CBD is legal in the UK, so long as the product meets certain specifications: one being that the product contains a maximum THC percentage of 0.2%.
So, you should be able to use CBD oil and not worry about testing positive on a drug test, right?
Well, not exactly.
If you take pure CBD oil free from THC, you are unlikely to return a positive result on a drug test.
However, depending on their composition, some CBD oil products may lead to a positive result. There are also many other reasons you may test positive for cannabis or THC after using CBD oil.
So, we’ve put together a complete guide to CBD and drug tests:
- What you should know about CBD and employer drug testing
- What could cause a positive test result even if you haven’t used cannabis?
- How can you avoid testing positive on a drug test?
In this guide:
Does CBD show up on a drug test UK?
UK drug tests don’t look for CBD – it’s THC, our favourite cannabinoid’s psychoactive cousin, that they are out to get.
Despite this, consuming CBD may result in a THC-positive drug test if it:
- Hasn’t been third-party lab tested
- Is full spectrum CBD, as opposed to broad-spectrum, or CDB isolate
- Is wrongly labelled
- A false positive occurs
It’s still improbable that this will happen, but when jobs are at stake, ‘might’ and ‘maybe’ are unhelpful.
So, let’s cycle back for a second…
CBD and employer drug testing UK
Employer drug testing policies can vary between companies and industries. Companies test for different drugs and use different brands of drug tests.
Companies do not specifically test for CBD as it is not a banned substance in the UK, but THC is often tested.
Urine tests are the most common method used by employers, and THC remains detectable in urine for a few days to a few weeks after use. So should your CBD contain high levels of THC, there is a chance of testing positive.
If you are regularly tested at work, being upfront and transparent with your employer about your CBD usage is best. This can help avoid potential misunderstandings should you test positive for THC.
The police may also test you if you’re suspected of being under the influence of a drug, and they may test you for THC – if you are in a country or state where THC is illegal.
CBD oil and military drug testing UK
“I’m in the UK military and want to consume CBD. Will CBD oil show up on military drug tests?”
UK military drug tests also only test for THC, though – and CBD might trigger a THC-positive drug test in the circumstances we covered earlier.
Technically, it’s no riskier to use CBD when in the military than in any other occupation – in 2019, the British Army’s official magazine warned against using untested CBD oil.
In an article titled ‘Hold back on the oil, troops told’, Soldier: the Magazine of the British Army advised that it is vital for military employees looking to consume CBD to wait until a ‘quality assurance test is in place, and products definitely free of THC and other contaminants can be safely purchased’.
CBD oil and sports drug testing UK
While some sports may ban certain substances that other sports don’t, THC is one of the more common substances that athletes are tested for.
Testing positive for THC because of CBD use is a controversial subject in the sports world. Increasing numbers of athletes have gone public with their CBD use, and some even own CBD companies.
Many athletes credit the restorative properties of CBD as a key element that contributes to their overall performance and wellness.
Moreover, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), CBD is not currently a prohibited substance and is not considered doping.
However, any products which contain THC are still banned – meaning that the use of full spectrum CBD could be picked up by a drug test and misconstrued as ‘doping’.
The UK’s anti-doping agency also warns:
“The use of any CBD product is at the athlete’s own risk. As a result, CBD products should be considered in the same way as all other dietary supplements. That being, if an athlete did use a CBD product that led to an Adverse Analytical Finding for THC (or any other prohibited substance), their use of this product would not mitigate their fault.”
They go on to say:
“Despite the permitted status of CBD, athletes must still consider the risk of inadvertently ingesting a CBD product that either has a higher THC concentration than expected or contains another cannabinoid that is prohibited in sport.”
Which CBD products contain THC?
Not all CBD products are made equal.
CBD generally comes in three types: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. Let’s take a quick look at each and how they will influence a drug test.
It’s an excellent choice for people looking to benefit from the entourage effect – a synergistic relationship where cannabinoids and terpenes complement each other and increase the potential benefits of CBD.
Full-spectrum CBD – derived from hemp – is legally required in the UK to contain less than 0.2% THC.
Therefore, it is unlikely but possible that full spectrum CBD might trigger a THC-positive drug test. But, chances are increased if an individual consumes regular, high doses of full spectrum CBD.
