Should a CBD user be worried about drug tests at work? | To Be Blunt | Chicago Reader

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Should a CBD user be worried about drug tests at work?

Our expert says: it depends.

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"The chance of testing positive for cannabis on a company drug test depends on the type of CBD product you use, and how you consume it." - PHOTO FROM CBD KRATOM BY MAYA DUKMASOVA
  • photo from CBD Kratom by maya dukmasova
  • "The chance of testing positive for cannabis on a company drug test depends on the type of CBD product you use, and how you consume it."

Welcome to the Reader’s cannabis column To Be Blunt. We're here to answer your canna questions with the help of budtenders, attorneys, medical practitioners, chefs, researchers, legislators, and patient care advocates. Send your cannabis queries to tobeblunt@chicagoreader.com.

Before we get to the Q&A, here's a quick guide to some of the terms we use below:

CBD, or cannabidiol: a compound extracted from hemp. Hemp—unlike marijuana—is a cannabis-family plant that is legal in all 50 states and contains very low levels of the psychoactive compound THC.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): the active ingredient in pot that gets you high.

THC-COOH: an inactive metabolite of THC that stays in your fatty tissues for up to 30 days.

Q: I use CBD every day. Is there a chance I could test positive for cannabis on a company drug test?

A: Dear Reader reader,

We've asked Abraham Villegas, digital marketing agency owner and founder of the Medical Cannabis Community, a digital media company, to weigh in. His response, which has been edited for length and clarity, is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.

"First and foremost, congratulations: you have discovered cannabis and many of the amazing benefits it has to offer. CBD, a well-known cannabinoid, can offer relief from pain, stress, inflammation, or anxiety.

"The chance of testing positive for cannabis on a company drug test depends on the type of CBD product you use, and how you consume it.

"Most CBD products in the market today fall under three primary categories: isolate (CBD only), broad-spectrum (all cannabinoids except THC), full-spectrum (may include THC).

"When you consume a CBD-only, or isolate, product, you shouldn't worry about failing a drug test because most drug tests measure levels of THC-COOH. Some drug screenings also test for active THC. Both are absent in properly produced CBD isolate products.

"When you're buying CBD isolate products, check the maker's website to verify that independent testing has been done in a third-party lab to ensure they're free of THC, as well as heavy metals and other toxins.

"THC has been removed from broad-spectrum products, and you should technically be in the clear with these.

"Full-spectrum CBD products are believed to provide the most benefits, but they also carry the most risk in drug tests because they may contain trace levels of THC. If you are consuming full-spectrum products every day, it's possible to build up nanograms of THC in your system, meaning you'd test positive on a drug test.

"The method of administration of CBD also plays a key role in its impact on a drug test. When you're consuming products that may contain THC—such as flower (aka dry bud), vape, edibles, or concentrates—it's likely to accumulate in your body and be present on a drug test. Consuming these same products via a topical application such as a lotion, salve, or transdermal patch are thought to be much safer from a drug testing standpoint.

"If you fail a drug test after using CBD-only products, request a retest with your employer. False positives are definitely a thing, and they're more common than many people think."  v

Abraham Villegas operates the Medical Cannabis Community, a digital media company focused on empowering people to connect through advocacy, education, and community-based action. He also operates AV Social Strategies, Inc. a digital marketing agency where he regularly consults with brands in the cannabis/hemp/CBD industry on Web development, social media, advertising, and SEO.

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