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The Truth About CBD & Drug Tests

August 20, 2019 Casey Godfrey

DISCLAIMER: This blog to be used for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

CBD is being sold virtually everywhere across the United States, and it’s got a lot of us in the recruiting industry asking: Can CBD trigger a positive drug test in a candidate?

The answer is a bit elusive.

CBD: A Crash Course

Cannabidol (CBD), is a chemical derived from the cannabis plant that is touted as a natural remedy for things ranging from pain management, to anxiety reduction and seizure management. Unlike its more well-known cousin THC (I’ll get to that in a moment), CBD does not induce any sort of psychoactive “high”.

Legally speaking, there are two types of cannabis plant – hemp and marijuana. The difference between the two is the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, that psychoactive “high” inducing cousin I just mentioned) contained in the plant. Hemp contains trace amounts (up to 0.3%) of THC and has recently been ruled legal at the federal level. Marijuana on the other hand has higher THC levels and is still considered a Schedule 1 narcotic federally, though a number of states have legalized it to various extents.

CBD can be derived from either type of cannabis plant, which is where things begin to get a little tricky. Hemp has only recently become legal, meaning there is virtually no FDA regulation on hemp-derived CBD products. Despite this, it’s being infused in everything from coffee to dog treats.

But will CBD trigger a positive drug screening?

Technically speaking, no. CBD should not lead to a failed drug screening. But it’s not the actual CBD chemical that is getting some CBD product using job seekers into trouble.

While hemp-derived CBD products should contain zero or trace amounts of THC, this lack of regulation means that a claim made on the packaging may not be entirely true due to inconsistencies in the production process.

The FDA released an article earlier this year entitled What You Need to Know (And What We’re Trying To Find Out)”. The lack of regulation by the FDA means that the medical benefits touted on packaging may not be fully accurate, and there is no real way of knowing exactly what you’re getting in any CBD product on the store shelves. Just because you trust the place you bought it from doesn’t mean it’s a perfectly legal product to consume.

Yes, even doctor-recommended products

Forbes reported on a woman who failed a drug screening after THC was discovered in her system. She was not a marijuana user. She failed the test as the result of her using a CBD product that her doctor recommended to reduce pain and anxiety.

Furthermore, drug screenings are not testing how much THC is in your system, rather it is testing whether any THC is present at all. This means even using CBD products with trace amounts could still potentially set off a drug test.

So what do I tell my candidates?

Properly educating your candidates on what may or may not prevent them from getting a job is a crucial part of the recruiting process. Until drug screenings become more sophisticated and the FDA is able to put proper regulations in place, there is no way to guarantee that using commercially available CBD products won’t raise a red flag on a drug test. Instructing your candidate on how to avoid this potential pitfall could be the difference between a successful or unsuccessful job placement.

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