Ignore the promises of CBD products

Truckers can't use them

May 2020

Chuck Robinson


There are a lot of new CBD products on the market promising to alleviate pain, discomfort and anxiety. Drivers may have friends or family telling them the products are the real deal and to give them a try.

To that, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have one word of advice: don’t.

“CBD” stands for “cannabidiol.” Many positive health effects are attributed to using CBD products. Some of them with evidence of being effective are sleep disorders, fibromyalgia pain, muscle spasticity related to multiple sclerosis, and anxiety, according to the Harvard Medical School.

CBD comes from hemp, which comes from the same plant species as marijuana. Hemp was differentiated from marijuana in the farm bill published in December. Marijuana is defined as having 0.3% of the psychotropic THC, and hemp as having less than that amount. Marijuana remains illegal.

Even though a label on a CBD product says there is no THC or only a small amount or THC in it, don’t risk it.

“The biggest issue with the CBD oil is that it is not federally regulated, so there is no oversight to make sure these products contain less than the 0.03% THC,” warns Amber Schweer, supervisor of CMCI, a wholly owned subsidiary of OOIDA that manages DOT drug and alcohol testing

In fact, there are several lawsuits right now from truck drivers who have tested positive from taking the CBD oil, even though the companies claim they had no THC in them, Schweer said.

Back in November 2019, Land Line Media reported on one such lawsuit. In it, a professional truck driver sued a CBD company after he tested positive for using marijuana and lost his job as an over-the-road hazmat trucker.

“When their livelihood is on the line, it is not worth the potential risk for professional truck drivers.”

Schweer has conducted research on companies offering CBD products, and the companies themselves echo the warning.

“They all have disclaimers on their websites stating that if you are in a federally regulated industry or you are subject to alcohol and drug testing to not use their product or to use them at your own risk,” she said.

Professional drivers also must abstain from marijuana even though some states are easing restrictions on it.

“Since you operate in a federally regulated industry, the federal regulations supersede the state regulations, and it is still in fact illegal for you to use it,” Schweer said. “It doesn’t matter if you have a prescription or even if you are on off-duty time. It’s still illegal.”

If drivers have questions, they can call OOIDA at 800-444-5791 and ask for CMCI.

The U.S. DOT echoed OOIDA’s warnings on CBD products in a February notice.

“There is no federal oversight to ensure that the labels are accurate,” the U.S. DOT warned.

If a driver’s mandated drug testing comes back positive for illegal THC in the driver’s system, the driver saying he or she used CBD products is not an accepted explanation, U.S. DOT warned.

“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,” U.S. DOT said in the notice.

Using CBD products could lead to a positive drug test.

“Department of Transportation-regulated safety-sensitive employees should exercise caution when considering whether to use CBD products,” U.S. DOT warned. LL

TA Fleetguard
Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.