While routine drug testing is not as commonplace in the UK as it is in the USA, many careers and industries require employees to undergo regular drug tests. These are typically ‘heavy industries’ such as cargo transportation and building but institutions such as the Police can and will bring in random drug testing when they deem it necessary. While drug testing is designed to ultimately keep employees safe (and companies safe from a legal standpoint), this has raised serious issues for CBD users who feel unsafe to continue using (or start using) products that have positive effects on their lives. The consequences of failing a drug test on the job can very serious indeed so knowing everything you can is critical!
The question is, will you fail a drug test if you use CBD? As always, the answer is not straightforward and once again depends on the type of CBD products you are using as well as the type of test you are required to take. In this article we will break down using CBD and the associated risk of positive drug testing so you can make the most informed decision possible.
This question is deserving of a 100% honest answer and before we begin, almost no brand or company can guarantee that you won’t fail a drug test if you use their CBD products. The only situation where they can make this claim is if their specific product batch has been approved by a recognised drug-free testing body which would include Informed Sport in the UK and BSCG in the USA. Due to its popularity amongst professional athletes, Dr. Ed Sport is currently undergoing BSCG certification for this reason.
If your career involves regular drug testing and your employer is unaware of your CBD use or will not allow your CBD use to excuse you from testing, then CBD products may not be for you. This might seem odd for a CBD company to recommend but we are all about the facts and truth. If your livelihood depends on it, taking the risk, even a very small risk, should be seriously considered.
Despite the relative rarity of failing a drug test when using CBD products, users of all kinds of CBD products including full spectrum, broad spectrum and even isolates have failed drug tests in the past. So, although the absolute vast majority of users will never fail, you might, so please consider the contents of this article carefully. If an individual or company guarantees you will not fail when using a certain CBD product, they are either ill-informed or being deliberately dishonest.
CBD itself is not what will make you fail a drug test, but is instead another famous cannabinoid, THC. Most drug tests are looking for detectable levels of THC, primarily as this is the ‘inebriating’ cannabinoid. If THC is in your CBD products then it is this compound that will lead to failed tests which is why knowing different products types, knowing how to read lab reports and choosing a brand with experience and credentials are all very important.
THC, not CBD itself, leads to failed drug tests. THC can persist in the body for a great deal of time, but this depends on the ‘part’ of the body as well as how much THC is typically consumed and how frequently. We have compiled our best estimates below on THC detection rates in different tissues and substances:
‘Detoxing’ isn’t really a thing despite what most of the wellness, fitness and supplement industry says. You have a powerful internal detoxing system consisting of your liver and kidneys. They do the job. Drinking only watermelon juice for a week is not a ‘detox’. It’s stupid and potentially dangerous.
Home detox kits, ‘sweating it out’ and drinking lots of water are things that people CLAIM will speed up clearance of THC from your system but there is no evidence that any of that is true. It simply takes time.
What THC-free really means is that THC was not detectable in the sample based on the sensitivity of the equipment used to access the levels of THC in the product. Meaning, this claim is only as strong as the quality of the assessment, thus the ACTUAL level of THC in supposed THC-free products can vary. Dr. Ed products, for example, have 0% THC (undetectable) based on detailed analysis by Eurofins, one of the most well-established testing labs in the world. However, other brands which are assessed using inferior techniques can still claim to be THC-free while in reality having worrying levels of the compound.
A product that shows a THC level of 0.0%, “ND” (none detected) or “<LOQ” (less than the limit of quantitation) on its third-part lab report may still have very trace amounts of THC.
For example, if the sensitivity limit of an assessment was at 0.03% THC, then a product with 0.02% THC would be reflected on the lab report as having a THC level of 0.0%.
We’d highlighted the inherent variability in how CBD effects individuals many times before. Due to this variability in weight, dosage, frequency of use and metabolism, there is no way to directly compare two individuals even if they have used the same product in the same time frame. When it comes to drug testing, never rely on someone else’s results to form an opinion on how you might fair.
No company should be openly guaranteeing you won’t fail a drug test if you use their products. It might be incredibly unlikely, but they still shouldn’t guarantee it. If someone is making these claims loudly then steer well clear. There are a select few circumstances where a company may be able to guarantee this, but this has only arisen recently and was alluded to earlier. Drug testing companies which assess supplements for use in professional sports (i.e. Informed Sport and BSCG) are now assessing CBD products and these official testing companies can and do claim that athletes will not fail drug tests when using their 3rd party approved products. Very few CBD companies have this level of verification/certification and by and large create products specifically designed for professional athletes. The take home message, for the average consumer, is that no reputable company would make these claims if they do, they probably aren’t reputable.
Much like pregnancy tests, DIY drug testing kits are widely available but can vary dramatically in sensitivity. Official drug testing companies are likely to use more sophisticated and sensitive kits than available to normal consumers. As such, if you fail a DIY kit you are practically guaranteed to fail a more sensitive test. However, by the same logic, passing a home DIY test does not mean you are in the clear and you could still fail a more sensitive test.
If you are in the unfortunate situation of testing positive for THC despite using a CBD product you can technically request a re-test. Explaining your use of CBD may also allow your employer or tester to take that into consideration. If you are using CBD products for a medical issue and your GP is aware of this, a written note from them is a powerful help.
Being honest about your use of CBD rather than feigning ignorance is probably the better route to take but the decision is in your hands!
Few people using CBD products will ever test positive on a drug test but the risk, albeit small, is still there. While rare, even products which claim to have ‘0% THC’ have led to failed drug tests. If you may be drug tested but rely on CBD or really want to try it, you must be aware of the risks and hopefully this article has demonstrated what they are.
Your risk of failing depends on dosing, duration of use, your personal body metabolism, the quality and type of CBD product you are using as well as the type and sensitivity of the drug test being used.
If you are concerned about drug testing but are willing to proceed, accepting a certain level of risk, then DO NOT use full spectrum CBD products, which by definition contain THC. Always choose products made using broad spectrum CBD (Dr. Ed use broad spectrum CBD exclusively in our oils) or CBD isolate. If you are unsure, quiz the company about specifics or ask the Dr. Ed Team for advice.
We hope this has been helpful and cleared up some of the confusion around using CBD products while under drug-tested employment. If you would like to know more about using CBD, more detail about drug testing or anything else, please reach out to our team on webchat, social media or over email.