If your school or employer conducts scheduled or random drug tests you need to determine their stance on hemp-derived CBD. If it is on their list of prohibited drugs you need to think twice before taking it. Here’s everything you need to know regarding the question of “Can CBD show up on a drug test?”.
What Is Hemp-Derived CBD?
Let’s first begin with the difference between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD. There are over 700 strains of the cannabis sativa plant. Strains that contain .3 percent or more of the intoxicating compound THC are considered marijuana and plants that contain .3 percent or less of THC are considered hemp.
CBD is short for cannabinoids, which is an active compound found in both marijuana and hemp. This is the compound that is responsible for the medicinal benefits of marijuana. THC is the active compound that gets you high. So, with hemp-derived CBD there’s no need to get high or take THC products.
If marijuana is legal in your state, ensure you understand if you are purchasing hemp-derived CBD or marijuana-derived CBD. Products that contain THC are often labeled to share the milligrams of CBD per serving, so you must also ask if products contain THC too. Products sold online are hemp-derived, but products sold in pot shops are often marijuana-derived.
The 2014 And 2018 Farm Bills
Hemp is a plant that was once a popular American crop that became restricted to grow as of 1970. However, hemp products made from hemp stalks and seeds have been imported to the USA for years. The stalks contain almost zero THC and are often used to produce products such as rope, paper, and fabric. Hemp seeds contain zero CBD, and are often pressed to create hemp cooking oil and non-dairy hemp milk, which is high in amino acids, antioxidants, Omega 3 and 6.
In 2007, two North Dakota farms in the USA were permitted to grow hemp for industrial purposes. The Farm Bill of 2014 expanded farming to all farmers nationwide, but only for industrial and research purposes, still restricting commercial sales.
Everything shifted when the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, which removed CBD produced from industrial hemp (hemp-derived CBD) from the Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)—and added it to the Agricultural Commodities list, just like food and farm animals. This meant that farming became legal on the federal level, which also meant that CBD products could be grown, manufactured, sold, and transported by licensed growers and suppliers. It also became legal for personal possession. However, marijuana-derived CBD is still considered a Schedule I substance that is illegal as of federal laws—even if legal at the state level. The 2018 Farm Bill does not apply to marijuana farms, which are regulated by state laws.
Hemp-derived farmers and consumer brands must comply with the following:
- Contain less than .3 percent of THC
- Grown by licensed growers
- Grown and sold in compliance with shared state-federal regulations
Although Legal, CBD May Still Be Prohibited
While no longer considered a Schedule I substance, many schools, athletic teams, and employers (such as all federal and government agencies) do not currently differentiate between marijuana-derived CBD and hemp-derived CBD in their drug policies.
This leads to the question, “can CBD show up on a drug test?”. There are a variety of drug tests, either 5-Panel or 10-Panel, and a variety of different testing methods.
5-Panel Rapid Tests screen for the five drug classes tested on most standard panels. These include:
- Marijuana (THC)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
10-Panel Rapid Tests are expanded to include up to 10 drug classes. They also come in 6, 7, 8, and 9-panel options. They test for more illicit drug classes, including:
- Marijuana (THC)
- Phencyclidine (PCP
The different types of samples collected for testing include urine, blood, hair strand, and saliva, with urine samples being the most common for schools and employers. There are also a variety of methods for testing each type of sample.
So, Can CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?
The short answer is yes. Drug tests are designed to test for THC, not CBD. While CBD contains an extremely low percentage of THC, THC is still present. The general consensus is that it is unlikely you will fail a drug test due to hemp-derived CBD, but there are no guarantees. For example, if you take more than 2,000 milligrams per day or took CBD in the last couple of hours before a random drug test, the odds of testing positive are a bit higher.
Also, we all process CBD differently.
How Long Does Hemp-Derived CBD Stay In Your System?
This answer varies depends on a variety of factors. On average, CBD is detectable for 2 to 5 days but the factors below could stretch this to a couple of weeks.
- How often you take CBD
- How many milligrams you take
- Your individual metabolism
- Administration method—oral or topical
Generally, topical products absorb even less of the .3 percent or less of THC into your system.
How Much THC To Fail A Drug Test?
Most employers follow the guidelines set forth by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA). Their suggested cut-off level to pass a drug test is if THC levels are at 50 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of urine. However, some tests detect 18, 25, or 150 ng/ml.
What Happens If I Fail A Drug Test?
Policies vary from one employer, school, or testing entity to the next, and THC may not be your only concern. Many programs have an option for a second test if the first comes back positive, often conducted by a third-party—and often a secondary type of testing. However, some employers, schools, and testing entities have a zero-tolerance policy.
Also, in looking at the substance lists above, you may have a prescription for one of the drugs on the list. In this case, you may be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which means that you cannot be discriminated against due to a disability that requires you to take a prescription medication on the substance list.
However, if the disability no longer exists, the medication interferes with your job performance, or the medication is not prescribed—you may be terminated for failing your drug test.
The ADA may also protect employment for “qualified individuals” who have a history of illegal drug use, are in a rehabilitation program and no longer using illegal drugs, or who have been falsely accused of illegal drug use. To enjoy the benefits of marijuana without the high or risk of addiction is one of the reasons many turn to hemp-derived CBD.
That being said, CBD is not currently considered a “prescription drug” and is instead classified as a “dietary supplement”. This means it is viewed as a food, and not a drug. The FDA does not currently regulate CBD and even the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers marijuana-derived CBD a Schedule I drug that is lacking in medicinal value and likely to be abused.
However, there is currently a handful of prescription cannabis-derived and cannabis-related prescription drugs approved by the FDA for seizures, chemotherapy nausea, and a few other therapeutic purposes.
Where things remain tricky, is that hemp-derived CBD (which is now legal in all 50 states) and marijuana-derived CBD (recreational or medicinal)—lack FDA regulation which means that you can be terminated if you fail your drug test, even with a prescription or referral from your doctor.
Is It Legal For My Employer To Give Me A Drug Test?
Yes, Federal, State, and private employees can legally conduct drug tests. Many school athletic and extracurricular programs have students sign contracts that give consent for random drug tests.
So, it is essential to know what your company’s CBD policy is, which should be readily available to you. If you are unsure, it should be shared in your new hire paperwork or employee manual. You can also ask your HR department.
Drug test policies can change at any time so be aware of any changes. Many employers test as part of their pre-employment screening, randomly thereafter, or per your local ordinances if they suspect you are under the influence.
Even if your employer does not have a drug test policy, there are times that they may be able to request one—such as after a workplace accident or injury.
Can I Bring CBD To Work If My Employer Allows Use?
Even if your employer allows either or both marijuana-derived and hemp-derived CBD use, they may restrict employees from having it at work. If it’s marijuana-derived, they likely prohibit using it while at work, but you may also need to leave hemp-derived CBD at home. Be sure to ask to ensure you understand your restrictions. For example, you may be able to leave your oil or topical product in your vehicle while at work. However, be mindful that CBD must be stored out of direct sunlight in temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees.
So, can CBD show up on a drug test—yes, but it’s unlikely. However, it may not be worth the risk of being denied employment, losing your job, or being suspended from school or extracurricular activities.