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Will CBD Show Up On A DOT Drug Screen?

Although the Farm Bill of 2018 legalized industrial hemp on a federal level, marijuana is still illegal, due to the effects of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. So if you consume it, either smoking or having edibles,  it will appear in a drug test result. But what about CBD? Will CBD show up on a DOT drug screen? Let’s see how this unfolds.

What DOT Says About It?

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released in February 2020 a Drug and Alcohol  Policy and Compliance Notice, explaining that any hemp-based products are not considered a controlled substance as long as they contain less than 0.3% THC in their composition. Any product with a concentration above 0.3% is classified as marijuana, including CBD products. DOT’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation does not authorize the use of marijuana, nor any Schedule 1 drugs, for any reason.

When it comes to safety-sensitive employees, DOT asked for caution measures as they are subject to federal drug testing periodically. Drug testing applies to commercial motor vehicle drivers, including “pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, train engineers, transit vehicle operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, fire-armed transit security personnel, ship captains and pipeline emergency response personnel, among others.”

To clarify, the DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require testing for marijuana and not CBD. The DOT five-panel drug test collects a urine sample and analyzes the presence of substances like marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines (including MDMA, MDA, and MDEA), opiates (opium and codeine derivatives), and phencyclidine (PCP).

The problem is that amounts of THC can show up in drug tests made by DOT if the employee uses CBD oils, for example. At the moment, Medical Review Officers (MRO) do not accept the CBD use as a legitimate medical explanation if the tests come up as positive.

The Department of Transportation has warned their staff members about the possible mislabeling of hemp products. Some of them, including CBD oils, may contain higher levels of TCH as stated in their labels, making the product illegal.

The Labeling Issue

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) still does not certify THC levels in hemp-based products, including CBD, regardless of what the label or package may claim. Therefore, there is no oversight from the government to ensure those labels are accurate and represent the product well, as opposed to illegitimate marketing strategies claiming 0% THC, or even unproven claims, like cure of cancer, for instance.

Many products’ labels can be misleading, especially if the products do not have a COA (Certificate of Analysis) done by a third-party lab with results made public. Some products can contain higher levels of THC and CBD compared to the ones stated in the labels. The FDA is also looking into reports of CBD products that are contaminated with pesticides and heavy metals, besides THC.

Considerations and Risks

Safety-sensitive transportation employees should be careful when considering trying CBD products. As already pointed, these products might have been mislabeled and contain higher levels of THC than what the label states. THC consumption is prohibited for a regulated driver, regardless if it’s recreational or medical marijuana, or if it came from CBD oils. As officers are unable to establish the real concentration of THC in CBD oils,  they may consider CBD oil in a commercial vehicle as possession of a controlled substance. There has not been an official guideline to be followed on how to deal with the CBD situation.

All Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV) operators are required to participate in DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Program. If you are unsure, seek medical advice before using CBD products.


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