The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance has strongly cautioned truck drivers and other safety-sensitive employees subject to federal drug testing under 49 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) part 40 about the use of CBD oil and other “cannabidiol” products.

Even though a recently enacted law removed hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana itself remains a Schedule 1 drug and its use can trigger a positive drug test result, with disqualifying penalties to the user.

By the new law’s definition, hemp-derived products, such as CBD oil and associated products can legally contain a concentration of up to 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. The problem? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently certify the levels of THC in those products, despite what the product labels may claim. So, it is buyer beware! Above the 0.3% THC concentration, the product is legally marijuana, a Schedule I drug.

FDA has expressly stated “It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.” In addition, under USDOT drug testing regulations, no use of marijuana is authorized. Therefore, if a drug test confirms the presence of marijuana at the appropriate cut-off level, a claim that only CBD was used, that it was legally obtained and was needed for medical reasons will not stand.

The issue is not whether CBD may relieve pain, help sleep or any dietary or medical purpose. It is the THC concentration present in the product and reflected in the drug test. Again, buyer beware.

The USDOT notice makes it clear that federal drug tests are not out there looking for CBD. The tests are looking for marijuana and other Schedule 1 drugs. But caution is needed when considering whether to use CBD products.

Now may be a good time to refresh your memory about drug testing. PrePass has written extensively on the issue. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has just increased the random drug test rate, in part because of the spreading legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. So by random test rate, it is more likely a truck driver will be tested. The drug test procedures themselves may be expanded in the near future and as of January 6, 2020, all drug test results are reported to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, where avoiding scrutiny becomes more difficult.

The bottom line is that the USDOT advises using CBD may be taking a chance with one’s livelihood. Is it a chance worth taking?