CBD products can still be problematic, however, when it comes to drug testing. Though drug tests screen for THC, not CBD, many CBD products contain a trace amount of THC which will be detected in your bloodstream during a drug test.
If you are concerned that THC in your CBD oil or other CBD product may show up on a drug test, you may be able to reduce the chance of that occurring, though there is no guarantee. Some of the factors that may increase the likelihood of a failed drug test are:
Factors in CBD Oil Showing on Drug Screen
CBD has taken off as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments. CBD products like CBD oil can be made from either the hemp plant or the cannabis plant, which are closely related varieties of the same cannabis species, Cannabis sativa. CBD products contain a cannabinoid—a chemical—called cannabidiol, which does not make you high. The substance in marijuana that causes a buzz is a different cannabinoid, called THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.
THC can be detected in a urine test for up to 15 days, depending on how often and how much you use. It leaves the bloodstream in about five hours, but substances your body makes from THC (THC metabolites) can show up for as long as 7 days. CBD tends to stay in the bloodstream from 2 to 5 days, depending on dosage and frequency. If you have been using CBD for a while, it can stay in your body for up to 30 days or more.
The legality of CBD products can be confusing. CBD products made from certain cannabis plant varieties are legal only in states where marijuana is legal, due to the potential THC content. CBD products made from hemp variety plants are legal throughout the United States as long as they contain less than 0.3% of THC and do not make any medical claims. (A hemp plant is defined as Cannabis sativa that contains less than 0.3% THC.)
Urine tests can detect the THC in the fat cells, since some of it gets washed out with the urine. THC can reside in fat cells for up to 4 weeks, sometimes longer if the person consumes large amounts of marijuana.
Think about rubbing alcohol. You can rub it on various places on your body, but you will not feel intoxicated or have a BAC over the legal limit if you use it, even though it has a very high concentration of alcohol in it. However, remember that, like the transdermal patch, consuming marijuana in other ways will show up on a drug test.
The THC level in topical products tends to be far lower than that in smokable or edible products. Add that to the fact that applying a topical to the skin only allows it to break the skin/muscular barrier, but not enter into the blood stream. I have not seen any reported cases of positive drug tests from topical applications and the research supports this.
Dr. Malik Burnett is a former surgeon and physician advocate. He also served as executive director of a medical marijuana nonprofit organization. Amanda Reiman, PhD, holds a doctorate in Social Welfare and teaches classes on drug policy at the University of California-Berkeley.
*A less commonly used method is the sweat test in which a small square patch is worn on the body for an extended period of time and then tested. This test is usually reserved for those in prison, on probation/parole and military personnel.
In reality, the only thing that will ensure a clean drug test is abstaining from ingesting drugs, at least for a while, but each test is different in terms of how long you need to abstain and what the test can tell about your use history.
There are three main types of drug tests, urine, blood and hair tests, and saliva tests are becoming more common, especially for detecting marijuana smoking*. However, a urine test is the most commonly administered because of ease and cost.
Topicals are infused with a variety of cannabinoids. The most common is CBD, which does not contain any of the psychoactive properties that cannabis is renowned for. Instead, it is utilised for its medicinal benefits. However, some topicals do contain other cannabinoids like THC and CBN. Given that THC is the key psychoactive component in cannabis that enables users to get high, it is understandable that some remain sceptical about the use of topicals.
“Topical” is a term used to describe products applied to the surface of the body. Balms, ointments, lotions, and salves are all included in this category. What makes them unique is that rather than being consumed orally, they are applied directly to the skin. For that reason, they are not taken as a recreational drug, but instead for exclusively therapeutic use.
Cannabis topicals are an incredibly useful way to get localised pain relief and reduce inflammation. With the market expanding rapidly, their use is becoming significantly more widespread, even extending outside of traditional cannabis users.
WILL TOPICALS GET YOU HIGH?
Depending on the method of drug testing, cannabis can be detected in your body months after it was last smoked or ingested. A hair follicle test will retain trace elements of THC for up to three months. If you have switched to topicals as a means of receiving pain relief without smoking cannabis, then it’s worth establishing when you stopped to identify if you are at risk of failing a test.
The caveat is transdermal patches. These work in the same way as a nicotine patch, providing patients with a strong dose of the active ingredient that is absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. As such, use of THC-rich cannabis patches is likely to result in a failed drug test.
With a localised application, sufferers can target specific areas of trouble, supporting mild pain relief and reducing inflammation. It is the nature in which they are absorbed through the skin, however, that has raised questions about their safety. Will users get high as a result? And furthermore, would that cause a positive reading on a drug test?
The thing is, our skin acts as a protective barrier, which it does an excellent job at. To give you an example of how topicals cannot get you high, consider rubbing alcohol. Those who apply alcohol to a cut are still able to drive afterwards without fear of being over the legal limit. This is because it cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream through their skin. Cannabis topicals work on the same principle. The cannabinoids bind to receptors in our skin, muscle tissue, and nerves, but get absorbed before they could permeate through our skin into the bloodstream. THC only gets users high when it reaches our brains, something it cannot do through the surface of the skin.