While drug testing in the workplace is common in the United States, it’s used less frequently in the UK. However, if you work in a position where working under the influence of drugs or alcohol could pose a risk to the health and safety of workers or members of the public, you might find yourself subject to random screening.
Most drug tests don’t actually test for the presence of drugs, as most drugs break down quickly in the body. Instead, common tests look for the chemicals that remain in the system after a drug breaks down. These are known as metabolites. The metabolites of drugs can be detected in blood, urine, hair, sweat or saliva. Most commonly, drug testing is done via urine.
But Isn’t CBD Legal In The UK?
While CBD and other cannabinoids remain legal in the UK, CBD products are derived from hemp, which by law can contain up to 0.2% of THC, a substance that is illegal in the UK. What’s more, common drug tests are designed to test for the metabolites of THC, which in some circumstances detected in urine for several weeks after consumption.
While the amount of THC in many commonly available CBD is so low it won’t produce any of the psychoactive effects that get people ‘high’ it does still exist in trace elements. Hemp extracts are cropping up in more and more products, from oils to vapes, edible products like gummies and cakes, and even cosmetics.
As a result, scientific studies have begun to examine whether exposure to products derived from legal hemp could result in false positives for THC rich cannabis.
What The Studies Show
In a recent study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, researchers found that when subject to a urine drug test, two out of six study participants tested positive after vaping hemp flower that contained 0.39% THC. This is higher than the 0.2% level that is considered legal by UK standards, but as Tory Spindle, a researcher in the Behavioural Pharmacology Research Unit at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Centre, said: “People who use legal hemp products for medical intent rarely just use them once as we did in this study, and prior studies show that THC and its metabolites may accumulate with repeated use.”
“What this means is that people need to be wary of single-dose or cumulative THC exposure and be aware that these now legal products may cause an unexpected positive result on a drug test.”
So while the limit of THC in this study was higher than the UK legal limit, there is a potential risk that products containing CBD could create a positive for cannabis in common workplace drug testing, especially if used on a regular basis.
Should I Stop Using CBD?
While this study shows that it is possible to test positive for cannabis after using products containing CBD, it is still highly unlikely. The most likely situation in which this could occur would be if you purchased a product from a supplier that has higher traces of THC in its products than advertised.
This can be avoided by only purchasing a product from a supplier that publishes independent lab analysis reports. Check the company’s website for evidence of a recent, lab-verified analysis. Alternatively, you can find companies that sell CBD products that contain 0% THC. Products designed for professional athletes tend to contain CBD isolate, which is lab extracted CBD from raw hemp material. While this removes the risk of THC consumption, it also removes many of the complementary elements such as terpenes, which are thought to improve the benefits of CBD.
Ultimately, the decision to use products containing CBD needs to be a personal one. If you are subject to drug tests you may wish to consider consulting with your employer in advance or forego any CBD products with traces of THC for peace of mind.