Drug Testing: Can You Take CBD Oil and Pass a Drug Test?

Drug Testing: Can You Take CBD Oil and Pass a Drug Test?

Imagine going to your doctor for back pain, poor sleep, or chronic pain and getting a recommendation to try a legal CBD hemp oil supplement. Then imagine being at risk for losing your job after taking a random drug test. That is exactly what happened to one police officer in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

He had purchased CBD oil in an effort to find relief for pain that was different from prescription narcotics. Since the product was purchased legally in a store, he never thought twice about failing drug testing due to CBD–until he tested positive during a routine drug screening.

He was shocked, and so was his police union and many members of the community. After all, CBD is legal. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized production and sale of hemp, including CBD, which stands for cannabidiol. 

But because the U.S. Food & Drug Administration doesn’t regulate supplements, some users are finding variations in their CBD products that are causing big problems. There was a small study by John Hopkins Medicine, published in Science Daily, on the topic of drug testing and CBD. After just one vape of “high CDB, low THC” cannabis, six adults had chemicals in their urine that would cause concern in drug testing used by employers in the criminal justice or school systems. 

So, how do you know if CBD will show up on a drug test? Understanding the basic laws surrounding CBD products, when people take drug tests, and how urine drug tests work can help. 

What’s the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

The difference between hemp and marijuana

Because both hemp and marijuana derive from the same plant, it’s sometimes tough to understand the difference. While both are cannabis, they are harvested for very different uses. So, farmers must use different seeds and growing techniques to maximize the benefits they wish to profit from. Agriculture all over the world is actually quite complex.

Think about tomatoes, for example. Some tomato plants are manipulated over the years so that the fruits can look good and aren’t too ripe by the time they reach the market. Buyers expect tomatoes to look and feel a certain way. Other tomatoes are heirloom varieties. They must be sold more locally to a buyer interested in a different taste and tolerant of different shapes and colors like purple, yellow, and orange.

It’s the same with cannabis. Marijuana has been used as a medicinal plant with psychotropic side effects for generations. Hemp, too, has a long­–and quite different–history. Hemp has been used to make clothing, rope, oil for cooking, skin lotions, and much more. It’s the same plant with different uses and, as a result, different legal statuses. 

What makes Hemp Legal But Not Marijuana?

Is hemp legal?

Federally, hemp is different from marijuana by the THC level. THC, like CBD, is a chemical in cannabis that affects the body when ingested. THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for the “high” associated with the plant. It’s also medically beneficial for those suffering from nausea, glaucoma, and muscle spasms. 

Hemp, by definition, has no more than 0.3% THC. Instead, it contains hemp-derived CBD. That chemical has nothing to do with euphoric sensation; instead, it is often used medically to help with pain, inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, sleep conditions, seizures, and inflammation.

Most hemp products, including CBD capsules, CBD cream, and CBD vape oil, contain small amounts of THC. A specific kind of hemp oil product, known as a CBD isolate, is THC free. With isolates, chemists isolate the chemical compound so you don’t get any other cannabinoid.

Conversely, a full-spectrum CBD hemp oil product is made not only with the CBD flower but also with the leaves and sometimes the stems to include beneficial components of the plants like terpenes and flavonoids. These are all found on the little crystals on the surface of the plant.

There are six other major cannabinoids in cannabis. While THC is the only one that gets you “high,” all of these chemicals react together and have different effects. However, the most research has been done to show the benefits of CBD, which is why it’s becoming so popular. It’s also why the 2018 Farm Bill ensured hemp remains legal federally.  

Do Different Places Have Different Laws?

Drug tests, CBD and the law!

Of course, just because a federal Farm Bill legalizing hemp was passed doesn’t mean that there isn’t the potential for city, county, and state laws to differ. 

  • State and Local Laws: There have been reports of people getting arrested for possession of CBD oil in Nebraska, Ohio, and Florida. Officials in Maine, California, and New York City are deterring restaurants from selling CBD-enriched foods, too. 
  • Federal Law: Federally in the U.S., possession, sale, and cultivation of marijuana is a major offense. For example, a second offense of marijuana possession carries a punishment of 15 days to 2 years in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. Sale of marijuana is a felony, with substantially stronger sentences. Marijuana is classified as a schedule 2 drug, like heroin.
  • International Laws: Many countries around the world, including Canada, Belize, Jamaica, Argentina, Uruguay, The Netherlands, Portugal, and The Czech Republic, have all legalized cannabis of all kinds.

In the United States, the confusion about CBD can lead to some confusion among law enforcement agencies. CBD is not a controlled substance. CBD is a hemp-based product, not a marijuana-based product. 

The FDA has yet to regulate hemp oil, CBD lotion, CBD edibles, or other products. This means that there are no recommended servings of CBD, and companies cannot make claims about results. Last April, the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced plans to consider regulation of these cannabis-derived products.

In general, the federal laws supersede state laws. It is up to the current administration to determine whether to prosecute when someone is arrested for a controlled substance, even when it’s legalized in the state. 

For example, if you want to fly internationally with CBD hemp oil products, it’s best to print out information that shows the product is hemp-based, not marijuana-based, to avoid confusion. It is legal to fly with CBD products, but again, enforcement confusion can cause delays—or worse.

What Jobs Test for Drugs?

What jobs test for drugs and CBD?

Plenty of industries don’t care about the laws–they will drug test because of safety or fears that use will impact customer service or increase worker compensation claims due to accidents. Some of the industries that drug test include:

  • Construction
  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing
  • Hospitality
  • Retail

This practice dates back to the mid-1980s, when employee drug testing became the policy of the federal government. In the early 1990s, transportation positions were added to this “drug-free workplace.” It is common in all kinds of fields to be subjected to a pre-employment drug test.

