Does CBD oil show up in a drug test?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is all the rev now, cutting across the demographics from Gen Ys to baby boomers. However for those in the employment bracket, one question lingers, how will CBD impact on my prospects of acing a drug test ordered by a prospective employer?

This article explains why there is not much to worry about, so long as a few considerations are prioritized.

Standard drug tests are not designed to detect CBD, regardless of how much CBD is coursing through one’s veins.

Therefore you should not worry about your CBD regimen when going for a drug test, unless otherwise, as you will understand below.


A 2017 survey by Brightfield Group and HelloMD revealed that most of the people using CBD oil are likely to drop traditional medicines.

It has also been projected that consumer sales of CBD in the US will hit a staggering $1.15B by 2020!

With this upward mobility in the consumption of CBD, it is important to understand the ramifications on drug testing, considering that marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

But before we get to that, let’s first try to understand the metabolism of the CBD molecule.

How CBD oil is stored in the body

Cannabidiol is lipophilic, meaning that it binds to fats in the body.

When CBD is taken orally, it passes through the gut and into the hepatic portal system which sees it ending up in the liver. In the liver, it is broken down by metabolic enzymes into metabolites (7-OH-CBD and 6-OH-CBD).

This is known as the first-pass effect, and it reduces the amount of CBD available to be passed onto the bloodstream. Consuming CBD with fats helps in reducing the first past effects.

When CBD is ingested sublingually, it goes directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system. CBD that is inhaled goes directly to the alveoli in the lungs where it is passed into the bloodstream.

The alveoli provide a large surface area in which the CBD is absorbed to a greater extent. This explains why inhaled CBD will exert its effects faster than orally ingested CBD.

Once CBD is broken down into its metabolites, it is excreted through sweat, exhalation, urine, and feces. Some of the CBD is stored in fat cells that are spread throughout the body.

With this knowledge up our sleeve, let’s delve into how long CBD stays in the body.

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How long CBD stays in urine, blood, saliva, and hair

This has no one-size-fits-all answer, as various factors such as age, BMI, dosage, and frequency come into play. But some baseline factors can point us in the right direction, half-life being one of them.

The half-life of a drug is the amount of time it takes for 50% of the drug to be broken down and removed from the body. The half-life of CBD is between 24h-48h.

It takes five half-lives for a drug to be reduced to almost negligible levels in the body.

Deducing from this, it will take between 5 days-10days for CBD to be removed from the bloodstream. However, for a chronic user, it may take up to two weeks to a month for cannabidiol to be completely washed out.

When does CBD peak in the bloodstream?

CBD peaks in the bloodstream 3-5 minutes after ingestion. Its effects will continue being felt for about six hours, after which the effects will gradually decline by the hour until they completely diminish.

In saliva, cannabidiol will test positive after about three hours following ingestion and will persist for up to 24 hours. However, CBD may persist in the saliva of a heavy smoker for up to 72 hours. Saliva tests are mostly used to detect recent use of cannabidiol as opposed to chronic use.

cbd concentration

In urine, the metabolites of CBD (7-OH-CBD and 6-OH-CBD) are tested as opposed to the active CBD. Urine will begin to test positive for CBD metabolites 24h-48h after ingestion.

The urine will test positive for as long as there is CBD being broken down and excreted, this means for between 5 days-10 days after the last intake.

However, the metabolites of CBD persist longer in urine as they bind to fats, this means that urine may test positive for CBD metabolites for up to two weeks.

When you consume CBD, it passes from the bloodstream into the hair follicles. It takes 5 day-7days for hair to grow out of the scalp.

This is the amount of time it will take for the hair follicles to start testing positive for CBD. CBD will be present in the hair follicles for as long as the hair is there.

In most tests, one and a half inches of hair strands will be cut from the base, meaning that it will test for CBD intake for three months since the last ingestion.

Now that we know how long CBD persists in the body, will the presence of CBD in your specimen cause you to fail a drug test?

CBD and the drug test

Marijuana is a schedule 1 drug under federal law. That said drug tests screen for the psychoactive compound in pot which is THC, and not CBD.

Drug tests usually come in three forms: 5, 10 and 15-panel tests. The 5-panel screens for THC, cocaine, opiates, PCP, and Amphetamines.

The ten-panel screens for additional pharma drugs which are: barbiturates, propoxyphene, benzodiazepines, methadone, and propoxyphene.

An initial research paper titled ‘Identification of Psychoactive Degradants of Cannabidiol in Simulated Gastric and Physiological Fluid’ had suggested that CBD could be converted into THC after prolonged exposure to ‘simulated’ gastric acid.

However, Dr. Ethan Russo has refuted this claim, insisting that there is “no compelling evidence that CBD undergoes cyclization or bioconversion to THC in humans.”

Standard drug tests are not designed to detect CBD, regardless of how much CBD is coursing through one’s veins.

Therefore you should not worry about your CBD regimen when going for a drug test, unless otherwise, as you will understand below.

High amounts of CBD may cause you to fail a drug test

Cannabidiol obtained from hemp contains <0.3% THC as a baseline prescribed by the federal government. Theoretically speaking, consuming a daily dose of 1,000mg of CBD could cause enough accumulation of THC in your system to be detected in a drug test.

However, SAMHSA has set the cutoff level for THC in urine at >50ng/ml, meaning that even the 1,000mg/day does not meet the threshold. Only about 8-11% of assays are able to detect such a low threshold of THC.

Putting this into perspective, this would mean ingesting 40 capsules of CBD each containing 25mg of CBD daily for it to add up to 1,000mg.

Now that you have seen the loophole, how do you beat the system?

How to increase your chances of passing a drug test

Unfortunately, marijuana is a grossly unregulated market. This means that some products may not be what they purport to be.

To be on the straight and narrow, it is important to countercheck the purity and potency of any CBD product before you commit to buying it.

You should make sure that each product has been third-party lab tested by a reputable lab and the certificate of analysis highlighting the purity and potency is available for your viewing.

Many manufacturers prefer using full-spectrum cannabidiol to encourage entourage effects. But to completely ace the test, steer clear of full-spectrum products and instead go for pure CBD isolates that have higher purity levels.

This way, you will not have to keep looking over your shoulder when the time comes.


Now that you have gotten this far, you should be confident about taking that drug test. One last tip for the super cautions is this; time your drug test appropriately.

In case you are doubtful of the THC levels present in your CBD product, avoid taking it one month prior to the test. The half-life of THC is about 30 hours for a standard user; this means that the THC should be eliminated from your body in 6.25 days.

Keeping off your CBD product for one week prior to the drug test may help you breathe easy as you await the results.


  1. Healthline: CBD vs. THC, what is the difference. Retrieved from
  2. Statista (2019): Total U.S. cannabidiol (CBD) consumer sales from 2014 to 2022 (in million U.S. dollars). Retrieved from
  3. Wikileaf (2018): the difference between hemp and marijuana. Retrieved from
  4. Mary Anne Liebert Publishers (2016): Identification of Psychoactive Degradants of Cannabidiol in Simulated Gastric and Physiological Fluid. Retrieved from
  5. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences (2017): Cannabidiol claims and misconceptions. Retrieved from
  6. Leafly (2015): Does Using CBD Hemp Oil Result in a Positive Drug Test for THC or Marijuana? Retrieved from



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