives the plant its aroma).
Study of CBD Oil
While some CBD oils claim to be isolates, they may be full-spectrum oils and actually contain more cannabinoids (such as THC) than they claim.
A study conducted at the internationally known Lautenberg Center For Immunology and Cancer found that CBD was more effective at treating inflammation and pain when used with other cannabis plant compounds.
These compounds were derived from a full-spectrum product rather than a CBD isolate product alone. This is one reason that full-spectrum products (those containing THC) are popular.
However, the distinction between full-spectrum oils and isolates makes all the difference if you are being tested for drug use.
Reasons for Failing a CBD Drug Test
There are several common reasons a person fails a CBD drug test.
Using Product With THC
The most common reason for a failed CBD drug test is that a person is using a CBD oil product that contains THC. This may be a full-spectrum product. Sometimes, though, it could be a low-quality isolate product that contains a small amount of THC.
Although most manufacturers claim their products do not contain THC, this is not always the case.
Cross-Contamination of THC
Very small amounts of THC present in the material that CBD is extracted from can get into the CBD oil in high enough amounts to result in a positive drug test. This scenario may be more likely to occur when CBD oil is purchased from cannabis dispensaries in places where cannabis is legal.
Mislabeling of Products
CBD oil extracted from hemp is not supposed to contain more than 0.3% 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. And marijuana does contain THC.
In fact, one study discovered that almost 70% of the CBD products sold online were mislabeled. This caused “potential serious harm to its consumers.” The reason for this widespread mislabeling is that CBD products are not strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Secondhand Exposure to THC
Inadvertent exposure to marijuana (via secondhand smoke) is unlikely to be enough for a person to get a positive drug test result. But it is possible. Being in a room with heavy pot smokers for several hours may cause the inhalation of enough THC-containing smoke to result in a positive test result.
A more likely secondhand exposure scenario is a positive marijuana hair test. This results from direct contact with marijuana paraphernalia or from another person having THC on their hands.
For instance, say that 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.
CBD Oil Breakdown in the Digestive System
Some sources report that in rare cases, false positive test results have come from CBD oil that breaks down into very small amounts of THC in the stomach. Other studies, however, have refuted this finding.
The conclusion is that it’s still theoretically possible for traces of THC to be present in stomach acid when “less-purified CBD productions” are ingested.
How to Avoid a Positive CBD Drug Test
If you take CBD oil, you can take steps to try to prevent failing a drug test:
- Do thorough research to ensure the CBD product you’re using is pure and that the company is legitimate.
- Look for manufacturers that have been accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
- Ensure that the CBD oil is an isolate product extracted from a viable industrial hemp supply. It should not be a low-quality tincture.
- Ask questions about product processing techniques and the possibility of cross-contamination.
- Avoid secondhand exposure to marijuana use via pot smoking or hair contact from THC users.
CBD oil is usually marketed as THC-free, but that’s not always the case. Full-spectrum CBD oils contain other cannabinoids, which may include THC. Isolate products may be contaminated with THC, as well.
You have to be proactive to avoid failing a drug test if you’re taking CBD oil. Most important: Ensure that you’re using a pure product made by a reputable company.
A Word From Verywell
In theory, getting a false positive on a drug test from CBD oil should be relatively impossible from pure CBD oil containing less than 0.3% THC. However, because CBD oil is not well regulated, there is no guarantee that a product contains pure CBD oil, or that its concentration is safe or effective.
Use the utmost caution and do your research when purchasing a quality CBD oil product to ensure its purity, especially if you need to undergo a drug screening.
Frequently Asked Questions
Drug tests look for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the element in marijuana that causes a high. CBD oils can have trace amounts of THC even if they’re labeled “THC-free.” The FDA does not regulate these products, and mislabeling is common.
Yes. If the products contain THC, you could test positive. If you know you’ll need to take a drug test, avoid full-spectrum CBD products that may contain small amounts of THC. Be sure you purchase products from a reliable source. And be wary of online retailers; researchers have found that 21% of online CBD and hemp products were mislabeled.