CBD Use Raises Questions

With the nationwide rise in popularity of cannabidiol (also known as CBD) products, many consumers are concerned that they may not pass a drug test, placing them in jeopardy of losing their job or even losing their child to social service agencies.   Before we can answer the simple question of “will I pass a drug test,” we must first learn what CBD really is.


CBD is one of the hundreds of compounds found in the cannabis plant. This same plant also contains the more well known psychoactive compound, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinnol, more commonly referred to as THC. CBD is a cannabinoid and it does share some similarities with THC, however, it does not produce a “high” when used or consumed. While research on CBD is still in its infancy stages, initial studies suggest CBD users experience some therapeutic and medical benefits from conditions such as seizures, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pain, cancer, swelling/inflammation and some neurological disorders such as anxiety and depression.


It is important to note, CBD, like all cannabinoids, are still classified by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule I substance making CBD illegal in all 50 states on a Federal level. In spite of DEA classification, many states have permitted CBD use and sales at the state level so long as the products have zero to very low levels of THC (less than 5%). CBD products come in a variety of forms including oil, creams, soaps, vapor liquid, or infused into edibles or drinks.


Now to answer the question…will I pass a drug test?

Maybe. Drug tests do not test for CBD. Drug tests only test for THC which is the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis. Because some CBD products may contain low levels of THC, it is possible that a drug test result could be reported as positive – depending on the usage of the product. It is important to know if the CBD product being used contains any percentage of THC and only products containing 0.0% THC should be considered. The only caveat here is that this is unchartered territory for this type of product and industry. It is not well controlled or regulated leaving the possibility that unscrupulous producers may allow unacceptable levels of THC in their products leaving its users at risk.


It is critical to know and understand that for federally regulated drug tests (such as DOT), the use of CBD products or “medical marijuana” is not a valid medical explanation for a positive test for the marijuana metabolite. As a Schedule I substance, cannabidiol remains illegal at the Federal level and testing positive on a federally regulated test comes with serious consequences. While there are some states that permit the sale and/or use of CBD, federal law still trumps state laws.

Employers need to stay informed about the constant changes concerning marijuana and its derivatives as situations like this will become more commonplace. A company’s substance abuse policy should clearly reflect the company’s position on marijuana and the use of CBD products.

For a free, no-obligation review of your company’s substance free workplace policy and program, please contact Carolina Testing.