Drug Tests and CBD Topicals: The Facts

Users of CBD pain relief cream can rest easy – it likely won’t show up in a drug test.

Products containing CBD such as lotions, creams, oils, rubs, and more are becoming increasingly popular among the general public. However, as a cannabis product, there are concerns that CBD could trigger positive readings on a drug test.

Many myths surround CBD that may provide users with misinformation. Below is a list of four key facts any CBD user should know if they have concerns about taking a drug test and using CBD creams or other products infused with CBD.

1. CBD is not THC

Those familiar with the world of cannabis know that THC is the chemical compound found in cannabis that gets people “high.” The highest concentration of THC, by far, is located in the female flowering part of the plant – the “bud.”

Cannabis plants are grown for specific uses in mind. Plants grown for high THC content are specific to people who are using it for recreational or medical purposes, but who are often looking for a completely different experience than users of CBD products.

CBD is not psychoactive. This means it will not make the user feel “high.” It does not affect cognitive abilities, brain function, or sensory perceptions.

In terms of drug tests, there are trace amounts of THC in CBD products, but by law – in the U.S. – they must have less than 0.3% THC, which is not enough to result in a positive result on a drug test.

2. CBD comes from a different part of the cannabis plant

CBD is harvested from stems and seeds of cannabis plants. The lowest concentration of THC in a Cannabis plant is in the stem. THC is found mostly in the buds of the plant.

While there are still trace amounts of THC in all parts of the cannabis plant, CBD products found legally for sale in the U.S. and Canada must have only trace amounts of THC.

Because of the area of the plant in which CBD is harvested, a CDB pain relief rub used consistently, for instance, would not cause a positive drug test.

3. Topicals and drug testing

Topical applications of CBD creams and other products, such as hemp oil for pain, are highly unlikely to cause a positive drug test.

Applying a CBD cream to the skin localizes the application. Even with some THC content, the likelihood that the cream reaches the bloodstream below the dermal layers is very low. This is one reason why CBD topicals are easy to purchase – they are localized to areas of the skin and don’t alter cognitive functionality.

An important aspect to note is that CBD topicals high in THC content can set off a positive reading on a drug test. Specifically, cannabis patches – not creams or lotions – can be more likely to give a positive result on a drug test. These patches, regardless of the THC level, give a more focused and concentrated dose of CBD – and THC – which may move into the bloodstream.

Drug testing and body types – do they matter?

Remember, drug tests are looking for THC, not CBD, so traditional factors affecting THC levels and longevity in the body don’t apply to CBD. For instance, a very low metabolic body type would likely not increase the likelihood of a low THC CBD product triggering a positive drug test.

Due to the low amount of THC in CBD products, which is regulated by U.S. law, any amount of CBD pain relief cream or other CBD products used topically still would not cause a positive drug test.

Unless the CBD user was somehow ingesting large amounts of cream – unlikely – or using higher THC cannabis patches, then the risk of a positive drug test is extremely low. This study from 2017 confirms that topicals using THC does not cause a positive cannabis finding in blood or urine.


CBD creams and other products used topically are highly unlikely to cause a positive drug test. Because of their localized application and the fact they are only used on the skin, and not ingested or inhaled, keep the effects of the product localized and out of the user’s bloodstream.

Regardless, CBD users should use caution. While CBD products bought and sold over the counter or online are legitimate, users should take care to read the labels and know what they are putting on their skin before purchasing a CBD cream or product.

Sharing is caring!