Does CBD show up on a drug test?
Learn how drug tests work for cannabis use and whether you need to worry about CBD.
Now that using CBD has gone mainstream, more people want to know how to incorporate the compound into their daily lives. This means learning about serving size, product types, and the benefits you can expect from taking CBD.
Along with these questions come some concerns, such as whether CBD will result in a positive drug test if you take it consistently. If you’re living the CBD lifestyle and need to pass a drug screening for work or athletics, you’ll want to know the details so you don’t end up in a tricky situation via a positive result.
In this article, we’re here to set the record straight on CBD and how it interacts with the body, giving you the info you need to utilize CBD safely and responsibly—even if a drug test is on the horizon.
Do drug tests test for CBD or THC?
Most drug tests are developed to detect THC levels in the body, meaning that CBD is not the target compound for such tests. While CBD tests may theoretically exist, they tend not to be part of the testing regimen for most organizations, like conventional workplace drug testing.
The goals and parameters of drug tests can vary, so always seek to know exactly which compounds are permitted or forbidden on the specific test you’re taking.
If you anticipate a random test at any point, we suggest sticking with CBD products only and not risking the intake of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in any amount. With that said, some CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, but we’ll touch on this later and offer some advice to prevent the buildup of THC in the system from CBD.
The short answer here is no—pure CBD will not ring you up for a positive THC drug test, but when it comes to these situations, it’s “better safe than sorry” in most cases. The good news is that cannabis research and product formulations are increasingly transparent and comprehensive, meaning you can navigate these processes more safely and with intentional outcomes.
Does CBD have psychoactive properties?
CBD doesn’t have psychoactive properties on its own, but why do drug tests tend to target THC over CBD in the first place? It’s all about the effects of THC that CBD does not trigger.
For decades, THC was broadly considered an illegal drug with intoxicating effects on the nervous system, impacting cognition, memory, motor skills, and other aspects of the body and mind.
This led legal institutions and private organizations to enact barriers to entry with THC testing, ensuring that individuals could only be permitted with their complete mental and physical faculties.
Even though the tides are shifting in the legal and medical conversation surrounding THC, this old-school approach to testing is still rather rigid in many situations. Whether it’s the military, professional environments, or athletic competitions, THC is viewed on equal footing as harder drugs and performance enhancers.
How do CBD and THC differ?
Both CBD and THC are naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. They share similar properties and some of the same therapeutic benefits, but a key distinction is reflected in drug test policies: THC is psychoactive, while CBD is not. In fact, CBD derived from hemp plants is even federally legal—and hemp plants are categorized as any cannabis plant with less than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight.
Psychoactive substances are those that cause changes in perception, mood, behavior, or abilities. While THC is one of the lesser psychoactive substances out there, it’s still seen as a mind-altering drug by many institutions that dictate drug test policies.
Conversely, CBD has many of the non-psychoactive effects of cannabis and is known to interact with endocannabinoid receptors differently than its counterpart. THC binds with the CB1 receptors, thus triggering a sometimes intoxicating response.*
Can CBD cause a false positive drug test?
A false positive is a drug test result that detects a substance you didn’t take. For example, a false positive would occur if you test positive for THC metabolites when you haven’t been using THC.
Considering the close link between CBD and THC, it’s not uncommon to see false positive drug tests come through despite your best efforts to avoid consumption—but why is this the case?
False positives may result from a faulty drug test or improper administration, but in most cases, they happen because the individual has unknowingly taken a drug. This can lead to immense frustration and confusion for a person who has tried to avoid a particular drug and even result in legal implications or professional setbacks.
For years, gray areas in the cannabis industry have led to false positive tests, but this era is likely ending now that transparency and regulations are more prevalent and trusted.
Nowadays, we have access to more in-depth certificates of analysis for CBD and THC products, ensuring we make the right product picks and take them safely. This is the best approach to confidently navigating drug tests at any level.
With education and the right approach, you can avoid false positives and still get the most from your CBD, and we’ll offer the tools and resources to do so.
Does CBD contain THC?
There are hundreds of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, but CBD and THC get the most attention for their properties and availability. The challenge for users comes in separating the two when consuming products safely and sustainably with drug testing in mind.
