Will CBD Show On A Drug Test?
Once a fringe and stigmatized black market, hemp-derived therapies such as cannabidiol (CBD) have captured mainstream attention. Better yet, as growing public awareness and education initiatives have gained momentum, politicians across the ideological spectrum have realized the extraordinary benefits of a robust and controlled cannabis market.
A major reason why cannabidiol has recently met increasing approval from social and political influencers is due to the intricacies of its botanical structure. Unlike the much maligned and controversial marijuana plant, CBD does not impart a negative psychoactive impact. Principally, CBD and other industrial hemp-derived materials do not contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
Essentially, the legal CBD market allows people from all walks of life (and even political and religious ideologies) to enjoy natural, organic therapies without the extracurricular side effects linked to illicit marijuana. And with the groundbreaking 2018 Farm Bill, the federal government has made cannabis legal in the U.S. (though individual states can have their own, more stringent laws).
Therefore, as long as you don’t live in the cannabis-restrictive states of Nebraska, Idaho, and South Dakota, you can have your botanical cake and eat it too. This is the best of both worlds, or is it?
Despite the burgeoning legal and social acceptance of cannabidiol and hemp-sourced materials, many questions remain. Unfortunately, neither federal nor state governments make this ambiguity any easier to deal with. And easily the most pressing question that is forwarded in this industry is this: will taking CBD trigger a positive drug test result?
As a rule of thumb, this is a very difficult question to answer, involving many nuances. What we’d like to do is to arm you with the facts so that you can make the best decision. In the following discussion, we’ll address these topics:
What is CBD?
What are different forms of CBD?
Will CBD trigger a drug test?
Best end-user practices
With the information below, we hope to clarify some of the ambiguities of cannabidiol and hemp, especially regarding the specter of drug testing.
What is CBD?
Before we dive into the granularity of cannabis drug testing, we should lay down a basic foundation. Since not all CBD products are the same, understanding the chemistry can play a vital role for the testing process.
In short, cannabidiol is an organic compound – called a cannabinoid -- that is native to the cannabis genus. Contrary to lay opinion, CBD is not a separate, non-psychoactive botanical. Instead, it’s one of over a hundred cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. While CBD has become the most talked about cannabinoid, THC is also an example of a historically popular cannabinoid. Thus, whenever you consume a cannabis strain, you run the risk of THC entering your bloodstream.
To get around this problem, agricultural efforts focused their attention on industrial hemp. A strain of the cannabis sativa plant, hemp naturally contains less THC content than other cannabis iterations. Further, agricultural processes have virtually eliminated THC from industrial hemp. Under federal guidelines of the Farm Bill, hemp and hemp-derived products like CBD must contain less than 0.3% THC content. This law is primarily what makes CBD legal throughout most states.
Interestingly, other cannabis strains besides industrial hemp contain cannabidiol, as we just discussed. However, only CBD derived from hemp is legal. Any other CBD product – even if contains 0% THC – is illegal. Thus, whenever you purchase cannabis-based products, you want to do so from reputable retailers like Nug Republic.
Now, CBD is such an effective therapy because our own bodies contain cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2 receptors. Generally speaking, CB1 receptors are found in the brain and are largely responsible for proper central nervous system functioning. That said, CB1 receptors are located throughout the body, but in lower densities.
On the other hand, CB2 receptors are usually found among cells that comprise the immune system. As moderators of inflammation and a critical line of defense against pathogens, the immune system plays a vital role in overall health and wellness. When integrated into the bloodstream, CBD binds to either receptor (or both), modifying the receptor’s ability to react to certain cannabinoids.
One of the attributes that makes CBD so attractive to the wellness industry is that it helps prevent THC from binding to CB1 receptors. Otherwise, in the absence of CBD, the THC cannabinoid will bind firmly with the CB1 receptor and impart the negative psychoactive reaction known colloquially as “getting a high.” That’s one of the reasons why science calls THC an antagonist of the CB1 receptor. It also underlines the effectiveness of traditional drug testing measures to detect THC.
Different Forms of CBD
This dynamic begs an obvious question: if CBD prevents THC from binding to CB1 receptors, why should anyone worry about taking CBD products?
Mainly, end-users wish to adopt the safest platform for cannabidiol consumption. Particularly, if you have a high-paying job, you certainly do not want to jeopardize your profession or your reputation. Second, with the advancement of botanical technologies, enthusiasts today have a plethora of options. Here, we’ll discuss the three main formats of CBD:
Full Spectrum CBD
If you didn’t have to worry about draconian, misguided marijuana laws, full spectrum CBD is the most ideal platform. Essentially, this is the most natural form of cannabidiol. As the name suggests, full spectrum CBD contains cannabidiol, along with other cannabinoids and terpenes.
As we mentioned above, the two most talked about cannabinoids are CBD and THC. However, scientific research has so far identified over 100 different cannabinoids. These include Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA), Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabigerol (CBG), and Cannabichromene (CBC), among many more.
What’s beautiful about cannabinoids is that they operate under a spectrum or range. For instance, if you go to the beverage section of your local grocery store, chances are, you won’t find just one type of beverage. Additionally, many health-centric beverages promote different responses: some are useful for a pick-me-up (like iced coffee), while others feature lavender-infused liquids to promote restful sleep.
Cannabinoids operate under the same principle. CBD offers myriad therapeutic uses. However, the hundred-plus other cannabinoids can help fill the gap, so to speak. Additionally, terpenes, or the aromatic compounds of cannabis and many other plant life, provide additional therapeutic support.
This is what is known as the “entourage effect.” In the world of natural, organic cannabis, nothing operates in a vacuum. Working together in symbiotic fashion, cannabis-based therapies are incredibly potent and effective, leaving behind little to no side effects for many individuals.
