A drug test is a scientific method of analysis that identifies and quantifies the presence of specific drugs or their metabolites in a sample. Employers, schools, government agencies, and athletic leagues often use these tests.

As CBD is growing in popularity, so is the question of whether or not it will show up on a drug test. The substance comes from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. Both plants contain cannabidiol (CBD), but hemp has only trace amounts of THC, the intoxicating compound that gives marijuana its “high.” That is why CBD products made from hemp are legal in most states, while those made from marijuana are not.

Most drug tests are looking for THC, not CBD. However, whether you take CBD oil, CBD gummies, or other edibles, there is a small chance that a CBD product could trigger a false positive on a drug test for THC. Below, we explain everything you need to know about drug tests and CBD.

How Does a Drug Test Work?

Drug tests usually involve taking a urine sample, although testers can also use blood, hair, and saliva samples. The most common type of drug test is called an immunoassay. This test uses antibodies to look for the presence of specific drugs or their metabolites.

If the initial screening test is positive, the sample is sent to a laboratory for further analysis. This confirmatory test, called gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), can more accurately identify the presence of specific drugs or their metabolites.

What Drugs Can Be Detected?

The specific drugs you are tested for depend on the test's purpose. For example, employers might test for drugs that could impair job performance, such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and opioids. Schools and athletic leagues might test for drugs that are banned by their rules, such as steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.

Will CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

Most drug tests are looking for THC, not CBD. However, there is a small chance that a CBD product could trigger a false positive on a drug test for THC.

CBD products are made from hemp, which contains only trace amounts of THC. These trace amounts are insufficient to cause a positive drug test for THC. Regardless, it is possible that taking a CBD product could lead to a false positive for THC on a drug test.

There are several reasons why this could happen:

Cross-contamination: Some CBD products are made in facilities that also process THC products. It could lead to trace amounts of THC being present in the CBD product.

Inaccurate labeling: Some CBD products are mislabeled and do contain THC.

False positives: Drug tests can sometimes produce false positives. This situation is more likely to happen if you take a high-dose CBD product.

If you are taking a CBD product and are concerned about failing a drug test, it is best to talk to your doctor or the person administering the test.

Full-Spectrum CBD vs. Broad-Spectrum CBD vs. CBD Isolate

If you often have to take a drug test due to your job or another reason, you might want to consider exploring different types of CBD products.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain all the compounds found in the hemp plant, including trace amounts of THC. The great advantage of full-spectrum CBD products is that they offer the “entourage effect,” which is when all the compounds in the plant work together to produce a more potent effect than any one of them could induce on their own.

Broad-spectrum CBD products also contain all the other compounds found in the hemp plant, but the THC has been removed. It means you get a little alternated entourage effect without the risk of failing a drug test for THC.

CBD isolate is pure CBD that has been isolated from all other compounds in the plant. This CBD product will not trigger a positive drug test for THC. Nonetheless, it also does not offer the entourage effect. Some people prefer the purity of CBD isolate over other types of CBD products. It all depends on your preference.

How to Avoid a False Positive on a Drug Test

There are a few things you can do to avoid triggering a false positive on a drug test for THC:

Check the label: Make sure you know exactly what is in the CBD product you are taking. If it contains THC, it will likely show up on a drug test.

Choose broad-spectrum or CBD isolate products: These products contain CBD and other compounds from the hemp plant, but the THC has been removed. Thanks to it, you get the benefits of the entourage effect without the risk of failing a drug test for THC.

Buy only from reputable companies: Some companies mislabel their products and do not remove all the THC from their broad-spectrum oils or CBD isolates. Make sure you buy only from companies that third-party lab test their products and make the lab results available to customers.

Do your own research: Not all CBD products are created equal. Some are of better quality than others. Make sure you do your own research on the company and the product before you buy it.

Talk to your doctor: If you are taking a CBD product and are concerned about failing a drug test, consult your doctor. It would also be best to talk to the person administering the test and familiarize them with your concerns.

The Bottom Line

CBD is legal in most states and is growing in popularity for its potential health benefits. Many people already use it for numerous reasons. Most drug tests look for THC, not CBD, but there is a slim chance that a CBD product could trigger a false positive for THC on a drug test.

If you are taking a CBD product and are concerned about failing a drug test, remember to speak with your doctor about the situation. You might want to consider switching to a broad-spectrum CBD product, as it contains all the compounds found in the hemp plant except for THC. Alternatively, you can opt for CBD isolate or forgo taking CBD until completing the test.

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