U.S. DOT warns drivers against using CBD products

February 18, 2020

Chuck Robinson

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Commercial truck drivers, being employed in safety-sensitive positions and subject to drug testing, need to be wary of using CBD products.

“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.

While CBD comes from the same plant species as marijuana, hemp, the source of CBD, 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.

Even though a label on a CBD product says there is only a small amount of THC in it, the U.S. DOT warned in a Feb. 18 notice that “there is no federal oversight to ensure that the labels are accurate.”

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration does not certify levels of THC in CBD products. According to FDA, “It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.”

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 warns.

“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 a notice.

Marijuana use remains illegal.

“Since the use of CBD products could lead to a positive drug test result, Department of Transportation-regulated safety-sensitive employees should exercise caution when considering whether to use CBD products,” U.S. DOT warned.

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

Warning worth heeding

The U.S. DOT warning on CBD products is worth heeding, says Amber Schweer, supervisor of CMCI, a wholly owned subsidiary of OOIDA that manages DOT drug and alcohol testing.

“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. There are several lawsuits right now from truck drivers who have tested positive from taking the CBD oil, even thought the companies claim they had no THC in them,” Schweer said. “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 it 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.

Here is an OOIDA video on the issue.

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

Help with testing

All commercial motor vehicle drivers are required to take random DOT drug and alcohol tests

For owner-operators, it is difficult to select him- or herself for a random drug test. CMCI,was established to help that situation.

Among the program’s benefits are random drug and alcohol testing, educational requirements, semiannual summaries and complete recordkeeping.

It is a simple program available for $125 to $150 for members, depending on the services required. The cost is less expensive than other consortiums available to truckers.

All random drug and alcohol tests are covered by your consortium enrollment fee. Three reasonable suspicion tests (if you have a driver working for you and suspect them of drug or alcohol use) are included at no charge, as well. Post-accident, pre-employment, return-to-duty or follow-up drug screens also are available for only $65 per test.

More information about the program is available by calling 800-288-3784.

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.