I am a scientist who believes in responsibility, both to oneself and to society in general. And I am an employer, having given jobs to thousands of people over my lifetime. When I comes to my employee’s personal responsibility I do not care if they choose to drink, smoke marijuana or play the lottery on their own time. As long as each person shows up to work capable of doing the job they were hired for, in my mind, I file their personal habits under “personal responsibility.” But then I do not run an airline company nor am I hiring microsurgeons. If I were, I would think that what the employee did on their own time, i.e. drug use, might be of concern to me. I would file that under “societal responsibility.”
I mention this because today’s topic is drug testing. While I recognize the need for drug testing for certain segments of society, I think testing employees for marijuana use in a shoe store, for example, is rather draconian. As a scientist and responsible member of society, I recognize the need for some testing but as a rational, civil human being I admit to not liking marijuana testing, in general, because there is just too much room for career threatening mistakes.
My first run-in with drug testing was late in the 80’s following Ben Johnson being stripped of his Olympic Gold Medal for testing positive for testosterone. Getting caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, Ben reacted like many do – he tried to find a scapegoat to blame his failure to play by the rules on. At the time, Smilax Officinalis was the most heralded testosterone booster in the legal arena so of course Ben singled out my product as being the culprit. He knew the truth as did I and probably half the thinking world but nonetheless I had to waste a lot of my time demonstrating to the world why what he was saying could not be true. Almost thirty-five years later, no big deal, at least for me.
Today there are a LOT of questions about CBD triggering a positive test for marijuana. First, let’s look at what a “drug test” is. We are going to have to be general here because there is no one explanation of the dreaded “drug test.” Most drugs tests are urine tests. What you probably don’t know is that drug tests don’t even test for THC. Rather most use a process called immunoassay screening to measure the main metabolite of THC which is THC-COOH. Normally, these tests tend to have a cut-off point of 50 ng/mL, and anything above this will return a positive test result. Once this positive result has been achieved, the lab company will often verify the finding using a much more sensitive GC/MS test, which will flag positive for anything above 15 ng/mL.
Given the fact that CBD does not metabolize to THC-COOH, in theory, drug tests shouldn’t pick up CBD. But the reality is…in rare cases false positives can occur. If that is not bad enough, if you are using a very large amount of hemp oil daily, say a gram or two, even if it has legally compliant amounts of THC (<.3), it can trigger a false positive on the initial test. Understand, please, only very ill people use that amount and drug tests are very far from their minds. The typical daily dose of CBD is 20-50 milligrams which is 1/20th to 1/50th of a gram. The secondary test, however, should absolutely define the urine as not coming from a marijuana user. Again, for anyone being tested for THC, it is important to understand that CBD products produced from hemp often contain a very small amount of THC, unless they are labeled as THC free. When you are taking very large amounts of hemp oil a day, this can result in the consumption of enough THC over time to trigger a positive test, even though it isn’t enough to make you feel intoxicated. The reality is that if you use small to moderate quantities of CBD, then you don’t really need to worry too much, but the possibility of a positive test still exists. Ultimately, just to protect yourself, you should ask what the specifics of the drug tests are, in other words, whether they will use GC/MS to rule you out as a drug user. And of course, there is always the option of letting them know that you take CBD and that CBD is non-intoxicating and legal for use.