Handling CBD in the Workplace
Written By Lucas Kibby
With the legalization of marijuana continuing to spread across the United States and Canada, employers are struggling to understand what marijuana is, how it’s being used, and ultimately how it is effecting the workplace.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and, seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. Marijuana contains 113 known cannabinoids that can be extracted. These are known as marijuana extracts. A cannabinoid is a chemical compound that alter receptors in the brain.
The best known marijuana cannabinoid is Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis, and thus, causes users to become high. However, not all cannabinoids are psychoactive. Cannabidiol, or CBD, accounts for up to 40% of the marijuana extract and does not have psychoactive properties.
With saying that CBD does not have psychoactive properties, one would assume CBD products are safe to use and can be allowed in the workplace. However, extraction processes and product labeling have not been well regulated. This is where the issues come into play.
Only One CBD Product Has Been FDA Approved
There is currently only one CBD drug that has been FDA approved, Epidiolex, which treats two epilepsy conditions and contains no more than 0.1% THC.
One of the things the FDA verifies when approving a product is the amount of each ingredient being used in product. This means, that because every other CBD product has not gone through the FDA approval process, the ingredients on these product labels may not be accurate. Therefore, many CBD products that claim they have no or little THC could be misleading.
Non-FDA approved CBD products are classified as Schedule 1 drugs, making them still illegal to produce, distribute, and possess. These are often referred to as “marijuana extracts”.
Testing Positive on a Drug Test for Using CBD Products
Most drug test panels, including the one used for federally regulated drug tests, test for THC, not CBD. However, CBD products may contain levels of THC that lead to a positive drug test.
Dr. James Berry, WVU Medicine said, “It is possible to test positive for THC if THC is in that particular batch of CBD oil. That’s where I warn people, buyer beware, despite what the label on that bottle says you don’t know exactly what is in there. There could be THC or there could be any other product that could be harmful for you”
Since we don’t know what exactly is in products containing CBD, employees should be careful on using these products. Also, since these products are not FDA approved, there are no valid prescriptions for them and positive results cannot be overturned by a medical review officer (MRO).
Real life examples of Testing Positive on a Drug Test for Using CBD Products
According to an article by WBOY News, Richard Fredrick used CBD oil for about a month for pain to help ease his knee and shoulder pain. The results following a drug test for a new job was positive.
“The product ingredient label on the CBD oil he used showed no THC, although the company website had a disclaimer saying CBD can cause positive results in screenings.”
Richard said, “It was the only thing in my life that had changed. I started using the oil when I was in physical therapy and that’s the only thing that could have caused it.”
The news article said that a web-based company that tests nutritional supplements, including CBD, said up to 10 percent of users test positive for THC when using the oil.
Another article by WBTV News interviewed a doctor who described a case where a U.S. Department of Transportation worker did everything to make sure the CBD product he was taking was THC-free, but his drug test still came back positive.
“He happened to have another bottle of the product that he had used… an unopened bottle of the same lot. He had it sent off for analysis and lo and behold it actually contained THC,” says Dr. Sample.
Employers Should Educate Their Employees and Review Their Policies
Employers and employees need to understand that the marijuana industry is largely unregulated as of now. Since we don’t know what exactly is in products containing CBD, employees should be careful on using these products.
Employers should outline how they want to handle CBD use among employees in their drug and alcohol policies. Then, take time to educate employees on the dangers and consequences of using CBD products.
CleanFleet can help review policies and put together trainings for employees about CBD. If your employer needs help handling CBD in its workplace, please call (503) 479-6082.