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CBD Oil Consumption Can Result in THC-Positive Urine Screenings and Disciplinary Action

Recently, Chapman Law Group retained several licensees who found themselves in trouble with the Florida Department of Health for testing positive for THC in either pre-employment urine screenings or random tests at work. The allegation is that they are unlawfully using marijuana in violation of state law, and therefore they might be impaired. What is curious, however, is that several of our clients do not make use of marijuana. How is this possible? If you are a CBD oil user, you might find yourself in this predicament.

What You Should Do if You Test Positive for THC and You Are a CBD Oil Consumer

If you tested THC-positive and you are also a consumer of CBD oil, I urge you to contact Chapman Law Group immediately. It is likely that CBD oil is the reason for testing positive in your urine screening. Medical professionals are frequently subject to urine screenings. Under the law, practitioners cannot make use of substances they are not legally permitted to use. In fact, testing positive for a substance without a prescription is a violation of the law and the Department has the authority to impose discipline. The worst thing that could happen, is testing positive for “marijuana” when one does not actually make use of it.

Positive Urine Screening Consequences

The consequences of testing positive are serious. Employers are required to report those who test positive for unlawful substances. The Department is required to investigate all complaints received, and therefore will open an investigation against the licensee. At the base of the Department’s inquiry will be whether the licensee suffers from substance abuse disorders, whether they are an impaired practitioner, and whether they are unsafe to practice and a risk to public safety. Licensees could be required to go to IPN/PRN for evaluation and may be required to enter a monitoring contract. Licensees can be fired from their job and find themselves having to pay for expensive evaluations or treatments without generating income. Not to mention, licensees might risk suspension of their license indefinitely.

Often individuals refrain from hiring an attorney because they are concerned with costs. I ask you to consider the costs you might pay up front for legal defense and the costs you would end up incurring if you were forced into IPN or PRN. You should not be penalized based poor scientific understanding and unsupported allegations.

You will need an attorney who has a thorough understanding of CBD oil and its effects and a law firm who is able to produce scientific evidence in support of your defense. Chapman Law Group has both.

What Exactly is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is rich with Cannabidiol, a chemical compound known as CBD, which is derived from the Cannabis Sativa L.[1] plant. CBD is considered an all-natural remedy for a long list of ailments. Effective as an anti-inflammatory which can help with the treatment of pain, CBD is also known to have effects on the brain by alleviating symptoms of depression or anxiety, and insomnia. Perhaps even more significant, is that CBD was recently approved for treating serious medical conditions such as epilepsy.

[1] https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=casa3

Hemp CBD oil is easy to purchase, does not require a prescription from a physician and can be ordered over the internet. Particularly appealing is that this product does not cause any psychoactive effects on the body.[2]

While the medical benefits of CBD are still not well understood, the CBD market is in full bloom. According to recent market research studies, the Hemp CBD market is expected to reach $22 Billion by the year 2022.[3] Because of ease of access, and reported medical benefits, Hemp CBD oil now is the hot new product in the homeopathic market. But what exactly is CBD?

What is CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid compound extracted from the flowers and buds of the hemp plant. Hemp is a close relative of marijuana, in fact, the two come from the same plant, Cannabis Sativa L. While marijuana is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule I substance and is illegal on the federal level, hemp is not.[4] The main difference is found in the chemical properties of hemp and marijuana. Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, is the compound known to cause intoxication effects on the body. Both hemp and marijuana have THC, however, marijuana contains significant levels of THC, while the THC levels within hemp are negligible such that they do not have psychoactive effects.

CBD Oil Derived from Marijuana vs Hemp

CBD oil can be extracted from both the marijuana or hemp plant. Its derivation will affect the legality of the product and whether you need a prescription.

CBD oil from Marijuana

CBD oil derived from marijuana is considered illegal on a federal level. The DEA is unambiguous when it comes to marijuana and derivative products: they are addictive and have no known medical benefits. Because of this, they are considered a Schedule I substance – keen to LDS and ecstasy – and therefore illegal.[5]

On the state level, the legality of Marijuana CBD oil depends where you live. For example, Florida legalized medical marijuana: marijuana used for medical treatment purposes.[6] To have access to medical marijuana, individuals must have a qualifying medical condition, and they must be certified by a physician.[7] In short, if you live in Florida, you will need a valid prescription in order to purchase Marijuana CBD oil or any product derived from the marijuana plant for that matter.

CBD oil from Hemp

CBD oil derived from hemp is different because hemp is not considered a drug.

Congress and Senate recently approved a 2018 Farm Bill which would legalize CBD derived from hemp at the federal level. On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed the bill into law. The 2018 Farm Bill amends the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 by including a definition of hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant […] with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” The Farm Bill also makes changes to the Controlled Substances Act (21 USC 812) and specifically legalizes Tetrahydrocannabinol found in hemp.[8]

What this means is that products derived from hemp are not classified as a drug, therefore not illegal.

[2] Washington Post

[3] Brightfield Group

[4] See Below.

[5] https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling

[6] http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-medical-marijuana-use/

How CBD Oil Consumption Affects Medical Professionals

Perhaps unknown to the public is that CBD oil can cause THC-positive results in urine screenings. In fact, whether you consume CBD oil derived from marijuana or hemp, you are likely to test THC-positive.  Therefore,

I caution those medical professionals who make use of these homeopathic supplements. As mentioned above, while hemp is not illegal, marijuana consumption is and will result in disciplinary action by the Department.

The main issue is that current urine screening methods used by employers are not sophisticated enough to distinguish between CBD and THC compounds. Urine screenings today are designed to detect the body’s reactions to certain compounds and our bodies simply react the same way to both CBD and THC. Another issue is that urine screenings also cannot distinguish from CBD derived from marijuana as opposed to hemp. So there is no way to prove the CBD compound was derived from hemp, which is legal, as opposed to marijuana, which is illegal.

The unfortunate result is that a licensee could be subject to a Department of Health investigation for consuming a perfectly legal, commercially sold product.

Conclusion

As mentioned above, if you test positive for THC, the Department has every right to open an investigation based on suspicions of impairment. And unfortunately, simply claiming that you do not make use of marijuana is not enough to defend yourself against impairment allegations. If you want to avoid disciplinary action – enrollment in IPN/PRN, or worst, suspension – you will need evidentiary and scientific support for your defense and a defense attorney who has experience with this new and evolving area of law. Chapman Law Group has the experience, the resources, and reputable experts for your license defense.

[7] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3#A10S29

[8] https://agriculture.house.gov/uploadedfiles/agriculture_and_nutrition_act_of_2018.pdf

Chapman Law Group (CLG) is a professional health care law litigation firm, with offices in Michigan and Florida. For over 25 years CLG has defended the rights of health care professionals, providers, and corporations involved in the delivery of health care at all levels. We believe the dedicated men and women who provide health care deserve an exceptional defense when their integrity and actions are called into question. Look us up on the web www.chapmanlawgroup.com or call 248-644-6326.

Sara A. Bazzigaluppi, Esq. is a Florida-licensed attorney with a focus on professional licensing defense.  Sara is dedicated to the defense of medical professionals at every step of the process, from the Department of Health investigations to administrative complaints, and hearings before Boards or the Division of Administrative Hearings. Sara also has experience with emergency restriction and suspension orders, IPN/PRN contracts, and settlement negotiations with the Department of Health. She has an interest in substance abuse matters relating to impairment and safety to practice

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