From gummies and drinks to lotions and oils, the CBD craze has taken the country by storm. Men, women and even children are using the hemp-derived product known as CBD, or cannabidiol, to alleviate everything from sleeplessness and anxiety to acne, back pain and seizures. Some are calling it a miracle drug, while others wonder if taking it might cause them to fail a drug test at work and lose their job, a legitimate concern.
Although the 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law last December, makes it legal to grow and market the hemp plant in all 50 states, the FDA has still not approved CBD products for most other uses, stating it is “committed to science-based decision making.” FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Dr. Amy Abernethy said, “While we recognize the potential benefits of CBD, questions remain regarding its safety.”
But as the FDA moves slowly and methodically, CBD sales soar, with as many as 1,000 CBD-infused products available online. Sales of CBD products grew by 57% in 2018 to $238 million, and Nielsen predicts the CBD market could be a $6 billion industry by 2025.
It is clear the interest and demand is there. What is not clear is how CBD could affect the human body and workplace drug testing. What is an employer to do?
With so many unknowns, the best defense is education and open communication with your employees. As a lab company that screens for THC, we have seen people fail drug tests from using what they believe to be drug-free CBD products. Arm your employees with the best information available to help them avoid a failed test and run the risk of losing their job.
The ABC’s Of CBD
A. What is CBD?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the many compounds found in the different strains of the Cannabis sativa plant that produce hemp and marijuana. Federal law requires cannabis plants used to produce CBD to contain less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound that triggers a high. However, because CBD and THC come from the same plant, minuscule amounts of THC may be discovered in CBD products. Though not enough to trigger a high, it may still appear as a red flag on a standard drug test.
B. Who is at risk to fail a test?
CBD users are at greater risk for failing a drug test if:
1. They take larger amounts than the recommended dosage.
2. They have been taking CBD over a long period of time before getting tested, as even minuscule amounts can build up over time.
C. Is there a way to prevent a positive test result?
No, but users should always read the packaging label and check to see if the CBD product box has a certificate of analysis (COA) or contact the manufacturer and request a copy of the COA. The COA shows the results of the CBD maker’s testing for THC, CBD and various other ingredients. Remember, the COA should say there is no more than 0.3% THC in the product.
Also, keep in mind the FDA and other agencies have tested many products and found that they do not contain the levels of CBD and THC that they claim. The truth is, the only way too 100% prevent a positive drug test result is to avoid taking CBD altogether.
Develop Workplace CBD Guidelines
As an employer, you would be well-served to ask some tough questions and have internal discussions about what you are, and are not, willing to tolerate as it pertains to CBD use and testing results, and communicate that clearly to employees. Even in most states where marijuana is legal, employers are under no obligation to allow its presence in drug tests. The same could be said for CBD products, despite their widespread popularity. Questions to consider:
• Will you remove marijuana and THC from your drug testing?
• Will you accept a COA as proof of legal CBD usage?
• Will you accept a doctor’s note for CBD used for medicinal purposes (from physicians willing to write it)?
• Do you prefer a blanket policy regarding CBD use, or are you willing to address it on a case-by-case basis?
Whatever you decide, send clear communication to employees on what you expect and are willing to accommodate with regards to CBD (if anything). Despite CBD being legal in all 50 states, it is prudent to consult with an employment attorney before taking action against someone who tests positive for use of CBD products.