CBD Oil & Drug Tests: What Athletes and Employees Need to Know

Most people at one point had to pee in a cup as part of a drug test. If you’re an athlete, then you most certainly have plenty of experience with this. Some people applying for a new job (or who are employed in certain industries) are also required to do this. While we at The Universal Plant find this practice to be somewhat discriminatory, we realize it’s the nature of the reality we live in. Naturally, hemp extract consumers are left wondering whether CBD oil in a drug test can cost them that job opportunity or sports scholarship.

Let’s examine this issue and determine whether CBD use makes you test positive for banned substances.

IS CBD Allowed in Sports?

This post is relevant to athletes whether they play at the pro league or at the junior varsity level. Should they be worried if they use CBD in any form? Of course, every sports organization has their own policy regarding what does and doesn’t constitute a banned substance. If you compete in sports even at the regional level, enquire whether they have any anti-doping policies in place.

Let’s look at some organizations and their stance regarding CBD use.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

WADA is the international testing standards set forth by the International Olympic Committee. It’s also the parent organization of smaller orgs like the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

As of September 2017, cannabidiol is no longer a prohibitive substance. All hemp-derived products are permitted as long as THC levels do not exceed 150 nanograms per milliliter.

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) & Other Leagues

CBD is currently not in the NCAA’s 2018-2019 official list of banned drugs. However, the policy also states that any substance not on the list that is chemically related to an item on the list is also banned. Since THC is on the list and is chemically related to CBD, that means the latter is also prohibited. There is, however, a push to modify the NCAA drug policy to more closely reflect that of WADA.

Other national leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB, and UFC all have their respective anti-doping policies and governing bodies that classify prohibitive substances and performance-enhancing drugs.

CBD Use in the Workplace: Safe or not?

Obviously, we can’t provide a universal “yes” or “no” regarding CBD use at work. You have to consult with your employer to make that determination. We can say that CBD does not make you high, and if your job does not perform drug testing you’re in the clear. Should you be worried if your company performs regular testing? Maybe. There is no such thing as a CBD oil drug test since urine tests don’t specifically analyze for cannabidiol. We will discuss this further in the next section. However, if you’re consuming full spectrum hemp extract, there’s a small chance of trace amounts of THC metabolites showing up in a drug test.

Does Testing Detect CBD?

Perhaps you consume some CBD gummies during lunch break or consume a CBD capsule to ward off the midday fatigue. If this describes you, you can relax. A typical urine, blood, saliva, or hair test does NOT analyze for CBD.

Most companies use the standard 5-panel drug screen test, which analyzes for cocaine, barbiturates, opioids, methamphetamine, and marijuana (THC). Some may opt for the more extensive 10-panel drug screen test, which includes all of the above and methadone, propoxyphene, benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants, and methaqualone.

Yes, marijuana is among the banned substance. However, this does not mean every known cannabinoid under the sun is banned. In fact, most tests only detect for the psychoactive THC and its primary metabolite, 11-nor-deltag-caboxy-THC, or THC-COOH. This is the substance that binds with CB receptors in the brain to produce the sensation colloquially described as being “high” or “stoned.”

Aside from THC, testing may also detect for hashish, a more potent and concentrated form of THC. It may also look for synthetic cannabinoids, which are man-made and created to artificially mimic the effects of cannabinoids on the CB receptors. Synthetic cannabis also goes by the names Spice and K2.

Most employers acquire testing from a lab approved by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to SAMHSA guidelines, cannabis products should contain no more than 50 ng/ml THC in order to pass its tests.

Bear in mind that CBD oils, edibles, and e-juices contain THC levels below the legal 0.3% limit and far below the SAMHSA-recommended 50 ng/ml. The minute traces of THC will usually not show up on drug tests. We must emphasize the word “usually” because there are exceptions.

When May CBD Use Cause a Positive Result?

Let’s explore the rare instances when CBD use may lead to a failed result. First, we must point out that CBD will never be detected as THC in a standard urine test. However, there is the possibility that hemp products advertised as THC-free may contain the psychoactive compound.

