Cannabis has been legal in Canada since October 17th, 2018. Since it’s legalization, an increase in cannabis use has occurred. In May of this year, Statistics Canada’s quarterly report revealed that, “about 18 percent of Canadians 15 and older, or about 5.3 million people, reported pot use in the last three months.” With increased use and access to cannabis, the use of CBD for its medicinal benefits is causing concern for employers of individuals who are required to perform safety-sensitive duties. The reason for this is that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may be entering the workplace in CBD users who don’t realize the THC content of the products they are using.
Growing Use of CBD Oil
Although the use of cannabis in Canada is legal, the use of the drug is not permitted in most workplaces. However, using cannabis for medicinal purposes has been legal for quite some time, causing employers to take into consideration the health needs of their employees. Cannabidol, better known as CBD has been found to have many potential health benefits and is generally thought to be free of the psychoactive components found in THC. CBD is also invisible in drug tests. Studies have shown that CBD may be effective in relieving pain, reducing anxiety and depression, decreasing cancer-related symptoms, and so forth. While CBD oil is widely used for these reasons, it may be costing people their jobs. Due to false advertising, the incorrect sale of this product, and unregulated production processes, CBD oil often contains trace amounts or more of THC.
Individuals and companies are now releasing statements and reports of the presence of THC in CBD products. While the use of CBD oil for medicinal purposes may be permitted by business owners with proper disclosure from an employee, THC is not due to the impact it can have on the body. While CBD is known for its health benefits, THC is widely known for its psychoactive properties that can cause people to feel high or intoxicated. THC levels can stay within the system for longer periods of time as they can build up after each dose. Despite being told that CBD oil does not contain traces of THC, individuals are finding the opposite as drug tests are showing trace levels of THC.
“Nearly 70 percent of the samples tested in a recent study had either less or more CBD than the label claimed. Most concerning was that THC – the cannabinoid that does cause psychoactive effects and impairment – was detected in about 20 percent of samples, despite many of these products being labelled ‘THC free.’” -The Globe and Mail
Where Testing Fails
The issue which businesses across North America are experiencing, is that it is impossible to tell if THC levels have been caused by the use of CBD oil or cannabis, the latter being illegal in most workplaces. To complicate matters, CBD and THC have the same chemical makeup, as they both contain 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. The only difference between the two is the positioning of the atoms. This small change influences the effects that are experienced by cannabis products as they interact with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system. Employees in safety-sensitive roles may utilize CBD oil but instead be impacted by THC, causing them to no longer be safe for work and dismissed due to drug use.
While some employers are educating employees about the use of CBD oil and the consequences that may occur if THC levels are found, many are requesting that the drug be prohibited entirely. Consumers, however, are being encouraged to only purchase CBD oil through licensed producers or to forgo the use of the drug altogether.
Educate and Test Effectively
As cannabis use increases and additional products are released on the market, educating business owners and employees on the various forms of cannabis and cannabis-related products and the side effects that can be associated with it, is becoming more crucial. Randomized drug testing can work to determine if traces of THC is present, but greater transparency must be established in order for individuals to understand the impact of THC and the presence it can have in products claiming to be THC-free.
Promote a culture of safety and trust amongst employees by implementing drug testing within the workplace, and ensuring employees understand the implications of the use of CBD. With edibles coming on the market in December, ensure every employee is aware of workplace policies and the forms of testing that will be enacted to ensure a safe and drug-free workplace. If you need assistance in implementing this, give us a call!
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