The availability–and use–of cannabis and cannabis-derived products has become more ubiquitous than poppy seed muffins, leading to a lot of uncertainties for businesses and their employees. And while positive drug screen results after eating the aforementioned muffin was a bit more urban myth than real concern, testing positive for marijuana after using cannabis-derived products has become a real and complicated concern.
How are THC, CBD, Hemp, Cannabis, and Marijuana-Related?
For those who aren’t up to speed on the current state of cannabis products and terminology, what’s the difference between them all and why does the terminology matter?
The origin of THC, CBD, hemp, and marijuana products is Cannabis, a plant with a variety of species that are cultivated for thousands of uses. Cannabis derivatives are broken down into
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – a psychoactive chemical compound found in the Cannabis plant.
- CBD–or Cannabidiol–a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the Cannabis plant.
- Hemp – a general term for the sterilized seeds, stems, stalks, and roots of a Cannabis plant with a THC level of less than 0.3%. Hemp is typically used to make textiles, food products, and other consumer goods.
- Marijuana – the viable seeds, leaves, and flowers of a Cannabis plant with a THC level of more than 0.3%. Marijuana serves as a mind-altering substance when it is smoked, vaped, or ingested.
CBD and Safety-Sensitive Employees
Unlike THC, which binds to brain receptors creating a “high,” CBD binds to brain receptors creating a feeling of well-being, easing physical pain, and, in some cases, treating medical conditions like childhood epilepsy. There’s still a lot of research being done into the medicinal uses of THC and CBD, but the FDA has approved of its use for a variety of reasons. This is where employer concerns have arisen.
The US Department of Transportation recently updated its policy on drug and alcohol compliance and removed hemp from its definition of marijuana. This change in policy directly affects safety-sensitive employees who are subject to drug testing–pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, train engineers, transit vehicle operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, fire-armed transit security personnel, ship captains, pipeline emergency response personnel, and others.
In a nutshell, the above employees may use hemp-derived products like CBD without legal ramifications but, should a drug test confirm THC levels of more than 0.3% in the bloodstream, medical use cannot be claimed as a legitimate explanation. Because there is currently no FDA oversight of THC levels in CBD products, safety-sensitive employees who use CBD products are responsible for monitoring their own intoxication levels regardless of the claims on a CBD product label (which are sometimes above legal limits).
Drug Screening for Your Safety-Sensitive Employees
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