Accurate determination of cannabinoid concentrations in cannabis and CBD samples is one of the important components of cannabis & CBD testing. ACS determines 22 different cannabinoids and quantifies the level to a specific amount. Our Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatographs deliver the highest accuracy that end users can depend on.
MATRIX: Flowers/Plants, Derivative Products and Edibles
ANALYTES: 11 – 22 count
TESTING POTENCY BEYOND THC & CBD
Cannabis potency testing measures the cannabinoids present in your cannabis sample and measures the strength of those compounds. ACS Lab uses an Ultra High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), which is the preferred instrument for testing cannabis edibles and extracts due to its ability to test samples at room temperature without requiring a catalyst to produce a heat reaction. This method can also test for THC Acid (THCA) and CBD Acid (CBDA), which a gas chromatograph would not.
CONSUMERS ARE DEMANDING MORE INSIGHT
When deciding which cannabis strains best suit your consumer’s needs, it’s vital to consider the cannabinoids present in your products as well as their potency. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers that mimic the effects of endocannabinoids, which are naturally produced by the human body. Endocannabinoids interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps us maintain homeostasis . Thus, cannabinoids can be a vital part of human health and determine your product’s therapeutic value.
LOOKING FOR BETTER POTENCY TEST RESULTS?
Cannabinoids occur mostly in the plant resin that’s produced by the structures known as trichomes. Trichomes help protect cannabis from insects, animals, fungi, light contaminators and other environmental attackers. The sticky resin is also rich in terpenes , which are responsible for the plant’s smell, taste and therapeutic effects.
To help influence your plant’s cannabinoid profile, the best method is to select a seed whose genes have the potential to produce the potency you desire. For example, if you live in the mountains, you may select a seed that was specially bred for high-altitude growth. But you may also influence how much resin a plant produces through its micronutrients, temperature exposure, humidity levels, harvest methods and water quality.
Heat, for example, can hinder resin formation, so you may want to keep temperatures as low as possible–especially in the late stages of the plant’s bloom cycle. You also want to pay close attention to trichome color throughout the harvest. When trichomes are clear and translucent, they’re not ready for processing yet. But as you notice the trichomes lose opacity and form an amber hue, you know that the plant has reached optimal levels of cannabinoids.
LEGAL & SCIENTIFIC DRIVERS FOR POTENCY TESTING
As laws continue to change in the U.S., the need for standardized and consistent potency testing is necessary to keep consumers safe from unwanted side effects. For hemp, potency testing is required to prove that it contains less than the maximum limit of THC (0.3%).
Potency testing also allows scientists to research how cannabinoids may work differently based on whether they are contained in flower, oils or topicals. This type of research can enhance the ability to market your product to the targeted customer that could benefit from its effects the most.
It’s also important to understand your product’s potency to meet market demand for high THC or CBD levels. You can also utilize potency results to educate your customers with information they need to determine the proper dose for their specific symptoms. When a product’s cannabinoid profile is transparent and documented, customers can work with their dispensary professional to find the best strain for them.
For example, cannabinoids interact with the body’s ECS by connecting to various endocannabinoid receptors that are present in the brain (known as CB-1 receptors) and throughout the body (CB-2 receptors). Depending on which CB receptor the cannabinoid attaches to, the effects on the body can be significantly different, which can be important if you’re considering a cannabis strain that is needed for pain relief, for instance, as opposed to mood regulation. Cannabis plants can produce anywhere between 80-100 different types of cannabinoids that synergize to make up the therapeutic and cognitive effects of the strain. The two most in-demand cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), but other compounds such as cannabinol (CBN) are also starting to emerge. Customers understand these compounds at a basic level and expect to see potency levels that match their desired effects.
POTENCY TESTING WITH ACS LABORATORY
At ACS Laboratory, we currently test flower, edibles and extracts for 22 different cannabinoids, which can alleviate symptoms related to several common conditions: mood and behavior disorders, gastrointestinal and neurological ailments, and pain and sleep-related issues, to name a few. Refer to the FAQ section below that explains more about each cannabinoid as well as the importance of potency testing.
FAQS ABOUT POTENCY TESTING
No. The two primary ways in which cannabis potency is tested is either by Gas Chromatography (GC) or High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Some companies use GC due to its speed of analysis and simplicity in finding common cannabinoids like THC, CBD or cannabinol (CBN). This method imitates the process of heating the cannabis product, so if the product will be smoked, this method can provide insight on the potency of different cannabinoids in this form.
