The world of drug testing is surprisingly complicated. Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states, while weed is legal for recreational purposes in 10 states, but employers can still test employees (or potential employees) for marijuana use across the country. Add cannabidiol (CBD) and things get really confusing.
CBD is commonly found in oils, tinctures and occasional gummy bears and is actually just a form of hemp or marijuana oil. It does not have psychoactive properties (so you will not feel high), but there are growing studies showing that CBD has a positive effect on children's anxiety, pain and epilepsy. While CBD is absolutely legal, what should you do if you are asked to do a drug screening? Will CBD appear on a drug test? Can you get fired for CBD? I have talked to some experts to clarify how CBD oil may affect your test results.
What exactly is CBD?
"Cannabis contains more than 1
Regular weed comes from the cannabis plant, CBD comes from hemp. What is the difference? "The legal definition of hemp is a cannabis factory that contains less than 0.3 percent THC," says Trista Okel, founder and CEO of CBD retailer Empower Body Care. "This is the only legal distinction between hemp and marijuana." All pure CBD oils contain less than 0.3 percent THC, but are full of the (alleged) anxiety and pain-relieving properties.
Auditing the CBD Employer
"When an employer conducts a cannabis drug test, they search for the intoxicating cannabinoid THC, not CBD", says Colbert. Even in states where weeds are legal, an employer can still choose a "drug-free" workplace and test whether you have recently encountered THC.
"Drug screens usually consist of five or ten panels and are tested on other substances in addition to THC-COOH, so THC becomes after the body metabolizes it," says Okel. Normally you will be asked to produce a urine sample, screening tests for THC-COOH and other illegal substances will be done and you will see if you have passed.
Can you fail a drug test because of it? CBD?
Well, yes and no. "Most companies are just looking for cannabinoid THC, but there are a few test facilities that are testing for a range of cannabinoids, and THC-free CBD products could therefore produce a positive result," says Sheri Kasper, RDN of LDN. "By law, you may ask the facility to check which cannabinoids they are tested in. If you feel uncomfortable with them, you can call and ask anonymously." These hypersensitive tests are rare. Mostly, employers only want to know if you smoke weeds all day, not if you're taking CBD because of your anxiety.
Nevertheless, CBD carries other risks for false positive results. "If people use CBD products that do not have a CoA (Certificate of Analysis) indicating zero THC, THC could appear on a drug screen," says Okel. The availability of CBD oil has exploded, but it is not a well-regulated industry. Some oils that claim to be pure CBD have some insidious THC and could mess up a drug test. Okel advises anyone to buy only CBA oils with CoA purity guarantee to avoid absorption of THC traces.
Again, CBD can legally contain up to 0.3 percent THC, so it is possible (but not likely) that if you take a lot of CBD, the low THC – You can give a false positive, says Colbert. A man claims to have lost a job because of CBD oil, though it is not clear if he had taken an unusually large amount or if his oil contained some THC without his knowledge.
Be sure to read your labels. Some CBD oils openly contain higher THC doses. Normally you would have to buy them from dispensaries, but you need to make sure you get a direct CBD if you are not looking for psychoactive effects or possible drug tests.
Although all this sounds scary, it is very unlikely that CBD oil appears in a drug test. Just make sure your CBD is sourced from a reputable retailer and you should be fine.
How long will CBD remain in your system?
Let's say you have taken a CBD oil with some oil from THC in it or you want to play it especially safe in front of a drug screen. How long do you have to wait for a drug test after the last CBD dose? "All cannabinoids are lipophilic," says Glenn Harrison, an internist specializing in the use of cannabis in modern medical care. "They are actually forms of fat, so they get into the cells quickly and stay for a long time."
It's hard to say how long CBD stays with you. This depends heavily on your size, BMI and the frequency of taking CBD. "You can not predict exactly how long cannabinoids will be in both urine and blood," says Harrison.
Among all the experts, there are no strict rules on how long it stays in your system. If you had pure CBD, it should not matter when you last had it, as it does not show up in urine tests. If you had CBD and THC, the Colorado Pot Guide suggests that you give a positive evaluation of a drug test within seven days of use. If you take a lot of THC now, you could test positive for a month or more.
If you want to be extremely careful, stop using CBD oil one month before a test. If you want to be careful, you should stop one week before. Since you are not conducting a specific CBD drug test, if you are very careful that your CBD oil is THC-free, you should do a general drug test the next day and be in good health.
Amber Petty is a LA-based writer who regularly writes for Greatist. Follow her as she describes her weight loss journey in her new bimonthly Slim Chance column. Join Sing a Different Tune singing lessons and follow her on Instagram @ambernpetty.