The Risks and Regulations of CBD Use for Safety-Sensitive Employees

Published by Global Data Fusion, Lafayette, LA

Can Safety-Sensitive Employees Use Cannabidiol (CBD) Products? It’s Complicated

While Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained popularity for its purported wellness benefits, its use raises complicated issues for safety-sensitive employees subjected to Department of Transportation (DOT) drug testing. Technically, the DOT’s focus is on testing for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), not CBD. However, due to inconsistent labeling and lack of federal oversight, using CBD products could inadvertently lead to a positive test result for THC.

Unreliable Product Labeling

Many consumers may be unaware that the labeling of CBD products is not always reliable. This is because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently regulate the THC levels in CBD products. The agency has issued a public cautionary note stating, “Consumers should beware purchasing and using any CBD products,” underlining that CBD is not permitted to be marketed as a food additive or dietary supplement according to current regulations.

No Medical Exception for CBD Use

Under Part 40 of DOT regulations, using CBD products does not serve as a valid medical explanation for a laboratory-confirmed positive result for marijuana (THC). Medical Review Officers (MRO) are thus required to validate any positive THC test as such, regardless of an employee’s claim that they only consumed a CBD product.

DOT’s Official Stance on CBD and Safety-Sensitive Employees

In its February 2020 CBD Notice, the DOT clarified that “it remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to the Dept of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana.” Given that CBD use could potentially result in a positive test for THC, the DOT advises safety-sensitive employees to exercise extreme caution when contemplating the use of CBD products.

What Does This Mean for Service Agents and Employers?

While CBD use itself is not illegal, THC use is. For service agents, it’s crucial to share the DOT’s CBD Notice with your clients. If you are an employer, dissemination of this notice to your employees is equally vital. Being informed is the first step in ensuring safety, which should always be the number one priority.


In summary, the uncertainties surrounding CBD product labeling and the associated risks of a positive THC test result make it advisable for DOT-regulated, safety-sensitive employees to exercise caution. In the realm of workplace safety and compliance, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.