Does CBD show up on a drug test? Maybe.. Learn how here

Since the recent legalization of hemp by the Farm Bill in 2018, CBD is on the rise. People of all kinds started to use CBD products for their and their pets’ ailments. But coming from intoxicant plants like cannabis, there is a doubt about whether CBD shows up on a drug test.

What is CBD?

CBD or cannabidiol is a compound found in the cannabis plant hemp. It has shown potential as anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, and anti-epileptic medicine. Another cannabinoid or active compound of the cannabis plant is THC or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. This cannabinoid has psychoactive properties that intoxicate people. But CBD is different as it does not cause any intoxication but rather acts as a healer.

Coming from the same type of plant, it is fair to assume that CBD might show up in the drug tests. To know that, we need to know about the types of tests for cannabis – how they work and what research says CBD shows up in these tests.

How do Cannabis Drug Tests work?

There are a few types of drug tests that can detect the presence of cannabis in the human body. The primary goal of these tests is to detect THC in the blood. As THC is fat soluble, it can be stored in the body fat for a long time. Extensive use of THC can accumulate itself in fatty tissues before slowly being released into the bloodstream. THC can be detected in the bloodstream by a drug test for three days after a single use, and more than 30 days after heavy use. Two of the most common drug tests are immunoassay and confirmation tests using mass spectrometry.

Immunoassay is the most common and inexpensive drug test done to detect cannabis in the body. This test provides fast results and is done by analyzing a urine sample from the patient to look for chemicals that look like the active metabolite, or breakdown product of THC. However, the test does not look for THC and fails to produce the actual degree of THC the patient was exposed to. The results can sometimes be false negatives or false positives which is why immunoassay is considered a presumptive screening test.

As immunoassay results do not provide clear information on the amount of THC present in the body, it is typically followed up by a confirmation test, generally by using mass spectrometry. This testing is expensive, takes a huge time to show results, and requires highly trained staff. But it provides the most accurate result on the presence of THC in a person’s blood or urine. This is why it is considered the “gold standard” for drug testing by forensic experts. In this testing, the compounds are detected based on their unique chemical structures. Sometimes, other advanced testing methods are combined with this testing to lead to accurate results.

CBD in Drug Tests

Drug tests detecting CBD presence depend on whether the CBD product consumed had high levels of THC or not. If the product had a high level of THC along with CBD, then the drug test result would most likely be positive. Because the drug tests do not look for the presence of CBD but THC in the urine or blood.

According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), there should be no more than 0.3% of THC in the CBD derived from hemp. But the CBD market is so unregulated, that less than one-third of the CBD products have labels that show the accurate amount of ingredients in the product. This means there is a chance that most of the products will have high amounts of THC in them, which can show up on a drug test.

Some CBD marketers might also use CBD derived directly from cannabis which can result in high levels of THC in the product. A positive drug test result can block a person from being hired for a job or being called into the army. Also, as cannabis is illegal on a federal level, if a person’s drug test result comes positive, he can face legal consequences.

CBD users can avoid positive drug test results by following a couple of steps. First of all, they should learn about the types of CBD products. There are three types – full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate products. While there is a chance of having a high amount of THC in the full-spectrum CBD products, in broad-spectrum, and CBD isolates products, THC is extracted and removed. So, using broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate will show negative drug test results.

Secondly, before using CBD products, you should always look for a Certificate of Analysis (COA). This certificate lists the details of the compounds found in a CBD product. If the product does not have any COA, then it is best to avoid using that product.


CBD is a magical cannabinoid that has the potential to treat a good amount of health problems. Although it is still not properly researched for human use, there is no evidence of its negative effects. You should not avoid it altogether just to get a negative drug test result. On the contrary, determining a product before using it and consulting with a good doctor can help minimize the chance of getting a positive drug test result.

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