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Marijuana and CBD Use is On the Rise: Here’s What You Need to Know
5 mins read

It’s a whole new era when it comes to Marijuana and Cannabidiol (CBD)—particularly as these substances pertain to the trucking industry.

Since the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse went live in January 2020, positive drug tests have accounted for 81% of total reported violations. And marijuana has by far been the top drug detected, accounting for more than half of all drug tests filed in the Clearinghouse to date.

DOT Clearinghouse fines have doubled in 2021. Are you at risk?

More and more states continue to legalize Marijuana and CBD for medicinal and recreational uses. However, these substances are not yet regulated by the FDA. So, despite what CBD producers, proponents, and labels may claim, use of CBDs could potentially lead to positive marijuana drug tests.

Therefore, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) cautions employees who perform safety-sensitive functions—including CDL drivers—when using CBD products. Here’s what drivers need to know about their uses and dangers.

CBD and Marijuana: The Basics

While the DOT requires testing for marijuana, it does not yet require testing for CBD products (such as oils, tinctures, and drops).

This is due in large part to the federal government’s removal of hemp from the definition of marijuana, and its declaration that hemp-derived products with a concentration of up to 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH)—the psychoactive component of the marijuana plant—are not controlled substances. Any products, including CBD, with a concentration higher than 0.3% remain classified as marijuana, a Schedule 1 drug.

But as marijuana and its derivative components continue to become legalized across the country and touted for their medical benefits—such as relieving anxiety, lessening depression, alleviating pain, migraines, and other ailments—a rash of products have emerged on the market.

The inherent issue with this: CBD product labels can be misleading, and may contain higher levels of THC than they claim, according to the DOT. The FDA does not certify THC levels in CBD products, so there is no federal oversight to ensure that labels are accurate and actually contain the amount of THC they claim.

The FDA has warned consumers to be aware when purchasing CBD products, adding that:

  • It is illegal to market CBD by adding it to food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.
  • Several warning letters have been issued to companies because their products contained more CBD than indicated on product labels.

Per DOT Drug and Alcohol testing regulations, the use of Schedule 1 drugs, including marijuana, are not authorized for any reason. Furthermore:

  • CBD use is not a legitimate medical explanation for laboratory-confirmed positive marijuana results.
  • Medical Review Officers will verify drug tests confirmed at appropriate cutoffs as positive, even if an employee claims to have only used CBDs.

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How Drivers—and Carriers—Can Protect Themselves

Since the use of CBD products can lead to positive drug test results, DOT-regulated CDL drivers must be cautious when using them or considering whether to use them, the agency warns.

The ramifications for testing positive can be significant for both drivers and carriers. Drivers with drug and alcohol violations recorded in the Clearinghouse must be removed from safety-sensitive functions, including operating a commercial motor vehicle, until they complete the return-to-duty process.

As of September 1:

  • 87,438 drivers had at least one violation.
  • 69,937 CDL holders were in prohibited status.
  • 52,691 had not yet started the return-to-duty process.

To protect your drivers, your fleet, and your business, is essential to be vigilant about your drivers’ ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. Many drivers may not be aware of the risks of CBD, so be sure to educate yourself and them. Through the Clearinghouse, the DOT is cracking down on CBD use, and the implications of any positive drug tests can be costly.

Don’t be caught off guard. Foley’s DOT Compliant Drug and Alcohol Testing and Clearinghouse Services can help—because your chief concerns as a carrier are safety and compliance. Contact us today!

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