CBD in the Workplace: Regulate or Restrict?

The Facts About Hemp Products

The 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from its schedule 1 drug classification, making CBD and hemp products containing less than 0.3% of THC (the addictive chemical in marijuana) legal on the federal level. The industry is booming, with CBD oil showing up in cosmetics, food and beverages, and over the counter supplements. There has been a spike in use in individuals across all generations, and the market shows no sign of slowing down.

These products claim to solve a multitude of health concerns and people are regularly using CBD oil and hemp products to treat their conditions. However, these products are not regulated by the FDA and may contain higher levels of THC than advertised. Currently, there is only one FDA approved CBD drug, Epidiolex, which is used to treat epilepsy in children.

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The Legal Maze

Marijuana is still considered illegal on the federal level, though many states have legalized it. Furthermore, requirements for medical marijuana vary by state, leading to more confusion. Employers must now weigh the consequences of use in the workplace while complying with legal requirements and employee rights. An employee using CBD oil or hemp products may unknowingly violate company drug use policies, even when taking the recommended dosage on the packaging. Low amounts of THC do not cause impairment, but the individual could test positive for the chemical. With the variations in products and the emerging FDA guidance, employers may feel uncertain about how to approach this topic.

Challenges in the Workplace

Due to a lack of FDA regulation, many fraudulent CBD products are on the market and may contain illegal amounts of THC, even if the label indicates otherwise. CBD oil and hemp products are not known to cause impairment, but studies of the drug and its use are inconclusive at this time. These factors may result in a positive drug test.

Employers must decide how to deal with a situation where an individual tests positive for THC. Ask yourself the following:

  • If an employee tests positive for THC during a pre-employment drug screening, is the job offer revoked?
  • How does the legalization of hemp products impact safety-sensitive positions?
  • Do current workplace policies address false positives?
  • Can an employee who tests positive be terminated?

Zero tolerance policies may see pushback as the use of cannabis products becomes more accepted and popular. Medical marijuana statutes vary by state, and an organization could face ADA violations in requesting proof of prescriptive use. Finally, hemp products can be smoked through a vapor device, therefore could be used on company property.

Employer Considerations

Employers may find themselves in a difficult position when adopting the new regulations into their workplace policies. It is imperative that organizations begin revising their policies now as the new requirements emerge. Check local laws for guidelines and review your policy with legal counsel.

Give fair notice to employees about company policy regarding CBD and hemp product use and provide an updated copy in writing. Set clear expectations in policies regarding the routine use of CBD products. Allow for adverse actions (suspension, termination, etc.) in the case of a positive drug test.

If it is applicable to state law, consider removing marijuana from the drug test panel. Address the risk of false positives and the legal ramifications on the part of the organization if the employee appeals the result. Outline the company medication policy for use on company property and how it may be administered. Finally, provide employee education about CBD and hemp products and possible concerns in the workplace.

If you'd like to begin a discussion about these issues and many more, check out the Marco Program Empowering Employers Series. These one-hour discussion based programs allow your team to review and collaborate on the most up-to-date topics impacting the modern workplace. Give us a call to get started today!

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