While CBD has been hailed treatment for various ailments, for truck drivers use remains a risky bet — a good way to fail a drug test, threatening your livelihood. DOT is warning truck drivers about the potential mislabeling of hemp-derived products that could contain illegal levels of marijuana.
Can truck drivers use CBD? All you need to know about cannabis, hemp, testing and the clearinghouse
Across the country, more and more states are decriminalizing and outright legalizing marijuana, and meanwhile CBD, an extract of industrial hemp plants, a legal cousin to marijuana, has emerged as an effective treatment for everything from chronic pain to anxiety and sleep disorders.
But despite the warming national attitudes toward the hemp plant and all its potential derivatives, CDL holders should approach any form of the substance with extreme caution.
Overdrive revisited a column in our Trucking Law series, written by Dr. Alexander Underwood, in this video to go over what drivers need to know about CBD, THC, and keeping their CDLs – the landscape for hemp/cannabis-derived products has only gotten more chaotic, and murky in terms of legality, since that column originally aired.
A barrage of consumer products have swept through gas stations and truck stops across the country. Recently, savvy businesspeople have started selling so-called Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC, or concentrated THC derived from fully legal hemp plants.
These products exploit the federal loophole that deems industrial hemp byproducts legal but plants grown for THC illegal. While these products remain legal, for now, they too will cause a failed drug test as the Delta-8 and Delta-10 compounds produce the same metabolites as Delta-9, plain-old THC-bearing marijuana, the kind that’s federally illegal.
Amid the madness in the market for cannabis products and the ample confusion, an untold number of truckers have had their careers sidelined due to positive drug tests for THC.
From January 6, 2020 to June 1, 2021, 80,098 urine drug tests administered under the mandatory federal program for CDL drivers came back positive. More than half of those tests found marijuana.
The video tracks the legality of different products and states the official DOT position on CBD.
Above, find what you need to know about the intersection of marijuana, CBD, and trucking law. –Video Editor Andrew Guinn contributed to this report
DOT Issues Compliance Notice Cautioning Truck Drivers About CBD Products
The Department of Transportation has issued a compliance notice warning truck drivers and other safety-sensitive transportation workers about the potential mislabeling of hemp-derived products that could contain illegal levels of marijuana that might test positive in a DOT drug test.
“We have had inquiries about whether the Department of Transportation-regulated safety-sensitive employees can use CBD products,” the Feb. 18 notice said. Safety-sensitive employees who are subject to drug testing include: “pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, train engineers, transit vehicle operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, fire-armed transit security personnel, ship captains and pipeline emergency response personnel, among others.”
Industrial hemp and CBD, or cannabidiol, products are legal provided they contain a concentration of up to 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the intoxicating substance in marijuana. Higher concentrations of marijuana remain an illegal Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, DOT said.
The notice said it is important for employees to know that DOT requires testing for marijuana but not CBD.
However, DOT officials said the Food and Drug Administration does not currently certify the levels of THC in CBD products, so there is no federal oversight to ensure that the labels are accurate.
For truck drivers, the DOT drug-and-alcohol testing regulation does not authorize the use of Schedule 1 drugs, including marijuana, for any reason, and CBD use is not a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive result.
“Therefore, medical review officers will verify a drug test confirmed at the appropriate cutoffs as positive, even if an employee claims they only used a CBD product,” DOT said.
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FDA has cautioned the public that consumers should be aware when purchasing and using any CBD products, DOT said.
“The FDA has stated, ‘It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement,’ ” the notice said. “Also, the FDA has issued several warning letters to companies because their products contained more CBD than indicated on the product label.”
CBD is a substance some believe effectively treats maladies such as anxiety, cognition problems, movement disorders and pain.
Trucking regulators have been interested in the topic of CBD oil use among truck drivers for some time.
At a recent meeting of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s drug testing advisory board, Cathy Gautreaux, senior adviser on drug matters to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, said she had planned to meet with Food and Drug Administration officials to discuss challenges associated with CBD, a product made from hemp, and other drug issues.
“This is probably one of the issues that concerns me most,” Gautreaux told the drug advisory board. “It’s amazing how society has embraced CBD. It’s amazing how prevalent it is.”
Gautreaux also said that some federal employees who have used CBD have lost their jobs when their drug tests came back positive for marijuana. Although some people using CBD have claimed it has medicinal qualities, research has yet to verify many of those claims, and some CBD products have been found to be mislabeled.
Last summer, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Medical Review Board discussed the proliferation of marijuana decriminalization in a number of states, but decided that it should not burden medical examiners with the job of enforcing the outright ban of marijuana use by truck drivers.
However, board members did caution truck drivers about the use of CBD oils derived from legal hemp.
The problem with CBD oils, according to Larry Minor, FMCSA’s associate administrator for policy, is that mislabeling of the THC content in hemp could cause a driver to fail a drug test. “You use CBD products at your own risk,” Minor said at the medical board meeting.