Did CBD Cost Them Their Jobs?

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by Dan Larkin.

This is the story of two people, in two different states, who say CBD cost them their jobs. How can that be? Isn’t CBD legal? What’s going on here? Let’s take a look at these to surprising and unfortunate stories.

First, isn’t CBD legal in all 50 states?

Yes, purchasing CBD is federally legal as long as it doesn’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC, but some state laws have put restrictions on buyers. In states like Virginia, only registered medical patients can have possession of it.

And, it gets murkier still. So, while it’s federally legal (if under .30 percent THC and from the hemp plant), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits the sale of CBD in unapproved health products, dietary supplements or food.  In other words, it’s only legal in the drug Epidiolex.

How’s that for confusing? The bottom line here is that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) isn’t coming after anyone for using CBD. They are out of the game since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. That’s the bill that legalized hemp and sort of legalized CBD. But the FDA has a responsibility to keep us safe so they are still trying to figure out what to do.

Meet Mike: He says CBD cost him his job.

Mike Harris has been a trucker for more than 20 years. Source: WLWT5 TV

Mike Harris lives in Ohio. He’s a truck driver and has been for over 20 years. He and his partner, Debbie Martin, have clean records and have passed several random drug tests in the past. No problem. Mike has logged over three million miles hauling hazardous materials in his tractor-trailer. He knows it’s important to be drug-free when taking on that kind of responsibility.

That’s why he was so shocked when he learned he had tested positive for cannabis and was immediately let go from his job.

“I know that I was gonna pass it,” Harris said. “About four days later they called and said I tested positive for marijuana. And with zero tolerance in my job I was done.”

Mike Harris

Mike could only think of one thing that could have changed over his 25 years of safe, drug-free driving. During the last year, he started taking CBD for relief from knee pain and soreness after having knee surgery.

He even asked the guy at the local store where he bought the CBD if it would cause any problems on a drug test. In fact, that was his first question.

“And they guaranteed, guaranteed that we wouldn’t have an issue.” 

Mike Harris on asking a retailer if taking CBD would be a problem for his job.

Unfortunately, in this case, the retailer’s guarantee wasn’t worth anything.

Mike immediately quit taking CBD after the test failure and in one week’s time he took another drug test (to keep his commercial driver’s license) and he passed. But his job is gone. Zero tolerance.

Meet Audra: She says CBD cost her a job.

Audra Dieffenbach. Source: Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer -pressherald.com

Audra Dieffenbach had been working as a temporary worker at MaineHealth. She enjoyed her work as a procurement assistant in their purchasing department. So, when a full-time buyer position opened up and her superiors suggested she apply, she was thrilled.

Audra sailed through the interview process and had just one last hurdle to land a formal job offer. No big deal, it was the federally-mandated drug test. It’s required because MaineHealth receives federal funding.

She happily submitted to the drug test, a urine analysis. Then, came the bad news. The results showed traces of THC. She immediately suspected the CBD supplement she takes for the pain she suffers from endometriosis.

So, Audra was not promoted to full-time work and to make matters worse, she was also fired from her temporary position as well. Leaving her with no income. She’s currently looking for other work. But, as you can imagine, this has been eye-opening, shocking, and upsetting for her.

“It was really shocking. I just didn’t think that would happen based on me taking a supplement. I had done everything right up to that point.”

Audra Dieffenbach on failing her drug test

Audra says she was using a supplement called Amethyst Elixir. The company’s website says its water-soluble CBD is made from hemp and contains less than 0.3 percent THC, which is the legal limit under federal law. It also posted a certificate of analysis that shows its THC content, by weight, is 0.28 percent.

So, how can this happen?

Unfortunately, the growing and processing of hemp are varied and fraught with opportunities for the final CBD products to test “hot”, or over .30 percent of THC. It can happen to a few random plants in the field when they get pollinated by male plants. (You want to grow only female plants if growing for CBD.) It can also happen in the processing methods used. Sometimes those methods will cause low THC materials to come into contact with higher THC biomass or it can even happen from sloppy testing protocols.


The bottom line is that you want to know all you can about your CBD. Be sure you see the Certificate of Analysis (CA or COA). Only buy from reputable sources. And, frankly, if you work in a field that requires drug testing, abstain from CBD use if possible, for a week or two prior to testing, if you have that luxury.

Oh, and let’s all keep working to make adult-use cannabis federally legal. That will go a long way to providing us with framework to better test products, set standards, and protect workers jobs.

Have you failed a drug test due to CBD use? We’d love to share your story. Email it to us at info@CannabisIRL.com.

Read more CannabisIRL stories about drug testing here.

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