Will CBD cause a drug test failure?

Perhaps you decided to join the bandwagon – the health craze surrounding cannabidiol (CBD). It is quite popular these days because of its calming effects. Maybe you’re just trying it out of curiosity or because of medical reasons. The irony is that you’re likely even more anxious now, be it due to employees screening for drugs, the law trying to catch a scent, or sports authorities cracking down on cannabis-related substances.

Whether or not it actually produces a high – and CBD certainly doesn’t – there are still worries about its detection, considering it is in the same family of substances as the high-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Having your freedom taken away by a false positive is a situation no one wants to end up in. That goes double for when the offending substance that both is tangentially related to recreational marijuana and almost completely harmless.

When taking in such a substance, one of the questions people are most anxious to answer is: will CBD cause someone to fail a drug test?

The short answer: If you’re an employee, you’re safe unless there was too much THC in your dosage or your employers are extremely strict. If you’re an athlete, the Olympics is fine with CBD – others, not so much.

The long answer: It depends. Let’s break it down, as drug tests can differ depending on who is administering it.

When you’re an employee, just don’t overdo it

Whether you’re going through the hiring process or getting surprised by an unannounced inspection, the drug test can be a harrowing experience. Fret not; CBD – at least, when derived from hemp – is legal in every state, and though marijuana-derived CBD is a tricky case, no less than 46 states allow for its medical use.

More often than not, they won’t even bother checking for CBD itself. Most tests, such as the 5 panel, check primarily for THC content in your bloodstream. Unless you’re going for a very high-profile job (say, somewhere important in the government), you’re very unlikely to encounter a 10-panel test, which does check for CBD as well. In short, you’re usually safe if CBD is all you have.

What you do need to be alert about is the amount of THC in your CBD source. Even CBD-dominant supplements tend to contain trace amounts of THC, attributed to a belief that the substances taken together are far more effective than when separated. This is called the entourage effect, and though it may have some positive effect, this can cause drug tests to spot the psychoactive substance and cause a false positive.

However, given the right type of CBD supplements, the amount needed to cause a false positive result is in the range of 1000 to 2000 mg a day – about a bottle or two’s worth. Should that even be in doubt, there are certain products that tout themselves to be THC-free, though user discretion is needed to check if such claims are true.

Still, the risk is low. As long as you watch your dosage – and aim for as little THC in your supplement as possible; legally it should be 0.3% or less – you won’t fail most drug tests.

The Olympics supports CBD

What if, say, you were a competitive athlete? For those aspiring to compete in the Olympics, you’re in luck – as of September 2017, CBD is officially off the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of prohibited substances. A quick look at section S8 of the list shows it to be an exception from other cannabinoids like THC, which remains prohibited in-competition.

As with normal drug tests, trace THC remains a concern, especially since the threshold is far stricter – 150 nanograms (ng) per ml is more lenient than pre-2013 standards, but it is still quite strict compared to the federal limit. Your choice of CBD supplement is far more crucial here, and THC-free products would do much for one’s peace of mind.

Other leagues are less than welcoming

However, if you’re looking into more local affairs, the situation gets a bit murkier. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) still maintains a very strong ban on THC and other cannabinoids, for instance – even non-psychoactive substances like CBD. Though an attempt has been made to change the policy to include only marijuana, the change has yet to be approved. As such, the general assumption is that CBD will fail an NCAA drug test.

Meanwhile, the National Football League (NFL) hold a similar, though less strict, standard, considering CBD as a cannabis product and therefore banning its use. It would take until 2020 at the least to negotiate for its approval, though NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell seems willing to consider cannabis’ potential medical benefits.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has also maintained a ban on all marijuana-related products, including CBD, on a level comparable to WADA policy. Like the NFL, any attempt to change the policy will take a while – in this case, only after the 2013-2014 season. Even so, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has expressed the league’s openness to medical marijuana legalization, so long as science proves its benefit.

On the other hand, the Major and Minor League Baseball (MLB) leagues are lenient about marijuana usage, but it does not distinguish between THC and CBD. Caution should be exercised for those in their jurisdiction, especially since the MLB is the only major league that issues bans for marijuana use.

Finally, the National Hockey League (NHL) has mostly turned a blind eye towards marijuana use, implicitly making CBD legal for use in their area. While THC traces could potentially lead to an investigation, the risk is fairly low due to their lenient stance.

So, what will show on a drug test if you take CBD?

To put it simply, CBD won’t make you fail a drug test in most cases. Hemp-based CBD products, in particular, are legal all over the US, and marijuana-based CBD is fine for medical use. If you somehow get a positive, check the THC content of your product, or take a lower dosage. Overall, there is little to worry about CBD itself – so take it to your mind’s content.

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