Does CBD Oil Cause a Positive Result in a Drugs test?

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Prospective employers often want to be certain that employee candidates are free from the influence of alcohol and certain drugs. Drug tests are often used to detect the presence of illegal substances prior to hiring and during the employment contract.

The use of CBD oil has been growing in popularity among many people for its pain-relieving properties and symptom treatment of many diseases. While many CBD-based products have minuscule amounts THC, this has many people wondering if they are susceptible to positive results when undergoing drug testing.

Drug tests typically screen for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and any of its byproducts. These tests do not screen for the use of CBD but since CBD products contain minimal quantities of THC it may trigger a false positive depending on the type of test used. This article is going to explore the different types of drug tests, how they work, and the time windows they test. 

When Are Drug Tests Performed?

Drug tests are used by employers in many situations that can include: 

1. Pre-employment 

Some employers require a drug test as a condition of employment – even after the job has been offered. Some countries provide legal protection for individuals undergoing testing, while others do not. Accordingly, some employers enforce mandatory testing, particularly in jobs such as law enforcement, public service, health, child care and other positions that require the use of heavy machinery. 

2. Testing Under Suspicion

Some countries and/or states allow employers to conduct testing under “reasonable suspicion”. In this circumstance, the employer or manager believes that the employee is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and requests the employee to submit to a drug test. Some examples of suspicious behaviour can include reduced performance, physical symptoms, inability to communicate and other symptoms related to the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. 

3. Random Employee Testing

Some jobs, such as those critical to public safety or that require the operation of complex equipment, employ random testing procedures. This typically involves the randomized selection of individuals from the pool of employees and the subsequent tests.

4. Testing After an Accident

When employees are involved in on-the-job accidents due to human error that causes death and/or serious injuries, the employer can request a drug test to determine if intoxication was the cause. 

5. Follow-up Testing/Work Return Testing

When employees undergo substance abuse treatment programs, they may be subjected to follow-up testing after they return to work. This type of testing is dependent on the position held and is subject to the laws of the country and/or state, if they exist.

What type of drug tests are there?

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There are several types of tests that screen for drugs and/or alcohol that include: 

Blood Tests

Blood tests measure the amount of alcohol or drugs in the blood that is present at the time of the test. It is typically used for the purposes of employment screening and used to detect substances that include amphetamines, cocaine, nicotine, methamphetamines, opiates, alcohol and marijuana. 

Breath Tests

Breath tests are used to measure alcohol. The device, known as the Breathalyzer, shows current levels of impairment caused by alcohol at the time of testing. 

Mouth Swab Test

Also referred to as an oral fluids or saliva test, a mouth swab drug test collects fluid from the mouth to detect the possible use of drugs in the last 24 hours. 

Hair Tests

Hair tests analyze hair to detect the use of substances from the previous 90 days. While it cannot detect alcohol use, hair can be tested for cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine, marijuana and phencyclidine. 

The testing procedure involves the cutting of approximately 100 strands of hair close to the scalp to detect for the presence of drugs and/or other substances. This type of test is also used to determine nutritional deficiencies and other markers of health. 

Urine Tests

Urine tests show the presence of the residue of drugs after the effects of the drug have stopped. This type of test is commonly used for screening potential employees and can detect drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, nicotine, methamphetamines, opiates, and alcohol.

How Long Does THC Stay in The Body?

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The time it takes for the body to detox THC is dependent on the individual, their body weight, muscle/fat/bone ratio and many other factors. 

The main challenge with THC is that it is stored in fat tissue and is then released slowly into the rest of the body. This can translate into a very long time, depending on the person and will potentially trigger positives on tests long after the substance is no longer consumed. 

The type of drug test also factors heavily in its detection. Here is a rough guide on the time windows per test as per research from Houndlabs.com:

Breath: 2 to 3 hours

Oral Fluids: Up to 24 hours

Blood: Up to 21 days 

Urine: Up to 30 days

Hair: Up to 90 days for 3cm of hair tested (each cm represents one month)

Important Note on Urine Tests:

One common urine test being used in the United States is creating false positives for THC even when CBD is being consumed. 

According to this study, the test in question is unable to differentiate between CBD and THC and that the results may falsely report the presence of THC. While many labs have changed or upgraded from this type of test, its use is still common. 

Please exercise caution when submitting to a urine test in the event this type of test is being used.

A Final Word

Most drug tests screen for the use of drugs that include THC found in marijuana. Miniscule amounts of THC are found in CBD products and some highly sensitive tests will reflect these extremely small amounts.

Most tests can detect if THC was used in the last 30 days. With the exception of a hair test (which is not commonly done for employment purposes), most tests will turn up negative 30 days following the final use of marijuana.

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