Even if you aren’t taking any illegal substances, it’s possible to fail a drug test. Eating a poppy seed bagel the night before you are tested could cause you to test positive for heroin, for example. But not all false positives can be explained away by your food choices — even though it’s a legal cannabis compound that does not get you high, CBD could cause you to fail a drug test.
You might think that if CBD is widely available in stores near you that it shouldn’t be a big deal, but CBD’s legality in the United States is complicated, to say the least. CBD is short for cannabidiol, a compound generally derived from hemp that is now legal under federal law as long as it has less than 0.3 percent THC, the compound that has psychoactive properties. Yet certain states, like Idaho and South Dakota, are firmly anti-CBD.
And even if you live somewhere that has embraced CBD, that still doesn’t mean you’ll be fine when you take a drug test. If you have to take one when applying for a job, sports team, or volunteer position, CBD could potentially affect your results.
How Could I Fail A Drug Test If CBD Doesn’t Get Me High?
Urine tests, the most common form of drug tests, are surprisingly unreliable. “Urinalysis tests can provide ‘false positive’ results because they detect cannabinoids, not THC,” explains Rod Kight, an attorney who leads a cannabis firm.
“These tests are quick, cheap, and easy, and therefore the most commonly used,” adds Dr. Alex Capano, PhD, the chief science officer of CBD company Ananda Hemp. “That also means they are not very sophisticated or specific.”
CBD and THC molecules are similar in composition, meaning you may test positive for THC — the psychoactive cannabis compound that gives you a high — even if you don’t have it in your system, just like you might test positive for opium products like heroin after eating poppy seeds.
Wait, There Are CBD Products With & Without THC?
According to Capano, who has a doctoral degree in medical cannabis science, “full-spectrum” CBD has trace amounts of THC, while CBD “isolates” do not. Full-spectrum CBD is usually considered more effective than isolates, Capano says. And while a full-spectrum product typically won’t cause you to fail a drug test, there’s a possibility that it could.
“THC could build up enough in your body to trigger a true positive on a drug test,” she says. “This is unlikely, but possible.”
So, What Should I Do?
Capano says that blood tests and hair follicle tests, which analyze hair strands for drugs, are more reliable. If you suspect a false positive on a urine test, “ask for a confirmation test with serum or hair,” she recommends. “This will show a true negative 100 percent of the time in a product with no THC.”
CBD’s popularity makes it easy to forget that the compound still faces scrutiny because of its relationship to marijuana. If you need to pass a drug test and want to make sure you won’t get an unexpected false positive, staying away from CBD entirely is your best bet.
Readers should note that the regulations and data surrounding marijuana, CBD, and other related products are still developing. As such, the information contained in this post should not be construed as medical or legal advice. Always consult with your doctor before trying any substance or supplement.