Frequently, jobs with many worker’s compensation claims will require drug testing. This may happen at random, or perhaps it will be required after an accident. 

Not surprisingly, many people fail. A recent article by Safety and Health Magazine reported that positive tests were at a 13-year high in the U.S. The cases of meth and cocaine increased, as well as positive marijuana results in Nevada and Massachusetts. Those two states recently legalized cannabis.

What Are Common Substances Drug Tests Look For?

The common drugs

What do these tests look for? It depends on the kind of drug test, but the main five substances are: 

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • THC
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine

This is what is known as a “5 panel” test. There are also 10 or 12 panel drug screen tests as well, which look for more substances. Alcohol is also normally included in all drug tests.

Besides federal employees and those in industries that frequently chose to drug test their employees, professional athletes are also tested for drugs. These tests are slightly different, because they are also searching for performance-enhancing drugs. Sports organizations that drug-test include: the MLB, NBA, NFL, MMA, FIFA, and the NHL.

The NCAA, for example, tests college athletes for all cannabinoids, not just THC. The other drugs banned by the NCAA include:

  • Anabolic agents
  • Stimulants
  • Alcohol 
  • Masking agents, like diuretics
  • Narcotics
  • Peptide hormones, growth factors, related substances, and mimetics
  • Hormone and metabolic modulators (anti-estrogens)
  • Beta-2 agonists

Do Corrections Facilities Also Drug Test?

Incarceration and CBD products

People who are convicted of crimes are also subject to drug testing. In fact, prisoners in any state jail may be subject to a drug test at any time. This is because government statistics connect crimes with drug use, with 65% of the U.S. prison population diagnosed with a substance abuse problem. Another 20% were reported being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crime.

Corrections facilities officials do not differentiate between cannabis and other substances like opioids. This is true even in states where marijuana is completely legal. For example, a judge recently found that inmates in California were allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. However, prison officials were able to ban smoking, according to the New York Times.

Can you be arrested for a DUI if you regularly take CBD oil? If your CBD oil is a hybrid that also contains THC, the answer is yes. This is an important consideration when purchasing any products that contain CBD, including CBD capsules, CBD edibles, CBD topicals, CBD vape pens, and CBD for your pets. Still, even legal amounts, which again is 0.3% THC, can sometimes show up on a test depending on your body chemistry. 

Once out of jail, drug testing usually continues for people on probation. Usually, drug testing is done at random as part of your conditions for release. If you fail the drug test, you may be found in violation of probation and subject to fines or even jail time. 

Can You Pass a Drug Test With CBD?

Will you pass or fail drug testing?

Did you get tapped for a drug test? The procedure depends on what kind of test you’ll be given. There are four kinds of drug tests. They are:

  1. Urine
  2. Blood
  3. Hair
  4. Saliva

A urine test is by far the most common. You’ll likely go to a diagnostic center like Labcorp or Quest Diagnostics. They’ll make you leave your bag outside the bathroom. After you give them urine, they’ll test the temperature and label it before sending it to the lab. You’ll get your test results in a day if it’s negative and up to a week if a confirmation test is needed for a positive result.

Urine tests are the least accurate of all tests. Drugs tend to stay in your urine for just a number of days, and the number depends dramatically on your age, height, weight, and metabolism. Unless you are taking abnormally high amounts of CBD, such as in excess of 1,000 mg a day, it is unlikely that the legal level of THC could show up.

You can also test blood, hair and saliva tests for THC levels, not CBD. Chemical compounds stay in these parts of your body for much longer, but again, daily use of any product derived from the CBD flower should not show up in blood work or other test results.

Keep in mind: The vast majority of drug tests do not test for CBD. Regular drug tests look for THC, which is present in high levels in marijuana. If your place of employment is going to test for CBD, it will be clear. It is very rare.

How Do You Detox for a Drug Test? 


CBD stays in your system from anywhere fromtwo to 20 days, depending on the individual. LabCorp interprets their results to show the difference between the possibility of CBD or THC. Quest Diagnostics tests for THC, not CBD.

If you are concerned that your employer is testing you specifically for CBD and not for THC, you’ll want to stop taking your hemp product. You’ll want to give your body time to process it. THC stays in your body longer, up to several weeks. The length of time depends on the person’s body fat percentage and how frequently they use marijuana. 

In general, it is unlikely that using CBD oil would result in a positive drug test. There are some products designed for flushing out the THC from the body, but the results vary. 

What Causes False Positives?

False positives and implications

Sometimes, the laboratory results are misinterpreted. You may be negative, but your test has what is known are called false positives. Positive drug tests can be devastating, costing you a job opportunity, causing you to get fired, or even resulting in incarceration. 

Think about poppy seeds. Opium comes from the poppy plant. So, if you eat a big poppy seed bagel right before your test, you could test positive. Those seeds remain in your urine for an additional 48 to 60 hours after your bagel, too. A positive drug test result from a simple breakfast can be a big shock! The same goes for a false positive that may result from large doses of CBD hemp oil products.

When there is a positive result, usually technicians will administer gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. This is called the “gold standard” of drug tests. There are strict policies and protocols regarding this test, including chain-of-custody documents.

Blood and saliva tests tend to be the most accurate, but again: they are only testing for THC, not CBD.

Concerned about your test? If you have time, stop taking your hemp-based product and take a self-test at home. These are urine tests that test for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine, amphetamines, PCP, benzodiazepine, barbiturates, methadone, tricyclic antidepressants, ecstasy, and oxycodone. 

If the test shows the possibility for the presence of drugs, you will send the urine sample to a laboratory for confirmation. It is possible that what you ate or drank before the test, or the way you completed it, caused a false positive. However, again, these tests do not look for CBD.

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