Clearing the smoke: Will using CBD cause you to fail the DOT drug/alcohol test?

March 3, 2020

With the legalization of marijuana, medical marijuana and/or CBD (Cannabidiol) in more than half of the states in the U.S., there’s been confusion among safety-sensitive employees like pilots, bus drivers, train engineers and truck drivers who are required to take the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Drug and Alcohol Test on what substances will fail a drug test.

Here’s the short answer: The U.S. DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason. Any product, including “Cannabidiol” (CBD) products, with a concentration of more than 0.3% THC remains classified as marijuana, a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

From the Department of Transportation:

It is important for all employers and safety-sensitive employees to know:

  1. The Department of Transportation requires testing for marijuana and not CBD.
  2. The labeling of many CBD products may be misleading because the products could contain higher levels of THC than what the product label states.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently certify the levels of THC in CBD products, so there is no Federal oversight to ensure that the labels are accurate. The FDA has cautioned the public that: “Consumers should beware purchasing and using any [CBD] products.”  The FDA has stated: “It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.”  Also, the FDA has issued several warning letters to companies because their products contained more CBD than indicated on the product label.
  3. CBD use is not a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive result. Therefore, Medical Review Officers will verify a drug test confirmed at the appropriate cutoffs as positive, even if an employee claims they only used a CBD product.

It remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana.  Since the use of CBD products could lead to a positive drug test result, Department of Transportation-regulated safety-sensitive employees should exercise caution when considering whether to use CBD products.

For more information on Texas’ legalization of medical marijuana and CBD click here.


Texas MedClinic was established in 1982 by Dr. Bernard T. Swift, Jr., as a group medical practice that specializes in urgent care and occupational medicine. Texas MedClinic has grown to 19 locations in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Austin, and Round Rock. Texas MedClinic is staffed with 82 medical providers including physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners and over 450 employees.

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SOURCE: U.S. Department of Transportation
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