Although research suggests that THC has serious therapeutic potential, it doesn’t always “hit the spot” for all consumers.
Sometimes, legal restrictions keep users from accessing safe THC products, and other times consumers simply don’t care for the psychoactive effects related to THC (which can also bring on paranoia and anxiety for some people).
Ultimately, this leads most consumers to the question, “Do CBD products contain THC?” And if they do, surely they don’t pose the same psychoactive effects as THC products?
The CBD market just isn’t that cut and dry, and there are multiple CBD formulas made with and without THC. This offers consumers a lot of options that may meet their THC-free needs, but the surplus of products can be overwhelming.
Luckily, there are a few easy ways to identify CBD products with and without THC. Here’s what you need to know:
Table of Contents
CBD Products Only Contain THC in Trace Amounts
Can Trace Amounts of THC Get You High?
Can Trace Amounts of THC Cause a Failed Drug Test?
CBD Products Without THC
CBD Products with THC
Verifying THC Content With Lab Tests
CBD products that are legal for manufacture and sale in the United States according to federal law must comply with the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. This law states that hemp products must be made from industrial hemp, a class of hemp that contains less than 0.3 % THC.
That means that most CBD products start with hemp material that contains only trace amounts of THC. In order for CBD products to fall under the protections of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, they must also maintain THC levels of 0.3% or less.
That’s not to say that THC levels won’t vary product to product or brand to brand, and some brands have even been called out for formulations that don’t meet the federal standards for industrial hemp products.
However, high-quality brands work diligently to meet these standards, and most perform batch testing to ensure that the THC levels stay below the allowable amount.
Even though 0.3% isn’t much, many people wonder if these trace amounts of THC can cause psychoactive effects. The answer is tricky, but mostly no.
Generally speaking, people use THC doses of 5mg or higher to achieve recreational psychoactive effects. Although some people may experience mild effects at even lower doses, the amount of THC in most CBD products is still tiny by comparison.
To put it into perspective, a 100mg dose of any CBD product with the maximum allowable THC content of 0.3% only contains 0.3mg of THC. In fact, you’d have to take over 300mg of the same CBD product to reach even 1mg of THC.
Most people take between 5mg and 50mg of CBD at a time, so psychoactive effects are never an issue. In theory, you may experience slight psychoactive effects if you take copious amounts of CBD—but the efficacy of CBD doesn’t necessarily increase with the size of the dose, so there’s no real reason to take that much.
Even though the THC found in most CBD products won’t get you high, some consumers are more concerned with it causing a failed drug test.
These concerns aren’t unprecedented. Drug tests vary greatly in nature, and it is possible that continuous use of THC in trace amounts could cause a “false positive” result. Of course, most sources agree that it’s very unlikely that this will happen.
The U.S. Drug Test Center addressed this issue, noting that “those using extremely high levels of CBD or hemp oil (over 2,000 mg per day), it's possible, though unlikely, that this could produce a "false positive" result on a drug test. Even then, a follow-up test can provide more conclusive results.”
Still, many people (understandably) want to be absolutely sure that a false-positive won’t happen. In this case, consumers may seek CBD products that have no THC at all.
Although there are multiple CBD products that contain no THC, it’s important to understand that the CBD industry is subject to very sparse regulations. This means that the lingo used for labeling and marketing isn’t standardized, and you can’t just take a “no THC” sticker for granted.
Instead, you should investigate every CBD product thoroughly to ensure that the THC content matches the information found on the label. In general, though, there are several types of CBD products that you can look for:
Typically, CBD products with THC are called “Full Spectrum” products. These are the products that utilize the 0.3% allowable THC content.
In some cases, you may see a product labeled as “full spectrum” and “THC free,” which easily leads to confusion. In many cases (but not all), this type of product is better described as “broad spectrum.”
Keep in mind that many products may have no clarification at all regarding the THC content. Usually, it’s a safe bet to assume that the product contains at least trace amounts of THC unless otherwise noted, and you should always verify the THC content with the third-party lab tests, regardless of the label’s claims.
Many brands use lab testing to verify the THC content of every batch, but the best CBD brands outsource these tests to a qualified third-party lab and make the full results available to consumers.
You can use these test results to verify the THC content of each batch. Generally, the cannabinoid profile is the first thing listed under the product information, and will be listed as “parts per gram” or a similar unit of measurement.
In some cases, the lab already did the math to give you the concentration percentage of THC. In other cases, you may have to do a little figuring to see the relative THC content.
Either way, these results should verify the CBD and THC content that’s detailed on the package. If there’s major discrepancies, that’s not a good indicator that you’ve found a trustworthy brand.
CBD products can contain THC, but federal law limits the THC content of legal hemp products to 0.3%.
Even when taking large CBD doses, these trace amounts are typically not high enough to cause psychoactive effects or a failed drug test.
Many consumers who wish to avoid all THC choose CBD isolate products or other THC-free varieties.
Both CBD isolate products and full spectrum products that contain trace amounts of THC may pose their own unique benefits.
Choosing a CBD product, with or without THC, should be an involved process where you carefully vet the brand and view their third-party lab results to ensure transparency and accuracy.
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