(CBD) Cannabidiol and drug tests

It is not uncommon these days to get calls on a weekly basis by individuals looking for information. The information that they are seeking is whether or not products containing CBD will affect the results of a drug test. Our response is always to the point that these products are still considered a schedule I narcotic and freely sold via the internet with no known THC level from one product to another. Below is an article by Quest Diagnostics that sheds light on this subject.

With the rise in popularity of cannabidiol (CBD), we need to address the elephant in the room and answer the question “Will I pass a drug test if I use CBD?” Before we can do that, it is important to know what CBD is.

CBD is one of approximately 400 compounds found in cannabis, the same plant that produces the psychoactive compound, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While CBD is a cannabinoid and shares some structural similarities with THC, it does not produce a “high.” Research surrounding CBD is still in its early phases, but preliminary studies indicate that CBD may benefit medical and therapeutic issues such as seizures, PTSD, neurological diseases, pain, cancer, inflammation, and mood disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Sara Jane Ward, an assistant professor of pharmacology at the Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine, tells U.S. News Health that the Drug Enforcement Administration considers CBD, like all cannabinoids, a Schedule I substance. She adds, “…Hemp – a variety of the cannabis plant regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – is legal , so long as its THC content is negligibly low. But because the agriculture department doesn’t test for CBD – only THC, more companies are getting away with selling products they say contain CBD.”[i]

In some medical marijuana states, CBD products are allowed to have residual levels of THC up to 5%, dependent on the state. Because of these low to non-existent levels of THC, more companies have started carrying CBD products, even in states where marijuana is not permitted for either medicinal or recreational use. However, it is worth noting that CBD is not legal[ii], at the state level, in all 50 states.

Unlike THC-rich products that do create a high, CBD is perceived as less harmful and comes in several different forms:

  • Oil (most popular)
  • Beauty and health products
  • Vapors
  • Infused edibles such as lattes, chocolates, and gummies

Despite the reputation CBD has of being less harmful than THC products[iii], CBD may still cause adverse reactions in some people. Reported side effects from human and/or animal studies include:

  • Fatigue/drowsiness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Possible endocrine disruption
  • Altered immune function
  • Dizziness
  • Psychomotor slowing
  • Diarrhea

So… will I pass a drug test?

Maybe. CBD itself would not be reported positive for marijuana or marijuana metabolite. If the CBD product contains THC at a sufficiently high concentration, it is possible, depending on usage patterns, that the use of these products could cause a positive drug urine test for marijuana metabolites.

It is important to remember that for federally-mandated drug tests, the use of CBD or “medical marijuana” would not be considered an alternative medical explanation for the positive test for marijuana metabolite. Moreover, as a Schedule I substance, CBD remains illegal at the Federal level. While there are some states that permit the sale of CBD, many of these states only permit relatively low levels of THC in the CBD product.

Employers need to stay informed about the ever-changing landscape of marijuana and its derivatives because situations like this may arise. Additionally, employers need to ensure their company’s substance abuse policy language clearly reflects their position on marijuana and the use of CBD products.

June 19, 2018


[i] Miller, Anna Medaris. 2018, March 1. What Is CBD Oil – and Should You Use It? https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2018-03-01/what-is-cbd-oil-and-should-you-use-it

[ii] Zhang, Mona. 2018, April 5. No, CBD Is Not ‘Legal In All 50 States’ https://www.forbes.com/sites/monazhang/2018/04/05/no-cbd-is-not-legal-in-all-50-states/#4f5e81b3762c

[iii] Consumer Health Digest. What Are The Potential Side Effects Of Cannabidiol (CBD)? https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/cbd-hemp-center/side-effects-of-cannabidiol.html

Workforce Drug Positivity at Highest Rate in a Decade, Finds Analysis of More Than 10 Million Drug Test Results

Prescription opiate positivity rate drops by double digits, while cocaine rises by double digits in certain states

Methamphetamine positivity skyrockets in Midwestern and Southern United States

Marijuana positivity rises considerably in states that recently enacted recreational use statutes, finds national analysis by Quest Diagnostics 


Secaucus, NJ, May 8, 2018 – Driven by increases in cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana, drug use by the American workforce remains at its highest rate in more than a decade, according to a new analysis released today by Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services.

Nationally, the positivity rate for the combined U.S. workforce held steady at 4.2 percent in 2017, the same as in 2016, but a dramatic increase over the 3.5 percent positivity rate from 2012, which represented a thirty-year low. The analysis of 2017 data also suggests shifting patterns of drug use, with cocaine and amphetamines positivity surging in some areas of the country and marijuana positivity rising sharply in states with newer recreational use statutes. Prescription opiate positivity rates declined dramatically on a national basis.
For an interactive map with positivity rates and trend lines by three-digit zip code in the United States, visit DTIDrugMap.com.

