Following in the footsteps of the country’s armed forces, the US Forest Service has clarified its stance on recreational and/or medicinal use of marijuana by employees.
Human Resources Management published an update early this week stating marijuana is still an illegal drug per federal law.
“All Forest Service employees must remain drug-free and refrain from illegal drug use whether on or off duty regardless of state laws,” the agency stated. “There have been no changes to the panel of drugs contained in the list of Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substance Act.”
Any employee identified for “reasonable suspicion” drug testing will be tested for marijuana usage, as will employees covered under Test Designated Positions. These are roles relating to public health and safety, the protection of life and property, law enforcement, or national security.
But what about hemp products containing CBD – which by legal definition are not marijuana?
The update provided a special caution on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) as it can be inaccurately labeled as having no to low levels of the intoxicating cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
“If you use CBD, you could test positive for illegal drug use.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t just a scare tactic. CBD quality control continues to be a significant issue in the USA while the FDA faffs about on CBD regulation. Even where quality control is good, CBD products can contain very low – and federally permissible levels – of THC, and this may be picked up in drug testing.
This means CBD users who are Forest Service employees not only have to examine labels carefully, but perform due diligence on manufacturers – and that can be a time-consuming and complicated process. This is made more complex by the fact that even third party laboratory testing results can’t always be trusted.
The Forest Service has close to 30,000 employees working across the country, so the advice affects many people.
The agency’s advice follows that from the US Navy (much stricter) and at least one Air Force base on the use of legal cannabis in various forms.