WRITTEN BY MELANIE FLORES AND DR. SWATHI
Short answer: Maybe–it depends.
Cannabidiol (CBD) tinctures have been studied in sleep, stress, mood, and focus. As utilizing these tinctures can provide wonderful enhancements to one’s life, it is natural to wonder if this is going to show up on a drug test. As workplace drug tests test for federally illegal substances, it is important to differentiate between tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD.
What do drug tests commonly test for?
Pre-employment drug tests screen to see if prospective hires use federally illegal substances or abuse prescription medication of which they are not prescribed. Illicit drugs that are typically tested for include:
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
THC vs. CBD
Most pre-employment drug tests in the United States do test for THC, so let's talk about the difference between THC and CBD.
Found at a higher percentage in hemp plants, CBD is one of many compounds that is found in the cannabis plant. Hemp plants are a type of cannabis plant that have a higher CBD than THC content and are legally allowed to be cultivated in the United States as long as they contain less than 0.3% of THC. CBD does not have psychoactive or intoxicating properties, meaning that on its own it cannot get you high.
Unlike CBD, due to the way it works in the body, THC is well-known for its ability to make the consumer feel high.
CBD Isolate vs. Broad-Spectrum vs. Full-Spectrum CBD
This type of oil is derived from the hemp plant that contains CBD only. This is the safest product option for someone at all worried about having a positive result from a drug test.
This type of oil is derived from the hemp plant that contains non-psychoactive phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and other parts of the hemp plant’s original compounds to create a broad spectrum oil that does not contain THC. Since it does not contain THC, it should not trigger a positive drug test.
Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
This oil contains all of the compounds that occur naturally in the plant they were extracted from. They are often extracted from the cannabis plant and often contain CBD, terpenes and other cannabinoids. Full spectrum CBD oils often do contain THC and could cause a result in a positive drug test.
So, there is a 0% chance that a drug test will be positive with a broad-spectrum product?
No. Before purchasing any CBD product, it is important to educate yourself about each brands' mission and transparency with testing (see: Certificate of Analysis (COA)). Unfortunately some companies do not prioritize high quality third-party testing, so even though the label may read 'broad-spectrum', it is possible that there is a higher THC content, which could possibly result in a positive drug test.
What about topical CBD Products?
Topical CBD products are locally, meaning that most of its absorption happens in the skin. This means there is negligible risk of any of the product showing up in the bloodstream. If one is using a THC-free topical product, there is very low risk of failing a drug test.
Bottom Line for choosing a THC- free CBD Tincture
Choose a CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD oil
- Do your research to ensure you are buying from a high quality and trustworthy company
- Make sure the product is processed properly to avoid risk of cross-contamination
- Ensure the product is third-party lab tested–the COA should be easily accessible for each product
- Do not hesitate to reach out to the brand's team to ask any questions about the formulation, processing techniques, etc. of the product before purchasing
If you have any questions for our team, please Ask Dr. Swathi.
- Drug Testing Resources. SAMHSA. October 2021. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://www.samhsa.gov/workplace/resources/drug-testing
- CBD & Drug Testing: Your questions answered. DNA Legal. August 2021. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://www.dnalegal.com/blog/cbd-drug-testing
- Creveling M, Timmons J. (2021, November 22). Full-spectrum vs. broad-spectrum CBD: Comparison and Best Products. Healthline. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/full-spectrum-vs-broad-spectrum-cbd
This article was edited by Dr. Swathi and was written by Element Apothec Scientific Communications Intern, Melanie Flores. She is a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) student at Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy in Portland, Oregon.