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Can a truck driver use CBD oil or medical marijuana?

A vial of CBD oil with dropper.

With some states legalizing marijuana for medical and some for recreational purposes, and growth in the popularity of products extracted from marijuana plants, it can be confusing for truck drivers and other workers who undergo drug testing.

Is medical marijuana legal for truck drivers? Can a truck driver use CBD oil? What are the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations? Here’s a helpful guide to think through those questions and more.

Marijuana laws at the Federal level

It is important to keep in mind that there is no Federal oversight on the production and distribution of marijuana or any of its products. In fact, marijuana is still illegal at the Federal level. This means if you are drug tested using the Federal drug testing panel and use marijuana, it will be reported out as a positive drug test.

According to a notice issued by the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC), updated in 2019, there are no plans to change this status.

“We want to make it perfectly clear that the DOJ guidelines will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program. We will not change our regulated drug testing program based upon these guidelines to Federal prosecutors.”

In other words, marijuana is still a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and illegal for use by truck drivers.

This is also true for medical marijuana. The DOT has noted that Medical Review Officers will not verify a drug test as negative based upon information that a physician recommended that the employee use “medical marijuana.”

Is CBD oil legal for truck drivers?

Two truck drivers pose with arms crossed in front of a truck.

One of the most recent products to hit the market is Cannabidiol, or CBD Oil. This is the liquid extract from the Hemp or Cannabis plant.

Despite the many claims that it can cure migraines, joint or muscle pain, anxiety and seizures, the manufacturing and extracting processes are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

There are some CBD oils that claim to be ‘THC-free’. THC is the chemical in marijuana that produces the sense of euphoria or ‘being high’ — it is also the chemical that is measured in a drug test and, if found, results in a positive test. Without FDA oversight, there are no standards for extraction and no testing done to ensure consumer safety.

People purchasing CDB products cannot be sure the claims of ‘THC-free’ are indeed valid and that they will not test positive. In fact, there has been very little research done regarding the medical benefits of CBD oil.

Dr. Amy Abernathy, principal deputy commissioner of the FDA and head of the agency's CBD working group, made a statement concerning CBD Oil:

"The FDA has not approved any other CBD-containing products. We want consumers to be aware that there is only limited available information about CBD, including about its effects on the body."

Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned in a statement that "open questions remain regarding the safety" of widespread use of CBD products. He also noted there are concerns about a lack of standards around CBD concentrations in products and the possible impacts of long-term CBD use.

"There needs to be clear steps in informing the public that there is no science behind the generic claims made about CBD," Dr. Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai in New York and a cannabis researcher, wrote in an email to CNN.

The bottom line on medical marijuana and CBD oil for truck drivers

There is a lot at stake for those who choose to use CBD oil and marijuana. Make sure you understand that risk, and then ask yourself, is it worth the risk? For those in a position where you undergo regular drug testing using the Federal drug testing protocols, know that THC will end with a positive test.

  • Have you read the drug testing policy for your employer that is related to your role?
  • Do you know when they can test?
  • What they test for?
  • What happens if you test positive?

Be prepared and plan accordingly.

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About the author
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Stephanie is the Medical Compliance Manager at Schneider. She has been with the organization since 1998, all within the regulatory department. As a certified DER (Designated Employer Representative), she has led Schneider’s drug and alcohol program since 2007. She is an active member of the Substance Abuse Professionals Administration Association (SAPAA). She lives in Crivitz, Wis., with her family.

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