Officer for Occupational Medicine Says About CBD and THC in the Workplace

  • Updated February 29, 2024

  • Published February 29, 2024

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Officer for Occupational Medicine Says About CBD and THC in the Workplace

There is a lot of misunderstanding about CBD and THC and compounds’ ability to lead to positive drug test results. That was the topic of a speech given by Ronnie King, the Chief Operations Officer for Healthworks Occupational Medicine, at a Paducah Propeller Club meeting. He explained the marijuana laws and why some CBD products may lead to a positive drug test.

Since he was speaking to a maritime club, King focused on the potential ramifications for licensure and employment in the maritime industry. However, his advice applies to anyone who must pass a drug test.

Marijuana is now legal in 24 states for recreational use even though it remains illegal at the federal level. It is legal for medical use in 38 states. King shares important information everyone who takes CBD should know.

First, anyone working for the federal government, including the Department of Transportation, cannot test positive for THC. The government agencies do not care how the person consumes the THC. So even if the THC was consumed by using a legal CBD product that has less than 0.3% THC and the person fails a drug test, they must undergo an extensive testing program for 1-5 years to keep their job.

He also discussed the fact that even if CBD is medically prescribed, a positive drug test cannot be overturned by a doctor. Another fact is that maritime employers use urine testing, which can detect THC for up to 30 days. The Department of Transportation recently approved saliva testing, which can detect THC in 36-48 hours. This change has not been implemented yet and could take up to three years.

King made several other points. One is that THC is not water-soluble, so it remains longer in people who have a higher body mass index. However, THC can accumulate in anyone’s tissues and lead to a positive drug test.

“Regardless of how that THC gets in your system, you are going to have a positive test if you use it long enough,” King said.

Also, some CBD products are labeled THC-free but may still have THC because federal law allows companies to label their products that way as long as they do not contain more than 0.3% THC. The third point King made is that it does not matter how a person ends up with THC in their system. They must undergo a rigorous testing protocol to remain employed if they test positive.

Some of the confusion about CBD is due to the varying laws, with people mistakenly believing that since marijuana and CBD are legal in their states, they do not have to worry about testing positive for THC.

Like any compound consumed, it is crucial to understand product content and industry terminology to be an informed consumer. For example, the only CBD product that is genuinely THC-free is CBD isolate. Some brands produce broad-spectrum CBD oil that is THC-free because the hemp extract is subjected to additional steps to strip out the THC. It is important to buy CBD products only produced by reliable brands with transparent labeling and to review the Certificate of Analysis before taking any CBD product.


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