WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a compliance notice on Tuesday addressing use of CBD-infused products for “safety sensitive employees.”
Employees that are considered safety sensitive are required, by law, to be drug-tested for employment and 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,” according to the DOT notice.
The department said federal law requires drug testing for “marijuana,” not CBD—common name for cannabidiol, the cannabinoid derived from hemp and cannabis that has become a popular ingredient in health and wellness products.
However, the notice cited misleading labeling on many CBD products and advised, “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 notice went on to say safety sensitive employees are subject to DOT drug-testing and that drugs with federal Schedule I status, like marijuana, are prohibited for use. The department added that CBD use is not an acceptable explanation for drug tests that show positive results for the presence of marijuana.
CBD that is derived from hemp, which is commonly used in health and wellness products, is required to contain levels less than 0.3 percent of cannabinoid THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC, is the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis (including hemp, which is a low-THC variety of cannabis).
CBD-infused products that are manufactured and laboratory tested are typically labeled to verify testing, or may have a disclaimer stating that THC levels are under 0.3 percent.
Use of CBD products that are inaccurately labeled could result in exposure to higher THC levels than listed, which could cause users to show positive results for marijuana on a drug test. The DOT urged caution for safety sensitive employees if considering use of CBD-infused products.
While hemp cultivation in the U.S. was decriminalized for the first time since the 1930s by the 2018 Farm Act, “marijuana” is still considered a Schedule I drug and is federally illegal, despite growing state legalization of cannabis, which allows sales of popular CBD products.
The FDA is currently considering regulations for cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals, and could also potentially issue policy for CBD-infused health and wellness products, after an extended public commentary period.
The only CBD-based pharmaceutical formula that is FDA-approved is Epidiolex, manufactured by UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals, which is prescribed to treat two forms of severe pediatric epilepsy.
Industry experts recommend that CBD consumers choose topical, ingestible, or edible products manufactured in the U.S., by established CBD manufacturer brands that offer third-party test information, detailed ingredient information, and customer service contact.