However, because heat is required in this process, acid forms of cannabinoids like THCA or CBDA cannot be identified. This is where HPLC becomes a favorable way to test cannabis potency because it can identify the acid molecules of major cannabinoids before they will convert to their corresponding compounds through the heat of smoking or baking. HPLC instruments use an ultraviolet wavelength detector to identify the cannabinoids, so it is much more inclusive of various forms of cannabinoids in their free form or acidic state. HPLC is often the preferred choice for potency testing.
Two issues that can affect a hemp plant’s cannabinoid profile are the time of year and the terrain in which it’s planted. Other factors include chemical exposure and environmental stress. That is why you may want to start potency testing during the plant’s vegetative state.
Through vegetative potency tests, laboratories like ACS can analyze plants early in their life cycles to identify the CBD and THC potency. This test helps you avoid the time-consuming process of raising up seedlings to maturity and waiting to test the flower after harvest. It helps enable more rapid development that provides patients and consumers with the quality and safety they expect.
Finally, you’ll want to retest your cannabis post-harvest once your product has been manufactured. This will guarantee that the levels match what you expect.
ACS Lab currently tests for the 16 cannabinoids below, plus 4 new ones ( ᐃ8-THCV, ᐃ10-THCV, EXO-THC, CBT)
Will CBD Oil Result in a Positive Drug Test?
Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer’s research.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Arno Kroner, DAOM, LAc, is a board-certified acupuncturist, as well as an herbalist and integrative medicine doctor. He operates a private practice in Santa Monica, California.
CBD (cannabidiol) oil is a popular product for everything from pain control and anxiety to promoting sleep. However, with the rise of CBD use comes a concern about failing a drug test.
News stories are emerging across the country involving famous people who have gotten positive drug screening results for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the component of marijuana that can cause people to feel high. This is happening even though CBD oil is said to be THC-free.
What are the odds that CBD oil users will test positive when subjected to illicit drug screenings? And what can be done to prevent it?
This article explains why a positive drug test can happen with CBD use, which types of CBD are most likely to trigger one, and what you can do to avoid it.
Does CBD Oil Contain THC?
The active chemical in marijuana that gets detected in a positive drug test screening is THC. Most people are under the impression that CBD oil is THC-free, which is generally true. But not always.
As it turns out, depending on the source of the cannabis that is used to produce the CBD oil, some products do contain traces of THC. This includes low-quality isolates and many full-spectrum tinctures. A full spectrum oil contains other active plant compounds in addition to the CBD.
Cannabis is the umbrella term describing hemp and marijuana plants—two different varieties of the Cannabis genus. Both marijuana and hemp can be described as cannabis, but they are two different plants.
CBD is one of many active chemical compounds in cannabis plants. One reason it’s becoming more popular is because it’s said to lack THC.
The primary difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp is nearly void of THC. In fact, a cannabis strain must contain less than 0.3% THC to be classified as hemp. This is why hemp can be legally sold in various products.
Most CBD products are made from hemp, not marijuana.
There are many distinctions between marijuana and hemp that relate to CBD oil. Marijuana contains both THC (the “high”-inducing element) and CBD. Hemp contains CBD and only trace amounts of THC.
Hemp also contains many cannabinoids, which is a name for the compounds found in cannabis. CBD is only one example.
There are several techniques for extracting CBD oil from the cannabis plant. The extraction method determines whether the CBD oil is an “isolate” or a “full-spectrum oil.”
A CBD isolate is a pure compound with no other active compounds or cannabinoids. The full-spectrum compounds may include other active chemicals, such as cannabinol and cannabis terpenes (the part of the plant that gives the plant its aroma).
Study of CBD Oil
While some CBD oils claim to be isolates, they may be full-spectrum oils and actually contain more cannabinoids (such as THC) than they claim.
A study conducted at the internationally known Lautenberg Center For Immunology and Cancer found that CBD was more effective at treating inflammation and pain when used with other cannabis plant compounds.
These compounds were derived from a full-spectrum product rather than a CBD isolate product alone. This is one reason that full-spectrum products (those containing THC) are popular.
However, the distinction between full-spectrum oils and isolates makes all the difference if you are being tested for drug use.
Reasons for Failing a CBD Drug Test
There are several common reasons a person fails a CBD drug test.
