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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.
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