Last updated: September 25, 2023
The Department of Transportation (DOT) mandates employers of the safety-sensitive workforce to drug test new hires. The DOT requires drug tests randomly throughout the year as well. Moreover, employees drug test after an accident, upon reasonable suspicion of drug use, or when returning to duty after having tested positive for drug or alcohol use. The DOT drug test specifically looks for amphetamine (including methamphetamine), cocaine, opioids (including heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone), marijuana, and phencyclidine, otherwise known as PCP. The test doesn’t even contain a CBD test panel. Even so, users should beware because they can still fail the test.
There are no regulations in place regarding the CBD manufacturing process. The extraction process harvests THC from the plants right along with CBD. With no guidelines to follow during the extraction process, manufacturers have no need to determine how much THC oil actually merged with CBD oil. And, frankly, most could probably care less because, ultimately, they’re mainly focused on their profits. Products fly off the shelves.
Having no idea what the true THC level is can really throw a wrench in the works for employees. The level could easily rise high enough to cause a positive result on a drug test.
Explaining your circumstances won’t change a thing
The DOT issued a reminder about using CBD products or medical marijuana last summer that was straight-up and on point.
Employers and drivers are reminded that 49 CFR Part 40 does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason. A physician recommendation for medical marijuana or use of a CBD product is not a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive result. Positive drug tests account for 82% of the total violations reported in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse since January 6, 2020. As of the April 2022 Clearinghouse monthly report, marijuana has been detected in almost half of all the drug tests that have been reported in the Clearinghouse (negative test results are not reported). Since the use of CBD products could lead to a positive drug test result, USDOT-regulated CDL drivers should exercise caution when considering whether to use CBD products. For more information, read the USDOT’s “Medical Marijuana Notice” and “CBD Notice”.
It stands to reason that using marijuana is cause for disciplinary action. Namely, being immediately removed from service and employment terminated. However, is it fair to let someone go if they were unaware that there was even any THC in the CBD product?
We see how that point might be debatable, however, protocol is protocol. There is no deviating from the process. If the THC stored in the body reaches the test level, the drug test is coming back positive. When that happens, employers follow the DOT protocol to the letter to remain in compliance.
Head’s up and hope for the best
If you use CBD products, pay attention to the small print on the bottle. There are a few brands that declare there is 0% THC included in the mix. Others list small or trace amounts, but users must remember that the THC level continuously builds up in the body if used on a regular basis. That doesn’t bode well for the random selection drug tests at all.
Popping positive on the DOT drug test is going to have the driver looking for a new job. After completing the customized return-to-duty program created just for them, that is. When it has been completed and the required return-to-duty drug test is negative, the driver is free to look for another company to drive for.
You’ve heard the old adage, better safe than sorry, right? If you’re happy where you are, perhaps it would be best to find an alternative to using CBD products. That way you won’t have to worry about hitting the road… without your truck.