Using Product With THC
The most common reason for a failed CBD drug test is that a person is using a CBD oil product that contains THC. This may be a full-spectrum product. Sometimes, though, it could be a low-quality isolate product that contains a small amount of THC.
Although most manufacturers claim their products do not contain THC, this is not always the case.
Cross-Contamination of THC
Very small amounts of THC present in the material that CBD is extracted from can get into the CBD oil in high enough amounts to result in a positive drug test. This scenario may be more likely to occur when CBD oil is purchased from cannabis dispensaries in places where cannabis is legal.
Mislabeling of Products
CBD oil extracted from hemp is not supposed to contain more than 0.3% THC. However, it’s not uncommon for sellers to mislabel their products as THC-free hemp when, in reality, it’s a low-quality oil extracted from marijuana. And marijuana does contain THC.
In fact, one study discovered that almost 70% of the CBD products sold online were mislabeled. This caused “potential serious harm to its consumers.” The reason for this widespread mislabeling is that CBD products are not strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Secondhand Exposure to THC
Inadvertent exposure to marijuana (via secondhand smoke) is unlikely to be enough for a person to get a positive drug test result. But it is possible. Being in a room with heavy pot smokers for several hours may cause the inhalation of enough THC-containing smoke to result in a positive test result.
A more likely secondhand exposure scenario is a positive marijuana hair test. This results from direct contact with marijuana paraphernalia or from another person having THC on their hands.
For instance, say that someone who had direct contact with marijuana then touched your hair. You could feasibly receive a false positive on a drug screening that tests your hair.
CBD Oil Breakdown in the Digestive System
Some sources report that in rare cases, false positive test results have come from CBD oil that breaks down into very small amounts of THC in the stomach. Other studies, however, have refuted this finding.
The conclusion is that it’s still theoretically possible for traces of THC to be present in stomach acid when “less-purified CBD productions” are ingested.
How to Avoid a Positive CBD Drug Test
If you take CBD oil, you can take steps to try to prevent failing a drug test:
- Do thorough research to ensure the CBD product you’re using is pure and that the company is legitimate.
- Look for manufacturers that have been accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
- Ensure that the CBD oil is an isolate product extracted from a viable industrial hemp supply. It should not be a low-quality tincture.
- Ask questions about product processing techniques and the possibility of cross-contamination.
- Avoid secondhand exposure to marijuana use via pot smoking or hair contact from THC users.
CBD oil is usually marketed as THC-free, but that’s not always the case. Full-spectrum CBD oils contain other cannabinoids, which may include THC. Isolate products may be contaminated with THC, as well.
You have to be proactive to avoid failing a drug test if you’re taking CBD oil. Most important: Ensure that you’re using a pure product made by a reputable company.
A Word From Verywell
In theory, getting a false positive on a drug test from CBD oil should be relatively impossible from pure CBD oil containing less than 0.3% THC. However, because CBD oil is not well regulated, there is no guarantee that a product contains pure CBD oil, or that its concentration is safe or effective.
Use the utmost caution and do your research when purchasing a quality CBD oil product to ensure its purity, especially if you need to undergo a drug screening.
Frequently Asked Questions
Drug tests look for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the element in marijuana that causes a high. CBD oils can have trace amounts of THC even if they’re labeled “THC-free.” The FDA does not regulate these products, and mislabeling is common.
Yes. If the products contain THC, you could test positive. If you know you’ll need to take a drug test, avoid full-spectrum CBD products that may contain small amounts of THC. Be sure you purchase products from a reliable source. And be wary of online retailers; researchers have found that 21% of online CBD and hemp products were mislabeled.
Does CBD Show on a Drug Test? Everything To Know
As CBD becomes more widespread and accepted, it’s raised many questions on if CBD will show up on a drug test. Given CBD’s association with cannabis, many make the mistake of connecting CBD with marijuana.
So does CBD show up on a drug test? What about if CBD oil shows up on a drug test? The answer is a bit complicated.
How CBD oil affects a drug testing screening mainly depends on the type of CBD product, but there’s a lot more to unpack. Let’s take a look at how CBD can affect a drug test and if you can fail.
Does CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?
Yes, CBD can show up on a drug test, but that’s only if the drug test screening tests for the cannabinoid CBD. However, that’s never heard of because it’s not something employers or law enforcement look for by default. Drug tests are designed to look for illicit substances, like THC, narcotics, steroids, etc.
