October 31, 2014
Hemp Seeds in Food
Ask the Experts

Hemp Seeds in Food

by Berkeley Wellness  |  

Q: After reading your article on seeds, I’m wondering, can eating products containing hemp seeds cause me to test positive for marijuana on a workplace drug test?

A: It’s highly unlikely—unless, possibly, you consume exceedingly large amounts of the seeds. Industrial hemp (used for food and textiles) comes from the same plant species as marijuana (Cannabis sativa), but from cultivars bred to be very high in fiber and very low in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive ingredient.

Moreover, most of the THC is found in the seed hulls, which are removed during processing. It’s not possible to have zero THC, but today hemp seeds are also cleaned and processed in ways that can reduce levels to below one part per million. It was a different story some 15 years ago, when industrial hemp had higher THC levels and the seeds were prepared differently for processing.

Under the voluntary TestPledge program, hemp companies follow quality control practices that limit THC concentrations, so that consumers will not fail a drug test. To meet the pledge, each lot of processed hemp seeds or hemp oil intended for commercial sale must undergo testing by an accredited lab in Canada, where most hemp in the U.S. comes from.

Further allaying concerns, a study in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found that daily intake of hemp oil at different doses, over 10 days, did not lead to positive THC urine tests.

Curiously, Chobani’s Blueberry Power Flip yogurt got some attention last summer when the U.S. Air Force prohibited its personnel from eating it because it contained hemp seeds. The Air Force bans consumption of any product containing hemp seeds or hemp seed oil. Even though the amount of THC in the yogurt was barely detectable, Chobani is removing the seeds.