Will CBD Show Up on a Drug Test? Know This Before Using!

CBD, or cannabidiol, has surged in popularity in recent years. Many people believe that it has a variety of benefits. These benefits include:

  • Anxiety relief, including social anxiety, PTSD, OCD
  • Pain relief
  • Insomnia relief
  • Treating skin conditions, such as eczema

Of course, there are many more potential benefits associated with the use of CBD. The best part is, at this time, it is legal in all 50 states. Also, you can experiment with the dosage until you find what works for you. Overdosing is not a concern, as this is a natural substance.

CBD & Drug Screens

CBD should not show up on a drug screen. That being said, there are many CBD products on the market that do contain trace amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the primary active ingredient found in marijuana. If enough is present, then yes- it will show up on a drug screen.

This means that in some rare cases, using a CBD product could result in a positive drug screen. It is all dependent upon the quality and composition of the product. In this article, we’ll explain more about how you can use CBD and avoid a positive drug screen, what you should look for when shopping for a CBD product, and more.

What do you mean you may find THC in some CBD products?

Unfortunately, even if CBD products are legal in your state, they are generally not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, or FDA, so it’s hard to know exactly what you are getting.

Things like where the CBD is sourced from and how it’s harvested determine the potential for THC contamination. There are certain types of CBD that have a lower risk of being contaminated by THC than others. We’ll explore this below:

Different Types of CBD

CBD is sourced from cannabis, which is a family of plants. These plants naturally contain hundreds of compounds, such as:

Chemical composition varies based on the variety and strain of the plant. While it’s true that both hemp and marijuana are sourced from cannabis plants, the THC levels are different.

Marijuana plants usually contain THC in varying concentrations. The THC is what gives you that feeling of being “high” when smoking, vaping, or otherwise ingesting weed. A cannabis product contains more than 0.3% THC.

On the other hand, in order to be considered a hemp product, it must contain less than 0.3% THC. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that CBD sourced from hemp plants is less likely to contain THC than CBD sourced from marijuana plants.

Of course, as mentioned, plant variety is not the only factor that determines the THC level of your CBD products. Harvesting/processing techniques and also make a difference in the compounds that appear in CBD products.

CBD extracts are typically labeled as one of the following:

  • Full Spectrum
  • Broad Spectrum
  • Isolate

We’ll take a closer look at each one of these below:

Full-Spectrum CBD

A full-spectrum CBD product contains all of the naturally occurring compounds in the plant it was sourced from. In other words, a full-spectrum CBD product will contain CBD, flavonoids, terpenes, and other cannabinoids, including THC.

Typically, full-spectrum CBD products are extracted from marijuana plants, and may contain varying amounts of THC. However, legally, it must contain less than 0.3% THC or it is no longer a CBD product.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers are forthcoming with where they source their full-spectrum extracts. Therefore, it can be almost impossible to determine exactly how much THC is present in a product.

You will find that full-spectrum CBD products are widely available, including oils, topicals, edibles, tinctures, and more.

Broad-Spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD products are similar to full-spectrum in that they contain CBD, along with other compounds in the plant, including flavonoids, terpenes, and some of the other cannabinoids. The thing that makes a broad-spectrum product different is that the THC has been removed. Therefore, a broad-spectrum product is less likely to contain THC than a full-spectrum product.

Broad-spectrum products are not as available as full-spectrum. Typically, you will find broad-spectrum CBD in the form of an oil.

CBD Isolate

The third type of CBD is CBD Isolate. This is pure CBD and does not contain any of the other compounds found in the plant it was sourced from. Typically, CBD isolate is sourced from hemp plants and should not contain any THC.

This form of CBD is often sold as a crystalline powder or small “slab” that can be broken up and eaten. It can also be found as a tincture or oil.

How Much THC Must Be in Your System to Show On Drug Screen?

The typical drug screen tests for THC, or one of its primary metabolites, THC-COOH.

According to the 2017 Mayo Clinic Proceedings, cut-off values for federal workplace drug testing were established to avoid the potential of trace amounts of THC or THC-COOH would result in a positive test. Basically, this means that just because you pass a drug screen does not mean that you don’t have any THC or THC-COOH in your system at the time.

A negative (passing) drug screen just indicates that the THC or THC-COOH levels in your system are below the cut-off value. There are different cut-off values/detection windows with different testing methods. We’ll explore those below:


When it comes to workplace drug screens, urine testing is one of the most common methods. In this form of testing, the levels of THC-COOH must be at a concentration of 50 nanograms per milliliter to result in a positive test. You should note that a nanogram is one-billionth of a gram.

Detection windows vary based on dose and frequency of use. As a general rule, THC metabolites are present in urine for 3 to 15 days after use. Individuals who use cannabis in heavier doses and more frequently are likely to have a longer detection window- 30 days or more in some cases.


Blood testing for THC is much less common than urine testing for drug screens. This method is not likely to be used for workplace testing because THC is eliminated from your bloodstream a lot quicker.

According to experts, THC is only detectable in your plasma for up to 5 hours, while metabolites are detectable up to 7 days. Blood tests are typically used to show current impairment, such as driving under the influence.

