Updated: Apr 4
We’re saying goodbye to the days that people associated this natural supplement with illicit drugs, and instead are recognising and celebrating its natural wellness benefits. For many, taking CBD is just part of the daily routine - like taking vitamins in the morning.
However, a question that is frequently asked - particularly by those working in professions that are subject to drug testing - does CBD show up on a drug test?
The rules and conditions for drug testing can vary massively between situations and locations. Consequently, it’s not entirely possible to give one blanket statement on whether or not CBD will show up on a drug test. So while this article cannot give medical or legal advice, we can explain how or why CBD could show up on a drug test.
What do drug tests look for?
Standard drug tests will search for the presence of THC in the bloodstream. This means that any amount of this compound that can be detected can cause a positive result. Seeing as drug tests tend to operate on a zero-tolerance policy, having any amount - no matter how minuscule - of THC in your bloodstream will not be tolerated.
The different types of CBD extract Again, and this can and will differ from country to country, there is a legal limit on the THC content in a CBD product. In many countries, CBD products must contain less than 0.2% THC. But, for example, in the Netherlands and Switzerland, the limit is 1% so it’s important to be familiar with the rules of the country you’re in and check the label.
Up until 2015, it was thought that when CBD molecules were extracted in isolation from the other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes found in the cannabis plant, that it would have a more concentrated and direct effect. This type of extract is called CBD isolate.
However, in a study carried out by The Lautenberg Centre for General and Tumour Immunology, researchers found that CBD was actually most effective when it was kept with the other molecules, resembling the natural composition of the cannabis plant. When these molecules work and synergise together this has become known as the ‘entourage effect’.
The entourage effect is the reason why there are very small amounts of THC in CBD products. CBD extract which contains all compounds and molecules as found in the natural plant form is known as full spectrum extract. The amounts of THC in full spectrum products are always so minute that there will be no psychoactive effects from ingesting the CBD product, but enough invoke the entourage effect, and unfortunately do sometimes mark positive on a drug test.
How long does THC stay in the body?
You might be reading this having already taken a CBD product that has traces of THC in it, and you’re wondering how long it’s going to stay in your body before you can take a negative drug test. Well, this will of course depend on the amount and regularity with which you took it, but here’s how your body deals with it.
When THC enters the bloodstream it is broken down to form molecules called metabolites, these metabolites will be stored in fat cells which will eventually be passed as urine or excreted. The rate of your body ‘cleaning itself out’ of THC will depend on how frequently you have ingested it, as this can cause a build-up, and also your metabolism rate which will vary depending on your weight, age, and lifestyle. In general, THC is eliminated within 30 hours, but it could take up to 21 days in some cases.