Broad spectrum CBD products have been refined to remove many cannabis compounds, including THC – but still retain the goodness of many cannabinoids and flavonoids.
Broad spectrum CBD products may contain tiny trace amounts of THC, but it’s highly unlikely to be in high enough quantities to cause a THC positive.
Broad spectrum CBD is generally an excellent compromise for those looking to benefit from the entourage effect while consuming a product where the THC has been removed.
CBD isolate contains – you guessed it – purely CBD.
Isolate should not appear on your workplace or athletic drug test, as traces of THC have been chemically removed. As such, you can take larger doses of isolated CBD without worrying about the presence of THC.
10% off on your first order
Complete this one-minute quiz and find the right products for you.
Can you fail a drug test due to CBD?
The three main reasons you might fail a drug test due to CBD – are mislabelling, cross-contamination, and the type of test you take. Let’s take a look.
You may have purchased a product that is marketed as “THC-free” but still contains trace amounts of the compound.
Low-quality products may contain higher amounts of THC due to poor production processes.
Some low-quality CBD is derived from the cannabis plant – rather than from hemp. This not only makes the CBD technically illegal in the UK, but it also means a higher likelihood that the THC content may appear in a drug test.
Cross-contamination can also cause higher than anticipated levels of THC in CBD products, which may mean that you test positive for THC.
Cross-contamination may occur during production, resulting in higher concentrations of THC than advertised. This could even result in a CBD isolate that is no longer pure and contains trace amounts of THC.
The best way to reduce the risk of cross-contamination is to only buy quality products from a well-known brand.
Type of drug test
The kind of drug test you take can also influence the result.
You may return a clean result on one kind of test but display detectable levels of THC on a different test.
As mentioned, THC accumulates in the body and can show up in tests for weeks, or even months, after ingestion. Different tests screen different samples, affecting how long THC will be detectable.
Hair tests, for example, screen hair samples, which may contain THC for up to 90 days.
Urine and blood tests, on the other hand, relate to THC that is stored in fat cells, where it is stored for a shorter amount of time.
Some tests are also more sensitive than others. Most tests will only return a result if there is at least 50 ng/mL of THC, while others can start to show positive results with as little as 15 ng/mL.
Your body chemistry, meaning how long CBD stays in your system, also affects your test results.
This can explain why you may return a positive THC test result, while someone else using the same amount of CBD may return a negative result.
Some people metabolise cannabinoids quicker than others, meaning that these compounds stay in their system for a shorter time, and THC is less likely to accumulate to detectable levels.
4 tips to avoid testing positive using CBD
As we’ve seen above, it is impossible to say that you will not test positive for THC after using CBD products.
Any CBD brand that guarantees their product will never result in a positive test result for THC is, frankly, lying.
However, there are some steps you can take to avoid a positive THC result, or at least manage the situation:
- Use high-quality CBD products to ensure you can be more confident of the concentration of CBD.
- Ask the manufacturer to show you a Certificate of Analysis, or COA, to avoid mislabelled products
- Check that the product is derived from government-approved hemp crops. These plants have lower concentrations of THC, so make sure the product you buy complies with these rules. For example, our products are derived from 100% organic hemp. We work closely with the farmers to simplify the supply chain and deliver all-natural CBD.
- In most situations, it will be a good idea to speak to your boss, potential boss, or whoever is ordering the test ahead of time and explain to them that you use CBD products for the benefits. While this technically isn’t a tip to help you test negative – it could help to manage the response to a positive test.
Tips to avoid failing a CBD drug test
Use high-quality CBD
Only purchase high-quality products from reputable sellers to.
Check the COA
Use CBD where the THC content has been verified by a third-party.
Know your source
Ensure your CBD is made from hemp than contains lower concentrations of THC.
Notify your employer that you are taking CBD to mitigate issues should you test positive.
Final thoughts on CBD drug tests UK
The bottom line is that drug tests are not something to gamble with – the stakes can be seriously high.
If you’re worried about failing a drug test due to CBD use, it’s best to be educated and prepared and make an informed choice.
If you’re looking for the right type of CBD product and think you might be tested, always choose broad-spectrum or isolate products.