The growth of the global CBD market has been pronounced in recent times, and this trend is set to continue into the future.
According to Technavio, analysts are forecasting that this sector will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31% between now and 2022, with markets in the UK and the U.S. likely to explode.
Despite this, CBD is a relatively new supplement, and one that some people are naturally reluctant to consume.
One of the reasons for this is the dreaded workplace drug test, as while we’re all aware of CBD’s unique health benefits not all of us understand whether or not this will show up as a forbidden or prohibited substance.
We’ll explore this in greater detail below, while asking whether or not CBD is revealed by drug testing and how employees are likely to react.
Starting with the Basics – What is a Drug Test?
In generic terms, a drug test provides the technical analysis of a biological specimen, in order to determine the presence of specified parent drugs or their unique metabolites.
Or in layman's terms, it’s a test (which is carried out one of the ways below), that shows if you have certain drugs in your system.
However, the process of testing is far more complex and diverse than this broad definition suggests, and while employers are beginning to recognise its importance they must also strive hard to identify the most relevant methods to suit their requirements.
Here’s a breakdown of the various drug testing methods, each of which is based on securing a specific biological specimen:
- Saliva Testing: Saliva testing is another nonintrusive method, and one that is becoming increasingly popular across the globe. The primary issue with saliva testing is that it may only be effective (and accurate) when detecting very recent drug usage, making it unsuitable for a number of workplace applications. According to studies, saliva testing may only detect cannabinoids when they’ve been consumed four to 10 hours beforehand.
- Blood Testing: Blood testing is the single most accurate method of drug testing, and one that provides a real-time breakdown of individual substances and metabolites in the human body. This method can even detect the precise amount of drugs in the system at the time of testing, with its main drawbacks being its cost and extremely invasive nature.
- Hair Testing: One of the most underused drug testing methods, hair testing is based on the premise that metabolites enter the blood vessels of the scalp before being filtered and retained by hair follicles. However, the primary issue with this method is accuracy, as it only detects historic drug usage and may produce positive tests for subjects who consumed cannabis months before. This negates the purpose of testing, which is designed to test an employee’s real-time suitability for work.
- Urine Testing: The most common method in the workplace is urine testing, and there are several reasons for this. Firstly, all metabolites (which are the structures produced by the metabolism of all ingested substances) use urine as the main excretory route from the body. Secondly, the process of securing a urine sample is simple and nonintrusive, making it ideal for a busy workplace environment.
- Perspiration Testing: We close with one of the newest testing methods, and one that is performed using a sweat patch that is affixed to the skin for a two-week period. However, this is an extremely costly and time-consuming method of testing, and one that’s primarily used to observe people on probation or those involved in child custody disputes.
Despite the evolution of these methods, mandatory drug testing at work has remained a source of controversy among some. It has been argued that this contravenes the Human Rights Act, for example, while others have suggested that it continues to erosion of civil liberties in the workplace.
This is why mandatory tests are restricted to a number of specific marketplaces and circumstances, including people who work directly with children or vulnerable individuals. Take teachers and intensive care nurses, for example, who may be required to submit to regular testing along with other healthcare professionals such as doctors.
Similarly, mandatory drug testing may also be used in safety critical industries, including those that involve the operation of heavy or complex machinery.
From an employer perspective, employers also have a duty to use drug testing methods responsibly and appropriately at all times. This means limiting mandatory testing to the type of staff members mentioned above, while also refraining from targeting individuals unfairly.
Ultimately, mandatory testing should only ever be used to safeguard members of the general public and each subjects’ colleagues, rather than a method of observing people’s behaviour outside of the workplace.
What Substances are Screened During a Drugs Test?
We’ve briefly referenced CBD and cannabis earlier in the piece, but drug testing procedures have been designed to detect a number of different substances and metabolites.
Most interestingly, different testing methods can be used to detect a variable range of substances, so employers will often select a viable technique that will help them to achieve their precise objectives.
Also, when performing a drugs test, they don't actually test for cannabis, they test for delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC in layman's terms), which is the compound in cannabis that gets you high.
In terms of coverage, urine testing is by far the most effective technique. This painless and accessible testing method can detect a huge range of substances and compounds, while it will also deliver results within a matter of days (and in some cases instantly).
- Marijuana (THC)
- Opioids (Narcotics)
Urine testing can even be used to detect blood-alcohol levels in some instances, but it’s far easier for employers to sample this using a simple breathalyser test.
To provide some context here, salvia testing has a far more restrictive reach, with this method only capable of detecting alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines. Remember, this testing method can only detect recent drug use with any accuracy, so it’s only really effective in unique circumstances.
Blood, hair and perspiration testing are similarly restricted in terms of the substances that they can detect, which at least partially explains why urine is the preferred biological specimen for employees.
So Will CBD Show on a Drugs Test?
A drugs test will identify the presence of THC (delta-nine Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is a psychoactive agent and one of at least 113 cannabinoids featured in cannabis.
This is the individual compound that will leave you feeling ‘high’ and euphoric after smoking marijuana, while it’s also the single biggest reason why cannabis remains an illegal and prohibited substance in the UK.
However, CBD will not show on a drugs test. High-quality CBD oils or isolates should contain no more than 0.3% THC as part of its composition, while some products are even sold entirely free from this compound.
At CBD Asylum, our CBD products are completely free from THC and therefore will not show on a drugs test.
You’ll notice that we’ve included marijuana on our list of detectable substances, but from a technical perspective, it’s important to recognise that employers are not looking for this directly.
If you commit to a urine drug test, this method will pinpoint active compounds that are indicative of a positive result.
THC is one of the most commonly recognised compounds in this respect, as it confirms that the subject has used cannabis within a detectable period (which may span a relatively long time in this instance as the substance is fat soluble and capable of being stored in cells).
Even if you use CBD products that have trace levels of THC, these are unlikely to register in your drug test results. This means that anyone who consumes CBD as a daily supplement is unlikely to fail a standard drug test, regardless of the precise method used by an employer or independent healthcare professionals.
After all, an employer would only be interested in outlawing potentially mind-altering substances or supplements that could impact negatively on your performance in the workplace. The non-psychoactive nature of CBD, therefore, makes it a safe and viable substance, and one that won’t raise any eyebrows.
We must also consider the fact that CBD is legal in the UK and most countries around the globe, it has also been approved by the World Anti-doping Association (WADA).
While the Cannabidiol compound was included on the organisation’s comprehensive list of banned substances until 2016, and detailed review saw it finally removed last year.
The Last Word – Heralding CBD as a Safe and Legal Substance
While some workplaces and industries may require their employees to submit to mandatory drug testing, very little is known about this or the processes used to extract samples.
This is why some people have been loath to consume CBD, despite its rising popularity and the immense range of health benefits that it offers to users.
However, we can see that CBD is an entirely safe and non-psychoactive compound and one that will not cause you to fail any conceivable type of drug test. Employers are also unlikely to have an issue with you taking daily doses of Cannabidiol, as this compound will not impair your performance in the workplace.
So even if you’re required to submit to mandatory drug testing by your employer, there’s no reason why you cannot embrace the benefits of CBD and safely integrate this into your daily dietary regime.