Drug Test Warning: Products Like Cannabidiol Can Result in Failed Drug Screenings

By Michael Klazema on 10/16/2018

Even if you aren’t using marijuana, there is a possibility small traces of THC could show up on an employment-related drug screening. According to a report from an Atlanta, Georgia-based radio and television station called WSB-TV, an Atlanta woman recently failed a drug test because she had been taking cannabidiol.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the main ingredient in CBD oil, an increasingly popular natural remedy. CBD is linked to marijuana: both are derived from the cannabis plant. Like THC, CBD is one of the 104 chemical compounds found in cannabis. These compounds are classified as “cannabinoids.” Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive properties. As a result, CBD—and by extension, CBD oil, which dilutes the compound—can provide some of the frequently-cited benefits of medical marijuana without the psychoactive effects. Per users, such benefits reportedly include pain relief and reduction in anxiety.

While CBD is not the same thing as THC, it appears small traces of THC can creep into CBD oil. The quantity is not substantial enough to have any mind-altering effects on a person taking CBD oil, but it is substantial enough to show up on a drug test. As such, people taking CBD oil always take on a slight risk of failing an employment-related drug test.

Per the WSB-TV report, one Atlanta woman who chose to remain anonymous failed a drug test for a new job because she was taking CBD oil. The woman, who claims she has never used marijuana in her life, was shocked by the results. She ended up not getting the job, presumably because of the drug test results.

Neither THC nor marijuana is listed on the ingredients list for CBD oil—a fact that leaves some consumers assuming the product is entirely free of substances that might alter a drug test. However, because CBD and THC come from the same plant, it isn’t always easy to separate them entirely. The company that produces the CBD oil in question offers a disclaimer stating that the supplement may cause positive drug test results. However, this disclaimer appears on the company website and not on the substance’s box or bottle. The WSB-TV report indicates some drugstore operators have taken to warning customers about this potential risk of taking CBD oil. The woman in the story never got such a warning.

Whether CBD oil results in a failed drug test depends both on the product and the person. There are CBD oil products that are 100 percent THC free, but they are said to be less effective than the ones that do have small THC traces. Different people metabolize CBD oil differently, which means if you find two people taking the same supplement and run drug tests on them both, you may get different results from the two tests.

Patients using CBD oil should be aware the supplement can make it harder to pass a drug test. Employers should be prepared to handle employees or applicants who chalk up failed drug tests to CBD oil. As both marijuana and marijuana-adjacent products like CBD oil become more popular and more permissible in many parts of the country, employers will need to determine where and how to draw lines with their drug testing policies.



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