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Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test: Best, No-Nonsense Analysis on the Internet?



Last updated: October 3, 2019

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CBD which stands for cannabidiol, which is one of the main active ingredients in cannabis. Though it’s a key component of medical marijuana, it is sourced directly from the hemp plant. Hemp is related to marijuana.

The beauty of CBD is that it does not intoxicate the user. It is widely taken for its myriad health benefits. However, a question lingers in the mind: does CBD show up on a drug test?

The answer to that question is not a straightforward yes or no. It requires a proper breakdown to sufficiently answer that question. Read on.

What Products Can Contain THC?

Cannabidiol (i.e. CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (i.e. THC) are examples of the different cannabinoids found in marijuana.

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that the cannabis flower secretes, which induce both mental and physical effects. THC and CBD are the two most common types of cannabinoids.

THC is a psychoactive compound contained in cannabis which binds strongly to receptors in the brain. Consuming cannabis products gives one a feeling of “euphoria” caused by Tetrahydrocannabinol. In other words, it is responsible for the “high” one gets from cannabis.

CBD is consumed in gels, oils, gummies, and supplements. On the other hand, THC is available in oils, tinctures, smokable products, capsules, and edibles such as brownies.

Different Types of CBD

There are different spectrum options to choose from when looking for CBD. These are full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate.

Full- Spectrum

Calling an extract full-spectrum means that it has all the phytochemicals naturally found in the plant. These include terpenes, trace cannabinoids, and essential oils.

Though not psychoactive, full-spectrum CBD can give a false positive during a drug test. This is particularly likely for people who consume high doses of CBD oil daily.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain some THC, but not in strong enough doses to give a high. The THC content in full-spectrum extracts from hemp is negligible – it is below 0.3%.

Full-spectrum CBD benefits from a phenomenon known as “the entourage effect”. This is when the full spectrum of active compounds extracted from hemp cooperate to amplify the health benefits provided by each individual cannabinoid.

Broad- Spectrum

Broad-spectrum CBD contains cannabidiol and all other compounds within the cannabis plant except THC. In broad-spectrum CBD, THC is utterly removed after initial extraction.

Since broad-spectrum CBD contains multiple cannabinoids (except THC), it is also subject to the entourage effect.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is the purest form of cannabidiol. It is made by extracting it from its natural environment and separating it from all other ingredients.

The main advantage CBD isolate has over the other types is that it contains the highest concentration of cannabidiol per serving.

CBD isolates are typically 99% pure, which means that each gram of isolate powder contains approximately 990 mg of cannabidiol.

Unlike the other two types of CBD, isolate does not contain multiple cannabinoids. This means there is no entourage effect. The user only benefits from the effects of cannabidiol, and that explains the lower price and demand of CBD isolate products.

5 Main Reasons for Failing a CBD Drug Test

Since it does not contain THC, which is what causes intoxication, many people believe that the use of cannabidiol products cannot make one fail a drug test. In the event that it shows up on a drug test, the following are the likely reasons:

1. Using a Product with THC

The main reason why CBD can show up on a drug test is using a product that contains Tetrahydrocannabinol. In this case, that would be full-spectrum CBD. Broad-spectrum and CBD isolate does not contain THC.

The THC content in full-spectrum CBD is rather low. Due to this THC content, low as it is, full-spectrum CBD is likely to give a false positive during a drug test.

Using broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate is not completely safe either. One may unwittingly purchase a low-quality product which contains some THC. This is in spite of claims by the manufacturers that their products are completely THC-free.

2. Cross Contamination of THC

Contamination of the product with THC during extraction is also possible. This is when small amounts of THC contained in the material the CBD is extracted from find their way into the CBD oil. Sometimes these amounts of THC are high enough to cause a positive drug test.

This is more likely when CBD oil is bought from cannabis dispensaries in areas that have legalized cannabis than when bought from an online retailer.

3. Mislabeling of Products

CBD oil extracted from hemp should not contain more than 0.3% THC. It is, however, quite possible to purchase a mislabeled product that does contain THC. This THC-containing CBD oil is typically a low-quality marijuana extract.

