“The growing popularity of cannabis oil is leading to more positive tests for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in marijuana.
But what exactly is cannabis oil? Can workers get high from it? Why would they use it? Is it illegal?
Experts weigh in to keep HR professionals and managers up-to-date on the ever-changing reality of drug use in the workplace.
Cannabis Oil, CBD Oil, Hemp-Derived CBD
Cannabis oil refers to concentrated extracts from cannabis and could be pure THC, pure cannabidiol (CBD) oil, or a combination of these and other chemicals, said Sara Jane Ward, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacology with the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia.
People who use cannabis oil or CBD oil sometimes have disabilities, and their use of the product is understandable: to reduce pain or anxiety, help with sleep, treat tremors or symptoms of epilepsy, and alleviate multiple sclerosis symptoms, for example.
“There’s no high from CBD oil made only from CBD,” said Amy Epstein Gluck, an attorney with FisherBroyles in Washington, D.C.
A product labeled as hemp-derived CBD is extracted from the hemp variety of cannabis, which is typically low in THC. CBD can be produced in a spray, lozenge or cream. These products must have less than 0.3 percent THC to be legal under federal law, but “regulation of these products is currently very loose,” Ward said.
Evolving CBD Marketplace and Regulation
“Many of the CBD oils on the market are unregulated, and while a buyer may think the product has no THC or very little THC, there is no way to know for sure,” said Kathryn Russo, an attorney with Jackson Lewis in Melville, N.Y. Research published by the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that 43 percent of CBD oils tested contained more THC than was labeled on the bottle. “This means that a person using these products might test positive on a workplace drug test for marijuana, particularly if they are using it in large quantities on a regular basis,” Russo stated.
While cannabis oil can contain any range of constituents, including THC, hemp-derived CBD products are supposed to contain only up to 0.3 percent THC, and some contain no THC. But some products are labeled as containing less than 0.3 percent THC when they have more.
“In a product that does contain 0.3 percent THC, there is still a potential to test positive for THC, depending on the amount consumed, the frequency of use and individual metabolism of the product,” Ward said. “There is also a chance that pure CBD tests positive for THC, depending on the type of drug screen used, but this is much less likely to happen.”
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