Does CBD Show up on Drug Tests?

Does CBD show up on drug tests?

Taking CBD products can result in failed drug tests if the consumed CBD products contain significant levels of Delta 9 THC.  A basic foundation of knowledge is required to better understand the risk of failing a drug test because of CBD product usage.  The consumer should understand:

  1. the drug-testing process utilized by employers and the federal government or the Department of Transportation (DOT)
  2. how research studies have determined Delta 9 THC metabolizes in the body
  3. the amount of Delta 9 THC contained in CBD products

Drug Testing DOT

Employer-issued drug tests are usually conducted via urine samples with cutoff levels defined by DOT 49 CFR Part 40 and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The urine tests generally attempt to identify THCCOOH, which is the primary metabolite of Delta 9 THC.

The testing is carried out in two stages. The first stage involves initial immunoassay screening (semi-quantitative) with a cutoff level of 50 ng/ml.  If the sample contains less than 50 ng/ml, the subject passes. If the sample contains more than the 50 ng/ml, additional testing is conducted with more sophisticated quantitative GC/MS instrumentation (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry).

The second test has a much lower threshold for failure (more stringent than the first test). That threshold is 15 ng/ml. If the sample contains less than 15 ng/ml, the subject passes.  If the sample contains more than 15 ng/ml, the subject fails.

How Long Does THC Stay in Urine?

Numerous studies have investigated the rates of positive tests following the ingestion of hemp oil containing various concentrations of Delta 9 THC.

Study #1 (2003)

A clinical study on a closed research ward was conducted in 2003[1]  .  That study was double-blind, placebo-controlled, and randomized.  During the study seven participants were administered hemp oil three times daily for five days at various dosages of Delta 9 THC.  All bladder voids were tested for THCCOOH resulting in 4,381 urine specimens.  The general results of the study follow.

The 2003 study results show daily doses of less than 0.39 mg of Delta 9 THC rarely resulted in positive tests via the initial immunoassay screening (50 ng/ml cutoff).  They even had a low probability of testing positive in the event of secondary testing utilizing GC/MS testing methods.

However, positives did occur very rarely for daily doses of less than 0.39 mg of Delta 9 THC. Furthermore, an individual taking a daily dose rate less than 0.39 mg tested negative the vast majority of the time but sporadically tested positive during the course of use, which indicates the timing of testing may be important.

Study #2 (2006)

A 2006 study investigated the levels of Delta 9 THC and its metabolites (THC, 11-OH-THC & THCCOOH) in plasma following hemp oil ingestion.  The inpatient study was randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, and within subject.[1]  

Plasma concentrations were determined by GC/MS instrumentation. During the study six participants were administered hemp oil three times daily for five days at various Delta 9 THC dosages.  Unlike the 2003 study, which utilized randomly occurring bladder voids for testing, the 2006 study utilized plasma draws at specific time intervals following ingestion.

Note: Whole blood cannabinoid concentration tests, such as those utilized for driving under the influence, would yield concentrations of about 50% of the cannabinoid concentrations exhibited in plasma tests.  The general results of the study follow.

During the 2006 study, significant concentrations of THC and 11-OH-THC, relative to the federally mandated cutoff of 15 ng/ml, did not show up in plasma tests even at the high daily dosage rates of Delta 9 THC.  On the other hand, maximum concentrations of THCCOOH did exceed the federally mandated cutoff of 15 ng/ml at high daily dosage rates of Delta 9 THC, but they did not exceed the cutoffs at low dosage rates of less than 0.47 mg per day.

Study #3 (2003)

Finally, a 2003 study[1]  illustrated the time-dependent nature of the concentration of Delta 9 THC metabolites in plasma, following administration of two doses (2.5 mg each) of synthetic THC (dronabinol) at 4.5 and 10.5 hours.  The study indicates that THC and 11-OH-THC decay relatively rapidly with THCCOOH exhibiting in plasma for longer durations.

Note: The 2.5 mg Delta 9 THC dose utilized in the 2003 study far exceeds the dosage found in Workman’s Relief CBD products.


So how much Delta 9 THC is there in typical CBD products?  A bit of additional knowledge about hemp extracts is required to answer that question.

CBD products utilize a variety of hemp extracts as ingredients, including full spectrum and broad spectrum extract as well as a further-refined product called isolate.  The main differentiating factor between these ingredients is the compounds they contain, including the Delta 9 THC.

  • Full spectrum hemp extract contains multiple cannabinoid compounds (although it is mostly CBD), along with low levels – less than 0.3% — of Delta 9 THC.
  • Broad spectrum hemp extract is similar to full spectrum in having multiple cannabinoid compounds (although it is mostly CBD); however, the majority of the THC has been removed.
  • Isolate contains 100% CBD without any other cannabinoid compounds including THC.

The most beneficial CBD ingredients are thought to be broad spectrum and full spectrum extracts due to the “entourage effect,” which alludes to CBD working more effectively in combination with other cannabinoid compounds.  Because isolate doesn’t contain any of these other compounds, it is thought to be the least effective of the three.

At Workman’s Relief we utilize broad spectrum hemp extract that has non-detect levels of Delta 9 THC for a variety of reasons.

  1. to enable our customers to benefit from the entourage effect
  2. to maintain our USDA certification, which guarantees natural products
  3. to significantly reduce the probability that our products will result in failed drug tests

What Does ‘Non-Detect’ Mean?

When Workman’s Relief products are tested by third parties, Delta 9 THC is not-detected; however, that does not absolutely mean our products contain zero percent Delta 9 THC.  Rather, it means the tests do not identify Delta 9 THC at concentrations that are greater than the limit of quantification (LOQ).  The LOQ refers to the minimum amount of Delta 9 THC the tests are capable of accurately identifying.

What Amount of THC Can I Take Daily and Still Pass a Drug Test?

Numerous studies indicate that consuming 0.39 milligrams or less of Delta 9 THC per day results in a low probability of urine tests detecting THC metabolites greater than the federally required testing limit of 15 ng/ml.

For our dosing recommendations, we conservatively assume that Workman’s Relief ingestible products have Delta 9 THC concentrations at exactly the LOQ. Although, it is likely the Delta 9 THC concentrations are significantly lower.

Internal Delta 9-testing Data

We, as avid users of Workman’s Relief products, subjected ourselves to urine tests at various dosing levels. The results can be seen in Figure 1.  The results in Figure 1 are not meant to be conclusive given the methodology; nor are they our recommendations regarding dosages.

Avoiding Positive Drug Tests

We have simple recommendations for avoiding positive drug tests when taking CBD products.

  1. Utilize products from trusted brands, such as Workman’s Relief, who have purposely manufactured their products to minimize the amount of THC. Products utilizing broad spectrum CBD or isolate are likely to have lower concentrations of THC. However, remember that isolate is likely to be less effective than broad spectrum from a wellness perspective.
  2. If possible, limit daily doses to ensure they do not exceed 0.39 mg of Delta 9 THC per day. See Table 1 for guidance related to Workman’s Relief products.

Take CBD products at a consistent time of day that maximizes the time between taking the CBD product and a likely urine sample. For instance, taking product right after the work

[1] Gustafson RA, Levine B, Stout PR, Klette KL, George MP, Moolchan ET, Huestis MA. Clin. Chem. 2003;49:1114

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