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Fairly common and broad questions we are asked are:

  • ‘Will I fail a drug test if I take CBD?’
  • ‘Does CBD oil show up in a drug test?’
  • ‘Will CBD oil fail a drug test?’

Some slightly more specific questions range from:

  • ‘Does CBD show up on a hair follicle test?’

to

  • ‘Will I lose my job if I take CBD?’

CBD and Drug Testing

Clearly, there is some apprehension and confusion about the effect of CBD’s role in drug test sampling. This is understandable as most questions are from people where drug testing is mandatory for their jobs. A smaller group are athletes, again whose livelihoods and professional careers are reliant on complying within an anti-doping or a performance enhancing framework. Understandably, the risks associated with the wrong choice or getting into trouble, even unintentionally are high. Often these rules are strict and the implications can be profound, here we hope to clarify a few points for your consideration.

There appears to be inconsistent advice among CBD vendors, we’ve observed wild and unsubstantiated health claims, which are not evidenced in the medical literature and what we can only describe as an excessive amount of flippant reassurance. We are fairly sure that there are many vendors that will say ‘take CBD, it’s fine, you won’t fail the drug test’ with little appreciation of what it means to fail a drug test and an eagerness to sell a product to you.

Understand your own Drug Test

It is first most important to understand that a ‘drug test’ is testing for substances. Some of these substances may be illicit and some perfectly legal. Therefore, understanding the requirements of your own drug test is important. 

The inclusion and exclusion criteria for drug tests are likely to differ, depending on the method of testing and the policies being applied by the agency. We’d therefore recommend establishing the facts of which substances are being tested for in any tests before thinking about complying with them. 

These can often be found in a written policy by the testing agency and requested from them, if not publicly available. Once these facts are established you not only have a list of the substances that are not allowed, you also have it as a safeguard for any future challenge.

Will CBD fail a drug test?

Quite simply, if one of the substances your drug test is testing for is CBD, then naturally that drug test will fail. But it’s also important to note that it is rare for a CBD product to only contain CBD. This is important when thinking about substances. The next question which needs to be asked is ‘what other substances might be in a CBD product?’ and ‘will any of those additional substances mean that I might fail a drug test?’

In one of our previous posts around how CBD oil is made, we discuss several different methods of extraction and the differences between them. We discuss how ‘when raw CBD is extracted other cannabinoids such as CBC, CBG, CBN and even traces of THC do also come through’. So a full spectrum CBD oil, which is mixed with a carrier oil is not just CBD – and will likely contain other cannabinoids. If your drug test is testing for these substances then chances are, it will likely show up.

The existence of these cannabinoids and their quantities should be provided by independent lab test reports and you can use these lab reports to compare with your list of prohibited substances.

Recommendations

If CBD is a prohibited substance, we’d recommend not taking any CBD product. If other cannabinoids such as CBG or CBDa are prohibited, these are most often found in full spectrum oils, so we would suggest cautiously determining which CBD products do not contain these cannabinoids. It might be that CBD isolates are a preferred option here. 

If as is most commonly the case, it is THC that is the prohibited substance then again, we’d advice some caution. All CBD products must maintain compliance and have either low amounts of THC or no THC. This means that there might be trace amounts of THC in oils. The question is, will these trace amounts contribute enough to a failed drug test? We do not believe any vendor can guarantee the outcome of a drug test without a direct published study of its own product, which is why we are sceptical of flippant reassurances.

Conclusion

Ultimately, a methodical and transparent personal approach here is key. We would suggest engaging in a dialogue with those in charge with drug testing in your specific settings. Establishing which substances are being tested for and the extent to which they can be avoided. Understanding the quantities of substances contained within the various products available on the market is important if you want the benefits from them and avoid problems with compliance. Naturally, CBD whilst an old cannabinoid, is a new consumer innovation and questions like these will arise, as society adjusts itself to a balanced approach to harms and benefits. 

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