Continue reading “Workforce Drug Positivity at Highest Rate in a Decade, Finds Analysis of More Than 10 Million Drug Test Results”

Rat poison likely to blame for deadly side effects of synthetic pot in Illinois

Photo Illustration of K2. (Christopher Smith / Chicago Tribune)

By Elvia Malagon – Chicago Tribune

April 6th, 2018

Synthetic pot for years was sold under the guise of a cheaper alternative that allows users to dodge drug screenings.

And while there have been rashes of hospitalizations nationwide involving those who’ve ingested fake weed, experts say they’ve never seen the severe side effects — internal bleeding in particular — that have killed at least two and sickened dozens in the Chicago area and central Illinois in the past month. Investigators say that while users have been smoking different brands of the synthetic marijuana, the common ingredient that may be leaving people ill is rat poison.

The problems are the result of a cat-and-mouse game playing out among government entities passing laws to ban synthetic pot and manufacturers tweaking their recipes to keep the drug on the market — and money in their pockets, experts say.

The rat poison likely is to blame for the horrible side effects: internal bleeding, severe bloody noses and bleeding gums, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Officials and experts say this underscores the dangers of using synthetic cannabinoid products: Often the man-made drugs are manufactured and packaged under clandestine operations without being tested or otherwise scrutinized like legal medications that go through years of testing on animals and then people.

Typically, synthetic pot is created by spraying chemicals onto plant matter to make it look like real marijuana leaves. It is then packaged by manufacturers and, although bans are in place in Illinois and Chicago, it still makes its way to gas station and convenience store shelves. Officials say those sickened in Illinois were using different brands; still investigators are trying to trace whether it’s possible that the drug is from a single source.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was sending a team to help the Illinois Department of Public Health in its medical investigation into the outbreak. Ninety-five people, two of whom died, have been hospitalized since early March as officials continued to seek answers in the outbreak, according to the state department. Most of the sick patients are 25 to 34 years old.

Synthetic cannabinoid is a man-made mixture of hundreds of chemicals that affect the same brain cell receptors as the active ingredient in marijuana — commonly known as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC — that causes people to get a euphoric high. Often sold and branded as “K2” and “Spice,” synthetic marijuana is typically sprayed on a plant material to be smoked, or it can be sold in a liquid form to be used in e-cigarettes or vaping devices, according to officials.

Many states, including Illinois, have passed laws to keep the substance off the shelves, but experts say manufacturers are constantly tweaking the formula to skirt laws that prohibit certain chemicals. In fewer than 10 years, the types of synthetic cannabinoid formulas jumped from two in 2009 to more than 80 in 2015, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice.

But once a law is created, manufacturers work to come up with a different formula in hopes of producing a drug that is legal in some cities and states, said Michael Baumann, a researcher who studies drug affects on the body for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And manufacturers of the chemicals, often made without oversight overseas, consult scientific articles to see which compounds affect the same brain cell receptors as marijuana, he said.

“It’s hard to know exactly what substances are on the street at any given time,” Baumann said.

In Chicago, a city ordinance banning synthetic marijuana has been in place since 2011. The ordinance lists specific substances and then bans any other “non-prescription substance that has a chemical structure and/or pharmacological effect substantially similar to the active ingredient of marijuana, or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).” There are also federal laws addressing synthetic drugs.

The Illinois Poison Center has continued to log cases of people becoming sick because of a synthetic cannabinoid product. There were 131 cases in 2015, 84 cases in 2016 and 51 in 2017, according to the agency. Since January, the agency has logged 101 cases statewide.

Chicago Ald. Edward Burke said he thinks the ordinance has been effective. In the wake of the outbreak, the city has made checks across the city at local retailers. But like any other illegal activity, Burke said there is a possibility of transactions happening from person to person.

“They’d be foolish to publicly advertise the products,” Burke said.

Chemists have been studying and developing synthetic cannabinoids as part of scientific research into how it could be used for medical purposes, said Paul Prather, a professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Prather, who has been studying the therapeutic use of synthetic cannabinoid, said the formulas haven’t been tested to determine side effects.

If you use “K2” or “Spice,” “You are the guinea pig ingesting it into your body to see what happens,” Prather said.

Prather said people use synthetic pot because it’s relatively cheap and isn’t detected on drug screenings, such as th

ose sometimes required by employers.

