How much THC is in CBD oil? The answer may surprise you. Explore the relationship between the two most controversial cannabis ingredients. Full spectrum CBD products contain no more than 0.3% THC, which can cause you to fail a drug test, but not enough to get you high. Learn from Dr. Mudd, PharmD.
How Much THC is in CBD Oil?
The short answer is, almost none. Most of the time, but not always.
To clear up the confusion, it’s best to go deeper and explore the relationship between the two most popular and controversial ingredients extracted from the cannabis plant.
CBD and THC are two cannabis-derived compounds known mostly by their three-letter abbreviations. They are the two compounds that swirl at the center of the hemp conversation that touches on health, wellness, and recreational marijuana use versus natural hemp therapy. Understanding what CBD and THC actually are, and where they come from, is the key to unraveling the mystery and confusion surrounding the two most popular (and misunderstood) ingredients that come from the cannabis plant.
The answer is no, but it’s helpful to know more about these two cannabinoids because some CBD oils do contain THC.
The History of Hemp
The cannabis Sativa plant is full of chemical compounds and many of them have possible therapeutic applications. The medicinal properties of cannabis have been known for centuries, but only recently has the plant come to the forefront of the health and wellness community as a natural supplement with therapeutic applications, as opposed to a recreational drug without any specific health benefit.
For decades, the cannabis plant was known only as the source of the drug marijuana. Its many other applications were overshadowed by its (usually negative) association with marijuana and drug use.
At the end of the 20 th century all that began to change as modern society began to rediscover the therapeutic benefits of hemp – the strain of the cannabis plant that contains almost no THC. There are different strains of the cannabis plant species, purposely cultivated to produce differing amounts of unique compounds. These compounds are called cannabinoids.
There are over 100 distinct cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant that can produce different physiological effects in the human body, but two of them – THC and CBD – get by far the most attention.
THC is the most (in)famous one of the two, while CBD is a popular up-and-coming supplement generating a lot of discussion in the health and wellness community. They are chemically very similar, so the obvious question everyone has is: is CBD “marijuana-lite” and can you get high from it?
What is CBD?
CBD is an abbreviation for Cannabidiol, one of many naturally occurring compounds cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Botanical oil containing the cannabinoid CBD is purposely extracted and purified to produce many different kinds of products.
A multitude of therapeutic effects are informally associated with CBD and a wide variety of products contain CBD oil, but it can be difficult to find out exactly what the benefits of CBD are. This is because the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved CBD to treat any specific condition, and retailers of CBD products are reluctant to list its purported benefits.
Users of CBD are a different story. Millions of people are using CBD products and reporting a range of benefits, but until the FDA approves CBD for over-the-counter use, retailers of CBD products will hesitate to openly make therapeutic claims about the cannabinoid. One thing is certain however, CBD oil is not a psychoactive compound like THC, nor is it a milder form of marijuana. Using CBD will not result in a euphoric high and it is not used recreationally, but rather therapeutically.
So what actually are you buying when you purchase CBD oil or a CBD product? You are getting a cannabis-derived product that is chemically similar to THC but has none of the psychoactive, euphoric, or addictive properties. CBD products are used strictly as a wellness supplement, similar to how medicinal hemp products are used. You’ll notice that many hemp products have a CBD version of the same product. This indicates the two products are identical, save for the presence of the single cannabinoid, CBD.
The cannabis plant can contain both THC and CBD, but the plant’s genetics typically predispose it toward one or the other. In other words, cannabis plants that are bred specifically for THC potency will naturally have much lower CBD content, and vice versa. Strains of the plant cultivated to produce CBD oil have almost no THC. The marijuana strains of cannabis on the other hand are cultivated to produce very high amounts of THC, and other cannabinoids like CBD are incidental and usually low in overall percentage.
What is THC?
THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol. It too is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant and the one for which it is most famous. In high enough concentrations, THC produces mild to moderate psychoactive effects in the human brain and can cause feelings of euphoria. The marijuana strain of the cannabis plant is purposely cultivated to produce high amounts of THC, far more than the strains of the plant that produce hemp and CBD oil. When a product contains a high amount of the cannabinoid THC, it becomes a controlled substance subject to state laws.
