There’s a big and growing mainstream hype around cannabis these days. Easy access and legalization of different cannabis products like creams, oils, smokables, snus, and edibles, do not come without possible “negative” consequences. The health-promising CBD molecule might be fantastic for some of us, but can the consumption of a CBD product cause a false-positive drug test result when screening for THC?
“A case of a positive delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) urine dug screen in a patient with self-reported use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil…”Mushal Noor, Y. Victoria Zhang, 2020, Toxicology Cases for the Clinical and Forensic Laboratory
You might have heard that using a CBD product like an edible oil might help to ease inflammation, pain, and in some cases anxiety. We have even covered it in an in-depth article called Is Weed Beneficial For Athletes? That it is alleviating some conditions seems good for some of us. However, for others, the use of such a product might come with dire consequences. Namely, there have been reports of people using CBD products in good faith and later failing a THC drug test. This has led to them losing their jobs or the chance of future employment.
What Are CBD And THC
For you who are not living in the realm of the cannabis industry, easily put, THC is the chemical compound found in Marijuana that makes most of us intoxicated. THC products are for the most part globally illegal and in other cases regulated, whether it is for medical or recreational use. To add a bit of complexity to the matter, for those places where it is legal, some job categories like professional drivers and the police have a zero-tolerance policy for the use of THC products.
CBD, on the other hand, which also is found in Marijuana, does not get you intoxicated like THC or alcohol. It even seems to milden the intoxicating effect of THC. On top of that, it is legal in many places as a pharmaceutical drug, supplement, or even food ingredient.
3 Explanations For False-Positive Drug Tests
The question here is how CBD products are the culprits if there is nothing seemingly wrong with them. Perhaps the testing method is at fault or is it a matter of dirty products and less serious market players? Well as there might be a ton of different detailed reasons, I will cover what I believe are the three main reasons why people piss positive even if they swear they only consumed CBD products.
The first one would be that they did not read the label correctly for content or that the product has been mislabeled for a multitude of reasons. In other words, a product that has been consumed as CBD, in fact, contains such a high concentration of THC that it will result in a positive test if a person is tested for THC usage like smoking Marijuana or eating space cakes.
Another reason could be that the testing equipment is bad in some manner either showing a false positive or detecting other chemical compounds like CBD as THC instead.
A last but rare however not unlikely explanation as to why people fail a THC drug test even if the gods themselves are witnesses that this or that person did not consume any THC. This could be that CBD or any other chemical that we ingest that is not THC may cause the body to generate THC-similar compounds in sufficient concentrations to cause a positive urine test for THC.
For this last explanation, I recommend reading what Schwebach & Ball wrote in their 2016 article in the U.S Pharmacist. Here you can read about how common and less common medications lead to all kinds of false positives.
As strange as the last reason might seem, this is a medical fact, and probably your best explanation if ever get caught pissing two lines.
The Drug Test Safeguard
So lastly, a bit of advice before we leave you on your own in the Cannabis jungle. Consuming a CBD product is your own choice and like with everything else it is ultimately your responsibility. So if someone even though there might be risks and consequences, still like to try CBD, it would be a good idea to check out a small CBD buyers guide I put together in the article called A Way To Spot Genuine Mary J Products.
Moreso, to refer back to our main reasons as to why people pee positive after consuming CBD products. It would be a good idea to always read the label carefully as there might be CBD products that are labeled and marketed as CBD products, but still contain a considerable amount of THC.
If by any chance you would test positive after you had used a “clean” CBD. Then, make sure to do a second test as the likelihood of the test itself is at fault is not an impossibility. Usually, following a positive test your urine will be sent off for more detailed laboratory analysis. Consequently, if this is not done, you should ask for one with reference to the chance of false positives that are usually stated on the test manufacturer’s label.
Lastly, always make sure at the time of testing, that you declare all medications, foods, or supplements you have consumed that can cause a false test result for the drug you are being tested for.
Cover photo based on a photo by Raspopova Marina
1. Misslabeled product
2. Bad testing equipment
3. Product contamination
If you liked reading about CBD, and you just can’t get enough of those scientific references then we recommend you head on over to Is Weed Beneficial For Athletes?