In one study1, a single volunteer consumed hemp seed oil twice a day for 4.5 days. In a subsequent workplace urine drug test, he turned up positive for THC and THC-COOH. We must emphasize, though, that this study involved a single participant, so take it with a grain of salt. There is also limited information regarding the hemp oil taken. The study did not identify the manufacturer or disclose the product’s extraction methods.

It’s also possible that drug tests may yield a false positive if you consume CBD far above the daily average intake. Typical users normally consume about 120 mg to 160 mg. However, users taking CBD for severe pain or other ailments may consume doses upwards of 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg. In this instance, a false positive result is more probable but still unlikely. Even if a false positive turns up, there will be subsequent tests done, which should rectify the error.

How to Avoid a Potential Positive Test Result

Only buy from reputable CBD suppliers. Certified CBD manufacturers follow strict extraction methods and protocol to ensure THC traces below the legal limit. We advise avoiding purchasing products directly from an adult dispensary, which often contain THC levels above 1%. While this amount is still unlikely to result in a positive under standard testing conditions, some employers or drug testing labs may opt for a cutoff limit below the SAMHSA-recommended 50 ng/ml.

For a listing of vetted suppliers, we suggest seeing our Where to Buy section. Whether CBD isolate or full spectrum, none of the products contain THC over the 0.3% limit. As long as you stick to these sources and not homebrews, you have nothing to worry about.

We’ll conclude with this: if you know a drug test is coming up, don’t take any products – CBD or otherwise – if you can’t verify the ingredients.

What About Vaping and Drug Tests?

As long as you stick to a reputable supplier, a failed drug test is a non-issue for CBD oil users and edible consumers. However, what about CBD vape oils for vaping? Some e-cigarette users have expressed concerns of failing a drug test due to the higher bioavailability of vaping.

Does this concern hold merit?

Let’s examine the ingredients in a typical vape oil. Like CBD oils, e-juices contain CBD isolate or full-spectrum cannabinoids, terpenes, and a carrier oil. They also contain thinners in the form of vegetable glycerol (VG) or propylene glycol (PG). Some also have nicotine.

Like CBD oil, e-juices are derivatives of THC-free hemp. As long as you buy from a licensed supplier, you have nothing to fear from vaping. Tests also do not look for VG or PG; these are not banned substances.

What About the Nicotine?

Most tests do not detect for traces of nicotine. In fact, some states have laws in place protecting workers from being unlawfully terminated by their employer for smoking outside of work. However, other states offer no such protection, and employers can lawfully terminate an employee if nicotine shows up in a test.

See this list of the states that have protection laws in place for smokers.

We’re digressing a bit from the topic. The issue at hand is CBD vaping and not cigarette smoking. If you live in a state with a protection law in place, then you have nothing to worry. If you live in a state that has no such protection, then you may want to inform your employer ahead of time that you vape CBD oil and do not smoke. To avoid this problem altogether, use a CBD vape juice containing zero nicotine. CBD e-juices with nicotine are intended for smokers trying to quit and use vaping as an alternative. You can also refrain from vaping for about 10 days.

Drug tests don’t analyze for nicotine directly since the substance is difficult to detect. Instead, it looks for cotinine, a substance your body produces when processing nicotine. Cotinine can remain in the body for four to 10 days after discontinuing nicotine use, hence the 10-day recommendation.

Final Thoughts on a CBD Oil Drug Test

Our 420-friendly folks have nothing to fear as there is no such things as a CBD oil drug test that specifically looks for non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Most employers and even a growing number of athletic commissions are becoming more accepting of CBD use. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we must emphasize one last time to stick with reputable CBD manufacturers to guarantee negative test results.

Medical References

Struempler R, Nelson G, Urry F. A positive cannabinoids workplace drug test following the ingestion of commercially available hemp seed oil. J Anal Toxicol. 1997;21(4):283-285. [PubMed]