This is because many CBD products also contain THC, and vice versa. Thanks to the entourage effect that increases the benefits of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids—formulators tend to include many compounds in a single capsule, gummy, or oil.*
That’s good news for the effectiveness of your cannabis experience, because the compounds interact with a broader range of receptors in the ECS. In fact, the entourage effect is most proven when small amounts of THC are included in CBD products, explaining the popularity of full spectrum CBD products as opposed to CBD isolate.
The downside of this approach to CBD production is that the presence of THC can introduce new issues in the testing realm. While the Farm Bill states that a maximum of 0.3% THC is permissible in cannabis products nationwide, certain loopholes can result in high levels of THC found in certain CBD goods.
This puts the responsibility on you, the CBD user, to closely read labels and COAs to ensure you’re getting products with low amounts of THC or none at all.
While regulations and transparency are improving dramatically, it still takes education and vigilance to know the difference between CBD and THC products to keep yourself in the clear.
What type of CBD should you choose if you have an upcoming test?
We’re happy to report that you don’t need to be in the dark about your CBD products or run unnecessary risks with THC compounds. This starts by choosing the right CBD product and sticking to a reliable regimen without deviating.
Your first aim should be to stop consumption of THC-heavy products immediately and shift to a CBD product with lower concentrations. Full spectrum CBD oil and other products may include up to 0.3 percent THC, which may accumulate in your body over time when used consistently.
Therefore, a broad spectrum CBD product will likely be your best choice for reducing THC to the bare minimum. You can still enjoy the entourage effect to a great degree and reap the benefits of CBD for your body and mind.
There are plenty of great ways to take broad spectrum CBD that won’t interrupt your daily routine, so don’t hesitate when it’s time to make the switch.
How can you choose a reliable CBD product?
With so many CBD products available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by choice. Even if you’ve narrowed down your selection to full and broad spectrum, more detective work must be done.
Here’s a quick guide to choosing a reliable CBD product that gives you the exact formulation you want for desired results and no drug test guesswork.
Check the THC content
THC content is priority number one when searching for your next CBD product. This goes for percentages and total volume, which can be an issue when taking larger servings with greater frequency.
Even a CBD product with 0.3% THC content might create an issue if you’re using it heavily throughout the day, so a broad spectrum product might be the right choice in this case. Remember that each delta variety of THC registers the same on drug tests, even if they’re less psychoactively effective.
Topical creams or gels also offer a smart workaround for CBD without THC building up in your system, so consider this alternative for targeted results.
Look for third-party testing
Third-party testing tells you a lot about a product and exactly what’s inside. Always read through the certificate of analysis for different types of CBD, focusing on the most recent batch and cross-checking the batch number with the report so nothing is left to chance.
The COA might seem complex at first, but you’ll soon be able to decipher the meaning of key measurements and readings. Make a habit of reading COAs online or try scanning in-store products' barcode with your phone to get the full story on each one.
Check the ingredient list
Ingredients are everything in the wellness world, and the same rules apply to CBD. The products you choose should feature natural ingredients from trusted sources and production processes you recognize.
There are still many gray area products in the CBD space, so don’t take risks to save a few minutes or dollars. Clean ingredients mean a safer overall product and increase your trust in a brand. USDA organic oil tinctures are the way to go if you want the cleanest CBD experience.
A brand’s reputation is critical in delivering safe, reliable CBD products. This includes cannabis sourcing, added ingredients, production methods, user instructions, education, and more.
Sunmed is a leader in the cannabis space for these reasons, giving you the products and information you need to make safe and smart choices.
The bottom line
Navigating drug tests can be a high-pressure experience, especially with your goals and aspirations on the line. You don’t want to gamble with your future by taking CBD products that lack transparency or research-backed methods, so put quality first, no matter what.
Also, be sure to have a conversation with your employer if you want to take CBD and are required to take drug tests. If you are upfront about your concerns, chances are you will be better off and feel more confident about your choices.
Cannabinoid Screen and Confirmation | University of Rochester Medical Center
Some CBD Products May Yield Cannabis-Positive Urine Drug Tests | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Urine Testing for Detection of Marijuana | CDC
THC and CBD: Similarities and Differences Between Siblings | NIH
Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online | NIH
Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications | PMC
Buyer Beware: Pitfalls in Toxicology Laboratory Testing | PMC