That said, we live in an imperfect world. To accommodate growing concerns about triggering a drug test, cannabidiol manufacturers have developed a format called CBD isolate. This is a pure cannabidiol extract, which means it contains CBD and no other cannabinoids nor terpenes.
At first glance, this seems like a waste of money. Because the process involved in extracting just CBD from the hemp-derived cannabis plant is complex and demanding, CBD isolate products tend to be more expensive than its full spectrum counterpart.
More critically, using isolate CBD automatically negates the entourage effect. Because this platform does not contain any other cannabinoids, there’s simply no opportunity to extract the benefits of helpful organic compounds and essential oils.
So, why would anyone purchase and use isolate CBD? The answer lies in our political reality. Despite federal approval of hemp-derived products, individual states can apply their own variants of cannabis law. Further, even if operating under misguided principles, companies can screen employees and prospects for THC.
Now, full spectrum CBD may contain a trace amount of THC, so long as the overall content is less than 0.3%. However, different manufacturers have varying content volume; thus, depending on the product, you may consume THC that is far closer to the legal limit than competing platforms.
To avoid this ambiguity, many botanical enthusiasts have simply elected to use isolate CBD. Because there’s truly 0% THC in these products, you don’t have to worry about testing positive for THC.
Broad Spectrum CBD
Broad spectrum CBD represents the bridge between full spectrum and isolate variants. Here, you receive all the benefits of full spectrum – CBD, other cannabinoids and essential oils (terpenes) – but also the confidence of 0% THC content.
Among the choices available, broad spectrum makes the most sense for enthusiasts who want both holistic health benefits and the ability to pass drug tests. In that respect, broad spectrum CBD is truly the best of both worlds as it facilitates the entourage effect.
So, why doesn’t everybody gravitate toward broad spectrum? The reality is that this format requires complex processing to extract out THC while leaving all the non-psychoactive cannabinoids and terpenes in. And complexity usually means expensive.
That said, companies like cbdMD engage in proprietary measures are able to compete on both volume and quality for broad spectrum cannabidiol products. Nevertheless, those who don’t have to worry about drug testing will probably shift their attention to full spectrum offerings.
CBD and Drug Testing
We’ve finally arrived at the multi-million dollar question: will CBD trigger a drug test? Although it’s a complicated answer, the short version is no. That’s because CBD not only doesn’t contain the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, but it actively prevents THC from binding to the body’s cannabinoid receptors.
As we discussed earlier, our internal system has two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. With the former largely impacting the central nervous system, and with THC having a strong affinity toward CB1, this particular cannabinoid can quickly impair cognizance if taken in large doses. However, CBD binds to CB1, preventing THC’s transmission with CB1 receptors.
However, because full spectrum CBD contains a legal but trace amount of THC, a miniscule amount of THC may bind to CB1 receptors. That is, the dosage of CBD may not cover all CB1 receptors, leaving a very small coverage gap. Further robust dosages of full spectrum CBD may increase the possibility that more THC cannabinoids will bind to CB1 receptors. Over time and with frequent consumption, this may trigger a positive for a drug test.
To avoid the risk of triggering a positive result, many enthusiasts as we mentioned above will elect either isolate CBD or broad spectrum CBD. And while comprehensive research will need to be conducted regarding this topic – and please note that no one can say with absolute certainty that any CBD product will not trigger a positive drug test – the lack of THC in isolate or broad spectrum makes this situation highly unlikely.
In fact, we have a real-world example of this. Earlier in 2019, cbdMD signed a groundbreaking endorsement deal with Bubba Watson. A two-time Masters champion, Watson is a highly regarded and celebrated athlete on the PGA Tour. As a result of this profession, Watson undergoes constant drug testing.
Yet he himself stated that he uses cbdMD products, which specialize in broad spectrum CBD. And according to his statement on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, safety was his biggest concern. To our knowledge, Watson has never tested positive for a drug test, providing ample assurance to purchases of broad spectrum or isolate CBD.
Best Practices for CBD
Despite the inherent protections associated with isolate and broad spectrum CBD, you naturally don’t want to risk a positive drug test, especially if that result could prevent you from getting your dream job. Just as importantly, such a result may impair your good reputation, which in many industries is worth its weight in gold.
Thus, if you know you are approaching a drug test, we recommend these best practices:
Abstinence: In extreme cases, avoid using CBD or any cannabis/hemp-based products. This is really a play on the old adage of being safe rather than sorry. If you have nothing in your system, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
Isolate: If you must take CBD for personal or medical reasons, and if CBD isolate is a viable alternative, then we recommend this course. As previously discussed, isolate does not contain any THC nor any other cannabinoids and essential oils. And because other cannabinoids are not present, you don’t risk a particularly sensitive drug test from pinging positive on those cannabinoids or terpenes.
Broad: In circumstances where you cannot go without the entourage effect, broad spectrum is your best bet. As a confidence boost, you can cite Bubba Watson’s experience with broad spectrum CBD, where he has successfully passed multiple drug tests.
Platform: Some CBD product formats are simply more potent than others. Vaping CBD is the most powerful form of consumption because the CBD directly enters your bloodstream. However, edible CBD products are the least potent because the CBD is filtered by your liver prior to bloodstream integration. Tinctures stand in the middle of vaping and edibles in terms of potency. Thus, if you must use CBD, consider using edibles (or even ointments) prior to your drug test.
With these tips and suggestions, you should be able to successfully navigate the tricky waters of CBD drug testing. Above all else, remember to buy your cannabidiol or hemp-derived products from reputable dealers like Nug Republic.