Does CBD Flower Have Any THC? – Federal & State Laws 2021

Pile of purple and green hemp flower buds covered in trichomes and orange hairs.

CBD flower offers promising new benefits, but given its resemblance to marijuana, it begs the question: does CBD flower contain THC? If so, how much? 

CBD flower naturally contains THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) since all cannabis plant family’s variants naturally contain both CBD and THC. However, hemp plants grown for CBD products are bred to contain low THC levels (per federal guidelines, this should be 0.3% by dry weight). 

Understanding the legality of CBD flower can be a complicated process, and it is a topic on which many would like certainty rather than best-guesses. You also may be wondering if CBD could cause a “high” or other psychoactive effects. Here, we break down how much THC is in CBD flower, the effects of smoking CBD flower, and whether CBD flower can negatively impact important drug tests. 

How much THC can legally be in CBD flower?

To answer this question, we’ll have to get into the federal laws that made hemp and CBD production legal in the first place.

Since the 20th century, marijuana has been classified as a schedule 1 substance, meaning the federal government closely controls it due to its psychoactive nature. That’s why possession, cultivation, or sale of marijuana can land you in legal hot water. Marijuana’s status has not changed on a federal level, despite individual states voting to legalize or decriminalize the plant.

However, the 2018 Farm Bill created new federal guidelines that re-define legal hemp as cannabis plants and products containing no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. Hemp growers have had to create specific strains of cannabis for this purpose, which they breed to be high in CBD content but low in THC since all forms of cannabis — both marijuana and hemp — naturally contain both compounds.

The penalty for growing hemp with more than this percentage of THC is high, so CBD flower producers tend not to risk it. However, CBD extracts like gummies and oils may be more variable and may sometimes contain mislabelled or unlabelled volumes of illegal THC.

The actual amount of THC contained in a specific batch of flower can vary depending on the strain. For example, if you’d like to take advantage of the entourage effect and the synergistic interactions between THC and other cannabinoids, then you can find flower cultivated to include more THC. But if you are concerned about using THC due to drug testing or other worries about the compound, then you can also find strains with as little THC as possible.

As always, different strains by different cultivars can affect the quality of your experience, so make sure to do your research on a brand before buying from them. (We’ve compiled the most trustworthy CBD brands here.)

Blonde women wearing a green hoodie and the camera focused on smoke floating in front of her.

Will CBD flower make me high?

Due to the federal government’s strict THC guidelines, CBD has next to no chance of getting you high. THC is the compound to which marijuana owes its psychoactive (or high-inducing) properties. But 0.3% THC by dry weight is not nearly enough to cause those sorts of effects (though it is enough to grant the beneficial effects of the entourage effect). 

Additionally, CBD itself is not psychoactive. In fact, CBD can mellow out highs and reduce some of the more negative aspects of THC, such as paranoia, anxiety, or nausea. CBD’s antipsychotic effects may even have important implications for mental health disorders that can have psychotic features, such as schizophrenia. 

However, it’s important to note that not all CBD and hemp product brands are reputable or willing to follow federal guidelines. While some states institute strict testing of hemp products and have a great deal of legal overhead, and while hemp products are still under the FDA’s regulatory influence, the fact of the matter is that CBD is a very new industry with some cracks in regulatory procedures. As a result, some brands don’t commit to the third party testing necessary to ensure that the THC is below the legal limit. 

If you have any worries about THC content — for instance, if you have adverse reactions to THC highs, have to take employer or state-mandated drug tests, or live in a state where marijuana is not yet legal — opt for a mainstream and reputable brand. A good CBD company should be able to provide you with proof of their product’s legitimacy through a piece of paperwork called a Certificate of Analysis (or a CoA). These are third-party lab reports which tell consumers about the concentrations of compounds, such as THC and CBD, extent in the product they’re buying. In such a new industry, CoAs are a great tool to help consumers stay informed and keep businesses accountable. 

Does CBD flower show up on a drug test?

In general, it is improbable that consuming any CBD product will cause you to fail a drug test. However, it is still technically possible, so it’s essential to be mindful of what you’re buying and using.

First and foremost, CBD itself will almost certainly never cause a failed drug test. Any standard, multi-paneled drug test will not include the compound, so the test administrator would have to order a test that specifically detects the compound’s presence. There would be no reason for an employer or other test administrator to do this. CBD is non-psychoactive, non-addictive, and perfectly legal, which are all three properties that should not affect your ability to be an effective employee or student. 

However, multi-panel drug tests do generally test for the presence of THC. This can cause some problems for CBD users, though again, it’s unlikely given how low the concentration of THC is in legal CBD and hemp products. CBD may cause you to fail a drug test for one of two reasons: 

  1. CBD is a young industry that is not always perfectly regulated, which means that some CBD distributors may sell products that appear to agree with the 0.3% limitation but are, in reality, high in THC. This is unlikely but possible if you’re buying from shady or disreputable brands that don’t put transparency and consumer health first. Always look out for a CoA or other certification if you’re in doubt. 
  1. THC is fat-soluble, which means that the compound is stored in fat and can take a long time to leave your system altogether, even once the noticeable effects have wholly passed. Smoking CBD flower or using CBD products containing THC very often could potentially lead to a buildup of the compound in your body, leaving you with more detectable THC levels that may get flagged in a drug test. However, this is still somewhat unlikely. 

You can avoid these risks by only buying CBD flower from trusted brands that are clear about their CBD flower’s purity and by occasionally taking breaks from smoking to let the THC clear out of your body. If you’re still worried about the potential for being flagged on a drug test, you can opt for CBD products without THC

Takeaway

Like all products and plants from the Cannabis Sativa family, CBD flower does contain some amount of THC. However, CBD products must legally contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight, so individuals who worry about having a “bad high” (or any high at all) do not need to stress. CBD can potentially offer some complications in drug tests, but rarely and only for very chronic users. 

Smokable flower offers a variety of significant health and wellness benefits, so if you’re looking to have your best CBD experience, consider browsing our directory of smokable CBD flower from a wide variety of affordable, high-quality flower companies. 

Josh Murdoch

Josh Murdoch

I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and although it is incurable, CBD and THC have been allowing me to live my life as a healthy adult now for years. For that reason, I’ve dedicated my career to spreading the good news about cannabinoids. Currently, I work for a vertically integrated cannabis company called Unrivaled Brands that operates in California, Oregon, and Nevada. Previously, I worked on two cannabis farms in northern California, one of which was located in the famous Humboldt County. I’ve also managed a medical cannabis delivery service in Marin County, California. I created CBD Facilitator to share what I’ve learned, and to recommend the best products that I have found in this chaotic market.

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