Since CBD is federally legal and doesn’t impair or artificially improve athletic performance, there is no reason organizations need to test for CBD. It would be a waste of time and money.
Does CBD Oil Show Up On A Drug Test?
While CBD itself doesn’t trigger a drug screen, the CBD oil you use might do so. In this case, the issue isn’t CBD, but if THC is present or not. Some hemp CBD extracts, such as full-spectrum CBD oil, contain up to 0.3% THC that a drug test may show positive for THC.
However, don’t worry because you can easily avoid that awkward situation if you choose a broad-spectrum CBD oil.
How to Not Fail a Drug Test Using CBD Oil
Since CBD isn’t a concern, the issues about drug testing come from any THC your oil might contain. While hemp CBD extracts can legally carry up to 0.3% THC, there are plenty of THC-Free options.
THC content – if any – depends on the CBD oil you choose. There are three possible options:
- Full Spectrum
- Broad Spectrum
- CBD Isolate
All of these CBD products differ in fundamental ways.
Full-spectrum (“whole-plant”) CBD oil is the densest option. Manufacturers try to extract and retain all the cannabinoids and terpenes from the host plant. Granted, a significant amount is lost during extraction, but the diversity remains.
Having so many other critical compounds is vital for the “entourage effect” – a synergistic relationship where cannabinoids and terpenes complement each other. The process helps increase CBD oil’s potency.
Unfortunately, full-spectrum contains up to 0.3% THC , so it’s best to avoid these types of CBD products if you don’t want to risk failing a drug test.
Full-spectrum extracts also carry the complete flavor profile of their source plant. Many people like it, but for some, the “hempy” taste is hard to overcome, even when mixed with food or drinks.
CBD Isolate is the complete opposite of full spectrum. While the latter extracts and keeps as much as possible, the former is processed to remove everything but CBD.
Although this leaves behind a product that contains up to 99.9% CBD, don’t let these numbers fool you. Isolate may offer incredibly high purity, but the lack of terpenes and other cannabinoids wipes out the critical entourage effect.
Consequently, isolates are less effective than full-spectrum.
But it’s not all bad news. Many people prefer isolates because they contain no THC. They’re also flavorless, making it easy to mix with juice, smoothies, dressings, and more. Flavor-focused vendors may also prefer isolate in their edibles.
Broad-spectrum CBD oil is a happy medium between THC-laced full-spectrum and THC-free (but rather hollow) CBD isolate.
Like full-spectrum, the broad-spectrum oil extraction process aims to keep every cannabinoid and terpene except THC, making it THC-Free. With compounds to fuel the entourage effect and no THC to trigger a drug test, broad-spectrum offers the best of both worlds.
Admittedly, you’ll still notice the “hempy” flavor. But it’s a small price to pay for being able to have your cake and eat it too.
So the best way to pass a drug test when using CBD oil is to avoid products with THC. Sounds pretty straightforward, but this is where “buyer beware” should always be at the back of your mind.
Unfortunately, the CBD industry’s lack of regulation means labels can still be deceiving. When shopping around, you have to keep a sharp eye on minor details. We’ll cover these tips and tricks shortly.
For now, let’s see why THC could still make its way into allegedly “THC-free” products.
Factors That Can Lead to A Positive Drug Test with CBD Oil
Even if you choose a THC-Free product, that’s no guarantee. A company can follow the correct extraction process yet still ship a product with detectable levels of THC.
There are three main ways this can happen.
Using A CBD Product That Has THC
Using a CBD product containing THC, such as full-spectrum CBD, is the most common way to fail a drug test. Despite THC being found in minor amounts, it definitely can trigger a positive for THC.
Many manufacturers still claim their products are THC-Free when they do, so it’s crucial to buy CBD from a reputable company.
Mislabeling of CBD Products
Mislabeled CBD products were (and likely still are) a huge issue. When the Food and Drug Administration tested several CBD products , about 70% contained more or less CBD than advertised, while some didn’t have any CBD.
Even worse, many of these products “contained a significant amount of THC.” This is a huge problem considering CBD oil is famous for treating certain forms of childhood epilepsy. Inadequate or deceptive labeling means some parents could be accidentally giving THC to their kids.
You’re also going to have a hard time telling an employer that you consume no more than 0.3% THC when a drug test seems to say otherwise.
With cannabis being semi-legal in the U.S., you’d think this is a positive thing for hemp and “marijuana” advocates. However, it’s proven to be a double-edged sword – and complete nightmare – for hemp producers.
