Will vaping CBD cause me to fail a drug test?

29 June 2019

By: Nicola Webster

Will vaping CBD cause me to fail a drug test?

Many UK employers have a drug screening policy in place. Even though CBD is legal in the UK, and will not get you high, could vaping CBD oil e-liquids still make you fail your company’s tinkle test?

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is being increasingly referred to by our customers (as well as a growing percentage of the population) as the best thing since sliced bread. This non-psychoactive cannabinoid is providing relief to millions of people for an ever-expanding number of health complaints. From chronic pain to mental health issues, scientists are uncovering more and more potential benefits from this marvellous plant extract.

Thanks to regulation, high quality CBD products are widely (and legally) available from reputable sellers (like us!) across the UK. According to a recent article in GQ magazine, “Thanks to a brand reimagining and increased medical research, cannabinoids have gone from dangerous to desirable.”

UK CBD use is booming


Recent reports estimate the global CBD market will grow by 700% and be worth $2.1bn by the end of next year. In the UK alone, there were 300,000 regular CBD users at the end of 2018 - double the year before!

However, with the growth in popularity, comes a growth in confusing messaging leading to misinformation. This misinformation is particularly problematic when people’s jobs are at risk.

Understanding the risks of CBD use


We have recently seen a rise in the number of new customers that we speak to who have been led to believe that they can consume CBD on the regular with no chance of failing a drug test. We are always quick to debunk that myth as, although minute, there is a risk that certain CBD products can trigger a positive drug test result. Let’s explore why…

Why do companies drug test?


When employers have a drug screening policy in place, they are testing for controlled substances that are prohibited for sale and use in the UK. There are several key reasons why a company might conduct drug testing - it’s rarely as simple as a lack of trust in their employees. The main reasons are productivity and, of course, safety. Alcohol and drug use by workers can put people in danger; they could hurt themselves, their colleagues, their customers, and the reputation of the business.

Some companies will use drug screening to deter employees from abusing alcohol and drugs; they may also use it to avoid hiring individuals who use illegal substances. This includes cannabis; however, what they are actually looking for is the presence of THC or THC metabolites - not CBD.

What is THC?


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. Although, as a cannabinoid it shares many of the same known health benefits as CBD, its high-inducing properties mean it is still classified as a Class B controlled drug in the UK, and therefore illegal to sell and to purchase.

On the other hand, since October 2016, CBD has been legally considered by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) to be medicinal

Does CBD show up in a drug test?


Since CBD is technically a chemical, and is metabolised by our bodies, it can be detected - if it’s tested for. However, the urine test that is most commonly used in drug screening doesn’t even look for CBD.

It is highly unlikely that any UK employer would spend money to commission a modified drug test that screens for the presence of CBD, since CBD doesn’t impair your ability to perform your job, or put anybody at risk.

Why might I fail a drug test after using CBD?


For CBD to be legal in the UK, it needs to originate from an EU-approved industrial hemp strain. These certified strains all contain <0.2% THC. Even though these legal THC limits will have absolutely no effect on your cognitive function, or your ability to perform your job, they may still be detected during a routine drug test.

Different drug tests have different detection thresholds. The standard urine test in use today is unlikely to detect the trace levels of THC contained in CBD oil; but it isn’t impossible.

There are certain other parameters in play, such as how often you use CBD, the strength of your CBD oil (in mgs), and your own particular ability to metabolise cannabinoids. With all of these factors, it is possible that trace amounts of THC could accumulate to levels high enough to be detected.

The limitations of testing for THC


Drug screening is nowhere near sophisticated enough to distinguish between THC ingested via legal or illegal substances. Therefore, your employer has no real way of knowing if the THC got into your system from vaping CBD oil, or by smoking marijuana. 

Plus, as cannabis can be detected in urine for up to 30 days, they can’t be 100% sure that you haven’t been using drugs on company time. Employers will need to fully investigate the circumstances of drug detection before they can take any disciplinary action; so you might find yourself having to convince them that your test came back positive for a totally legal product.

Is there a way of using CBD 100% risk free?


If you are worried that you could fail an impromptu drug test, but still want to continue benefiting from using CBD, you might want to opt for a winterised CBD isolate product?

Winterisation is a way of purifying CBD in order to isolate it from all the other cannabinoids - including THC. Since we’ve already discussed that the vast majority of employers are testing for THC, not CBD, you should be fine. Just make sure that you buy from a reputable vendor to be absolutely sure that what you’re buying is a true CBD isolate product.

Alternatively, recent advancements in extraction technology have led to the highly anticipated creation of broad spectrum. Seen as the ideal combination of CBD isolate and full spectrum, broad spectrum contains all of the additional cannabinoids found in plants from the cannabis family, but with the THC completely removed.

CBD and drug testing takeaways


Many CBD sellers are lying to their customers when they tell them that they will definitely pass a drug screen. Full spectrum CBD oil contains trace amounts of THC so there will always be a risk (however minor) of triggering a positive. Our advice is to know what you’re vaping, and buy from reputable sources. If you want to be extra sure that your pee will be THC free, opt for a either a CBD isolate product like these, or a broad spectrum product like these.

The research into CBD continues


As more studies are undertaken, and more research published, we will continue to update you with all the latest findings regarding CBD.

If you still have more questions, we are always happy to help. Just get in touch with any queries you have about CBD or vaping in general.


The content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a particular medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

29 June 2019 Nicola Webster

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