In the recent outbreak, multiple brands of synthetic marijuana products have so far been linked to those who became sick, the state department of health said. It’s possible that the tainted synthetic cannabinoids ended up in different packaging under various brand names, according to the agency.

The Illinois outbreak is the first time Baumann and Prather have heard of severe bleeding as a side effect. Baumann said the outbreak is a sign of the lack of oversight in the manufacture and packaging of the substances.

Of the dozens who fell ill in Illinois after using synthetic pot, at least nine tested positive for brodifacoum, more commonly known as rat poison, according to state officials.

Exposure to rat poison causes the body to block its natural use of vitamin K, which helps in the process of blood clotting, said Dr. Patrick Lank, a medical toxicologist who works at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. A person who has been exposed to this type of poison would have to take vitamin K for weeks to months to help manage their symptoms.

In Chicago, hospitalized users have tested positive for brodifacoum, said Dr. Allison Arwady, chief medical officer for the city’s department of public health.

Most of the Chicago patients have had blood in their urine and stool. Others have complained of abdominal pain, a possible sign of internal bleeding, Arwady said. Patients started seeing symptoms within days of using synthetic marijuana, but city officials are logging information about their use of synthetic marijuana for the past three months as they seek answers to the outbreak.

Most of the patients across Chicago smoked the fake pot, while others vaped the drug or drank it in tea, she said. Some bought the substance at a convenience store, some got it from a friend while others bought it from someone who sells other drugs.

Health officials and law enforcement officials have been talking to the patients as they try to piece together the network distributing the products.

Authorities have already charged in federal court the owner and two workers of the King Mini Mart at 1303 S. Kedzie Ave. in Lawndale after an undercover officer bought synthetic marijuana sold under names like “Blue Giant,” “Crazy Monkey” and “Matrix,” according to a federal complaint. Fouad Masoud, the owner of the mart, and employees Jamil Abdelrahman Jad Allah and Adil Khan Mohammed each face a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. The store sold $10 packets containing 4 to 5 grams of synthetic pot, according to court records.

Investigators began looking into the Lawndale convenience store after someone who had purchased synthetic pot there got sick. Two of the seized products were sent to a laboratory operated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which detected brodifacoum among the other chemicals, according to court records.

As the number of hospitalizations continued to increase, Arwady urged synthetic marijuana users to seek medical attention at the first signs of bleeding. Even minor bleeding can turn into something serious, she said.

“One person might get a very large dose, one person may get the small dose,” Arwady said. “And all of that would affect the time that it would take to notice the symptoms. We know that the folks coming into care might be only a small percentage of people who have been exposed to it.”


Twitter @ElviaMalagon

DOT 5 Panel Notice

DOT Drug Testing: After January 1, 2018 – Still a 5-Panel

The DOT testing at HHS-certified laboratories is a 5-panel drug test regimen.  As of January 1, 2018, the ‘Opiates’ category was renamed ‘Opioids’:

  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Opioids
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Under ‘Opioids’, previously ‘Opiates’, DOT testing will continue to include confirmatory testing, when appropriate, for Codeine, Morphine, and 6-AM (heroin).  We added initial and confirmatory testing for the semi-synthetic opioids Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone, and Oxymorphone to this Opioids group.  Some brand names for the semi-synthetic opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, Exalgo®.

Under Amphetamines, DOT testing includes confirmatory testing, when appropriate, for Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, MDMA, and MDA.  To this Amphetamines group, we added initial testing for MDA and removed testing for MDEA.

Since January 1st, we have required confirmation testing for 14 drugs under a 5‑panel test.  Broken out, here is what DOT drug testing looks like:

DOT 5 Panel Profile

Marijuana (THC)
~6-AM (Heroin)
Phencyclidine (PCP)

For DOT testing, what does this mean for collectors, laboratories, MROs, and employers after January 1st ,2018?

  • Collectors will continue to check the 5-panel box in Step 1 of the CCF: That is, the box specified for “THC, COC, PCP, OPI, AMP.”
  • Laboratories will:
  • continue to report to MROs the specific drugs / drug metabolites they confirm as positive, and laboratories will add hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone confirmed positives, as appropriate.
  • on their semi-annual reports to DOT and their semi-annual reports to employers add: hydrocodone; hydromorphone; oxycodone; and oxymorphone confirmed positive totals, as appropriate, under Opioids.
  • MROs will continue to report to employers the specific drugs / drug metabolite they verify as positive; and MROs will add hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone verified positives, as appropriate.
  • Employers will continue to provide – on their annual MIS reports – the number of verified positive drug test results in each testing category (i.e., Marijuana, Cocaine, Amphetamines, Opioids, and PCP).
Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2018