Why you should really pay attention to where you get your CBD
CBD is big right now, and it looks like it’s only going to get bigger. With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in the United States, more and more companies are flooding shelves with CBD and CBD-infused products. Remember when everyone was talking about the Atkins diet and there were products everywhere touting their “Atkins friendly” qualities? Yeah, it’s getting to be sort of like that, except it actually looks like CBD can back up most of the hype.
The problem is, CBD often gets a bad rap because of the company it tends to run with. When many people think “CBD” they immediately think of marijuana, which leads some of those people, including some law makers, to toss the CBD baby out with the bath water. CBD’s connection to marijuana and hemp leaves a lot of open questions, and some of those questions leave many who could benefit from CBD’s many potential health benefits wondering if they should take the leap or not.
One worry I hear quite often is that CBD will make you fail a drug test. Even as attitudes gradually shift in the US, there are plenty of professions that still require drug screenings as conditions of initial employment, and many still conduct random drug tests on all employees. Police officers, for example, are given a drug screening after involvement in a shooting, and believe me, failing that test would come with some SERIOUS consequences.
So, today I’m going to look at whether CBD will make you fail a drug test. The short answer is: probably not, but maybe. Read on to hear the long answer!
CBD Vs. THC
First things first: CBD and THC are not the same thing. THC, otherwise known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is the cannabinoid in marijuana that makes you feel “high.” CBD, or cannabidiol to its friends, is also a cannabinoid that can be found in marijuana, but doesn’t give you that euphoric feeling we associate with marijuana and being high.
Some will tell you that THC is psychoactive whereas CBD is not, but that isn’t quite right. Technically speaking, CBD has a direct impact on how your brain functions, resulting in some powerful mood-stabilizing, stress reducing, and body-soothing effects. The main thing to know is that CBD, alone, won’t get you high. That’s what THC does, so if you are worried about CBD altering your mind in the way marijuana would, then you can put those fears to rest!
What do drug tests look for?
Now that we have that cleared up, we need to understand a little bit about how drug tests work and what they are looking for.
The basic 5-panel drug test that most employers are likely to use is looking for the following things:
Some companies will opt for the more expensive 10-panel drug test, and that one adds in:
Some places will go wild with a 15-panel drug test. On top of the previous ten, this one also checks for:
Other assorted drugs like ketamine and meprobamate
Note here that some tests might vary in the exact drugs they are looking for, but these seem to be the basics.
Do drug tests look for CBD?
The first thing we might notice is that “CBD” itself does not appear anywhere on these lists. No common drug screen, that I know of, at least, specifically looks for CBD itself. So, that’s good news right off the bat!
The main thing CBD users need to be worried about is that all these drug tests screen for marijuana. However, this itself isn’t a problem for CBD! The way these tests determine if you have used marijuana is not by looking for CBD, but by looking for either THC itself or for a substance that your body breaks THC down into once you have ingested it, what we call a metabolite. In fact, most tests look for THC’s metabolite rather than THC itself, as the metabolite will be more likely to stick around a little while longer.
Think about it like this: you know those ranger stations on the tops of mountains out in the forest? Those guys and gals are looking for forest fires, and they do that not by looking for fire itself, but by looking for the smoke that rises up above the trees. Same thing with drug tests. Where there are THC metabolites, there is THC, and where there is THC, there is probably marijuana.
So far so good! The long and the short of it is that no amount of CBD itself would make you fail a drug test (yes, I know about false positives…. but the point is mostly right!), since drug tests aren’t even looking for CBD. All we have to do is make sure we don’t ingest any THC that our bodies will metabolize and we are in the clear! No problem, right?
Is there THC in CBD oil?
Here is where things start getting complicated. CBD itself won’t make you fail a drug test, but THC will, and a lot of CBD oils have some amount of THC in them.
Before you freak out, let’s look at this more closely. Most CBD oils are derived from hemp (with a few exceptions we will get to in a minute), and hemp does have some amount of THC in it. However, that amount is generally very low. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, all industrial hemp, where most CBD oil comes from, must have less than 0.3% THC by weight. That’s not very much! Even at the maximum 0.3%, you would need to be taking upwards of 1,000mg of CBD oil a day to ingest enough THC to trigger a drug screen. I tend to take a lot of CBD, and I don’t get anywhere near that level.
Of course, this will also depend on how sensitive your drug screening is. Most tests have a cutoff point of 50 ng/ml (thats nanograms per milliliter) of THC before it gives you a failing score, but some can go as low as 20ng/ml. Obviously, if you get a test with a much lower cutoff it will require much lower amounts of THC to trigger a fail.
The law vs reality
In a nutshell, if a CBD company derives its oil from hemp, and that hemp was grown according to the letter of the law, it would take A LOT of CBD oil to fail a drug test. Frankly, it’s going to be an amount way higher than most people would ever take, so I wouldn’t be worried.
Unfortunately, not everyone plays by the rules, and the government isn’t exactly on top of regulation yet. When the 2018 farm bill went into effect, it switched regulation of hemp crops from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is a good change, don’t get me wrong, but there will be a period of time where industrial hemp is technically legal but the USDA has yet to fully implement strict regulations and testing practices.
This means that it is possible to buy CBD oil that has much higher THC levels than it legally should, which means you are more likely to test positive on a drug test.
The importance of buying CBD from reputable companies
If everything is being done according to the law, and you aren’t taking huge amounts of CBD, you shouldn’t test positive on a drug test. But that first “if” is a big one, and with the flood of CBD products that are surely coming, it’s something you definitely need to take into account if you are at all worried about failing a drug test.
Always make sure you buy CBD oil and products from a company that you trust. Do your research here! Make sure the company is established and has been around for a little while. Although the law doesn’t currently require 3rd party testing, many companies, like Grön, conduct independent testing and include test results on each and every product.
The bottom line is this: CBD itself won’t make you fail a drug test, but the THC that can accompany hemp-derived CBD oil can under certain circumstances. If you are in a profession where a failed drug test could ruin your career, I highly advise that you make sure your CBD oil is coming from a reputable company. Better yet, go with an option like Grön that not only offers products that are hemp-infused, but also made with organic, sustainably and locally sourced ingredients.