Drug Test Can’t Tell the Difference Between CBD and THC: How Do You Avoid a Failed CBD Drug Test?

Both CBD and THC are compounds found in Cannabis sativa L.; however, cannabidiol or CBD is legal provided that it is derived from the hemp variety of the said source plant. Last December, President Donald Trump signed the Farm Bill, which legalizes hemp and its derived products as long as it does not contain more than 0.3% of THC.

So What Is a Drug Test & When Are You Likely to Be Forced to Take One?


The very first thing that likely runs through your mind when the idea of a drug test comes up is of a criminal, being forced to take a drug test to figure out whether or not they are on some kind of serious drug.

In reality, drug tests are actually conducted in all manner of different places across the world; the most common one is in the workplace, as many different companies are hugely concerned with what their employees are doing in their free time.

An important thing to keep in mind is that a drug test isn’t an instant ticket to jail based on whether or not you pass or fail it – instead, it is more about creating a catalogue of what is actually inside your body, as well as what you have put in your body in the last few months or so.

It might seem a bit odd to imagine that your boss or the government should care about what you take in your private time, but unfortunately it is completely legal and allowed. This is the reason why so many different employers seem to conduct drug tests on their employees; it is practically encouraged by the US government!

Unfortunately, the sheer number of different tests that get conducted across the USA means that there are far more opportunities for mistaken drug test results, including false positives.

This is why it is absolutely imperative to properly understand what a drug test actually is. In essence, a drug test is an examination whereby some kind of sample from your body is used to compare against samples containing noted hallmarks of other drugs. What this means is that, if you have traces of a narcotic in your body, the testing company can compare your body sample against another sample that they know has that narcotic within it, allowing them to usually predict that you have recently taken that drug.

However, this becomes a massive problem when it comes to many over-the-counter or even more normal medication, especially prescription medication. Remember, when these drug tests are conducted, they are not made with the existence of other drugs in mind.

This means that, were you to be taking a painkiller frequently that had been prescribed to you by your doctor, the drug test would not be able to differentiate that with another drug test subject that is regularly taking heroin.

The consequences of this are obvious; you could be unjustly fired, incarcerated and shamed by your family and friends, all because of a mistaken drug that you had no control over.

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This is especially a problem for those that take CBD, as there is always an element of uncertainty and confusion about whether or not you can safely take and use CBD or other cannabis products when you are at risk of being drug tested.

So, how do you actually go about avoiding a failed drug test when you are using CBD?

The drug test method

The method in question for testing THC uses a typical chemical analysis instrument, the gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry (GC-MS) machine. Most devices undergo derivatization or the use of a chemical or sample to determine trace amounts of the illegal substance. One common agent used is the trifluoroacetic anhydride or TFAA.

Research on CBD Oil and Drug Tests


Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers also discovered some troubling results during their quest to understand whether using CBD products can impact drug testing for cannabis.

The team conducted a study in which six individuals took pure CBD, both orally and using a vaporizer, and also inhaled vaporized CBD-dominant cannabis (containing 0.39% THC) on different occasions.

After dosing, they were administered urine tests to determine if they would test positive for cannabis use by using common drug-testing standards. The results revealed that pure CBD didn’t produce a positive result on a standard urine test for cannabis. However, two of six participants tested positive after they inhaled CBD-dominant cannabis vapor.

The cannabis used in the study was very similar to what is found in legal CBD/hemp products. Those who are subject to urine drug testing for any reason need to understand that even very small traces of THC in CBD products can trigger a positive result for cannabis use.

These findings are especially important for people who use CBD products daily. THC could potentially build up in your system due to repeated use, and this could further increase the chance of a positive drug test result.

More issues surrounding CBD

A false positive drug test is just one problem among the bunch that has happened since the cannabis industry saw significant growth in their market.

Since research for such compound was illegal, people are not informed about their chemistries. Rodger Voelker, an analytical chemist from Oregon, noted how regulatory agencies are reactionary and slow to take action.

For example, there is no standard measure for cannabis intoxication. The methods for testing show only whether a person used the illegal substance a few days prior.

As policies and laws change, testing methods have to be upgraded, which also requires substantial resources, says former American Society of Crime Lab Directors President Matthew Gamette.

So How Do You Avoid a Failed CBD Drug Test?


The best tips to avoid failing your CBD drug test are ones of either abstinence or of clear and open communication.

The first thing to consider is the type of the test you are taking – as mentioned, if it is your hair being tested, then you run the risk of failing if you imbibed your CBD oil in the last 90 days. However, other methods are far less sensitive, with some of them only being able to test your THC content within about 3-7 days.

So, the best way to avoid failing is to be prepared and knowledgeable before hand; if the method of testing only checks for recent cannabinoid usage, simply abstain for a few days or at most a week or two before the test.

If, however, the test is going to cover a longer period, such as a hair test, you might just need to speak to your boss.

If your drug test is being administered by your work, simply speak to them and explain that you use CBD oil to treat a specific condition and you are concerned it might flag up on the test. By being forthright, you might just be able to get through your CBD drug test without failing.

  • Zenpype.com is an educational website dedicated to shedding the light on many sides of medical and recreational cannabis. Aside from informing people about cannabis, we also provide cannabis seeds and CBD products. Readers who show their support with purchasing, help us keep doing this. Thank you for your support and for helping us improve!

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