Yes, Drug Testing Methods Can Mistake Hemp-Derived CBD for THC

I recently came across a little-known study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology that raises serious questions regarding whether the gold standard in forensic urine testing could mistake hemp-derived CBD for THC.

Many laboratories include derivatization as a part of their sample preparation for analysis by gas chromatography – mass spectroscopy (GC-MS).  Derivatization is the process by which a compound is changed chemically so that it has properties that are more amenable to a particular analytical method.  Essentially, the new compound becomes more suitable for detection and analysis.

Researchers discovered trifluoracetic anhydride (TFAA), a common derivatizing agent used in GC-MS testing, produced identical retention times and mass spectra for both CBD and THC!  This means that the instrument is unable to discern between CBD, which was made explicitly legal to possess under HF 2581, and THC, which remains illegal as a Schedule I controlled substance under both state and federal law.

So, if a person who used only hemp-derived CBD submits a urine sample for testing that incorporates TFAA, the resulting analysis would falsely report the presence of THC.

Obviously, this may have enormous implications for implied consent testing moving forward because the presence of “any amount” of THC above the testing threshold limits will be reported as a positive test.  This test will be used to revoke your driving privileges.  It may also be the only “incriminating” evidence the State has in an OWI or vehicular homicide prosecution.

You can count on the attorneys at GRL Law to stay on top of all emerging forensic testing issues that impact our clients.

GRL Law.  We know hemp.