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Employers and Delta-8 THC – What You Need to Know

by | Nov 30, 2023 | Workplace Wellness

Can marijuana slip through the cracks of a faulty drug and alcohol program?

As an employer, one of your top priorities is ensuring a safe and secure work environment for your employees. With the rise of THC products such as delta-8 and their legalization, you may be finding it difficult to maintain a drug-free workplace.

To maintain compliance with state and federal laws and cultivate a culture of health, wellness, and safety, how should you approach testing for delta-8? Should it even be on your radar? Let’s first take a look at what it is and then discuss how you as an employer should approach testing for it. Let’s dive in!

What is delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC, also known as delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, is a naturally occurring chemical produced by the cannabis plant. Delta-8 is a cannabinoid, commonly extracted from hemp, isolated, and placed in gummies, vape pens, and beverages. This “diet weed” may seem harmless and less potent than delta-9 THC, but there are some concerns. Let’s look at some of the frequently asked questions concerning delta-8 and the workplace and break down how you as an employer can protect your employees and company.

Are delta-8 products regulated?
Delta-8 is not regulated by the FDA. The FDA does not monitor, approve, or surveil any of the delta-8 products that are regularly sold in gas stations and smoke shops. Many chemicals such as contaminants, pesticides, heavy metals, and mold are found within the hemp used to make delta-8, and they could remain in the final product. Furthermore, many delta-8 products are not labeled correctly or contain ingredients that are not labeled at all, and many are mixed with delta-9 and delta-10, stronger forms of THC.

Why is delta-8 THC such a big deal for employers?
Delta-8, like CBD before it, can complicate your drug and alcohol testing policy and program. Because it comes from hemp (.3% or less THC by dry weight) and not marijuana (greater than .3% THC by dry weight), delta-8 is legal in some states. In those states, it can be purchased in certain amounts and with a physician-issued ID card or as a recreational drug, but in many other states, however, the use of delta-8 has been banned for any reason, and there is a good chance that more states will follow, hence, the complication.

Likewise, the federal government also allows employers to ban the use of any schedule 1 controlled substance–a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse—regardless of state law. The Department of Transportation (DOT), for example, prohibits covered workers—most commonly commercial truck drivers– from driving while under the influence of five different substances, one of which is delta-8.

For this reason, it may be wise to include it in your screening as delta-8 use may impair decision-making and physical coordination, which causes major safety risks. Conversely, you may decide to remove the test from pre-employment or random testing but keep it for reasonable suspicion testing, as signs of THC impairment combined with a positive test for THC is considered a confirmed positive result. Make sure you have a detailed and up-to-date policy, compliant with state and federal regulations to avoid lawsuits and other problems that may arise from ambiguity.

Can employers test for delta-8?
There is prefatory technology that can distinguish delta-8 from other forms of THC such as delta-9, but most testing currently available will flag delta-8 as any other form of THC.

As an employer, it is up to you (and federal and state laws) to decide if you want to test for THC. If you are unsure of which drugs to test for and are concerned about delta-8 usage in your workplace, please contact your local ARCpoint Labs and speak with one of our licensed professionals to get more information.

We will help you determine your options for a custom drug and alcohol program, so you can ensure safety and security in your workplace. We’re here to give answers and provide solutions. Contact us today!

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