Updated on December 6, 2018.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
CBD treatments are becoming more and more popular as a therapeutic option. Because it provides many of marijuana’s incredible medical benefits while remaining non-psychoactive, it’s becoming a go-to medicinal option. If CBD products have less than 0.3 percent THC, they are legal for public purchase. This is because THC is the compound in cannabis which makes users high.
However, even though CBD does not create an altered state of mind, many people are reluctant to try it because they’re afraid it will show up on a drug test, creating negative workplace repercussions.
Most CBD products — whether they’re derived from hemp or the marijuana plant — only contain trace amounts of THC. This means CBD will not show up on standard drug screens companies perform, as this cannabinoid is not an indication of impairment. Even though the simple answer as to whether or not CBD shows up on a drug test is “no,” it is a bit more complicated than that.
What Is a Drug Test?
A drug test, also called drug screening, is used to detect if an individual has ingested illegal drugs or prescription medications.
These tests can screen:
Generally, employers use drug tests either before hiring a candidate or at regular intervals during their employment. Sports organizations, substance abuse programs and parole officers also use these tools to test for prohibited substances.
Most drug tests scan for more than just marijuana — they can also detect alcohol, cocaine, opiates, PCP, amphetamines, methamphetamines, barbiturates, propoxyphene, benzodiazepines, methadone and propoxyphene.
Drug Tests Don’t Generally Test for CBD
Workplace drug screening is standard practice at some companies. Generally, they perform either a 5-panel or a 10-panel drug screen. There are many reasons employers choose to do this, including:
To identify impairment
However, their ultimate goal is not to determine what you medicate with unless it’s an illegal substance. For that reason, drug tests are not designed to detect CBD, whether it’s derived from hemp or the cannabis plant. However, both the 5-panel and 10-panel screen tests do check for THC, as well as other recreational and pharmaceutical drugs that a user could abuse.
High Doses of CBD Could Produce a False Positive
In general, CBD does not show up on standard drug screens. But, because CBD products contain a low dosage of THC, there is a risk of a false positive. However, only individuals who regularly consume high doses of CBD products are at risk of this. The positive test result is not because of the CBD, but because of the minute traces of THC the test could detect in the body.
Elimination of Drug Tests in Marijuana-Friendly States
Although most states have only legalized marijuana for medical purposes, only a few allow the recreational use of the plant. This presents a problem for employers who conduct regular drug tests. After all, the presence of THC can remain in the system for anywhere from three to 21 days depending on the amount and frequency of use. That means, even if they’re not smoking on the job, there may still be cannabis in their system.
For that reason, a growing number of businesses in states where marijuana is legal are doing away with standard drug screening. If you are worried about this, however, you should check your company’s drug policy.
Medical Drug Screening
There is a difference between a drug test performed at work and those done by medical professionals. Your employer is trying to determine safety, productivity and impairment at work. However, healthcare professionals conduct drug tests so they can see what medications you’re taking. Ultimately, they need this information to keep you safe.
The presence of cannabis in your system alters the effectiveness of sedatives and other pain medications. If you’re undergoing surgery, then mixing anesthesia and marijuana could have a dangerous impact on your health as both are depressants. For that reason, most physicians recommend patients forgo cannabis before surgery. A pre-surgery drug screening is used to identify any drugs or chemicals in your body that could cause an adverse reaction during a surgical procedure.
Testing for both THC, CBD and other narcotics could soon become a standard pre-surgical procedure, as many patients are unsure what cannabinoids are present in their cannabis-based medications.
Full Disclosure vs. Privacy
If you’re afraid that trace amount of THC could become problematic at your workplace if you must take a drug test, then you may be wondering if full disclosure beforehand is a better option. However, at most companies, the use of CBD especially for medical purposes is not grounds for dismissal or workplace discipline. For that reason, you should thoroughly acquaint yourself with the drug policy at your workplace.
However, full disclosure is highly recommended when it comes to speaking to a medical professional. Your use of CBD products could impact which medications they can prescribe.
Becoming a Medical Marijuana Patient for CBD
Wondering if CBD could help you? You can use this cannabinoid to treat several medical conditions or symptoms, including:
Medical marijuana patients receive a level of protection as part of their state’s compassionate cannabis program. If you are scared that using CBD could negatively impact your position at your workplace, you may want to consider becoming a registered medical marijuana patient. The first step is contacting a marijuana doctor near you to obtain a recommendation for the use of medical cannabis. Don’t let fear prevent you from getting the treatment you need.