A driver’s career may be on the line if a drug screen comes back positive. To avoid any misunderstandings surrounding the use of CBD oils, be sure to bring up the topic during driver training. 
 - Photo by Michael Fischer from Pexels

A driver’s career may be on the line if a drug screen comes back positive. To avoid any misunderstandings surrounding the use of CBD oils, be sure to bring up the topic during driver training. 

Photo by Michael Fischer from Pexels

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is becoming a commonly used natural alternative to pain medicine. But, commercial drivers should be cautioned that use of CBD oil — even if derived from hemp — may result in a positive DOT drug screen. 

The 2 Types of Cannabis Sativa

The cannabis sativa plant comes in two strains, each of which has the potential to produce CBD oils. Each genetic variation was created for specific purposes: 

  • Hemp: Bred for fiber, clothing, and construction; oils; and nutritional benefits (0.3% THC concentration)
  • Marijuana: Bred for the production of THC in resinous glands in its flowers and leaves (5-30% THC concentration)

Looking at THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) concentrations alone, you might incorrectly assume that only marijuana-based CBD oil has the potential to show up in a DOT drug panel. THC concentration is dependent upon the manufacturing process and how much oil the individual is using. Even hemp-derived CBD oils can register at a level that is considered a DOT drug testing violation.

What Do DOT Regulations Require?

Use of THC is forbidden for a regulated driver, no matter the source. As a result, medical and recreational marijuana and some CBD oils, even if legal under state law, are federally banned. 
Since THC is an absolute under DOT drug testing, a medical review officer (MRO) must not take the medicinal use of a CBD oil into consideration as he or she determines a drug test result. 
A positive drug test result requires the motor carrier to remove the driver from safety-sensitive functions until specific steps in the DOT return-to-duty process are successfully completed. 

After a positive test, the driver must:

  • Be evaluated by a substance abuse professional, 
  • Complete prescribed treatment, and 
  • Have negative results for follow-up testing.

Communicate Cautions

A driver’s career may be on the line if a drug screen comes back positive. To avoid any misunderstandings surrounding the use of CBD oils, be sure to bring up the topic during driver training. 
Possible points to cover include:

  • Trace amounts of THC may show up in a DOT urine specimen. 
  • MROs will not accept CBD oil as a valid medical explanation for a positive DOT drug test.
  • Enforcement may consider CBD oil in a commercial vehicle as possession. Officers are unable to determine the concentration of THC in the oil, and there has been no official guidance for them to follow.
  • Labels don’t tell the whole story. Packaging for CBD oil may claim to be THC-free or below traceable limits, when in fact, they contain enough to be detected during a drug screen. 

One final caution to bring to your drivers’ attention: CBD oils sold in states with legalized marijuana may have been processed from the marijuana plant, resulting in a higher concentration of THC. 

Drivers should leave training with a greater understanding that any CBD or THC use is potentially a violation waiting to happen.

About the Author: Kathy Close is a transportation editor at J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. Her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, and driver 
qualification. 

Originally posted on Work Truck Online

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