Florida Nurses, Healthcare Providers, Beware: Urine Screenings Are Ineffective at Differentiating CBD Oil, Other Hemp Products from Marijuana Use or Impairment

If you are a Florida licensed healthcare provider, and you do not make use of marijuana, you might be surprised to know that you may still test positive for THC in urine screenings. Why? Because you may be using hemp-derivative products, such as CBD oil, which could lead to positive test results.

The main issue at the center of laboratory testing is that marijuana and hemp come from the same plant, Cannabis Sativa L, but while marijuana is illegal, hemp is not. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was passed into law on December 20, 2018, and it formally addressed the differences between the two.

The Hemp Farming Act effectively differentiates hemp from marijuana and implements changes to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that now, hemp and hemp derivative products are federally recognized as legal. Most significantly, legislators specifically legalized THC originating from hemp.

How Does This Affect Licensed Healthcare Providers in Florida?

While a licensee may have a valid defense for testing positive for THC, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) only cares about the positive result, and they will open an investigation. Current laboratory testing is designed for ease of collection and analysis, and it’s cheap. This helps employers and agencies produce results quickly. The problem is, speed and cost-effectiveness come in spite of reliable methods to differentiate between different metabolites, or their origins.

Urine Screenings Do Not Differentiate Between THC and CBD

Urine testing for marijuana focuses on the detection of THCA, which is the primary metabolic product of THC in urine. Interestingly, most of the antibodies we produce to react with THCA will cross-react with CBD. While THC and CBD ingestion may in fact have very different effects on our bodies, regular urine testing methods are not designed to detect subtle differences. Superficially, our bodies react similarly to THC and CBD. 

The result is that individuals who use products containing CBD can test positive in laboratory tests designed to detect marijuana use. It’s difficult to disprove the findings of a positive urine screening, but it’s not impossible. A licensee will need an expert toxicologist to assist in a finding of a “false-positive.” As part of our healthcare licensing defense practice, we at Chapman Law Group have successfully retained impressive experts who produce opinions in support of this license defense.

Urine Screenings Cannot Identify the Source of THC: Marijuana vs Hemp

While both marijuana and hemp contain THC, their levels concentrations differ. If you make use of hemp products, such as CBD oil, you may be consuming THC as well as CBD. It is, therefore, possible that a Florida healthcare provider will test positive for THC even when they do not make use of marijuana. Urine tests simply do not identify where the THC originates from, and resulting positive is enough for the DOH to initiate an investigation against your medical license, pharmacist license, nursing license, or other health care-related license.

Urine Screenings Cannot Conclusively Prove Impairment

THC urine screenings today are not a conclusive finding of impairment. Scientific research regarding marijuana usage and its relationship with driving demonstrates how, testing positive for THC doesn’t necessarily correlate with impairment.

Laboratory tests and driving studies show that the effects of cannabis use between individuals vary more than they do with alcohol because of tolerance and different absorptions rates of THC. Furthermore, low concentrations of THC do not increase the rate of accidents, in fact, they may even decrease them. Most interestingly, scientist have conducted “culpability studies” to determine whether using cannabis is linked to traffic accident. The evidence collected in these culpability studies is inconclusive, and similar disagreement has never existed in the literature on alcohol use and risk of car accidents. These findings are applicable to licensees under investigation by the Department of Health.

The scientific community is still unsure as to what concentrations of THC, if any, are enough to suggest impairment. Therefore, while testing positive for THC derived from marijuana can result in a Department investigation, a positive result may not be enough for a finding of impairment.

If Your Nursing License or Medical License is at Risk from a THC-Positive Urine Screening, Call the Florida Healthcare Licensing Lawyers at Chapman Law Group

If you’re subject to a DOH investigation because of a positive urine screening due to CBD or other hemp-derivative products, you can’t afford to let the process play out on your own.

The outcomes of an investigation are not always predictable, which is why you need experienced healthcare defense attorneys who can analyze the particularities of your case.

At Chapman Law Group, our Florida nursing license defense attorneys have reached several probable cause panel dismissals in THC, CBD, and hemp-derivative drug screenings. These matters require evidentiary and scientific support, and we have the resources, including reputable experts, to present them.

In our 35 years in business, we at Chapman Law Group work hard every day in defending the freedom and livelihood of Florida-based nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals like you. Whether you are in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahassee, West Palm Beach, or Fort Lauderdale, our lawyers are here to represent you with:

Contact us today for a consultation.

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Sara A. Bazzigaluppi

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Professional Licensing & Regulatory Affairs, Civil Litigation

Sarasota Office
6841 Energy Court
Sarasota, FL 34240
Phone: (941) 893-3449

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