CBD (cannabidiol) has all but effectively solidified its place in the world’s market for natural wellness remedies. It’s used for all kinds of reasons, and has been suggested that it could be used to help maintain and support an active lifestyle. But, with so much growing support for the use of CBD for athletes, a very founded concern has presented itself: can CBD show up on a drug test? Will taking CBD make you fail a drug test?
For many semi-professional and professional athletes, keeping their bodies clean and free of unnatural enhancements is a professional concern. But what causes this fear? And what are the facts that every athlete needs to know before jumping onto the CBD bandwagon?
Let’s start with the most fundamental fact of the matter: drug tests don’t usually test for CBD specifically. Because CBD has been shown to stimulate the endocannabinoid system (ECS) into functioning more effectively, it does not have the same effects as an ‘enhancement’ drug.
The world of professional athleticism knows this too. In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its banned substances list. This means that CBD is not comparable to performance-enhancing drugs like amphetamines, hormones, or illegal drugs. In the U.K, it is now legal to manufacture and sell CBD-related products, and grow hemp plants. This is why there has been such a boom in its popularity.
But there’s a catch. Because hemp plants also contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), in order for CBD to be considered legal, it must contain no more than 0.2% THC.
You can only fail a drug test if you’ve taken a CBD product that also contains an illegal amount of THC — anything above 0.2%. Because of its psychoactivity, it’s banned in most sports and work testing programmes. Unfortunately, THC is extremely difficult to separate from CBD during the extraction process. Therefore, it can appear in trace amounts within CBD products — but not enough to get you high.
In 2016, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that CBD products, if advertised for medical purposes, needed to be licensed. Although licensing for medicine has yet to be permitted, CBD capsules, CBD topicals, and CBD oils can still be sold as long as medical claims are left out of the whole affair. Simply, CBD’s ability to be fully regulated has not been able to keep up with its growth and popularity. There is no standardized legal means of growing hemp, of cultivating it and extracting CBD (yet), or of testing the final product to ensure its purity.
Extracting CBD in the most robust way possible is expensive and labour intensive. Since there is no universal law that demands standardized extraction, manufacturing, or label regulation within the boundaries, there’s a chance that your CBD may contain things that it shouldn’t.
For this reason, if you’re competing in professional sporting events and are interested in using CBD, you should opt for a product made from third-party laboratory tested CBD that can prove the absence of THC.
Don’t worry, making sure your CBD products are within the legal threshold doesn’t entail any actual effort from the consumer except being a bit savvy. Many reputable CBD companies have tackled this gap in regulation by taking matters into their own hands.
To make sure that the CBD product you are interested in is totally compliant, here are some crucial things to look for:
The idea of ‘seed to shelf’ standards is a concept that is becoming common practice among CBD companies. More robust extraction methods like CO2 extraction or food-grade ethanol extraction can tell you a lot about CBD’s journey to your product. These methods are safer, and ensure that CBD remains as pure as possible before becoming consumable.
Third party CBD lab test reports have become the rogue gold standard of excellence in the unregulated world of CBD. To openly provide such information to consumers is the best way to make sure the CBD brand is honest. Because there aren’t many specific guidelines on CBD products yet, third-party testing gives consumers the facts about everything contained in your product such as THC.
The rule of thumb is to go with what you know. If you know the country where your CBD product was sourced, you can make a more informed decision about its quality. If you know that growing standards are robust in the country where the CBD is grown, chances are you can trust other aspects of your CBD’s journey as well. If you’re unsure, it’s best practice to leave it.
Arguably the best way to discover if a CBD product is right for you is to see if their company is totally willing to answer any questions you may have, and supply any information you may need to make an informed decision. It’s only natural to have questions when choosing these products, and if a company can’t, or won’t answer them, it’s best to look elsewhere for what you need.
This makes perfect sense. If a company can demonstrate that they fully support their product, this is a good chunk of proof that their product is indeed worth standing behind.
At the end of the day, it’s up to consumers to make sure that they don’t buy low-quality CBD products and expose themselves to the risks and potential for THC contamination of their products. As regulators attempt to catch up with CBD’s astronomical popularity, consumer consciousness and brand transparency are our best weapons against questionable CBD products.
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