In the states where cannabis is legal, impairment is indicated when THC blood concentration is at 1, 2, or 5 ng/mL. There are some states that have a zero-tolerance policy.


At this time, saliva testing for THC is not common and there have been no established cut-off limits for this method of testing.

Recommendations in the Journal of Medical Toxicology in 2017 suggest the cut-off should be 4 ng/mL. Typically, THC is detectable in saliva for approximately 72 hours- unless you are a heavy user. The detection window could be longer for heavier users.


At this time, hair testing is not a common method, and there are no cut-off limits for THC metabolites in hair follicles. Private industry cut-offs are in place and usually are around 1 picogram per milligram of THC-COOH. A picogram is one-trillionth of a gram.

THC metabolites can be seen in hair follicles for up to 90 days.

Potential Reasons CBD Use May Yield Positive Drug Screen

There are a few reasons why CBD use may yield a positive drug screen result. We’ll explore those below:


Even in products where THC is present only in trace amounts, there is a possibility of cross-contamination during the manufacturing process. Cross-contamination can happen whether the manufacturer is producing products that are CBD-only, THC-only, or a combination of the two.

The same holds true in stores and even at home. If the CBD oil is near substances containing THC, cross contamination may occur.

Second Hand THC Exposure

While it is not likely that you’ll get a positive drug screen from secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke, it’s possible. Some research suggests that the amount of THC absorbed through secondhand smoke depends on the potency of the marijuana. The size and ventilation of the area may also have an effect.

Mislabeling of Products

The truth is CBD products are not consistently regulated. Therefore, there usually is not a third-party involved in testing them.

One study in 2017 in the Netherlands looked at the accuracy of labels on 84 CBD-only products purchased online. Researchers found THC in 18 of those products.

Therefore, this indicates that mislabeling is fairly common. However, more research is required to find out if the same holds true for CBD products in America.

Can CBD Convert to THC in the body?

There is some research indicating that in an acidic environment, CBD can convert to THC.

Some sources believe that this chemical transformation could potentially occur in the human stomach, which is an acidic environment. One 2016 in-vitro study showed that simulated gastric fluid caused CBD to turn into THC.

On the other hand, a 2017 review indicated that in-vitro conditions do not accurately represent the conditions in the human stomach. A similar transformation does not appear to happen. Researchers in this study also showed that, of the available clinical studies, none showed side effects of CBD similar to those associated with THC.

How to Ensure Your CBD Product is THC-Free

Just like with every other health supplement on the market, there are some CBD products that are safer than others. If you are thinking about using CBD, it’s important to do your research. Below, we’ll look at a few of the ways that you can make sure the CBD product you choose is THC-free.

Read the product info

First and foremost, you need to find out whether the product was sourced from marijuana or hemp. Next, you’ll want to determine if it is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate.

It’s important to note that CBD products sourced from marijuana, as well as full-spectrum CBD products sourced from hemp, are likely to contain some level of THC. In most cases, this information is going to be easy for you to get your hands on. If you are not able to find it, you may have a CBD product from an untrustworthy manufacturer.

Choose products that list the CBD per dose

When you are choosing a CBD product, you want to find out how much CBD is in each dose/serving of the product. Keep in mind that it’s likely to vary based on the type of product it is (oil, edible, tincture, etc).

Most of the time, the higher the concentration, the more expensive the product- even if it does seem to be the same size or smaller than others. Ideally, when you’re just starting out, you need a low-dose product.

Find out where your hemp-sourced CBD comes from

It is important to note that the quality of hemp varies from one state to another. The hemp industry in states such as Oregon and Colorado, have been around for a long time and they have strict testing guidelines in place. If this information is not available on the product info, contact the seller to see if they can tell you.


When you are evaluating a CBD product, there are certain terms that you should be looking for, including:

  • Solvent-free
  • Pesticide-free
  • USDA-certified Organic
  • Decarboxylated
  • Herbicide-free
  • Lab-tested
  • No additives
  • No preservatives
  • CO2 extracted

Unfortunately, even if these things are listed, it can be hard to prove that these claims are true. The best way to confirm the safety of a particular CBD product is to look for lab test results. A reputable manufacturer will offer access to these results.

Avoid products making claims related to health

Epidiolex is a CBD-based epilepsy medication. It is the only CBD product on the market that has FDA approval, and it is only available with a prescription.

Other CBD products on the market have not been tested by the FDA to assess safety and efficacy for treating certain health issues, such as headaches and anxiety. This means that sellers cannot legally make health claims regarding their CBD products.

Are You Sure CBD will not Register on a Standard Drug Screen?

Typical drug screens are not testing for CBD. Instead, they are testing for THC or THC metabolites. Of course, the one who orders the testing could request to have CBD added to the list of substances being tested for- but this is highly unlikely, especially since CBD is legal in all 50 states at this time.


The bottom line is that CBD should never show up on a standard drug screen. That being said, it’s important that you remember the industry is not consistently regulated- so it can be difficult to know exactly what you’re getting when you purchase a CBD product.

If you want to experience the potential benefits of CBD, but want to completely avoid THC, you should make sure that you purchase a CBD isolate product from a source that you can trust.

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