US DOT issues warning advisory on CBD

“Safety-sensitive employees” regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation should be cautious when using products containing cannabidiol, marketed as CBD, because they also may contain an active ingredient of marijuana and cause a positive drug test for a banned substance.

An advisory issued by the DOT warned:

“It is important for all employers and safety-sensitive employees to know … The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation, Part 40, does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason. Furthermore, 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.

“It remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana. 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.

“Safety-sensitive employees who are subject to drug testing specified under 49 CFR part 40 (Part 40) 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.”

The DOT Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance released the advisory on Feb. 18.

As reported in Bus & Motorcoach News on Jan. 15, at least three truck drivers have failed drug tests and lost their commercial driver’s licenses after using CBD products they presumed were legal. Millions of other commercial drivers may be risking their licenses, too, as some CBD product manufacturers do not disclose that their hemp derivatives may also contain THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

As explained in the DOT advisory:

“The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334, (Farm Bill) removed hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. Under the Farm Bill, hemp-derived products containing a concentration of up to 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are not controlled substances. THC is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.

“Any product, including ‘Cannabidiol’ (CBD) products, with a concentration of more than 0.3% THC remains classified as marijuana, a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.”

While CBD products may legally contain up to 0.3% THC, many products are not properly labeled. Two of the drivers who lost their CDLs had used CBD products advertised as containing no THC. The third driver said his product’s label did not disclose any information regarding THC content.

“The labeling of many CBD products may be misleading because the products could contain higher levels of THC than what the product label states,” stated DOT. “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. The FDA has issued several warning letters to companies because their products contained more CBD than indicated on the product label.”


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