DOT Rules on CBD Usage and Truck Drivers
The use of cannabidiol (CBD) and related products has trended in recent years. It’s common now to see many products labeled with CBD as an ingredient.
However, it’s important to remain aware of FDA regulations concerning CBD, and the DOT stance on the use of CBD for drivers.
Is CBD considered marijuana or not?
The classification of a product as marijuana depends on the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the product. Anything containing more than 0.3% THC is classified as marijuana.
Cannabidiol (CBD) products do contain levels of THC, sometimes above or below the marijuana classification levels.
DOT drug testing: Required for marijuana, not CBD
The DOT requires drivers to test for marijuana, but not for CBD. However, the labeling of CBD products can be misleading. If the product contains a higher than 0.3% cannabidiol concentration, it would fall into the category of marijuana.
Drivers taking a marijuana drug test after using a CBD product with higher levels of THC would end up testing positive for marijuana.
CBD usage and labeling confusions
Because the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) doesn’t certify levels of THC in CBD products, there’s very little way to tell if the labels are accurate. A person could end up unknowingly using a product that falls into the marijuana classification.
The FDA reminds the public that “it is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.” Many companies have received FDA warning because their products exceed the CBD levels listed on their label.
Therefore, it’s entirely possible that CBD product you’re using COULD in fact, be classified as a marijuana product.
This creates a dangerous situation for people who require drug testing, including safety-sensitive drivers.
DOT, Marijuana and Cannabidiol (CBD)
Because the DOT does not allow the use of marijuana for any reason, drivers who use a CBD product could unintentionally run afoul of DOT regulations.
If a driver tests positive for marijuana, but was only using a CBD product, this claim will not be allowable. Laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive results will stand regardless of the drivers claim of CBD product usage.
Avoiding CBD usage is the best precaution
Drivers risk getting a marijuana positive test from the use of CBD products. Since employees subject to the DOT drug testing regulations are forbidden from using marijuana, great care must be taken with CBD products. Exercise caution about using CBD products. Because the labeling is often inaccurate, there are many unknowns about the actual levels of CBD in the products.
Remember positive drug tests remain on your record for three years. A positive test can require additional driver retraining and fines. A driver’s employment and income could be put in danger.
Why run the risk of having a positive drug test on your driving record? Avoiding the use of CBD products keeps your record clean, and keeps you worry-free when taking mandatory drug tests.
Drug and Alcohol Services
We offer a number of services related to drug and alcohol requirements
If you have any concerns regarding CBD usage or any other questionable prescription medications, we can answer any questions you have.
U.S. DOT warns drivers against using CBD products
Commercial truck drivers, being employed in safety-sensitive positions and subject to drug testing, need to be wary of using CBD products.
“CBD” stands for “cannabidiol.” Many positive health effects are attributed to using CBD products. Some of them with evidence of being effective are sleep disorders, fibromyalgia pain, muscle spasticity related to multiple sclerosis, and anxiety, according to the Harvard Medical School.
While CBD comes from the same plant species as marijuana, hemp, the source of CBD, was differentiated from marijuana in the farm bill published in December. Marijuana is defined as having 0.3% of the psychotropic THC, and hemp as having less than that amount.
Even though a label on a CBD product says there is only a small amount of THC in it, the U.S. DOT warned in a Feb. 18 notice that “there is no federal oversight to ensure that the labels are accurate.”
In fact, the Food and Drug Administration does not certify levels of THC in CBD products. According to FDA, “It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.”
If a driver’s mandated drug testing comes back positive for illegal THC in the driver’s system, the driver saying he or she used CBD products is not an accepted explanation, U.S. DOT warns.
“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,” U.S. DOT said in a notice.
Marijuana use remains illegal.
“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,” U.S. DOT warned.
In November 2019, Land Line Media reported on a professional truck driver suing a CBD company after he tested positive for using marijuana and lost his job as an over-the-road hazmat trucker.
Warning worth heeding
The U.S. DOT warning on CBD products is worth heeding, says Amber Schweer, supervisor of CMCI, a wholly owned subsidiary of OOIDA that manages DOT drug and alcohol testing.
“The biggest issue with the CBD oil is that it is not federally regulated, so there is no oversight to make sure these products contain less than the 0.03% THC. There are several lawsuits right now from truck drivers who have tested positive from taking the CBD oil, even thought the companies claim they had no THC in them,” Schweer said. “When their livelihood is on the line, it is not worth the potential risk for professional truck drivers.”
Schweer has conducted research on companies offering CBD products, and the companies themselves echo the warning.
