CBD Products Causing THC Positives?

CBD Products Causing THC Positives?

By: Eric Malis

The question I am getting most frequently these days is whether CBD oil and other CBD products can cause a positive result on the THC panel. Let’s dig in a little to see what CBD is supposed to be, and what it often is.

What is CBD?

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive Cannabinoid – a substance that acts on the Cannabinoid receptors (the endocannabinoid system) in animals – one of more than 100 such Cannabinoids found in the Cannabis plant.  While medical research into CBD is still in its infancy, promising studies are being undertaken to see if it can be used to treat a myriad of ailments, including anxiety, chronic pain, autoimmune disease, and epilepsy, among others. The FDA has even approved a CBD-based medication called Epidiolex for epilepsy.

Regulation and Availability

CBD is “legal” in some states if it is derived from the hemp plant, which by definition may not contain more than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive substance in Cannabis); I use quotation marks because Federally, the DEA has stated “Just because we haven’t taken any enforcement action, doesn’t mean it’s okay.” Basically, the status of CBD is sort of in limbo, although it has already been excluded as both a dietary and food supplement. In the meantime, it is becoming ubiquitous – being sold everywhere from vitamin and health-food stores, to head shops and convenience stores; and in products from vaping oils and topical lotions, to tinctures and even snacks and soft drinks; there is even a huge market aimed at CBD products for pets! And because of the lax enforcement, it often is coming from less-than-reputable sources, its quality and ingredients list vary wildly. Reputable CBD producers will have their products verified by an external laboratory, and the contents clearly marked on the packaging.

Why Does This Matter to Us?

Getting back to the big question for us; will these products cause a positive on the THC panel on the instant test? The short answer is no: CBD use will not cause a positive result on a THC test; the THC panel is designed to react solely with THC and its metabolites. However, because of the laissez faire attitude by both enforcement authorities, and especially unscrupulous producers, many CBD products available “on the street” these days contain more than the allowable amount of THC. So, even in the best circumstances, many CBD products will contain trace amounts of THC (as allowable), but again, the lack of regulation and oversight means we are seeing too many products that contain unacceptable amounts of THC, which can be the cause of many THC test positives where the user claims to have only used CBD. Reputable CBD producers will have their products verified from an independent laboratory, and the contents clearly marked on the packaging.

Adulterants: Are You Testing a Valid Specimen?

Are you testing a valid specimen? The answer may surprise you! We will discuss the myriad of methods people will use to “beat” a drug test, and also the tools you have at your disposal to combat this. Make sure you are testing a valid specimen!  

Fentanyl Exposure – Myth vs. Reality

I was having a discussion with one of my clients the other day about Fentanyl, and she was telling me that they hear warnings to the effect of: be sure to wipe down the handle on the shopping cart at the grocery store, or you could be exposed to Fentanyl, and possibly overdose.


There are also numerous stories in the news, usually local TV or newspaper, where a police officer or other first responder touches Fentanyl and finds themselves ill. There has even been a news story about an EMT whose patient overdosed, and in transit to the hospital had coughed on the medic’s skin, after which he began to feel ill.


Scary stuff, right?


Those of you who participated in our Fentanyl webinar from last September may remember my description of the potency of Fentanyl (50-100 times more potent than Morphine), as well as other analogues (such as Carfentanil – nearly 5,000 times more potent than Morphine). So, without question, Fentanyl is an extremely powerful drug that can represent grave danger when someone comes into contact with it.


But what constitutes dangerous contact?


As it turns out, Fentanyl has notoriously poor transdermal properties: in other words, Fentanyl does not “soak through the skin” as much of the media would have you believe.


“But Eric,” you say, “one of the most popular Fentanyl delivery systems is a transdermal patch. How can you say it doesn’t soak through the skin?” Well, as it turns out, the companies that manufacture these Fentanyl patches use some pretty high-tech formulas that facilitate the transfer of the medication through the skin.


Want to hear it from people much smarter than I? Here is the Position Statement from the American College of Medical Toxicology and the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology.


Interestingly enough, even a transdermal preparation of Fentanyl takes too long to absorb to be any serious threat. From the above linked policy position: However, incidental dermal absorption is unlikely to cause opioid toxicity. If bilateral palmar surfaces were covered with fentanyl patches, it would take 14 min to receive 100 mcg of fentanyl (using a body surface area of 17,000 cm2, palm surface area of 0.5% [26], and fentanyl absorption of 2.5 mcg/cm2 /h [24]). This extreme example illustrates that even a high dose of fentanyl prepared for transdermal administration cannot rapidly deliver a high dose.


Please do not mistake this to mean that it is completely harmless to come into contact with Fentanyl; if there are Fentanyl particles in the air, inhaling them would certainly have a dangerous effect. EDIT: Also, as Allyson was kind enough to point out in the comments below, any open wound (cut on the hand/finger) or contact with mucus membrane (mouth, nose, etc.) would not fall into the “transdermal” category and would be cause for concern. But as for shopping carts? Wipe them down because they can be gross, but not over concerns of Fentanyl exposure!

Emerging Drug Trends: What to Watch For

Join Eric Malis, Chief Product Officer here at National Test Systems, for another installment to our “NTS-U” webinar series. This time we will cover current and emerging drug trends with a focus on, “designer” or, “synthetic” drugs and their affects on the drug testing industry.