Will Hemp Oils and Other Similar Products Come up Positive on Drug Tests?
Hemp products have become very popular in North America over the past few years. With that popularity comes the question, “will hemp come up on a drug test”?
The answer is no.
But its not a simple no, so let’s dig a little deeper.
A quick intro to the confusion
First things first. We need to define our terms.A quick intro to the confusion
When we talk about hemp oil, we are talking about products that contain zero THC but do contain CBD. For this reason, we use hemp oil and CBD oil interchangeably.
Hemp seed oil on the other hand, means products that do not contain either THC or CBD. Hemp seed oil is mostly used in soaps and skincare products as a moisturizer, but it can also be found in food items like salad dressings.
For the purposes of this article, we are never referring to products using hemp seed oil, because they are not a concern as it relates to drug tests. What is a concern for drug testing is THC, so we’ll start there.
What is THC?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a cannabinoid present in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds. There are hundreds of cannabinoids, but THC is one of the two most popular (the other being CBD).
THC is psychoactive. It alters mental state – it’s the thing that causes people to feel “high”. THC causes sensations of euphoria, changed levels of concentration, relaxation and sedation. The occurrence and strength of these sensations depends on the type and dose of THC consumed, as well as other factors like environmental stimulus and an individual’s personal tolerance level.
In simpler terms, THC is like alcohol. Just because one beer makes one person sleepy doesn’t mean one beer will make all people sleepy. The same goes for THC.
And just like alcohol and other drugs too, it is illegal to drive or operate machinery under the influence of cannabis. (For the purposes of this article, we’re referring to legality in Canada and the United States). What this really means is that it is illegal to drive while impaired by THC. CBD won’t get you high, so it’s not what drug tests are looking for.
What is it then?
What are the drug tests looking for?
The primary purpose of drug testing is to detect the presence of one or more drugs in a person’s urine, blood, saliva, hair or sweat. If detected, the secondary purpose is to determine if the level of a substance has caused impairment or physiological changes. A drug test can be done for illegal drugs (ex cocaine), prescription (ex opioids) or legal/regulated substances (ex alcohol, cannabis).
One of the most common situations for a drug test to be administered is following a motor vehicle collision – or for motorists in general. According to Centre for Disease Control (CDC), 16% of motor vehicle accidents involve drugs, marijuana use being second most common. Alcohol is number one. Other commonly detected drugs associated with accidents are opioids, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine.
Professional athletes are often required to take a drug test prior to competing. Or in the case of the Olympics, after winning a medal. In this case, the drug test is looking for detectable levels of prohibited substances that enhance an athlete’s performance (ex steroids).
Employers sometimes require employees to take a drug test as well. These workplace tests are typically looking for the presence of legal OR illegal drugs which cause mental/physical impairment – and in turn be a safety issue for the employee and/or members of the public (ex forklift driver).
Now that we’ve covered the purpose of drug tests generally, we’ll focus specifically on CBD and THC.
How do drug screenings work with CBD/THC products?
Drug screening is not designed to detect CBD, because its not responsible for causing impairment. We’ll come back to why you can still test positive with hemp oil or other similar products in a minute. But before we do, THC screening.
Drug tests screen for THC-COOH, which is a metabolite of THC. A metabolite is a substance after it has been metabolized or processed in the body. Tests are not necessarily looking for zero THC, rather a THC levels below the required cut-off (varies). There are several ways to test for THC, the most common of which is a urine drug screening.
Urine drug screening is common for many substances, including THC. According to the Mayo Clinic, THC metabolites can have detectable levels in urine for:
- 3 days – single use
- 5 days – moderate use (4x per week)
- 10 days – heavy use (daily)
- 30 days – chronic heavy use
THC can be detected in plasma within a few seconds. Peak concentrations are obtained within 3-10 min of consumption (Ramzy and Priefer), and only remains detectable for about 5 hours. How the THC was consumed plays a role in this window, as does the length/depth of inhalation and how long held in lungs before exhaling (combustible). Blood tests are not very common since THC leaves the bloodstream very quickly as compared to urine.
Like a positive urine drug screen, the “passable amount” of THC in the blood varies by location, legal framework, industry and purpose.
The verdict is.
A routine drug test does not screen for CBD, so using hemp oil or other related products will not cause a positive drug test. That said, the CBD industry is not strictly regulated in the United States, and in Canada there’s a big grey market. So it is possible to fail a drug test with a CBD product which is why we’ll talk next about how this can happen.
