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CBD Oils: Beware of DOT Testing Violation

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is growing in popularity as people continue to use it as a natural alternative to pain medication.

However, some industry experts are warning commercial truck drivers that use CBD oil to treat aches and pains. Even if derived from hemp, a variation of Cannabis Sativa with a very low concentration of THS, a driver using the oil could test positive in a DOT drug test.

Types of Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis is a family of plants with two primary classifications — Indica and Sativa. While marijuana can be considered a member of either the Indica or Sativa families, Hemp is a member of the Cannabis Sativa family. Both strains – Hemp and Marijuana – can produce CBD oil.

Each genetic variation was created for specific reasons:

  • Hemp: Bred for a number of things including oils and nutritional benefits (0.3% THC concentration)
  • Marijuana: Bred for the production of THC in its flowers and leaves (5-30% THC concentration)

Looking at THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) concentrations alone, some may assume that only marijuana-based CBD oil has the potential to show up in a DOT drug panel. But even hemp-derived CBD oils can register at a level that is considered a DOT drug testing violation.

DOT Regulations

The use of THC is forbidden for a regulated driver, no matter the source, which means medical and recreational marijuana and some CBD oils, even if legal under state law, are federally banned.

Since THC is an absolute under DOT drug testing, a medical review officer (MRO) must not take the medicinal use of a CBD oil into consideration as he or she determines a drug test result.

All CMV operators requiring a CDL, including owner-operators are required to participate in a DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Program.

Under DOT Regulations, a positive drug test result requires the motor carrier to remove the driver from safety-sensitive functions until specific steps in the DOT return-to-duty process are successfully completed.

After a positive test, the driver must:

  • Be evaluated by a substance abuse professional,
  • Complete prescribed treatment, and
  • Have negative results for follow-up testing before they can operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)

The Bottom Line

An owner-operator/truck driver’s career may be on the line if a drug screen comes back positive.

It’s important to remember the following when it comes to CBD oil:

  • Trace amounts of THC may show up in a DOT urine specimen.
  • MROs will not accept CBD oil as a valid medical explanation for a positive DOT drug test.
  • Enforcement may consider CBD oil in a commercial vehicle as possession. Officers are unable to determine the concentration of THC in the oil, and there has been no official guidance for them to follow.
  • Labels can be misleading. Packaging for CBD oil may claim to be THC-free or below traceable limits, when in fact, they contain enough to be detected during a drug screen.
  • CBD oils sold in states with legalized marijuana may have been processed from the marijuana plant, resulting in a higher concentration of THC.

The bottom line, any CBD or THC use is a violation waiting to happen.

Some industry experts are warning commercial truck drivers that use CBD oil to treat aches and pains as they could test positive in a DOT drug test.

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.

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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.