The purpose of cultivating the marijuana strain of the cannabis plant is very different from the hemp versions of the plant. These plants are engineered by growers to produce as much THC as possible, to supply a thriving medical and recreational marijuana marketplace. Products made from the high-THC strains of cannabis are sold in state-regulated dispensaries and monitored by government agencies.
The most important distinction to make between THC and CBD is the purpose of using them. THC is purposely used for its psychoactive effects, often recreationally, and its legality varies from state to state. On the other hand, CBD oil is a wellness supplement that has no psychoactive effects. It’s used for nutritional and therapeutic purposes and is completely legal to buy and use in the U.S.
So does CBD oil contain THC or not?
The most common question about CBD oil is whether it contains THC. Related to this are questions about CBD’s possible psychoactive effects and if it shows up on drug tests. The answers vary depending on a variety of factors – but nearly all products marketed as “CBD” or which use CBD oil as their primary ingredient have zero or only trace amounts of THC.
Federal laws stipulate that widely-available CBD oil must contain less than 0.3% THC to be considered legal, but there is a subclass of CBD products labeled “ Full Spectrum ” (more on that below) that have more THC in them. Unless the CBD product is specifically labeled as Full Spectrum, you can be fairly confident that the product you are getting contains almost no THC.
What about “Full Spectrum” CBD?
While searching or shopping for CBD products you will probably encounter a family of products called “Full Spectrum.” Full Spectrum is an industry euphemism that is really saying: “This product contains some THC.” Full Spectrum CBD products are usually made from THC-bearing marijuana strains of cannabis and use parts of the entire plant in order to purposely include all the naturally occurring cannabinoids, notably THC and CBD.
This means Full Spectrum CBD products do contain some amount of THC. The amount varies, but it may be enough to produce a psychoactive effect. Sometimes full-spectrum CBD products list the amount of THC in milligrams or a percentage, but you should know using any product labeled Full Spectrum will contain some THC and may possibly show up on a drug test.
The term “Full Spectrum” was created to take some of the stigmas out of purchasing a THC-bearing supplement. Full Spectrum products have significantly less THC than products openly marketing themselves as medicinal or recreational marijuana, but it gets murky when it comes to knowing exactly how much THC is in the product. Users of Full Spectrum CBD products are aware of the THC and purposely want a supplement that contains it along with CBD and other cannabinoids.
Pure CBD Oil: No THC
While some users are okay with the small amounts of THC in Full Spectrum CBD products, many customers want to ensure the CBD products they use are completely free of THC. CBD oil producers have created a pure form of hemp oil that contains CBD, but 0% THC. This THC-free hemp oil is called “Pure CBD Oil.” It’s made from hemp strains already low in THC and is further purified to remove any trace amounts of THC. Pure CBD Oil contains an abundance of the cannabinoid CBD but since it is THC-free, users can be confident there is no chance of accidentally receiving a trace amount of THC.
Does CBD Oil Have THC? Ask a Pharmacist
When people want to try CBD oil, they may have a lot of questions about THC content. Thanks to the stigma the government placed on marijuana in the early 20th century, many people remain wary when it comes to THC exposure. So naturally people want to know: Does CBD oil contain THC?
The answer: Federally legal full spectrum CBD oil does in fact contain trace amounts of THC. 1
But you may be surprised to learn how important THC is to get maximum benefits from CBD products!
What is THC?
Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 2 is an intoxicating compound that causes the euphoric effect commonly associated with marijuana intoxication. It can cause mild hallucinations, and it can distort space and time. 3 It’s been the fuel of the American counter-culture since before Woodstock.
Until just a couple of years ago, any amount of THC was 100 percent illegal under federal law. But the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, otherwise known as the Farm Bill, changed the legality of THC to not entirely illegal. This legislation changed the definition of “hemp” to mean any cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3 percent THC. As a result, hemp products with low THC content, like full spectrum CBD oil, are now legal at the federal level. 4
Since the passage of this legislation, hemp-derived CBD products containing trace amounts of THC hit the market hard and fast. So fast that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to pass any regulations on hemp-derived CBD products. The CBD industry anticipated the FDA to issue regulations in 2019, but years later Americans are still waiting.
