A common question that is asked when using CBD topicals is whether or not it can cause a failed drug test.
Luckily, there has been some research done around this and we can help shed some light on the answer.
To start, let's break down the question. The question is focused around topical use of CBD products. For those unfamiliar, topicals refer to products like lotions, salves, balms and sprays and are applied to the skin to provide a localized effect.
When searching for CBD topicals you will find both topicals that have 0.00% THC and topicals that contain up to the legal limit (0.3%) of THC and any where in between.
Since we are focused on topical use only in this article, we are able to answer the question the same regardless of which topical you use. Regardless if the CBD topical you use contains THC or not, the answer remains the same that you will not fail a drug test for using these products.
Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML and recipient of the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship and author of numerous articles on drug testing, states, "Most likely, the answer is no...THC is lipid soluble so one would expect very little THC to enter the bloodstream via transdermal delivery."
Susan Squibb, of the Cannabist, reached out to Dahlia Mertens, CEO of Mary's Medicinals, a Colorado company that has been creating topicals since 2010. Mertens' responded, "The cannabinoids in topicals do not actually enter the bloodstream (that is why topicals do not get you high), instead they interact with the peripheral nervous system,” Mertens said in an email. “As a result, people that use our topicals have not tested positive for THC in drug tests.”
So, in Merten’s business experience, none of her customers have tested positive in a drug test from her topical products.
There is a caveat here, that I would like to point out however. In some instances, like trans-dermal patches, we would expect to see delivery of cannabinoids into the blood stream. Many of these patches use a carrier substance so that the active ingredient can be circulated into the blood stream. It stands to reason then, in this specific case, that THC could make it into the bloodstream and may register on a drug test.
So how can we use this information? I decided to write this article because I have seen many anecdotal stories of CBD topical users that report heightened relief when the topical has a bit of THC in it. This makes sense to me as CBD and THC work on different receptors in the body. Therefore, if you have two different cannabinoids working on two different types of receptors in the body, it is safe to assume you would experience more of an effect. Since most topicals would fit into the categories above it is safe to say that you could try this without risking a failed drug test. Make sure to use to icons on the product pages to determine whether a topical is considered "Full-Spectrum", "Broad-Spectrum", or "Isolate Based / THC Free"!
What do you think? Does having a little THC in your topical help or is CBD alone enough? Leave your comment below!
- Paul, R. et al. (2019) Detection of cannabinoids in hair after cosmetic application of hemp oil. Nature Scientific Reports. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39609-0
- Perrotin-Brunel, H. et al. (2011) Decarboxylation of D9 -tetrahydrocannabinol: Kinetics and molecular modeling. J Mol Struct. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molstruc.2010.11.061
- Taylor, M. et al. (2017) Comparison of cannabinoids in hair with self-reported cannabis consumption in heavy, light and non-cannabis users. Drug Alcohol Rev. https://doi.org/10.1111/dar.12412