DOT cannabis policy prompts warning to drivers about CBD use

The Department of Transportation has issued a notice about drug and alcohol policy compliance that deals with the use of cannabis products. 

Ken Presley

Commercial drivers are being advised to be careful when considering the use of hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products. While these products — often sold in the form of creams and oils — are marketed as pain relief, they may be absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a positive test for marijuana use.

According to the FMCSA notice, labeling of many CBD products may be misleading because the products could contain higher levels of THC than what the product label states. The Agency further notes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently certify the levels of THC in CBD products, so there is no federal oversight to ensure that the labels are accurate.  

Drivers need to understand that CBD use is not a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive result, said Ken Presley, United Motorcoach Association Vice President and Director of Legislative & Regulatory Affairs & Industry Relations. 

“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,” Presley said. “These products are not regulated and are sold in a range of settings, from corner drugstores to flea markets. Why take a chance on hurting a career or reputation when there are many legitimate alternatives to pain relief?”

Cannabis products

Positive drug tests account for 81% of the total violations reported in the online database Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse since Jan. 6, 2020. As of May 1, 2021, marijuana has been detected in more than half of all drug tests that have been filed in the Clearinghouse.

Presley noted that all employees who perform safety-sensitive functions, including CDL drivers, need to know the USDOT requires testing for marijuana and not CBD. But the labeling of many CBD products may be misleading because the products could contain higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than what’s stated on the product label.

The USDOT’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation, 49 CFR Part 40, does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason.

Hemp-derived products with a THC concentration of 0.3% or less are no longer considered controlled substances, according to the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. The legislation, also known as the Farm Bill, updated the definition of “marijuana” under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. 


Marijuana use dominates positive drug tests of commercial drivers


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