Image Source: Pexels
Should you allow cannabidiol (CBD) use in the workplace? The therapeutic properties of CBD and its legalization for medical and recreational use in various places like Canada, the UK, and some states in the US have made CBD-infused products widely available for public consumption.
If you’re an employer, your employers are probably sending you requests to use products with CBD in the workplace. But what does allowing CBD use mean for your workforce? Know the basics about CBD and the factors you need to consider by reading on.
Know the Difference Between CBD and THC
Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can be confusing to many people. While both are cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp plants, they are entirely separate compounds with distinct properties and effects. THC is the chemical that generates the high sensation of euphoria common in marijuana use, which can alter a person’s mental state.
Meanwhile, CBD non-intoxicating compound that can’t produce the high associated with marijuana. Although legally, CBD may contain 0.3% or less THC level, it’s not enough to cause mind-altering effects and is unlikely to cause addiction or abuse.
Examine the Laws in Your State
Access to CBD products is allowed in some countries, such as Canada, the US, and the UK. These products can include CBD oils, edibles, and topicals. Depending on your country and state, they might be widely available in drug stores or through online purchases, with or without any prescription.
For example, in Canada, you can obtain CBD and products containing CBD for non-medical purposes from provincially or territorially authorized sellers. If you need it for medical use, you can acquire it through medical authorization from a doctor.
In the US, non-prescription CBD products are available online and in drug stores since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp, a derivative of cannabis, with no more than 0.3% content of THC. However, it’s worth noting that Epidiolex is the only CBD-containing product approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Thus, the legal status of non-prescription CBD products in the state remains unclear.
But whether for medicinal or recreational purposes, you must examine the laws in your state. This is even more crucial if you’re planning to create policies for CBD use in the workplace.
Understand Your Duty to Accommodate
How you treat job applicants or employees using CBD will vary depending on the country and state. But generally, you’re expected to accommodate employees with a disability, including those legally authorized to use CBD or any cannabis-derived products for medicinal purposes.
In Canada, employers have the right to develop suitable workplace standards, including policies on substance use, such as cannabis and CBD. But those who have legal authorization to use cannabis or CBD products medically are exempted, provided that there’s documentation to prove it.
However, in the US, the duty to accommodate CBD use for medical purposes will vary according to jurisdiction. It will also depend significantly on whether the CBD is obtained from hemp or marijuana. In states where using marijuana for medicinal or non-medical purposes is legal, you may have to make an accommodation.
Before deciding whether to allow CBD use in the workplace, ensure to equip yourself with the cannabis laws in your jurisdiction and consult with your employment lawyer.
As an employer, it’s also best to provide a safe avenue where employees can disclose their therapeutic need for CBD use without fear of judgment. Acquiring sufficient information from the physician or healthcare provider may also help adequately accommodate an employee.
Manage Employees’ Expectations
If you permit CBD in the workplace, you must have a clear and well-defined policy in place. Employees should understand the expectations and discipline concerning its use.
Below are some questions worth asking to ensure better management of employees’ expectations around using products containing CBD:
- What behaviors or events account for well-grounded suspicion of intoxication?
- When do you have the right to submit an employee to a drug test?
- What’s the possibility of CBD showing up in the drug testing?
- What are the repercussions of a positive drug test due to CBD use?
- Are employees allowed to use CBD off-duty?
- What are the exceptions to your policy?
It’s essential to set proper guidelines and make sure that the workforce fully understands them. Having regular and in-person meetings to reiterate policies can be beneficial in making expectations understandable to everyone.
Identify Potential Risks to Violation of Drug Policies
Drug testing is a standard practice to protect employees from potential injuries due to impairment caused by prohibited drugs, such as cannabis. When testing for cannabis use, the presence of THC will be examined. And generally, CBD products, such as creams and oils, don’t contain high THC levels, so they’re unlikely to turn up positive on a drug test.
However, trace amounts of THC present in CBD products may vary depending on where you get them. In the US, products that the FDA does not regulate may contain a THC level more than what’s federally permissible.
That’s why it’s crucial to educate employees about the possibility of a positive test due to CBD consumption. And to prevent them from happening, emphasize the importance of consulting with a physician and buying a product from a brand that undergoes third-party testing. It helps them ensure that the CBD only carries healthy amounts of THC.
Make a Well-Informed Decision About CBD Use
The laws regarding CBD use in the workplace can be complex. As an employer, it’s your primary responsibility to make a decision that accommodates your employees’ needs without violating the existing laws. Updating drug-use policies are critical to addressing CBD use in the workplace. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a legal professional to comply with federal or state laws or regulations.