Mislabeling is quite widespread in the industry, mainly because CBD products do not get strict regulation from the FDA.

4. Secondhand Exposure to THC

While it’s unlikely that unwitting exposure to marijuana (inhaling secondhand smoke) gives a positive drug test, it is still possible and does happen.

Note that it requires an extended period of exposure to marijuana smoke, for instance sitting in the same room with people heavily smoking marijuana for a couple of hours.

A more plausible scenario is when one has direct hair contact (hair being touched) with a person who has handled marijuana. The THC on the person’s hands transfers to the hair of the other person. As a result, the touched person may receive a false positive on any screening that tests the hair.

5. Is Cbd Oil Broken down in the digestive system?

A research study in 2016 suggested that CBD is transformed by gastric fluids in the stomach into THC. Later studies, however, have refuted this hypothesis. At present, no evidence exists that CBD oil is turned into THC in the digestive system.

What Volume of THC can Register on a Drug Test?

Since THC is the component responsible for a failed drug test, the logical question is how much THC is enough to register on a drug test? There are different types of drug tests: urine, blood, hair, and saliva.

How long does CBD stay in your urine?

Urine testing is widespread in the workplace.

It requires a THC-COOH concentration of 50 nanograms per milliliter. That is the minimum amount that can trigger a positive test. Note that a nanogram is approximately a billionth of a gram.

How long does CBD stay in your urine? There are varying detection windows, based on dose and frequency of use, but THC metabolites can be detected in urine for a period between about 3 to 15 days after ingestion.


Blood tests are not as common as urine tests for drug screening. They are not likely to be used in the workplace. The main reason for this is the quick elimination of THC from the bloodstream.

THC can be detected in plasma for up to five hours. However, THC metabolites can be detected for up to seven days.

The utility of blood tests is mainly indicating the level of one’s current impairment – for instance, testing drivers to ascertain if they are driving under the influence.

In states that have legalized cannabis, having a THC blood concentration of 1, 2, or 5 nanograms per milliliter suggests impairment. On the other hand, states that have not legalized cannabis have zero-tolerance policies.


Hair testing is uncommon. At present, no cut-off limits have been established for THC metabolites in hair testing.

The private industry uses cut-offs that include 1 picogram per milligram of THC-COOH. Note that a pictogram is approximately one trillionth of a gram.

THC metabolites in hair can be detected for a period of up to 90 days.

Hair tests examine the oil in the skin that transfers to hair.

They occasionally show a false positive because anyone who comes into hair contact with a THC user may theoretically test positive on the hair test.


At present, saliva testing is uncommon. Like hair testing, it does not contain any established cut-off limits for THC detection in saliva.

The Journal of Medical Toxicology’s recommended cut-off value is 4 nanograms per milliliter.

THC is detectable in saliva for a period of approximately 72 hours. However, it may be detectable for longer than that in a case of chronic, heavy use.

How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?

To determine how long CBD stays in the system, the following must be taken into account: frequency, dosage, metabolism, and consumption method.


Dosage is a key factor for determining how long CBD lasts in the body. The body stores CBD in its fat cells after it has used the available CBD. When one has consumed more CBD than the body requires, the excess is saved in fatty tissues.

Therefore, it takes longer for high concentrations of CBD to be cleared from the body than lower dosages.


How often one consumes CBD is critical for determining how long it will last in the system. For a single-serve user, CBD will only stay 2 to 3 days. For moderate-frequency users, 3 to 5 days are enough. For heavy, repeat users, CBD will remain in their system for a period of up to two weeks.

Consumption Method

The method of consumption is one of the leading factors that determine how long CBD lasts in the body. These methods include vaping, eating CBD-containing foods, applying it to the skin, or sublingually under the tongue using tinctures and oils.

Vaping is a common way of consuming CBD. The CBD enters the body quickly and leaves quickly. It only lasts one to four hours in the body.

One may also consume edibles infused with CBD. In this case, it takes longer for the CBD to be absorbed in the body because it is metabolized in the digestive system. It takes the body up to 6 or 8 hours for full digestion to take place.