“They all have disclaimers on their websites stating that it you are in a federally regulated industry or you are subject to alcohol and drug testing to not use their product or to use them at your own risk,” she said.
Here is an OOIDA video on the issue.
Help with testing
All commercial motor vehicle drivers are required to take random DOT drug and alcohol tests
For owner-operators, it is difficult to select him- or herself for a random drug test. CMCI,was established to help that situation.
Among the program’s benefits are random drug and alcohol testing, educational requirements, semiannual summaries and complete recordkeeping.
It is a simple program available for $125 to $150 for members, depending on the services required. The cost is less expensive than other consortiums available to truckers.
All random drug and alcohol tests are covered by your consortium enrollment fee. Three reasonable suspicion tests (if you have a driver working for you and suspect them of drug or alcohol use) are included at no charge, as well. Post-accident, pre-employment, return-to-duty or follow-up drug screens also are available for only $65 per test.
CBD Products May Not Be as Intoxicant-Free As Drivers Think, DOT Warns
The feds warn commercial drivers that it could show up on drug tests, saying many CBD products do contain some THC, the psychoactive part of marijuana, even if it’s not supposed to be there.
- While CBD is legal, the U.S. Department of Transportation has warned commercial drivers that it can show up in a drug test.
- CBD products are popular and only getting more so, but even though they are labeled as containing no THC, some may actually contain a little of the psychoactive ingredient.
- “Innocent ingestion or false labeling is not a valid medical excuse for a [positive] urine drug test,” the DOT said.
Driving while intoxicated is obviously illegal and dangerous. We’re not here to debate that. But there are legal limits (different in different jurisdictions) for how much alcohol someone can have in their system and still be considered okay to drive. When it comes to THC, the main psychoactive part of marijuana, it’s a big new world out there if you’re a federal regulator.
Some drivers should be paying attention to what the Department of Transportation is doing to figure this all out. Spoiler alert: commercial drivers might want to lay off the CBD.
You’ve probably seen cannabidiol (CBD) oils, or other CBD products, being sold at gas stations and grocery stores, because they are pretty much everywhere these days. The claim is that these products can relieve pains and other issues, like anxiety. The Brightfield Group, a research firm focused on the CBD and cannabis industries, said last year that the CBD market is on track to grow to $23.7 billion through 2023. And that means more people are taking CBD products, and so more people are driving after they’ve done so.
Of course, CBD products are not supposed to get you high in any way, but that doesn’t mean that a drug test won’t pick up CBD artifacts. And, as of right now, the DOT is taking a zero-tolerance approach toward drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) who test positive. Actually, it’s more like a 0.3 percent tolerance. That’s because CBD products are required to use cannabis that contains less than 0.3 percent of THC on a dry-weight basis (in other words, the kind that will get you as high as smoking, say, oak leaves) based on the 2018 Farm Bill. That bill changed the definition of hemp so that it was not classified as marijuana, THC, and it also legalized cannabinoids (CBD) if they were non-psychotropic. That’s why, today, CBD companies highlight this low number as a way to make you feel safe about taking it.
AnandaHemp, which sells CBD oils, warns that taking their CBD oils may make you sleepy, but claims that “you should be able to drive after taking CBD Oil or Hemp Oil. Our CBD Oils contain less than 0.3 percent of THC and will have no psychoactive effects on your body.”
But during a virtual meeting of the DOT’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee on July 13, Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance policy advisor Sue Lenhard updated the public on the agency’s rules, and they are full of warnings for commercial drivers. “Some CBD products are being marketed with unproven medical claims and are of unknown quality and CBD & THC quantity,” she wrote. The DOT also maintains that “innocent ingestion or false labeling is not a valid medical excuse for a urine drug test at THCA confirmatory levels of 15ng/mL.” The trade publication Transport Topics reported on the meeting in a story titled, “Truck Drivers Should Beware of CBD.”
The Food and Drug Administration does not currently certify the levels of THC in CBD products, so the labels on CBD products could be misleading. In fact, the government tested 84 CBD products from 31 companies in 2017 and found that 21 of them were mislabeled and that a higher-than-advertised THC content was found in 18 samples.
Testing positive for THC in this case does not mean that a driver would be considered intoxicated—rather that they have, at some point in the recent past, ingested enough THC for it to show up on the test. And, if you’re considered a “safety-sensitive employee,” which includes school bus drivers, truck drivers, and transit vehicle operators, then a positive result could harm your employment status, with the DOT warning that the information will be sent to the DOT’s Drug and Alcohol Clearninghouse and remain on file for five years and that an employee may have to go through a Substance Abuse Professional program, as well as other return-to-duty drug tests and observations. Just a heads up.