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Medical Marijuana: CBD Doesn’t Get You “High” But May Make You Fail a Drug Test

by | Feb 25, 2019 | Essential, National Lab Reporter, News-nir

From - National Intelligence Report Testing for marijuana isn't as simple as it used to be thanks to the increased use of cannabidiol (CBD) products. Based on oils extracted from… . . . read more

Testing for marijuana isn’t as simple as it used to be thanks to the increased use of cannabidiol (CBD) products. Based on oils extracted from hemp plants, CBD contains little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that causes the marijuana “high.” In addition to being less impairing, CBD has been touted for its powers to alleviate chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, acne, seizures and other ailments. Yet, it remains illegal under federal law. And testing for it raises a variety of clinical and legal issues.

CBD Remains Unproven
Most of the evidence supporting the medical efficacy of CBD is anecdotal. So far at least, the medical evidence isn’t there to support the raves of the users who swear by it. Accordingly, the FDA has approved only one CBD product: Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution marketed in the U.S. by Greenwich Biosciences for treating seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in patients two years of age and older.

But lack of FDA approval hasn’t stopped people from relying on CBD as a “natural cure,” especially in the more than 30 states that have adopted state laws purporting to legalize CBD use (either specifically or as part of broader medical marijuana legalization) within their own borders when properly authorized by a physician for designated conditions:

States which Have “Legalized” CBD Products
As Part of Broader Legal Medical MarijuanaCBD Only
  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

No Harm, No Foul?
CBD use may seem pretty above board. Except it’s not that simple. For one thing, CBD and all forms of marijuana are illegal under federal law, regardless of what state law says. Although it has the constitutional power to shut them down at any time, the federal government allows the states to maintain their legal marijuana regimes provided that they follow specific guidelines, e.g., ensuring it doesn’t spill into neighboring states where marijuana is illegal.

The CBD Drug Test Risks
The other problem with CBD are the risks it poses to those who use it. CBD isn’t totally devoid of THC, typically containing “up to” a .3% concentration of the chemical. While .3% THC is enough to make the product a hemp derivative under FDA guidelines, it shouldn’t be enough to cause a person to fail a drug test. The problem is that people don’t react to CBD or process THC the same way. As a result, many a person has lost a job or job offer as a result of using CBD products they never even thought of to equate with marijuana use.

One of many examples is the gentleman from Barre, Vermont, who was offered a job as a machine operator contingent upon pre-employment drug screening. Vermont Digger reports that he “didn’t worry about passing because he doesn’t use any drugs.” Unfortunately, he overlooked the CBD in the lotion he had been using for months on his swollen knee. Result: He failed the test and the job offer was rescinded.

The risk of failing a drug test is compounded by the fact that CBD manufacturers and sellers aren’t required to list THC amounts or include a disclaimer about the possible impact of use (i.e., you may fail a drug test) on product labels. Meanwhile, few employers are familiar with CBD and the quandary it creates with regard to drug testing. For them, a failed drug test is a failed drug test.

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