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CBD

Can Truck Drivers Use CBD Oil? Can They Lose Their CDL?

With the federal government legalizing hemp cultivation and the use of Cannabidiol (CBD) products across the US, the use of this non-psychoactive cannabinoid has become quite popular. People use it for a variety of therapeutic purposes at any time of the day they deem fit.

But is ANY time of the day suitable for using CBD oil? What if you’re driving or working heavy machinery? What if you’re driving a heavy vehicle – like a truck?

If you’re a truck driver or the owner of a fleet, you’ve reached the right page.

Before we get started, make sure the carrier company you work for allows CBD use.

Is CBD good for truck drivers?

Across the nation, reports keep pouring in of carrier companies letting go of truck drivers, who failed their drug tests, even though they had used CBD products.

Mind you, drug tests DO NOT look for CBD. The only cannabis-based substance they test for is THC, the psychedelic component that alters one’s judgment, especially if he’s a truck driver.

CBD, the non-psychoactive chemical compound derived from cannabis plants, has gained much popularity among truck drivers, owing to its immense therapeutic value, including chronic pain and inflammation caused by sitting on his seat for hours at stretch, anxiety, and depression, caused by being on the road for days, nerve pain, alertness while driving, insomnia in old age due to staying awake most nights. Truckers also fall prey to substance abuse that CBD has been known to help with too.

CBD won’t make you feel “high” or experience any of the other weed-related side-effects, like anxiety, drowsiness, dizziness, or dry mouth. Legal CBD oils contain very little THC – as little as 0.3% by dry weight.

Staying on the Safe Side…

CBD oils are readily available at pharmacies, gas stations, and even truck stops. Since the CBD industry is largely unregulated, not all over-the-counter CBD oils are safe to ensure you pass a drug test, which is essential if you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

To be eligible for employment by carriers, all CDL drivers have been put under the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse scanner that came into effect in January 2020, bringing with it a battery of regulations, relating to substance and alcohol abuse that you must steer away from to ensure continued employment.

Mind you, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any CBD products, except Epidiolex, a form of oral CBD spray used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome, or Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC). It has warned against the use of unverified CBD products, owing to the lack of sufficient information regarding their safety.

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Safety Guidelines for Truck Drivers Using CBD

While CBD oil has a better safety profile than most other drugs and medications, it still has a few side-effects, like fatigue, drowsiness, irritability, nausea, diarrhea, lowering of blood pressure, or loss of appetite.

These effects, adverse as they might be, aren’t as severe or common as those caused by other drugs or medications. Only when taken in massively high doses can CBD pose such threats.

Nevertheless, the effects of any cannabinoid (especially since it’s largely unregulated) aren’t exact. People experience CBD’s effects differently, depending on their body type, weight, age, gender, medical conditions, among other variables. Besides, CBD tends to interact with other drugs during its breakdown.

It’s generally advisable for people to consult a doctor, preferably one who is acquainted with cannabis medicine, before trying it for the first time.

If you do overdose on CBD, which is highly unlikely, and experience any of the above-mentioned side-effects, it would be best for you to not turn up for work. Stay put for the night and sleep it off.

Research puts the recommended dosage at 100-800 milligrams per day. Some studies also allow doses up to 1200 mg a day to 1500 mg a day. For an average-sized human being, weighing around 75 kg (~165 lbs), you need roughly 18,750 mg (18.75 g) of CBD taken within a very short span to produce a lethal dose.

Legalities

The laws around cannabis sale and use vary from state to state.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has recently warned drivers of severe repercussions if they failed their drug tests.

While clarifying that the tests DO NOT LOOK FOR CBD, it has added: “The labeling of many CBD products may be misleading because the products could contain higher levels of THC than what the product label states.”

It also made it amply clear that the department’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations doesn’t “authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason.”

On failing a drug test, truckers will not be excused ‘for using CBD oil’. DOT’s recent Drug and Alcohol Policy & Compliance Notice states: “CBD use is not a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive result. Therefore, Medical Review Officers will verify a drug test confirmed at the appropriate cutoffs as positive, even if an employee claims they only used a CBD product.”

As a CDL holder, you’ll be required to take numerous drug tests throughout your life. So, here are a couple of scenarios that you may encounter regarding CBD oils:

Scenario 1: You are a truck driver undergoing treatment using medical marijuana (with THC levels above 0.3%) and you have a Medical Marijuana Card. You are legally within your rights to use it, but you WILL fail your drug test nonetheless. You’re not legally permitted to drive a heavy vehicle while on medical marijuana, anyway!

Scenario 2: You’re a truck driver who consumes CBD oil that has less than 0.3% THC. You could:

  • Test negative on your drug test, which is great for you as you can walk away with your job and CDL intact.
  • Test positive on the drug test, in which case you could potentially lose your job and your license to drive a commercial vehicle – possibly even forever.

Now, even if you pass your drug test, and you get caught carrying any CBD product on your person while at work, you could still jeopardize your job, i.e. if you’re in a state, where carrying or consuming CBD products is illegal.

On the other hand, if you fail the drug test, despite using a CBD product (with <0.3% THC), you must be wondering how it happened?

There could be 3 possible scenarios:

  • You consumed a very high dose of CBD oil right before the test, thus increasing the overall THC content in your system.
  • Your CBD product may contain THC levels that’s higher than what’s declared.
  • Some people do end up getting a false-negative on their test results after using CBD products.

What Happens When A Trucker Tests Positive?

  • You could be taken out of your job and sent for evaluation by a substance abuse professional (SAP). On successful completion of the evaluation, you could return to your job, if you’re found medically fit to drive a heavy vehicle.
  • You could end up on the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse database, in which case, you’ll have a harder time getting employed as a trucker again.
  • You may be forced to shell out hefty fines if you’re caught with a CBD product in certain states/by certain carrier companies.

Last Words

Here are a few things, truckers should do to ensure they don’t get caught or fail a drug test:

  • Inform your employer if you’re using CBD. This may not protect you from the DOT, but you could still preserve the relationship you have with your employer.
  • If you’re summoned by DOT for a drug test, inform the authorities, beforehand, about you using CBD oil.
  • Stay up to date on the latest CBD-related legalities in your state of operation. Law enforcers in certain states don’t take the presence of CBD oil in your vehicle too lightly. You may be charged with felony drug possession.
  • Purchase CBD products only from credible sources.
  • Check for third-party lab test results that can testify to the low-THC content in the product.
  • Keep your doses to a minimum. Don’t consume over 100-150 mg/day.
  • Speak to your physician before using a new substance.

It’s better safe than sorry, right!

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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