Study Asserts CBD Use Can Result In Positive THC Test, Expert Explains How And What Increases Risks

Zinger Key Points
  • 'Efforts should be made to increase public awareness regarding the risk of positive drug tests after CBD product consumption,' Lowe said.
  • ' 'The tests are not able to determine the source of the THC, only the presence.'

Can the consumption of CBD products cause a THC-positive urine test?

According to a study funded by former NFL tackle and cannabis advocate Eugene Monroe, yes it can. The research, which explored whether orally consumed full-spectrum CBD products can get consumers in trouble if they're randomly tested, was conducted with the help of the marijuana advocacy nonprofit Realm of Caring and the multi-state operator Canopy Growth CGC.

With CBD products becoming more popular than ever and individuals turning to them for myriad health-related issues, it is important to be aware of the potential risk of testing positive for THC. To learn more about this, Benzinga reached out to Realm of Caring's research director Matthew X. Lowe Ph.D. 

After earning a doctorate in psychology and cognitive neuroscience at the University of Toronto, Lowe worked as a research scientist at Stanford, MIT and HarvardFor more than a decade, he has been researching factors that influence human behavior and brain function.

Courtesy photo

Since 2016, Realm of Caring has been conducting studies in partnership with leading institutions such as Johns Hopkins University. Its main goal has been to understand the impact of medical marijuana use on overall health and quality of life and to help provide that information to anyone in need.

“Realm of Caring’s Observational Research Registry (ORR) is an online research study open to adults and adult caregivers of dependents who are, or are considering, consuming cannabis or hemp products for therapeutic purposes,” Lowe told Benzinga.

The Importance Of The Study: Increasing Public Awareness On The Risks

Benzinga: Can you please share the key takeaways from the study “Likelihood of Positive Urine Screens of THC-COOH After Daily Use of Full-Spectrum Hemp Extracts?” Why are the findings of this study so important?

“The purpose of this study was to examine how daily use of ingested hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) affects urine drug screening for positive test results. According to the FDA, hemp-derived CBD products that are commercially available should contain no more than 0.3% THC, which is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. However, recent studies have shown that even low amounts of THC can result in positive urine drug screens,” Lowe said.

“The results of this study showed that daily use of hemp-derived CBD products consistently resulted in positive urine immunoassay (IA) screens for THC at the detection level of 20 ng/mL (100%). When tested at the 50 ng/mL level, positive results were rare (16%). These findings suggest that efforts should be made to increase public awareness regarding the risk of positive drug tests after CBD product consumption, and further suggest that regulators should reconsider the use of 20 ng/mL criterion for screening drug tests, as it may result in many false-positive screens.”

Photo: Benzinga edit with images H_Ko and ALDECA studio by Shutterstock 

Red Alert: Frequency Of Use And Mislabeled Products

Benzinga: Does urine test positive for THC-COOH only for regular (daily) CBD users or can it also test positive for those using it once in a while?

"While different laboratory test manufacturers may have different cutoff levels for positive THC test results, there are several factors that can influence the outcome of a positive drug screen for THC, including how recently THC was consumed and the frequency of use," Lowe explained. "Research suggests that urine testing typically detects THC for up to 3 days after use for single-time cannabis users, but THC can be detectable in chronic heavy users for up to 30 days or more. If CBD products are used regularly, it’s also important to recognize that they might contain mislabeled ingredients. At Realm of Caring, we place a lot of emphasis on the quality of our products, which is why we have free resources available to guide consumers about how to choose products they can trust."

Benzinga: When THC-COOH is detected in the urine sample, can’t it be determined if the individual has been taking THC or CBD products or not?

“Immunoassay (IA) tests are looking for specific THC metabolites. The tests are not able to determine the source of the THC, only the presence,” Lowe said.

Benzinga: Is THC presence in urine samples enough to get a person in trouble under the law, assuming they are living in a state where cannabis products are illegal or in cases where individuals are prohibited from using them due to the nature of their jobs?

“Individuals who test positive for THC in a randomized drug test by their employer may be subject to serious consequences such as fines, loss of employment and loss of future opportunities in that profession.”

Benzinga: Are there similar studies that confirm the same?

“While this study is the largest and most commercially generalizable examination of urine drug screens among full-spectrum CBD users, there are several studies that show CBD use can lead to a positive drug test, especially if the CBD product consumed contains higher levels of THC than the label indicates,” Lowe explained.

Benzinga: How can someone help your organization?

“There are many ways that people can help the Realm of Caring Foundation. By donating to our cause, they can help offset internal costs so that our hotline remains a free service to anyone who calls. Donations will also contribute to our ongoing advocacy efforts to ensure access and affordability. For people who would like to support our research, they can join us by participating in our ongoing Observational Research Registry to further legitimize cannabinoid therapy.” 


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Posted In: CannabisNewsPenny StocksSmall CapExclusivesMarketsCBD positive urine testMatthew LoweMatthew X. Lowe Ph.DRealm of Caring
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