Cannabidiol, more commonly referred to as CBD, has been commercially available for several years now. Purchased as an oil, a vape juice, in tablets, lotions, and even as edibles, most people think of CBD as cannabis without the high (as CBD lacks any real amount of THC, the component in cannabis that produces an altered mental state). CBD Oil is completely legal in most parts of the country, and it’s been gaining momentum as an alternative treatment for those who want a more natural way to deal with day-to-day or chronic pain, to recover from difficult training periods, or just to relax and get better sleep.
The problem is that our established science doesn’t always move as fast as our changes to the legal system. Because in the past both marijuana and hemp (which CBD is usually extracted from) were equally illegal. And while both are now legal in several places, having THC in your system is still going to cause repercussions if it shows up on a drug test… the question is, can drug tests tell the difference between your corner store CBD, and cannabis use?
Hammers Aren’t Great At Doing A Scalpel’s Job
Generally speaking, we trust drug tests because they’re scientific. After all, it’s chemistry… chemistry can’t lie to us. That’s true, on the one hand, however, science just gives you the facts. The interpretation of those facts is what can be problematic, particularly in the area of discerning Organic CBD Oil from the presence of other cannabis products in one’s system.
According to the New York Times, this mix-up does happen. Not because the test is wrong, per se, but because what it’s testing for isn’t what people think. The article cites a study released in 2012 in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, which showed that a common method for forensic drug testing doesn’t actually distinguish between the presence of THC and CBD. And when both of those things were illegal to be consuming anyway, the difference between them wasn’t all that important from a practical standpoint… but now that it’s perfectly legal to buy some CBD oil to deal with your joint pain after your shift, losing your job over a false positive in a drug test is a real and serious issue a lot of people face.
The Potential Size of This Problem
There are several factors to consider here. The first is that a scientific test that yields a false positive is already problematic, and needs to be fixed. However, roughly 7 percent of adults in the United States according to the same article reported using completely legal CBD. That may not sound like much, but it translates to about 17 million people. 17 million people, using a completely legal product, who might be subject to a false positive, and consequences for an act they didn’t actually commit.
That might sound hyperbolic, but it’s not. Even in states where cannabis has been legalized for medical and recreational use, there can still be negative consequences for actually using it. Employers can still fire employees who have THC in their results, and child and family services can still be called on those who show evidence of THC. That’s bad enough, but if a test renders a false positive and shows someone’s CBD usage as THC, it could end visitation rights, as almost happened to Mark Pennington when his son’s hair tested positive for THC because his father allowed him to eat honey infused with CBD. Fortunately, he challenged the test, and brought this problem into a clearer light… but lots of people out there today are not that fortunate. After all, even the U.S. Navy has approved the use of CBD Oil.