Can CBD Cause a Positive Drug Screen? - NMS Health (2023)

There has been an undeniable buzz around CBD the past few years and business is booming. One study predicts that by 2025 it will hit 16 billion dollars in the United States. CBD can be found in almost any product now a days – face masks, pills, toothpicks, breath mints, lotions, foods, and drinks. But it may also show up on your drug screen if you are unprepared.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol which is a chemical compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana or hemp. It is one of the 113 identified cannabinoids which are naturally occurring in the plant. While it is only one of many compounds in the plant, it has quickly gained attention and popularity, coming in second to only THC.


There are two primary species of the Cannabis sativa plant – marijuana and hemp. While marijuana and hemp contain both CBD and THC, there is a much higher percentage of CBD in hemp, and much lower levels of THC when compared to the compound structure in marijuana. Hemp has less than .03% of THC. So, while both these cannabinoids are present in marijuana and hemp, they elicit different sensations.

THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, and it is what is responsible for that “high” feeling. CBD on the other hand, does not have any psychoactive properties and doesn’t induce feelings of euphoria. THC activates the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain. This is what causes a euphoric feeling or the high associated with marijuana. On the other hand, CBD is a CB1 antagonist, so it blocks any intoxicating impact caused by the receptors. Taking CBD with THC may inhibit the effects of THC.

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Many people have claimed that even though CBD doesn’t get them high, it does help to relieve their symptoms of depression, anxiety, inflammation, and pain. While there are a few studies to back this up, there is more research that needs to be done. The only condition in which the Food and Drug Administration has approved CBD-based drugs for is epilepsy. The drug Epidiolex has been approved for treating two epilepsy conditions, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gestaut syndrome, since 2018. In 2020, its use was approved to also treat seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC).

Is CBD legal?

The Agriculture Improvement Act, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, is responsible for removing hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. Due to this change, CBD products, derived from hemp are legal if those products contain less than 0.3% of THC. Any CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana and are federally illegal.

The legality of CBD use varies by state. Some states have conditional legality for specific medical purposes such as Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Many of these states also have low THC guidelines as well. CBD products in Idaho are legal only if they contain zero THC and are derived from the mature stalks of the plant. In Tennessee, possession of CBD products is legal if they contain less than 0.6% THC. In Alabama, the maximum THC level is 0.3%. Obviously, with all of these different conditions, the world of CBD products is often hard to navigate.

Can CBD Cause a Positive Drug Screen? - NMS Health (1)

What are the different types of CBD?

  • Full-spectrum CBD:This type of CBD contains multiple plant extracts of the cannabis plant including essential oils, and other cannabinoids. The THC concentration must be less than 0.3%, however the concentrations can often be mislabeled or misleading.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD:This type is similar to full-spectrum as t contains some additional cannabis plant compounds. However, most broad-spectrum CBD products have zero to trace amounts of THC. It is important to note that a product marked as “THC-free” does not always mean it is entirely free of THC. Even broad-spectrum CBD can result in a positive drug test.
  • Isolate:This type is typically harvested fromCannabis sativa. This type is the pure form of CBD and contains no other cannabis plant compounds. CBD isolate is a much more refined product and goes through more processing after the extraction process.

So, could CBD cause a false positive?

In May 2022, Arizona’s largest health system, Banner Health, released a written statement, after a seemingly large influx of positive drug screens. In their press release, they quoted Dr. Steven Dudley, director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center as saying,

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“CBD itself will not cause a false positive drug test but people can still test positive for marijuana because there could actually be small amounts of THC in these products, especially if they’re made from hemp [...] We’ve seen multiple reports from the FDA and independent labs that show CBD products containing way more THC than would be explained from legal hemp sources,” Dr. Dudley says. “It can really be the wild west depending on where you purchase your products.”

Although drug panels only test for the presence of THC and not CBD, it is clear that some CBD products can contain traces amounts of THC - even when they are advertised as containing zero percent THC. This can be a more obvious issue when it comes to full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products which use multiple cannabis plant compounds.

A2017 studyfound that 18 out of 84 CBD products which had been purchased online had THC levels high enough to potentially cause intoxication or impairment. Unfortunately, a large part of the issue is lack of oversight. Since CBD is not federally legal, it does not have the oversight from the federal Food and Drug Administration. Without this oversight there in no standard in place for producing, testing, or labeling CBD products.

Additionally, some concentrations of CBD are still classified as a Schedule 1 drug on the federal level, so for many people, even in states where it is legal, they cannot purchase CBD products locally and in person. Many rely on online retailers to purchase their products. While the option to buy products online may be convenient, it does make it more difficult to examine and vet each product. CBD users should be able to check the label to determine whether the CBD is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, orCBD isolate to determine the product containsTHC and to confirm whether it has been third-party tested. This can be difficult to accomplish if online retailers don’t make that information readily available.

The dosage and duration of CBD intake can also be a critical factor when it comes to drug testing. Dosing is dependent on if the CBD is full-spectrum or isolate. If a CBD product with trace amounts of THC is used more frequently, THC will build up and stay in the system over longer periods of time. It could take days or weeks to leave the body of a routine user.

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This can be a hard situation for hiring managers and employers, as there is no way of definitively knowing if the positive was caused by intentional marijuana use, or due to CBD use. For employees in safety-sensitive positions, a positive drug screen, regardless of its cause, could warrant discharge or an employment offer being rescinded. Employers in other sectors should refer to their own marijuana policies, and the regulations put in place for their state, including employee protection laws. Some employers have begun using drug testing panels which exclude THC when screening candidates and employees due to not only medical and recreational state laws, but also a more relaxed attitude toward off-duty marijuana and CBD use.


