Can truck drivers use CBD? The answer is legally and medically complicated, but we break down 4 things you need to know about CBD and trucking. 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? 4 Things to Know
Many truck drivers have been turning to products like CBD oils and lotions for relief from pains and aches that come from the job. There has been a growth in popularity of medicinal and recreational marijuana-related products, even though the legal waters are a bit murky. This can be especially concerning for truck drivers since they are used to thinking about drug screenings and the new Clearinghouse regulations. If that weren’t enough, many trucking carriers may prohibit the use of such products. In a recent poll by Drive My Way, all drivers indicated their carriers don’t allow them to use CBD products. So, you’ve probably been wondering “can truck drivers use CBD?” The answer isn’t so simple, so we’ll break it down for you.
Here are 4 things you need to know about CBD and trucking.
1. CBD products aren’t regulated by the FDA yet
CBD (short for cannabidiol) is a compound found in cannabis plants like hemp and marijuana. There are over 113 such compounds in the cannabis plant, known as cannabinoids. The most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive agent in marijuana that is responsible for producing the sense of euphoria or the high. It is also measured in drug tests and leads to a positive result if detected.
CBD itself is a non-psychoactive compound—it won’t make you feel high, anxious, or bring redness to your eyes.
CBD is being researched and used for a variety of different medical purposes, and is said to help relieve anxiety, muscle and joint pain, depression, migraines, and other ailments common to truck drivers. Despite these claims of health benefits, CBD products haven’t been regulated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is no consensus in the medical or regulatory community about the effects of CBD on the body. Science and the law haven’t made up their minds about it yet. So, it remains a grey area—it may help you relieve pain, or it may not, but it definitely won’t get you high.
2. CBD may cause individuals to test positive on a drug screening
There are many CBD derived products that are available for use on the market. For example, CBD oil is made by extracting the compound from either hemp or marijuana plants. These products of course contain CBD, but also many other ingredients, including trace amounts of THC. Remember that’s the one that gets you high. Most states require that commercial CBD derived products contain less than 0.3% THC. That’s such a small amount that it’s not going to have any psychoactive effect on your body or get you high. But even these traces could be detected on a drug test!
Some CBD products claim to be “THC-free”, but it’s not clear whether this is the case. People purchasing CDB products cannot be sure the claims of ‘THC-free’ are indeed valid and that they will not test positive on drug tests.
In fact, many CBD products companies will state disclaimers like “We cannot make any claims on whether or not any of our products will show up on a drug test. We are not legally able to make any recommendations or guarantees regarding drug tests on THC free or Full Spectrum products.”
This just goes to show that even though you hear a brand has “zero THC”, there will always be trace amounts that can be detected. In general, CBD lotions tend to have less THC than oils, but even these cannot guarantee the complete absence of THC.
3. State laws differ on CBD products
It’s important to remember that marijuana use is still illegal in most of the country. State laws differ on these matters. As previously indicated, most states require that commercial CBD derived products contain less than 0.3% THC. In a few other states like Nebraska, South Dakota, and Idaho, the use of marijuana in all forms is illegal.
At the federal level, all kinds of marijuana products are still illegal. This means if you are drug tested using the Federal drug testing panel and use marijuana, it will be reported out as a positive drug test.
The recent Clearinghouse regulations mean that this test result data will be available to other employers in the trucking industry. This makes CBD product use very risky for truck drivers. Aside from the laws, drivers have to consider whether their carriers will allow the use of CBD products. Our own poll of drivers shows that all of them said their carriers prohibit CBD product use!
4. Bottom line for truck drivers
So, what’s the bottom line for people wondering “can truck drivers use CBD?” Using CBD products can be dangerous to a truck driver’s career. If a positive result shows up on a drug test, this can stay on your record for good.
Worse yet, the drug tests cannot differentiate THC that came from CBD products and THC that came from ingesting marijuana.
Since manufacturers can’t guarantee a THC-free product, and since these products aren’t well regulated yet, it can be risky for truck drivers to use them.
CBD lotions may be a better option than CBD oil, but even these can’t guarantee no trace amounts of THC. For those truck drivers hoping for pain relief, they may want to look elsewhere. The benefits of CBD aren’t agreed upon, or even well documented. Truck drivers will have to decide whether the potential benefits exceed the risks.
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.