My drug test still showed positive. What happened?
What happened if I fail a drug test but I only used hemp oil or other related CBD products? Well, one of a few things may have happened.
You can fail a drug test with CBD when CBD oil and other related hemp products are supposed to be THC-free. Generally this means they contain less than 0.3% THC. If your drug test still showed positive, your CBD product may have had cross contamination during the manufacturing process.
In the many states in the US, CBD oil is legal but loosely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The industry lacks oversight, so CBD products lack labeling accuracy. Usually, it’s the opposite way i.e. hempseed oil is labeled as CBD oil to increase profit margins. But the same can happen where a cannabis product containing THC is labelled as CBD.
In Canada, CBD is regulated under the same Cannabis Act that governs THC. But there’s a huge grey market of CBD products available to consumers. What’s troubling is that these grey market products are often not sourced responsibly, not tested and not reviewed for their health claims. There’s a lot of room for error here, both cross contamination and mislabeling.
Its unlikely but still possible to test positive on a drug test after being exposed to secondhand smoke. Most combustible cannabis has THC content, which could be detected specifically on the hair.
Do the tests distinguish that the CBD hemp oil is not from Marijuana?
No, drug tests do not distinguish that CBD oil is from hemp and not marijuana. Remember, tests are designed to detect the cannabinoid THC or its metabolite THC-COOH, not the type of cannabis plant that it came from. The test doesn’t care if your product is made from hemp or marijuana plants or both, it only cares if there are detectable levels of THC present in your urine, blood, etc.
Still a bit confused on the basics of the cannabis sativa plant? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered with this helpful video.
How do I choose a quality hemp product that does not contain THC?
There are a few things you can do to ensure you choose a hemp oil or other CBD product that does not contain THC. Here’s our tips:
- Purchase CBD from a reliable source.
- Avoid products that make medical/health claims.
- Choose products that state the amount of CBD in the product.
- Go for CBD isolate rather than full spectrum CBD products, which are more likely to contain trace amounts of THC.
As we mentioned above, hemp products are sort of haphazardly regulated. In Canada, CBD oil falls under the Cannabis Act and can only legally be made by licensed producers (LP’s). LP’s have strict sourcing guidelines, but the flourishing grey market certainly does not! It’s the opposite in the United States, where in many states CBD oil is not only legal but unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. So its important to be diligent about your hemp products!
A final note
We started this article by defining our terms. In the cannabis space, terms are sometimes misunderstood and therefore misused. As we strive to overcome the stigmas of cannabis that go back to decades of criminalization, precision in how we talk about cannabis and its research is really important.
We challenge you to read all of your sources carefully, paying attention to how each article uses its terms. And if it all seems a bit overwhelming, take it slow. There’s a place for every woman in cannabis. We’re glad to have you here with us at empyri.
Author Bio: Jennifer is the president and founder of empyri. Jennifer’s passion for formulation and product development was set ablaze in 2019, when she incorporated the healing power of cannabis roots into her long-standing three-step skin care system. Armed with scientific evidence on the actives in cannabis roots and seeds, a clean and conscious brand was born. Using her masters degree in bio-chemical engineering, Jennifer is forging a path to . READ FULL BIO
Can hemp oil or CBD (cannabidiol) supplements cause me to fail a marijuana drug test?
Find the best products with instant access to our latest tests & reviews of over 1,300 health products.
Save money by finding high-quality products at lower cost.
Be alerted to new clinical findings & warnings.
See answers from our experts.
Stay informed with our e-newsletter.
It is possible to fail a drug test for marijuana based on THC in a hemp oil, hemp seed, or hemp seed extract — the ingredient in many CBD oils and supplements. Unusually large amounts of hemp oil or hemp seed would normally be required to cause a positive drug test.
However, with hemp extracts, i.e., CBD oils, there is roughly a 10% chance of failing a drug test with low to moderate doses of CBD, and this will be influenced by individual variation in how THC is absorbed and metabolized. As dosage increases, the risk increases: one study found a 50% of testing positive with daily use of a moderately high dose of CBD. Note that some products contain very little THC and are, essentially, THC-free. For details, including the amounts of THC that ConsumerLab.com detected in specific products, see the What CL Found section of the CBD Oils & Hemp Extracts Review.