Bonn-Miller, M. O., Loflin, M. J., Thomas, B. F., Marcu, J. P., Hyke, T., & Vandrey, R. (2017). Labeling accuracy of Cannabidiol extracts sold online. JAMA, 318(17), 1708.

Full-spectrum CBD may trigger positive THC result. Quest Drug Monitoring. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2022, from,study%20published%20in%20JAMA%20Psychiatry

Penn study shows nearly 70 percent of cannabidiol extracts sold online are mislabeled. Penn Medicine. (2017, November 7). Retrieved June 10, 2022, from

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Shahbaz, F., Grandi, V., Banerjee, A., & Trant, J. F. (2020, July 24).Cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors: The story so far - cell. Cell Press Open Access. Retrieved June 23, 2022, from

United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020, April).Drug fact sheet: Marijuana/cannabis. Retrieved June 23, 2022, from

When it comes to drug testing, CBD may not be A-OK. Banner Health. (2022, May 10). Retrieved June 10, 2022, from

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Can CBD Cause a Positive Drug Screen? - NMS Health? ›

Cannabidiol (CBD) shouldn't show up on a drug test. However, many CBD products contain trace amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana's main active ingredient.

Will CBD make me fail a urinalysis? ›

Most drug test panels, including the one used for federally regulated drug tests, test for THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, not CBD. However, CBD products may contain trace levels of THC that could lead to a positive drug test.

How long does 12 mg of CBD stay in your system? ›

CBD could stay in someone's system for days or weeks, depending on the dosage and method of use. However, on average, when CBD is taken orally, it's likely to stay in your system for between 11 and 28 days.

Does labcorp test for CBD? ›

Test Number:701907, Cannabidiol (CBD)/Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Ratio, Urine Specimen Type: Urine (random) Methodology: Liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS-MS) Use: To assist in distinguishing whether a positive urine THC test is exclusively the result of CBD use Volume: 30 mL Ordering: May be ...

Can an employer fire you for using CBD oil? ›

In California, employers are generally prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their use of medical marijuana or CBD oil for medical purposes.

Can topical CBD show on drug test? ›

Topical application of THC containing products is not able to cause positive cannabinoid finding in blood or urine.

Can you have a positive drug test with CBD? ›

The presence of CBD itself won't show up on a drug test. However, the use of certain CBD products could, in theory, result in a positive test if there are low levels of THC present. THC sometimes finds its way into CBD products due to contamination in the manufacturing process.

How do you flush CBD out of your system fast? ›

Drinking plenty of water helps to flush out the body's systems, while exercising helps to increase the body's metabolic rate and helps to break down the CBD molecules more quickly. Taking a detoxification supplement can help to accelerate the process and can also help to reduce any potential side effects.

How do you clean CBD out of your system? ›

It is not detected by standard commercial drug tests. The concern is that some CBD oil products do contain enough THC to be detectable. The best way to flush CBD out of your system is by drinking a lot of water or vigorously exercising to cause heavy sweating.

How long does it take to flush out CBD? ›

CBD can stay in a person's system from hours to about a month. This depends on how much a person takes and how they take it. The half-life of CBD in the body can range from about 1 hour to up to 5 days . Half-life is how long the body takes to eliminate one-half of a substance.

What does CBD show up as in blood test? ›

The CBC measures the number of red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and platelets (PLT). Each of these types of blood cells performs important functions, so determining their levels can provide important health information.

Does Delta 8 show up on drug tests? ›

Because delta-8 THC is similar to delta-9 THC, it can make you feel high and is likely to show up on a drug test.

Is CBD legal federally? ›

CBD derived from the hemp plant, and consists of no more than 0.3% THC is legal on a federal level. Different states have different regulations on CBD. It's best to contact your local government to confirm CBD laws in your state. Some states have strict and specific laws surrounding the use of CBD.

Can CBD stop you from getting a job? ›

Employers aren't screening for cannabidiol, but many screen for THC – the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. And while many CBD products do not contain any THC, some do. This is why it's so important to research CBD distributors and use products that you trust.

Should I tell my employer I take CBD? ›

Talk to your employer first. Chances are, if you let them know that you're using CBD, they may be more understanding if a test shows THC or CBD in your system.

Should I tell my employer I use CBD oil? ›

Talk to your HR representative.

Be transparent about taking CBD, and reassure them about the safety of taking CBD if they are concerned. While a full-spectrum CBD oil will contain a small concentration of the euphorigenic phytocannabinoid THC, it does not offer euphoric effects.

How long does it take to get CBD out of my system? ›

Time taken for CBD to remain in your body relies on different factors. This includes dosage size and the kind of product you consume. In most cases, users say that drug tests can detect CBD substances within four to six weeks. Therefore, the last intake of CBD products means it can stay in your system for some weeks.

What does a 10 panel drug test look for? ›

Standard 10-panel test: typically looks for cocaine, marijuana, PCP, amphetamines, opiates, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, methadone, propoxyphene, & Quaaludes. 12-panel test: often administered as an extension to the 10-panel test.

How far back does a 10 panel urine test go? ›

Detection times for a 10-panel drug screen
SubstanceDetection time frame
Cocaine2-4 days
Marijuana2-5 days for occasional users, and up to 10 days for daily users
Opiates2-3 days
Phencyclidine (PCP)Up to 30 days for chronic users
6 more rows
Dec 2, 2022


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