When your firm initiates an employee drug screening program, you may have questions about whether the test will distinguish between different cannabis compounds. Understanding the difference between THC and CBD, two of the active chemicals in cannabis, can help keep your workplace safe without unnecessarily penalizing current and potential employees. This guide provides details about how products such as CBD oil will appear on an employee drug screen.
Defining THC vs. CBD
Cannabis contains more than 400 different chemical compounds called cannabinoids that affect the brain and body in various ways. The two most well-known of these cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC creates the characteristic psychoactive effects of marijuana when smoked, vaporized, or ingested in food. Individuals who take THC may experience an intoxicated feeling, euphoria, paranoia, panic, decreased reaction times, impaired judgment, sensation, and short-term memory.
While THC consumption creates significant workplace hazards, CBD does not cause intoxication and disorientation. Many people use over-the-counter CBD products for concerns such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, and pain relief without experiencing the mental impact of THC.
Employers can safely hire and retain workers who use CBD. Both Texas and federal laws prevent the sale and use of products that contain more than 0.3% THC. While federal law does not prohibit CBD, Texas allows the sale of THC only at a licensed dispensary for treatment of epilepsy under the care of a licensed medical provider.
Considerations for Employers
Employers who wish to screen for THC should understand that some CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, resulting in a false-positive test. In recent months, residents of both California and Pennsylvania have sued CBD companies in federal court, claiming they lost their jobs and failed drug tests after using supposedly CBD-only products. Consumer Reports also cited a 2017 study from the Journal of the American Medical Association indicating that more than 21 percent of CBD products bought on the internet have higher THC levels than advertised.
Urine drug tests, the kind most commonly used by employers, screen for a compound the body makes when it breaks down THC. The test will not detect this substance solely from the breakdown of CBD. However, researchers theorize that minuscule trace amounts in purportedly CBD-only products could cause THC to become detectable in urine with regular use. Research shows that because THC is a fat-soluble compound, the body stores it in fat cells before slowly releasing it into the urine.
In addition, the dry weight of the cannabis plant determines the product’s THC levels. This weight often does not accurately reflect the final amount of THC after manufacturing and processing, especially with the wide range of available CBD products such as tinctures, oils, lotions, salves, ointments, and edibles. States also have different laws about how to sample the plant to measure THC, which is significant because some parts of the plant contain more of the cannabinoid.
Employers may ask for a rescreening if they receive a positive drug test. However, because of the illegal status of THC in Texas, employers may nevertheless decide to take action in this situation.
ARCpoint Labs of Austin North can partner with your Austin-area workplace to create an effective drug screening program that distinguishes between CBD, THC, and other illicit substances. Our team has detailed knowledge of the federal and Texas laws that impact the legality of employment drug screening programs. Contact us today for your comprehensive consultation.
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