There’s a massive issue with having high-THC and low-THC cannabis chemovars growing in the same state. The layout often leads to cross-pollination, affecting THC levels of industrial hemp.
Hemp farmers have no choice but to destroy any crops exceeding 0.3% THC. If producers don’t consistently test their plants and products, you could receive something with substantially more THC.
How Can You Make Sure That a CBD Product Doesn’t Contain THC?
The best way to make sure that a CBD product doesn’t contain THC is to inform yourself. Checking for THC is easy if you know where to look. Once you know what makes a good CBD product, buying your first one will be a breeze.
Check the Label
Check the label to see if the CBD product is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or pure CBD isolate. If it mentions “CBD” but does not mention if it’s full-spectrum or broad-spectrum, then it’s most likely a CBD isolate.
For the most effective results, purchase broad-spectrum CBD over CBD Isolate for the very reasons we talked about earlier.
Also, purchasing broad-spectrum won’t have you asking, “Does CBD show up on a drug test” as it’s THC-Free while containing a spectrum of other cannabinoids and terpenes.
Check Third-Party Lab Reports for THC
Third-party lab reports are a must-have before you buy from a CBD company. Having no lab reports is a huge red flag. Never buy from a company that doesn’t prove what they’re selling.
Full-spectrum results shouldn’t show any higher than 0.3% THC. Isolate and broad-spectrum should show non-detectable levels of THC or “ND.”
Tests are typically categorized by batch and product, so it’s easy to find the information you need.
Below is a picture of a third-party lab report on a full-spectrum CBD oil. As you can see, it contains THC.
Below is an image of a broad-spectrum CBD oil. As you can see, it contains non-detectable levels of THC while containing other cannabinoids, fueling the entourage effect.
Buy from a Reputable Company
For the most part, CBD is an untamed land. We have to have faith that the company we buy from is honest about being “the best.” Of course, this is impossible to quantify or prove, so to truly find the right source, you need to read between the lines.
A reputable CBD company offers some key signs of quality. They don’t all have to be there, but enough to create a well-rounded, potent, safe, THC-free CBD oil.
When you research, look for the following:
- Updated Third-party lab reports
- CO2 extracted
- USDA Certified Organic or “organically grown”
- No chemical pesticides or herbicides
- Grown locally or in-house
- Sustainable farming
How Much CBD Will Make Me Fail a Drug Test?
No amount of CBD will make you fail a drug test unless that test is modified for CBD. The real issue is whether your product contains THC.
A CBD oil with small amounts of THC may not be much on its own. But if you consistently consume a full-spectrum product, your body could build up THC and test positive down the road.
The best way to guarantee safety and get the same benefits is through broad-spectrum CBD oil.
How Long is CBD Detectable in Blood?
Blood tests aren’t the primary choice, but they still get used to testing for illicit substances like THC. No test exists explicitly designed for CBD. Unfortunately, this means we can only guess based on THC.
A 2012 study in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry found THC detectable in the blood for three to four hours. However, this doesn’t mean it’s out of your system – not by a long shot.
Depending on several factors, CBD could remain inside you for days or weeks.
How Long is CBD Detectable in Urine?
According to one 2018 study from Frontiers in Pharmacology , CBD has a half-life of two to five days. However, all this means is you’ll eliminate half of the CBD within that time period.
Although we don’t know how long CBD will show up in a theoretical test, THC can show up anywhere from three to 30 days .
CBD might follow the same range. However, this all depends on things like dosage, metabolism, size, body fat, and more.
How Long is CBD Detectable in Hair?
Hair tests are rarely used for THC, and they’re unheard of with CBD. There haven’t been any studies because it’s not really of interest to researchers.
Follicle tests have the longest range, with THC metabolites detected up to three months after consumption. CBD’s timeframe, however, remains a mystery.
Video to Summarize CBD and Drug Tests
So Does CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?
Again, CBD won’t show on a standard drug test because it’s not a concern for employers or law enforcement. However, choosing the wrong CBD oil, such as full-spectrum CBD oil, could show positive for THC.
Stick with a broad-spectrum as it’s THC-Free to save yourself potential complications down the road. Remember to do your research and know how to read the CBD product labels. Look up the vendor’s reputation and make sure they’ve never had issues with inaccurate labeling.
CBD is a tricky area to navigate, but with the right tools and information, you’ll be able to avoid failed drug tests with CBD oil contaminated with THC.