What is CBD?
THC and CBD are just two of nearly 150 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plants. 5 Cannabidiol (CBD) is the main compound thought responsible for many of the potential health benefits cannabis plants may provide. 6
Both CBD and THC are known to interact with the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, a network of cannabinoid receptors in the human body. The cannabinoid receptors in this system interact with these compounds to relay messages between cells to bring the systems of the body into balance, according to preliminary research. This may result in higher quality sleep cycles, an enhanced feeling of well-being, and an improvement on day-to-day aches and pains, according to anecdotal reports. 7
CBD and THC interact with the ECS in different ways. THC more commonly affects CB1 receptors in the brain, hence the feelings of “getting high.” 8 And CBD tends to bond with CB2 receptors elsewhere in the body. Because of this, CBD has many different potential applications 9 and can be used in tinctures, capsules, edibles, and lotions.
Does CBD have THC?
Any legal CBD product labeled “full spectrum” will contain THC in trace amounts. 13 There are also CBD products labeled “THC-free,” such as “broad spectrum,” and “CBD isolate.” 14 Broad spectrum hemp products have the THC removed, leaving it with only CBD and a few minor cannabinoids. CBD isolate products contain just the single CBD compound by itself. 15
However, these products are considered to have inferior efficacy when compared to full spectrum CBD products, according to anecdotal reports and preliminary research. The trace amounts of THC found in our CBD products is not enough to get you high.
Does CBD Oil Need THC to Be Effective?
Studies show that all cannabinoids work best when they are working together. The combined effect of all cannabinoids together is known as the “entourage effect.” 16 A CBD oil that is labeled as “full spectrum” will have the full range of cannabinoids and provide the best results. 17 So choosing to avoid THC could result in wasting money on an inferior product.
Can I Fail a Drug Test from CBD Oil?
Since CBD products are becoming more prevalent in mainstream wellness supplements, some companies have implemented CBD Drug Test guidelines. These suggest a cutoff amount where THC content can be admissible in negligible quantities.
There are new drug tests that can determine that the trace amounts of THC are low enough to be consistent with full spectrum CBD oil use. However, there are still lots of workplaces that do not yet have access to these more sophisticated drug tests. And there are those that don’t care to update their policies regarding CBD use at all.
So the chances are high that you will get a positive drug test result because of CBD oil, regardless of if you try to avoid THC by using broad spectrum products or not. It is best to consult with your company’s HR department to determine if their drug tests can tell the difference between legal CBD use and illegal medical marijuana drug use. When talking to HR about using CBD oils or tinctures, always get their guidance in writing.
CBD Oil Side Effects
CBD can be taken safely in large doses without risk of overdose since it does not affect the circulatory or respiratory systems, and CBD oil doesn’t have intoxicating effects. 18 However, some people may experience negative side effects when they take too much CBD. Research also suggests that many CBD oil side effects could be the result of an interaction with prescription medications. 19
Side effects from too much CBD oil include drowsiness or an upset stomach that could result in diarrhea. 20 Negative side effects can also occur if you are allergic to medical cannabis . One of the most important things to note when taking CBD oil – there is zero risk of overdose from cannabis products, and most side effects can be avoided with careful use.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
Yes, CBD is legal under federal law so long as it has small amounts of THC, no more than 0.3 percent. 21 However, cannabis laws are constantly evolving at a rapid pace at the state level. At least 36 states have legalized marijuana for medical use by registered patients with prescriptions. At least 11 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. 22 But there are some states that aren’t even on board with CBD legalization.
It is best to check the cannabis laws for your state (and the state laws of places you may travel to) when seeking any cannabis plant derived CBD product. You also want to purchase from a reputable company that provides third party lab reports to prove the CBD content, and the THC content, of all their products.
How to Shop for CBD Oil
Family-owned Cornbread Hemp is the first CBD oil brand from Kentucky to offer USDA certified organic CBD oils. We are dedicated to providing high quality CBD oil made from Kentucky-grown USDA organic hemp flowers. This is different from many companies who don’t choose organic or source their hemp from overseas, and from companies who use stems and leaves in their extract.