Sublingual is when drops of CBD are placed under the tongue. This type takes longer to absorb. It enters the body through the mucous membrane. One dose lasts 4 to 6 hours in the body.

One may also massage the CBD into the skin. CBD takes a long time to be absorbed into the body, and therefore also leaves the body slowly. It is unclear how long it takes to enter and exit the body. Because it is highly likely that the cream will be washed off before it has undergone full absorption into the body, it helps to be liberal when applying it on the skin.


When CBD is consumed sublingually or orally, it takes the blood up to four hours to reach peak concentrations.

After reaching peak concentrations, the body starts the process of metabolizing the CBD back out of the system.

Approximately every 18 to 32 hours, CBD concentration in the blood halves. At this rate of metabolization, it takes 5 to 10 days to be completely metabolized out of the system.

How Long Do CBD Oil Effects Last?

The effects of CBD are influenced by the method of consumption. These include: ingestion, sublingual, vaporization, and topical.


Ingestion is when one eats edibles that have been infused with CBD.

Since the edibles are metabolized within the digestive system, absorption into the body takes longer. Its effects are felt faster on an empty stomach.

How long does it take for CBD to kick in? Edibles and CBD capsules will take about 30 to 60 minutes to start having an effect. The effects last for most of the day.


CBD oil tincture ingested sublingually starts working within 5 to 10 minutes.

For faster action, hold the oil in your mouth for approximately 60 to 90 seconds. This gives the receptors in the mouth time to absorb the active ingredients. As a result, one gets almost instant results.

The effects for sublingual consumption of CBD last up to 8 hours.


After inhaling CBD vape oil, the effects kick in almost immediately. It may take several puffs for one to get a full CBD dosage and experience the full effects. This, however, is dependent on the potency of the product.

For vaping, the CBD effects last only 1 to 2 hours.


With topical application of CBD oil on the skin, the effects take 15 to 30 minutes before they kick in. The effects typically last no more than 3 hours.

Topical applications only affect the area you apply them to and not the whole body like the other methods.

Other Reasons CBD Use Result in a Positive Result for THC?

The main reason CBD use might give a positive result is when a product that contains THC – for instance, full-spectrum CBD with a high THC content.

How to ensure CBD Product pass the Drug Test

  • Research exhaustively to make sure your CBD product is pure and produced by a legitimate company.
  • Your CBD oil should be an isolate product. The extraction source of the oil should be a viable industrial hemp rather than a low-quality tincture.
  • Do your homework on the oil’s processing techniques. Find out if there is a possibility of cross-contamination.
  • Steer clear of people smoking pot to avoid being exposed to secondhand marijuana. Avoid hair contact with THC users for the same reason.

Is There a Chance CBD Convert Into THC?

According to a 2016 research paper in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), CBD is converted into THC by the stomach’s gastric fluids. The study worked with simulated gastric fluid to test this hypothesis. The simulated version caused the conversion of CBD to THC.

In 2017, scientists conducted a study which refuted the 2016 paper. This study posited that studies with live human subjects are not the same thing as those conducted in controlled environment. In other words, the natural conditions of the stomach are not possible to recreate. Furthermore, the authors pointed out there has been no detection of THC in vivo for patients who are heavy users of CBD.

According to Ethan Russo, no known enzymes in humans exist that are able to transform CBD into THC.

Furthermore, the results of studies that use animal surrogates do not support the conclusions of the 2016 study.

In conclusion, there is no evidence at the moment that CBD changes into THC after usage.

Final Thoughts

CBD in its pure form does not appear on a drug test. If the question of whether CBD shows up on a drug test were merely theoretical, the answer would be an emphatic no.

However, it’s necessary to consider real-world complications. For instance, one might purchase a mislabeled product that is actually a low-quality marijuana extract that contains THC.

To ensure a positive result does not come up for THC, CBD isolate is the best choice. A thorough research should be done before making a purchase from a particular seller or company.

Avoiding second-hand exposure will also lessen your chances of failing a drug test.




Robert is the founder of CBDhow. He’s an aspiring volunteer and football coach. Seeker of modern solutions for classic issues. Chat with Robert on Twitter @Robert_Hubbart or via our contact page.


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