Does CBD Cream Show in a Drug Test?

CBD has taken the wellness world by storm. As the other “main” cannabinoid, next to THC, consumers far and wide have flocked to CBD due to its healing qualities and potential benefits, without the psychotropic high that THC offers.

Today, you can easily find any THC-dominant product — like flower, concentrates, edibles, and topicals — in CBD-dominant varieties. And with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, it’s easier now more than ever to find a wide array of hemp-derived cannabinoid products to purchase online from the comfort of your own home.

CBD creams and topicals specifically can be great to ease aches and pains, but before setting off on this alternative path, many consumers may find themselves wondering: Will CBD cream show up on a drug test? If you’re one of them, you’re in luck! Today we’re taking a closer look at CBD topicals and whether or not you need to worry about them showing up on a drug screen.

woman holding a jar of cbd cream

Key Takeaways

  • CBD creams and topicals work wherever they are applied on the body and only penetrate layers of the skin, rather than going into the bloodstream.
  • Because hemp-derived topicals do not enter the bloodstream, CBD from topical use will not show up in a drug test.

    What is CBD Cream?

    CBD cream is synonymous with terms like CBD topical or CBD lotion. It describes a topical formulation high in CBD, made for application directly to the skin. Cream topicals are different from other hemp- and cannabis-derived products like edibles or smokable products, which lead to full-body effects.

    Topicals, rather, have a local effect, so they work where they are applied on the body. They are also more effective if they are used routinely, rather than applying large amounts periodically.

    How Do CBD Topicals Work?

    With ingestible or edible products, the cannabinoids work by absorbing through the GI tract, then going to your stomach then your liver, before hitting your bloodstream and your brain. Inhalable products deliver THC to your lungs, which then pass it directly to your bloodstream and your brain. With sublingual products, like tinctures, cannabinoids seep through the membranes inside your mouth and enter the bloodstream that way.

    CBD topicals, and other topicals made from cannabinoids, work a bit differently. When CBD creams or salves are applied, they penetrate the dermal and subdermal skin layers, eventually binding to cell receptors in the tissue, skin, and nerves. The effects are limited to the area where a topical is applied, and these cannabinoids don’t enter the bloodstream.

    Do CBD Topicals Get You High?

    CBD in does not induce the mind-altering effects that THC does. When it comes to CBD topicals, they work specifically in the area they are applied. While that feeling of relief may be relaxing, it’s not going to alter perceptions in a way that smoking or ingesting THC may.

    Because cannabinoids do not enter the bloodstream, topical products simply don’t create that same feeling that edibles and inhalable products do, though that’s also why topicals are so effective in managing symptoms in specific areas. Patches are the primary exception, as they do deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream.


    Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

    Drug tests typically look for THC metabolites specifically. CBD is not usually targeted on drug tests and will not cause you to fail one. But the answer here can get a bit more complicated.

    Even hemp-derived CBD products are allowed to have 0.3% THC by dry weight. While a product may not have prominent amounts of hemp-derived THC or be advertised as high-CBD, it may still contain trace amounts of hemp-derived THC. Full-spectrum products retain all of the other cannabinoids and compounds, including THC; broad-spectrum products retain all other cannabinoids and compounds, except THC; and isolate products contain specific cannabinoids, with all other cannabinoids and compounds absent.

    Many consumers prefer full-spectrum products because they help to encourage the entourage effect, which deems that compounds in hemp and cannabis are most effective and can create unique effects when they work with one another. That said, even those trace amounts of cannabis may show up in a drug test.

    Some consumers may prefer to stick with broad-spectrum and isolate products when it comes to CBD, which avoids the possibility of a positive THC test.

    Do CBD Topical Cream Show Up on a Drug Test?

    If a topical contains only CBD and no THC, you are most-likely in the clear. However, it is important to know that some lower-quality drug tests may not accurately discern between cannabinoids like THC and CBD. 

    Using a full-spectrum CBD gummy or oil, your chances of failing a drug test are still fairly low (though it’s surely possible). With CBD topicals, and even THC topicals, research has shown that topically applied products do not produce cannabinoid findings in blood or urine. Again, this is because topical products do not enter the bloodstream.

    That said, research surrounding cannabis, hemp, and cannabinoids is still in its infancy. Based on what we know, even topicals with THC should not be detectable in a high-quality drug test. It’s truly your safest bet of any hemp-derived cannabinoid product in this regard. Though, if you have employment contingent upon regular THC drug tests, it’s definitely wise to approach any hemp-derived products containing THC with caution.

    Final Thoughts

    CBD creams and topicals can be a great solution for those seeking targeted relief. Drug screens don’t test for CBD, and because of the way topicals work, CBD topicals are not a cause for concern when it comes to drug testing.

    The major factor to consider when it comes to CBD and drug tests is whether or not hemp-derived products contain even trace amounts of THC. Still, when it comes to topicals and creams with CBD and even THC, research shows that it will not show up on drug tests.


    Hess, C., Krämer, M., & Madea, B. (2017). Topical application of THC containing products is not able to cause positive cannabinoid finding in blood or urine. Forensic Science International, 272, 68–71.

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