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CBD complicates issue for employers

Problems arise because the CBD sold on today’s market is not regulated.

Marijuana in smokable or ingestible form has been getting the lion’s share of attention from employers looking to formulate a good workplace drug policy. But there’s a related substance, also growing in popularity, that can cause its own problems. That’s cannabidiol, popularly known as CBD. This extract from the marijuana plant is ingested for health reasons, and is not considered a controlled substance if it contains less than 0.3% [three tenths of one percent, not three percent] of THC, the marijuana plant extract that causes people to get high.

While that sounds like a straightforward guideline, problems arise because the CBD sold on today’s market is not regulated. “The CBD that people are ingesting may have higher levels of THC than 0.3%,” said Dr. Donna R. Smith, regulatory compliance officer in the Tampa Bay, Fla., office of Workforce QA, a nationwide third-party administrator of drug-free workplace programs. “Additionally, employees may be using a larger quantity of CBD than normal. In either case, the employee’s drug test may detect THC above the cut-off level for a positive test.”

That can be bad, because such a test result might penalize employees unnecessarily.

So what can employers do?

Smith advises telling employees something like this: “We are not prohibiting the use of CBD, but you are using it at your own risk because we do test for THC. If your CBD product contains enough THC, and you use it frequently enough, you may test positive for THC. You will then incur the disciplinary actions consistent with a positive drug test.”

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