Cannabidiol — also known as CBD — is so
hot right now. It’s sold in pills, as an oil, in gummies,
as a cream, a vape liquid, and even in bath bombs. CBD is one member of a group over 100 chemicals
called cannabinoids that are produced by the marijuana plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is another,
much more famous one. It’s the reason weed gets people high. So THC and CBD are produced by the same plant
and their structures look really similar. Which raises the question: could you fail
a drug test by using CBD? Even though the structures of THC and CBD
look very similar, they act quite differently in your body.
So far, the evidence suggests that CBD does
not get you high, nor does it produce any of the other classic THC symptoms: hunger,
dizziness, hunger, difficulty concentrating, hunger, nausea, hunger, elevated heart rate,
hunger, dry mouth, hunger, hunger, and the munchies. And what about drug tests? Urine marijuana drug screens test for one
specific metabolite of THC. They don’t test for CBD. But there’s two pieces of maybe bad news. First, because the structure of CBD and THC
are so similar, some scientists were concerned that CBD might be converted to THC by your
stomach acid. It’s not too crazy of a hypothesis. Acids catalyze ring closures every day of
the week. And a few years ago, some researchers did
in fact use a delicious sounding mixture called “simulated gastric fluid,” which is basically
acid, table salt, and a few other things, to convert CBD to THC.
But they did this reaction in a test tube. Or a beaker. Or maybe an Erlenmeyer flask. The point is, it wasn’t in a person. A few studies since then have fed people pretty
high doses of CBD and tested for THC in their blood and stomach contents, finding none. But CBD isn’t out of the woods yet. The bigger problem is that, because over-the-counter
CBD products are not regulated by the FDA, there’s no guarantee that you’re getting
what the label says you’re getting. Back in 2017, doctors at UPenn analyzed the
CBD and THC concentrations of 84 CBD oils, tinctures, and vape liquids, and found measurable
levels of THC in 18 of the samples — that’s more than 1 in 5.
The levels were generally low — but possibly
high enough to set off a drug test. By the way, in that same study, only 26 of
the samples had CBD levels within 90-110% of what was on the label. If you’re in the market for CBD, make sure
you look at that specific product’s certificate of analysis first — this a test performed
by an independent lab to make sure the label is accurate. Make sure that the lab checked for THC, too
— sometimes you’ll see relatively high levels of THC, right there in the fine print. You should also know that CBD has not been
FDA approved for concentration, anxiety, stress, depression, pain, or almost any of the other
things it’s being advertised for.
As of right now, there’s only one FDA-approved
drug containing CBD, for hard to treat seizures. So, could you fail a drug test by taking CBD? We gotta remind you that we’re a YouTube
channel, and not a doctor, but our conclusion is: if you’re 100% sure that your product
contains CBD and nothing else, you’re extremely unlikely to fail a drug test for marijuana. But, given how often CBD products are not
accurately labeled and how often THC was detected in them, it actually seems plausible that
you might fail a drug test because of a mislabeled or poorly analyzed CBD product. So in the end, your mom is probably right. Better safe than sorry. Have you ever had any unexpected CBD experiences? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll see
you next week.