Will taking cannabidiol cause you to fail a pre-employment drug screening?
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It comes in oils, lotions and gummies.
People add it to their morning coffee or happy hour cocktails.
Cannabidiol, commonly called CBD, is popular cannabis derivative. On its own, cannabidiol won’t get you high. But, there is still a small chance that indulging in those CBD products could lead to a failed drug test. Here’s why.
What’s the difference between CBD and THC?
Both cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are compounds that come that come from cannabis.
THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. That means THC, not CBD, is what creates the feeling of being stoned.
Are employers screening for CBD?
Most employers aren’t screening for CBD itself. They’re testing for THC or the byproducts of metabolizing THC to determine whether employees have used marijuana.
Federal workers can be screened for a variety of substances, including THC and THC metabolites, but CBD is not listed in federal drug testing rules.
Many private employers model their drug policies on federal standards.
Likewise, Michigan’s Civil Service Commission follows federal guidelines for illicit substances, said commission spokesman Matt Fedorchuk. That means state workers are likely being screened for THC, not CBD.
Quest Diagnostics, one of the nation’s largest drug screening firms, does not offer a test for CBD compounds, said Dr. Barry Samples, the company’s director of science and technology.
How much THC is in CBD products?
Many CBD products contain nonexistent or low amounts of THC, so it’s “highly unlikely” that those items would meet the threshold to trigger a failed drug test, Samples said.
A federal farm bill, signed by President Donald Trump in 2018, effectively legalized CBD with less than 0.3% THC by classifying the product as industrial hemp rather than marijuana.
It would be nearly impossible for a THC concentration that low to trigger a failed drug test, even if someone was ingesting the CBD product every day, said Jamie Alan, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University.
How could CBD products trigger a failed screening?
Problems could arise if someone unknowingly takes CBD with a high concentration of THC.
CBD products remain in regulatory limbo, which means you can’t always trust a label that says CBD is “THC-free,” Alan warned.
The 2018 farm bill put industrial hemp under strict oversight from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has yet to license any hemp growers.
Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not given approval to most forms of CBD, prompting local health departments to crack down on restaurants that were adding CBD to food and drinks.
“It really is a buyer beware situation,” Samples said of CBD.
“It really is a buyer beware situation.”
Dr. Barry Samples, director of science and technology at Quest Diagnostics
Can you be fired for a failed drug test?
If CBD products do cause you to fail a drug test, you could be fired.
Although Michigan voters have legalized recreational and medical use of cannabis, the drug remains illegal at the federal level and businesses have discretion over their own workplace drug policies.
Courts in Michigan have ruled that employers can fire or deny jobs to people who test positive for marijuana, even if those people have state-issued medical marijuana cards.
How safe, effective is CBD?
CBD users rave about how the substance reduces anxiety, improves sleep and soothes skin, but Alan cautioned that scientific evidence is still limited.
The strongest CBD research involves using the substance control epileptic seizures, Alan said. The only FDA-approved CBD product is Epidiolex, a drug used to treat seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy.
Research has shown CBD to be safe in the short-term when ingested or applied to skin, Alan said, although she cautioned against the possible risks of inhaling CBD oil through a vape pen.
In short, CBD might be promising but you should be careful about claims of a miracle, cure-all substance.
“There’s a lot of area for opportunity with this compound,” Alan said. “The research is still in its infancy.”
Contact Sarah Lehr at (517) 377-1056 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @SarahGLehr.
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It's possible, but highly unlikely, that CBD products will cause problems when you have to take a drug test for work.