CBD Cream & Drug Tests

Does CBD Cream Show in a Drug Test? Unveiling the Facts

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, has seen a surge in popularity as a wellness product, often infused in creams for its purported benefits for skin and joint issues. CBD cream, which is applied topically, is favored by those seeking localized effects without systemic involvement. A common concern arises regarding its detectability in a drug test. The main substance drug tests screen for is THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, not CBD itself.

CBD Cream & Drug Tests

However, confusion arises since some CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC. The likelihood of a topical CBD cream resulting in a positive drug test is generally considered low because these products are designed to not enter the bloodstream. Products that comply with federal regulations contain less than 0.3% THC, aiming to minimize any risk of failing a drug test.

It is still crucial for users to be aware that the composition of their CBD creams could influence drug test outcomes. While a purely CBD topical should not cause a positive drug test, cross-contamination with THC during manufacturing or the presence of THC in higher-than-labeled concentrations can occur. Those concerned about a drug test may opt for broad-spectrum or isolate-based CBD creams, which are typically free of THC.

Understanding CBD and THC

When exploring whether CBD cream shows up in a drug test, it is essential to understand the nuances of CBD and THC, including their definitions, the range of available CBD products, and the existing federal and state regulations.

Definitions and Differences

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are both naturally occurring compounds found in plants of the Cannabis genus. CBD is primarily derived from hemp plants, which contain high levels of CBD and trace amounts of THC. Conversely, THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that causes the sensation of feeling high.

  • CBD: A non-psychoactive cannabinoid often used for its potential wellness benefits.
  • THC: A psychoactive cannabinoid known for its intoxicating effects.


  • THC is psychoactive, whereas CBD is not.
  • Hemp-derived CBD contains less than 0.3% of THC by dry weight.
  • Marijuana-derived CBD can contain higher levels of THC.

Spectrum of CBD Products

CBD products come in various spectrums that define the presence of cannabinoids and THC:

  • Full-Spectrum: Contains all compounds of the cannabis plant, including up to 0.3% THC.
  • Broad-Spectrum: Consists of most cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant but is THC-free.
  • CBD Isolate: The purest form of CBD, free of other cannabinoids, including THC.

The presence of THC in these products could influence drug testing results, where a full-spectrum product may contain enough THC to be detected.

Federal and State Regulations

At the federal level, hemp-derived CBD is legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, provided it contains less than 0.3% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, state laws vary and can dramatically influence the legality and regulation of CBD products.

Key Points:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently approve nonprescription CBD products.
  • Labeling accuracy of CBD products may not always be verified. Consumers should be cautious about the presence of THC due to potential mislabeling.

Drug Tests and CBD Exposure

The potential effects of CBD creams on drug tests are a concern for individuals using them, especially regarding whether they might lead to a positive result for THC. Understanding the various types of drug tests and how CBD interacts with these tests is crucial for individuals who might be subject to workplace drug testing or other forms of screening.

Types of Drug Tests

Drug tests come in several forms, with the most common being urine drug tests, saliva tests, and hair tests. A urine test is the standard method for workplace drug testing and checks for THC metabolites. Saliva tests, on the other hand, are less invasive and have a shorter detection period, while hair tests can show drug use over a longer period, as drug metabolites are deposited in hair follicles.

  • Screening Test: Typically an immunoassay test that offers quick results.
  • Confirmatory Test: A more specific test like gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) that follows if the screening test is positive.

Each test type has a specific cutoff level to indicate a positive result and different abilities to detect trace amounts of THC.

CBD and Drug Test Interactions

Most drug tests aim to detect THC, not CBD. However, certain CBD products, like full-spectrum CBD, may contain trace amounts of THC that could theoretically lead to a positive drug test result, especially if the products are not properly labeled or if they are taken in large quantities. In contrast, broad-spectrum CBD and isolate products are less likely to contain THC.

  • Positive Drug Test Result: A positive result may occur due to the presence of THC metabolites above the cutoff level.
  • False Positive: This could result from cross-reactivity, cross-contamination, or secondhand exposure to THC.

Factors Influencing Drug Test Results

Several factors can influence the outcomes of a drug test after using CBD products. The frequency of use and the quantity of CBD cream applied can contribute to the buildup of THC metabolites in the body. Additionally, the possibility of contamination or secondhand exposure to THC could affect results.

  • Cutoff Level: An important metric in determining a positive result; varies by test type.
  • Trace Amounts: Even minute quantities of THC in CBD products might accumulate with frequent use.

It is important to note that the presence of THC does not necessarily imply impairment or intoxication, and a positive test for THC metabolites is not an indication of illegal activity or substance abuse. However, in some areas, workplace drug testing policies may not differentiate between intoxication and the presence of these metabolites.

Interpreting Product Labels and Certifications

When choosing CBD products, such as creams, oils, or tinctures, accurate labeling and certification are crucial for ensuring product quality and legality, as well as for assessing the risk of THC exposure in drug testing.

The Importance of Accurate Labeling

Accurate labeling of CBD products offers essential information on the type and concentration of cannabinoids present. Consumers need to distinguish between isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum products. An isolate contains only CBD, with no other cannabinoids. Broad-spectrum products include CBD and other cannabinoids but are typically THC-free. Full-spectrum products contain CBD, other cannabinoids, and also may contain trace amounts of THC. Mislabeling can lead to unexpected results in drug tests due to the presence of THC metabolites not originally anticipated by the user.

Understanding Certificates of Analysis

A Certificate of Analysis (COA) is a document issued by an accredited laboratory that details the full composition of a CBD product. A COA should include information on the concentrations of CBD and other cannabinoids, as well as test results for potential contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals. The COA ensures that the product meets regulatory standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and helps consumers verify the quality and safety of their purchase. For example, looking at the COA, a customer can confirm whether a CBD oil or tincture is as potent as the label claims and if it falls within the legal THC concentration limits.

Potential Consequences of Positive Test Results

When a CBD cream user receives a positive drug test result, it can lead to significant implications, especially considering that CBD products are often used for managing medical conditions like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and pain. Ensuring the understanding of the legal and employment landscape is crucial, as is knowing how to handle a false positive.

Legal and Employment Ramifications

A positive drug test can substantially affect an individual’s employment status. Many workplaces implement drug testing to comply with legal regulations or to maintain a safe work environment. If an employee’s test indicates the presence of THC at a level above the cutoff level, the result is a failed drug test. Although CBD is legal at the federal level, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, and a prescription medication like Epidiolex is FDA-approved, THC is still a controlled substance under federal law.

Employers might respond to a positive drug test result with actions ranging from suspension to termination, depending on company policy and the state’s regulation. Furthermore, certain industries have stringent drug testing policies due to safety concerns, and a positive test could lead to legal issues or loss of professional certification.

Addressing False Positives

A result can sometimes be a false positive, indicating that the person has detectable levels of THC even if they did not consume marijuana. This can occur if a CBD product contains THC amounts which might not be intentional but a side effect of the manufacturing process. To address a false-positive result, individuals can request a confirmation test or present evidence of CBD usage for managing health conditions with non-psychoactive health benefits.

It’s essential for individuals using CBD products to understand that a false positive can still have ramifications if not properly addressed. They should communicate with their employer regarding their CBD use and provide any documentation that can help substantiate their claim and clarify the situation, such as third-party lab reports of the CBD product’s composition.