CBD Oil for Pain Relief Can Increase Chance of Positive Cannabis Drug Test

PainRelief.com Interview with:

Tory R. Spindle, Ph.D
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences 
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Spindle

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Cannabis and hemp products that contain CBD as the primary constituent have become widely available in the U.S. and are often used for various therapeutic purposes. However, there is presently little research to understand how such products could impact drug testing for cannabis which is commonly conducted in workplace, criminal justice, and other settings.

Drug testing for cannabis targets a common metabolite of THC called THCCOOH; THC is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis. Our results suggest that single use of a product that contains pure CBD would not produce a positive result on a standard urine drug test. However, we found that 2 of 6 participants tested positive for cannabis after they used a CBD-dominant strain of cannabis that contained a very low concentration of THC: only 0.39% THC.  

PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?

-Our findings are very important for consumers of CBD products because many commercially available “CBD-dominant” products contain low levels of THC at similar levels to the cannabis we used in this study. In fact, with the recent passing of the “Farm Bill” in 2018, hemp (defined as cannabis plants with ≤0.3% THC) is now legal in the U.S. So essentially, across the U.S., people can now legally obtain hemp-derived CBD products that contain only slightly less THC than was found in the cannabis used in our study which triggered a positive drug test result in some study participants. 

-Consumers of CBD products who potentially will be subject to urine drug testing should be aware that even modest amounts of THC in a CBD/hemp product may increase their chances of testing positive for cannabis. 

PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: -In this study, we only administered Cannabis/CBD on one occasion, but people who use legal CBD/hemp products for medical intent rarely just use them once. Future research is needed to explore the impact of cumulative CBD/hemp exposure on drug testing outcomes. Also, since the cannabis we used in this study did not meet the legal definition of hemp, future research should determine the impact of single dose or cumulative exposure to products with less than 0.3% THC (i.e., the threshold for hemp). 

No disclosures


Tory R Spindle, Edward J Cone, David Kuntz, John M Mitchell, George E Bigelow, Ronald Flegel, Ryan Vandrey, Urinary Pharmacokinetic Profile of Cannabinoids Following Administration of Vaporized and Oral Cannabidiol and Vaporized CBD-Dominant Cannabis, Journal of Analytical Toxicology, , bkz080, https://doi.org/10.1093/jat/bkz080

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