Evaluating the impact of hemp food consumption on workplace drug tests
Foods containing seeds or oil of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa L.) are increasingly found in retail stores in the U.S. The presence of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in these foods has raised concern over their impact on the results of workplace drug tests for marijuana. Previous studies have shown that eating hemp foods can cause screening and confirmed positive results in urine specimens. This study evaluated the impact of extended daily ingestion of THC via hemp oil on urine levels of its metabolite 11-nor-9-carboxy-delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH) for four distinct daily THC doses. Doses were representative of THC levels now commonly found in hemp seed products and a range of conceivable daily consumption rates. Fifteen THC-naïve adults ingested, over four successive 10-day periods, single daily THC doses ranging from 0.09 to 0.6 mg. Subjects self-administered THC in 15-mL aliquots (20 mL for the 0.6-mg dose) of four different blends of hemp and canola oils. Urine specimens were collected prior to the first ingestion of oil, on days 9 and 10 of each of the four study periods, and 1 and 3 days after the last ingestion. All specimens were screened for cannabinoids by radioimmunoassay (Immunalysis Direct RIA Kit), confirmed for THC-COOH by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and analyzed for creatinine to identify dilute specimens. None of the subjects who ingested daily doses of 0.45 mg of THC screened positive at the 50-ng/mL cutoff. At a daily THC dose of 0.6 mg, one specimen screened positive. The highest THC-COOH level found by GC-MS in any of the specimens was 5.2 ng/mL, well below the 15-ng/mL confirmation cutoff used in federal drug testing programs. A THC intake of 0.6 mg/day is equivalent to the consumption of approximately 125 mL of hemp oil containing 5 microg/g of THC or 300 g of hulled seeds at 2 microg/g. These THC concentrations are now typical in Canadian hemp seed products. Based on our findings, these concentrations appear to be sufficiently low to prevent confirmed positives from the extended and extensive consumption of hemp foods.
Bosy TZ, Cole KA. Bosy TZ, et al. J Anal Toxicol. 2000 Oct;24(7):562-6. doi: 10.1093/jat/24.7.562. J Anal Toxicol. 2000. PMID: 11043660
Fortner N, Fogerson R, Lindman D, Iversen T, Armbruster D. Fortner N, et al. J Anal Toxicol. 1997 Oct;21(6):476-81. doi: 10.1093/jat/21.6.476. J Anal Toxicol. 1997. PMID: 9323528 Clinical Trial.
Fraser AD, Worth D. Fraser AD, et al. Forensic Sci Int. 2003 Apr 23;133(1-2):26-31. doi: 10.1016/s0379-0738(03)00046-x. Forensic Sci Int. 2003. PMID: 12742686
Musshoff F, Madea B. Musshoff F, et al. Ther Drug Monit. 2006 Apr;28(2):155-63. doi: 10.1097/01.ftd.0000197091.07807.22. Ther Drug Monit. 2006. PMID: 16628124 Review.
Farinon B, Molinari R, Costantini L, Merendino N. Farinon B, et al. Nutrients. 2020 Jun 29;12(7):1935. doi: 10.3390/nu12071935. Nutrients. 2020. PMID: 32610691 Free PMC article. Review.
Cited by 10 articles
Paul R, Williams R, Hodson V, Peake C. Paul R, et al. Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 22;9(1):2582. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-39609-0. Sci Rep. 2019. PMID: 30796346 Free PMC article.
Henningfield JE, Fant RV, Wang DW. Henningfield JE, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018 Feb;235(2):573-589. doi: 10.1007/s00213-017-4813-4. Epub 2017 Dec 23. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018. PMID: 29273821 Free PMC article. Review.
Nahler G, Grotenhermen F, Zuardi AW, Crippa JAS. Nahler G, et al. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017 May 1;2(1):81-86. doi: 10.1089/can.2017.0009. eCollection 2017. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017. PMID: 28861507 Free PMC article.
Zupan Mežnar A, Brvar M, Kralj G, Kovačič D. Zupan Mežnar A, et al. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2016 Dec;128(Suppl 7):548-552. doi: 10.1007/s00508-016-1136-0. Epub 2016 Nov 29. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2016. PMID: 27900531
Pesta DH, Angadi SS, Burtscher M, Roberts CK. Pesta DH, et al. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2013 Dec 13;10(1):71. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-10-71. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2013. PMID: 24330705 Free PMC article.