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Drug Testing News

Can Some Hemp Products Trigger a Positive Drug Test?

Ingesting legal hemp seed oil may cause an individual to test positive for THC metabolites on a standard urine drug screen, according to three separate reports published in The Journal of Analytical Toxicology.

Results of a study conducted by ARUP Laboratories in Salt lake City last August indicate that consumption of cold-pressed hemp seed oil consistent with the manufacturer's recommendation is "sufficient to cause a positive finding for cannabinoid metabolites in a workplace urine drug testing procedure designed to detect marijuana use." The study noted that test subjects reported no pharmacological effects after consuming hemp seed oil.

ARUP Laboratories measured THC concentrations in one healthy adult male volunteer with no history of drug use. The subject ingested 15 mL doses of hemp seed oil twice a day for four days. The recommended daily dose by the distributor was 15-60 mL per day.

Although the test subject ceased ingesting hemp seed oil after day four of the study, urine specimens continued to test positive for marijuana for an additional 48 hours. Minute amounts of THC metabolites remained detectable for a total of 83 hours after last use. The study concluded that "Commercially available cold-pressed hemp seed oil contains cannabinoids at levels capable of producing a positive standard workplace drug test."

A letter to the editor published in the same issue affirmed the ARUP findings with those of a team of international researchers from Finland and America. "We would like to report on the possibility of achieving a positive urinalysis for THC metabolites after modest consumption of commercially available hemp seed oil in Cannabis-naive individuals," the researchers stated. They discovered that the daily consumption of 10 mL of hemp seed oil tested positive for marijuana days after ingestion had ceased. In a second trial, researchers concluded regular consumption of hemp seed capsules also tested positive for marijuana, but at significantly lower levels than of those who consumed cold-pressed oil. The study concluded, "In absence of recreational drug use, it may become necessary to consider this source as a viable explanation for cannabinoid metabolites in urine." (*NOTE* Recently, two court martial juries have agreed, overturning marijuana charges after weighing evidence that the defendant's consumed hemp oil.)

A follow-up study conducted at the University of Bern in Switzerland found that test subjects who ingested large amounts of hemp seed oil tested positive for marijuana for up to six days after last use.

Hemp seed oil is sold commercially in health food stores across the nation. Presently, health professionals like Dr. Andrew Weil tout the nutritional benefits of hemp seed oil, noting that it is second only to soy in protein and contains the highest concentration of essential amino and fatty acids found in any food. Hemp seed oil may be applied to foods just prior to consumption or ingested in capsule form.

NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said that the results of these studies further undermine the accuracy and reliability of workplace urinalysis. "Urine testing for marijuana metabolites is not a reliable indicator of workplace impairment, and -- in the case of hemp seed oil consumption -- is not an accurate detector of past marijuana use. As the use of hemp seed oil gains popularity, employers need to recognize that this legal product may test positive for marijuana."

Stroup added that NORML lobbies against suspicionless drug testing in the workplace.

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