The supercritical CO2 extraction method that many companies employ can produce a harsh, bitter product. Cornbread Hemp chooses to use organic sugarcane ethanol to gently extract cannabinoids from organic hemp flower. This potent extract is mixed with organic MCT coconut oil for optimum bioavailability. As a result, their USDA certified organic CBD oils are smooth and taste great naturally – no need for additional flavors or sweeteners.
Third-party lab test results are available via scannable QR code leading to each CBD product’s certificate of authenticity. The Kentucky laboratory they partner with does a thorough job of testing Cornbread Hemp CBD products for the presence of pesticides, residual solvents, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and microbial contaminants. Lab test results also prove each product’s potency, both for THC content and CBD content. All of Cornbread Hemp’s products are full spectrum and guaranteed to less than 0.3 percent THC.
Conclusion: Does CBD Oil Contain THC?
So, does CBD oil contain THC? It depends. Federally legal full spectrum CBD oil contains no more than 0.3 percent THC. 23 This a high enough percentage that you will reap the benefits when it comes to your rest, stress, and well-being. These trace amounts of THC in CBD oil are not enough to make anyone feel “high.” However, even trace amounts of THC in CBD products may trigger a positive drug test result.
You may think you need to avoid THC for whatever reason; maybe you still think you can pass drug tests with THC free products, or maybe you’re still skeptical of THC use because of its years of legal turmoil. Just keep in mind that the full wellness properties of marijuana derived CBD products can only happen with all of the cannabinoids working together.
For the best results when using CBD oil, look for an organic full spectrum product from Cornbread Hemp. Their legal hemp oil CBD products have the widest range of cannabinoids, including small amounts of THC.
About the Author
Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD
A board certified oncology pharmacist with 25 years experience at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. Leslie Mudd now serves as the Cornbread Hemp resident pharmacist and medical expert. Read Dr. Mudd’s full author bio here.
Does CBD Oil Have THC FAQ’s
Can you get high with CBD?
Full-spectrum CBD oils that are made legally with less than 0.3% THC do not have nearly enough THC content to get someone high. THC is the psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant that provides a euphoric sensation, but studies show that CBD actually helps to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.
Can CBD oil make you fail a drug test?
The highest quality CBD oils contain a full spectrum of cannabinoids, which includes up to 0.3% THC. As a result, anyone taking full-spectrum CBD oil products could be at risk of failing a drug test. Speak with your doctor and HR department first before taking CBD oil if you think you may be drug tested.
What can CBD lab tests tell you?
Most labs test CBD products for the presence of pesticides, residual solvents, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and microbial contaminants. Lab test results also prove each product’s potency, both for THC content and CBD content.
1) Hudak, J., 2018. The Farm Bill, Hemp Legalization And The Status Of CBD: An Explainer. [online] Brookings. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/ Accessed July 29, 2020. 2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence
2) Atakan Z. Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2012;2(6):241-254. doi:10.1177/2045125312457586. Under ‘brief history of the biochemistry of the cannabis plant’ section, 1st paragraph, 5th sentence
3) What Is – and What Causes – the Marijuana “High”? – Medical Marijuana – ProCon.org. Medical Marijuana. https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/questions/what-is-and-what-causes-the-marijuana-high/. Published October 14, 2019. Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘DEA section’, 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence and under ‘CESAR’ section, 2nd paragraph
4) Hudak, J., 2018. The Farm Bill, Hemp Legalization And The Status Of CBD: An Explainer. [online] Brookings. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/ Accessed July 29, 2020. 2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence
5) Nccih.nih.gov. 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know Accessed July 30, 2020. Under ‘how many cannabinoids are there?’ section, 1st sentence
6) Maroon J, Bost J. Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Surg Neurol Int. 2018;9:91. Published 2018 Apr 26. doi: 10.4103/sni.sni_45_18. Under ‘neuroprotective benefits of Phyto cannabinoids’ section, 1st paragraph, 2nd and 3rd sentence