Whether CBD will show up in a drug test or not depends largely on what type of drug test you are taking, and for what purpose. Drug tests can detect a wide range of substances and use a range of different samples, so the possibility of detection varies.
Drug Tests for Different Purposes
While drug tests may be administered in relation to athletic events and for other reasons, the two most common reason for mandatory drug tests are court-ordered tests, due to legal problems, and employment-related drug tests.
Court ordered drug tests
Court-ordered drug tests may be required as a condition of probation or parole, may be required during divorce and child custody disputes, or may be part of court-ordered DUI or DWI treatments. In these instances, the court may require a general, periodic drug test, or require specific testing for certain substances that are part of the complaint or accusation.
For example, the court may require a general drug panel to simply demonstrate sobriety, or use a test that specifically tests for synthetic opiates that wouldn't show up on a general panel, if those drugs are part of the case or issue before the court.
Employment related drug tests
Even if marijuana is legal in your state, it can still be grounds to deny or terminate employment. Courts generally side with US federal law, under which marijuana is still prohibited, but have made a few exceptions in cases of prescribed medical cannabis.
Almost all employers have the right to prohibit on-the-job use and on-the-job impairment, and prohibit marijuana use in safety-sensitive jobs.
Employee protections for legal or medical use, where they exist, are extremely minimal. Employment-related drug tests usually consist of the “5-panel” test, a cost-effective test used by most employers and by the Department of Transportation. This test screens for marijuana, opiates, PCP, cocaine, and amphetamines (the 5 drugs in the test panel). More elaborate tests can screen for up to 12 drugs at once, with more sophisticated detection of painkillers and opiates.
Different types of samples not only test for the presence of different drugs, depending on the scope of the test, but are designed to test drug use over different time periods. Here are the most common sample methods:
Saliva testing is becoming more popular as a drug testing method, because it is less invasive. Saliva testing can generally only detect cannabinoids when they have been used in the previous 1-10 hours.
Urine testing is the most common drug sample, because it is non-invasive, and because most drug metabolites are excreted through the urine. Urine testing can detect cannabis use within the previous 4 hours-8 days, perhaps more with routine cannabis use.
Blood tests are the most expensive and invasive, so they are not often used for routine purposes, but may be used for legal or criminal cases. While most drugs have only a 48-hour detection window in a blood test, nicotine and THC can be detected for many weeks after use.
Hair testing is best used to test for chronic, repeated use over time, and can show patterns of drug use over the previous 90 days-1 year. However, hair tests generally don't reflect marijuana use in the prior 5-7 days, as it takes time for the hair follicle to metabolize and grow.
There are other drug sample methods, like perspiration or breath testing, but the above four methods are the most common.
Marijuana Drug Testing Controversy
While these tests can detect use of marijuana with varying degrees of accuracy, depending on when and how it was used, whether the use is a single incident or ongoing use, and even a person's body-fat percentage, there is still some controversy regarding what, if any, acceptable thresholds of cannabis ought to be.
For example, alcohol has established guidelines regarding levels of consumption and degree of impairment. There are legal standards that determine how much alcohol is too much at any given time. We have no such standards for THC, or CBD, and there can be disagreement about how much, if any, indicates impairment.
Will Drug Tests Detect CBD?
Most drug tests are designed to detect THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, and its metabolites, and not CBD. The presence of CBD and its metabolites would not show up on a standard drug test. Of course, if a court or employer chose to add a CBD panel to a drug test, it would show up, but, since CBD is not psychoactive, it is difficult to imagine a situation where someone would customize and pay for a drug test to detect it.
However, many CBD products do contain trace amounts of THC. A person who uses a very high quantity of CBD products will obviously be exposed to a greater percentage of these low levels of THC, which may then show up on a drug test. In many instances, these are considered “false positives,” and following up with a more accurate testing method counters the initial THC result. If you wanted to avoid the chance of THC detections through heavy CBD use, then there are CBD products available that are THC free isolates. An example of a CBD isolate product that is 100% THC free is Avida CBD Isolate.
To be more specific, federal law mandates that CBD products contain less than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight. Therefore, someone using 1,000-2,000mg of CBD products per day may incidentally use 3-6mg of THC per day. One study showed that daily consumption of 0.45mg THC did not show up on a drug test, but it is possible that higher levels of THC may trigger a positive result on a drug test 11-23% of the time.
If you wanted to avoid the chance of THC detections through heavy CBD use, then there are CBD products available that are "THC free" CBD isolates. An example of a CBD isolate product that is "100% THC free" is Avida CBD Isolate.
Most positive drug tests are immediately followed up with a second, more accurate test, during which these are revealed to be “false positives,” or that the presence of THC falls below the 50 nanograms/milliliter cut-off level.
In other words, most drug tests are designed to detect THC, not CBD. A person using hemp-derived low- or no- THC CBD products has virtually no risk of testing positive on a standard drug test, particularly when using CBD according to the label or physician instructions, and if you are registered cannabis user, its makes sense to keep your registration card on you.
Using a THC isolate product will virtually guarantee you are safe from an embarrassing situation, which means that if you use CBD for medical reasons, or too manage a stressful life...you can also relax about CBD being an issue with a drug test.