CBD is all the rage now, with people using it to treat everything from gum inflammation and tooth pain to depression and anxiety. Some people even choose to treat pets with it. CBD won’t get you high, but it will reduce inflammation, and has several known benefits.

The question is, since it comes from the marijuana plant, will CBD oil show up on a drug test? In the UK, where CBD has only been legal without a prescription for a short time, employers can still do drug testing. The fear that CBD could trigger a positive drug test may stop some from trying CBD to relieve their symptoms.

First, let’s cover a little about what cannabidiol is, how it works, and then we’ll talk about drug tests, and what shows up on them. To understand how CBD works, especially in the context of whether or not it will show up on a drug test, we also talk a little about THC.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, known widely as CBD, is a chemical found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis plants include many varieties of marijuana and hemp. CBD is the second most active chemical found in the Cannabis species, the first being the chemical that is responsible for the “high” the plant is known for, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

CBD doesn’t get you high; it’s not psychoactive. CBD also generally comes from hemp, one of the Cannabis species. Hemp, however, doesn’t have much THC in it at all. Hemp plants have little intoxicating effects but are useful for making both hemp and CBD, as well as many textiles.

Hemp Oil and CBD Oil: Are They the Same?

Hemp oil is not the same as CBD oil. Hemp oil comes from hemp seeds, which have little to no actual CBD in them. Cannabidiol oil is from the leaves and stems. The scientifically-backed benefits of CBD oil are due to the cannabidiol; hemp oil won’t deliver them.
CBD Oil United Kingdom - Kemp House

What is THC?

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive chemical in the cannabis plant, it can cause you to feel euphoria and a “high” feeling. THC has medical uses, such as creating an appetite for people on chemotherapy, chronic pain control, and depression.

It’s also highly illegal in much of the world and considered a controlled drug. One that many employers test for when hiring or during routine drug testing.

How Does CBD Work?

To understand how CBD works and what makes it different from THC when it comes to drug testing, we’ll cover both of them a bit. CBD reduces seizures, and there is strong evidence that it also helps with many sources of chronic pain, depression, insomnia, and inflammation—but how does it work?

Simply put, our bodies make cannabinoids (chemicals like cannabis has), called endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters. Those endocannabinoids have receptors in our body shaped just for them. The two together form the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Think of each neurotransmitter, including endocannabinoids, as tiny keys carrying messages or a command prompt. Those keys can only fit in the locks or receptors that match them. When a key finds the right lock, it bonds to it, and the receptor uses the key. Afterward, it breaks down (gets metabolized), leaving metabolites behind.

The endocannabinoid system affects many of the body’s systems, including:

  • Pain
  • Appetite
  • Memory
  • Mood
  • Sleep
  • Immune function
  • Stress
  • Reproductive function
  • Metabolism

THC connects to two kinds of endocannabinoid receptors in the brain, causing the famous high. That’s how it works. As your body uses THC, it leaves metabolites behind, which can last for short or long periods depending on your level of use.

CBD, on the other hand, does not connect to those receptors. It instead sparks your body to make its own natural endocannabinoids, which have jobs controlling inflammation, pain responses, and other things listed above. CBD doesn’t leave the same metabolites as THC.

Let’s Talk About Drug Testing

Drug tests don’t actually test for the THC or cannabis in your saliva, urine, or blood. They instead look for the presence of those long-lasting metabolites. Each test has a window of detection, and you have to have enough of that substance in your body to cause a positive test.

When you ingest the psychoactive parts of the cannabis plant, those metabolites can build up in your body and flush out in your urine. Over time, all of the metabolites will clear from your system, as long as you stop introducing more THC.

That build-up in your body is how drug tests show whether or not you have used a substance when you give your sample; the drug test can determine if you have used THC if enough metabolites are present.

That is, if you’ve smoked enough of it. Casual marijuana users, like those who have smoked a single spliff in the last month, may only test positive for THC for a day or two after they smoke.

However, habitual use causes the metabolites to build up in fatty tissue, and it can be detected for up to a month after you stop smoking.

So, Can CBD Show up on a Drug Test?

  • In the UK, people seeking the benefits of CBD oil may have a real concern: will it show up on a drug test at work? The short answer, no—it shouldn’t. That’s because CBD oil in the UK can contain no more than 0.2% of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and THC is what drug tests measure.
  • Even regular use of CBD oil in the UK wouldn’t introduce enough THC to your system to cause a build-up of metabolites. You see, most cannabis sold in the UK has between 10 and 20 percent THC, so a CBD oil containing 0.02% THC would indeed take a huge amount to equal even a small amount of it.
  • That is why even though there may be a small amount of THC in your CBD, it shouldn’t ever show up on a drug test. There just isn’t enough to trigger a positive result, and because you clear those drug metabolites from your system over time, it can not build up enough to test positive, either.
  • Another thing to remember is that while it’s not common, false positives can occur on drug tests. When that happens, further, more sensitive testing can verify or disprove the results. If this were to happen while you were taking CBD, follow up testing would rule out cannabis use.

The Bottom Line On CBD and Drug Testing

CBD is an exciting chemical with a lot of promise. Because it has not been tested as well as many pharmaceuticals, we know less about it than other chems.

However, it is supported by strong evidence as an antispasmodic to control seizures, and it’s known to help with anxiety and lower inflammation in the body. There’s also burgeoning evidence that it treats chronic pain and even insomnia, not to mention tooth pain.

CBD is not psychoactive, and it won’t get you high like its cousin chem, THC. Even if there’s a little THC in your CBD oil, it isn’t enough THC for CBD to show up on a drug test, in the UK, or anywhere.

You can be confident that while CBD could help you live a more comfortable, less anxious life, it won’t cause you to face dismissal or the consequences of a positive drug test with your employer.

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