Topical products that claim to contain CBD—like shampoos, cosmetics or creams—should not cause any reaction during a drug test because they do not enter the bloodstream. In the case of CBD oils, gummies, teas or transdermal patches, the situation is more complicated. In a test of 84 CBD products obtained online, 18 contained THC.
THC can be detected in a urine test for up to 15 days, depending on how often and how much you use. It leaves the bloodstream in about five hours, but substances your body makes from THC (THC metabolites) can show up for as long as 7 days. CBD tends to stay in the bloodstream from 2 to 5 days, depending on dosage and frequency. If you have been using CBD for a while, it can stay in your body for up to 30 days or more.
Factors in CBD Oil Showing on Drug Screen
CBD products can still be problematic, however, when it comes to drug testing. Though drug tests screen for THC, not CBD, many CBD products contain a trace amount of THC which will be detected in your bloodstream during a drug test.
CBD has taken off as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments. CBD products like CBD oil can be made from either the hemp plant or the cannabis plant, which are closely related varieties of the same cannabis species, Cannabis sativa. CBD products contain a cannabinoid—a chemical—called cannabidiol, which does not make you high. The substance in marijuana that causes a buzz is a different cannabinoid, called THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.
The legality of CBD products can be confusing. CBD products made from certain cannabis plant varieties are legal only in states where marijuana is legal, due to the potential THC content. CBD products made from hemp variety plants are legal throughout the United States as long as they contain less than 0.3% of THC and do not make any medical claims. (A hemp plant is defined as Cannabis sativa that contains less than 0.3% THC.)
“Topical” is a term used to describe products applied to the surface of the body. Balms, ointments, lotions, and salves are all included in this category. What makes them unique is that rather than being consumed orally, they are applied directly to the skin. For that reason, they are not taken as a recreational drug, but instead for exclusively therapeutic use.
The thing is, our skin acts as a protective barrier, which it does an excellent job at. To give you an example of how topicals cannot get you high, consider rubbing alcohol. Those who apply alcohol to a cut are still able to drive afterwards without fear of being over the legal limit. This is because it cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream through their skin. Cannabis topicals work on the same principle. The cannabinoids bind to receptors in our skin, muscle tissue, and nerves, but get absorbed before they could permeate through our skin into the bloodstream. THC only gets users high when it reaches our brains, something it cannot do through the surface of the skin.
WILL TOPICALS GET YOU HIGH?
While a large number of these topicals feature very little THC, many users are worried about the potential risks that accompany them and whether they could trigger a positive result on a drug test. These are just a couple of the challenges faced by patients using marijuana to manage pain in a society still largely unreceptive to their needs.
Passing a drug test could mean the difference between having a job and being unemployed. With medicinal users caught between a rock and a hard place, will the use of cannabis topicals make you fail a drug screening for THC?
With topicals unable to get users high, it would stand to reason that it’s not possible to fail a drug screening as a result of their use. In principle, this is true; but there are some caveats. This study from 2017  confirmed that topicals containing THC did not cause a positive test in both blood and urine.
A male driver was checked during a traffic stop. A blood sample was collected 35min later and contained 7.3ng/mL THC, 3.5ng/mL 11-hydroxy-THC and 44.6ng/mL 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC. The subject claimed to have used two commercially produced products topically that contained 1.7ng and 102ng THC per mg, respectively. In an experiment, three volunteers (25, 26 and 34 years) applied both types of salves over a period of 3days every 2-4h. The application was extensive (50-100cm 2 ). Each volunteer applied the products to different parts of the body (neck, arm/leg and trunk, respectively). After the first application blood and urine samples of the participants were taken every 2-4h until 15h after the last application (overall n=10 urine and n=10 blood samples, respectively, for each participant). All of these blood and urine samples were tested negative for THC, 11-hydroxy-THC and 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC by a GC-MS method (LoD (THC)=0.40ng/mL; LoD (11-hydroxy-THC)=0.28ng/mL; LoD (THC-COOH)=1.6ng/mL;. LoD (THC-COOH in urine)=1.2ng/mL). According to our studies and further literature research on in vitro testing of transdermal uptake of THC, the exclusive application of (these two) topically applied products did not produce cannabinoid findings in blood or urine.
Keywords: Cannabinoids; Gaschromatography mass spectrometry; Hemp oil containing cremes; Topic.