“CBD” and you. Perfect together? Maybe. Are you getting a drug test anytime soon? Is your legal client? As a toxicologist, I’m not here to give you my opinion on how well non-prescription CBD works for pain, anxiety, etc. (or how well it doesn’t work). I’ll leave that to the naturopathic doctors and pharmacists who specialize in this area. I will, however, give you some information to better understand how non-prescription CBD can affect drug testing results.
Over a hundred compounds known as cannabinoids are in the Cannabis sativa plant (marijuana and hemp are two varieties of this plant). Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa, and its concentration varies depending on if the plant is a marijuana plant or hemp plant (< 0.3% THC). THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid, but just like the dose makes the poison, the dose makes the high (the amount of THC in hemp plants is too low to produce a “high”). CBD is another cannabinoid from the Cannabis sativa plant, but it is not psychoactive.
There are three types of CBD products: full-spectrum (contains many cannabinoids plus THC; however, since it’s from the hemp plant, the amount of THC “should” be minimal); broad-spectrum (contains many cannabinoids but “should” not contain any THC); and CBD isolate (contains no cannabinoids other than the CBD). Keep in mind that distributors of non-prescription CBD are not required to show consistent concentrations from batch to batch (although some distributors do take extra steps to do so). This is why I said “should” when describing the THC content of CBD products. (Note that there is a prescription form of CBD indicated for a specific type of pediatric seizure disorder. The FDA regulates that product, unlike non-prescription CBD formulations, which are not considered drugs.)
Drug tests for marijuana use look for THC (active parent drug) and/or THC metabolites (ie, breakdown products) in the blood or urine. Patients using a CBD product may test positive for marijuana use depending on how much THC is in their CBD product, the minimum detection threshold of the drug test, how efficiently they metabolize and eliminate THC, and how often they use the product. I’ve encountered situations where someone is using CBD, not marijuana, and tests positive for marijuana use. But wait…CBD isn’t “marijuana”, and there wasn’t a “high”. So why did the CBD-user test positive? This is because the CBD product contained THC in some quantity, and although not enough to give a “high”, it was enough to trip a drug screen. CBD users need to be aware of this if they are subject to drug testing for employment, custody dispute resolution, or otherwise.
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