by Erica Garza
Lauded as a health elixir for its potential to relieve everything from anxiety to inflammation, cannabidiol (or CBD) is growing rapidly in popularity—but will it show up on a drug test? The short answer: it depends. Unlike the other famous compound in cannabis, THC, CBD will not make a user feel “high.” It lacks the psychotropic effects of THC, but that doesn’t necessarily make it undetectable. If you’re an avid CBD user with an upcoming pre-employment drug test, here’s what you need to know to prepare.
What You Need to Know About Drug Tests and CBD
According to TONIC, it’s “unlikely” that CBD will show up on a drug test, not because it’s undetectable, but because most drug tests aren’t looking for CBD. The average drug test is looking for the presence of THC or THC metabolites.
CBD is chemically distinct from THC, so it is doubtful that pure CBD would be detected in these types of drug tests. A company would have to obtain a separate test designed specifically to pick up CBD, and most companies aren’t willing to shell out more money if they don’t have to.
Different CBD Products Mean Different Test Results
Keep in mind that not all CBD products consist of pure CBD. If your CBD product is hemp-based, it may contain trace amounts of THC. Products deemed “whole plant” or “full spectrum” benefit users by containing more than CBD, including terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids, which are believed to work synergistically with CBD. While its health advantages are high, these types of products may lead to a positive drug test. Generally, if your CBD oil has less than 0.3 percent THC in it, it shouldn’t show up on a hair test, although it may appear in a urine or saliva test.
How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?
There is not much reliable data to confirm how long CBD stays in a user’s system, though a 2014 publication in the scientific journal Epilepsy Currents reported “one to two days” for a single oral dose. If you’re taking full-spectrum oil, it’s probably best to look into how long THC stays in your system, which is usually detectable in body fluids for one to 30 days after last use.
Isn’t CBD Legal?
There’s an ongoing national debate about the federal legality of CBD. Unless it is extracted from hemp cultivated under the 2014 Farm Bill, the DEA maintains that CBD is illegal. While it won’t stop the compound from continuing to be widely available anytime soon, this grey area causes some confusion in courts, especially in states where cannabis is available for medical or recreational purposes. Legal or not, many companies call the shots on whether or not drug testing is necessary. Luckily, there seems to be a shift in dropping marijuana from testing protocol all the way to the White House. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said in 2018, “We have all these Americans that are looking to work,” Acosta said. “Are we aligning our … drug testing policies with what’s right for the workforce?” As CBD rises in popularity, it seems the national conversation is evolving at an equally rapid rate.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist. Her work has appeared in Time, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, The Telegraph and Vice. She lives in Los Angeles.