Tamara Patterson talks about CBD and workplace drug tests

Kentuckians are hearing more and more about the health benefits of CBD products. But the use of CBD products – which contain trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana responsible for the “high” – presents issues for employers and employees. Most alarmingly, traces of THC from lawful CBD use can cause an employee to fail a drug test.

What is all the fuss about CBD?

Still relatively new to the marketplace, CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is an active compound found in hemp and marijuana plants, according to the Harvard Health Blog. Some of the potential health benefits of CBD include:

  • Antiseizure properties, especially in severe medication-resistant epilepsy found in some children
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Sleep aid
  • Pain relief, even of chronic and neuropathic pain
  • Anti-inflammatory properties

The Harvard blog cautions that other than one FDA-approved medication for epilepsy, CBD products are sold as mostly unregulated supplements. The author recommends consulting a doctor about whether CBD could interfere with other medications and about other potential side effects like blood thinning, nausea, irritability, or sleepiness.

Issues for Kentucky employers and employees

WKYT recently interviewed Lockaby employment law attorney Tamara Patterson about the problem of workplace drug tests that could result in positive THC findings when employees legally used CBD.

Patterson says that CBD will eventually affect the workplace. She recommends that an employee using a CBD product should talk to their employer about its policy regarding CBD and drug testing, and that employers should reconsider their policy for drug testing as it pertains to CBD.

Shauna’s Law, named after a Powell County EMT who was fired for a positive drug test for legal CBD use, was a bill introduced in the Kentucky Senate earlier this year. The proposed legislation did not make it out of committee but, according to WKYT, will likely be reintroduced in the next session.

The bill would create an internal appeal process for public employees fired for a positive drug test under this scenario. On appeal, the employee could produce a receipt showing the purchase of legal CBD products. The appeals process would be optional for private employers.

We will keep an eye on this legislation and other legal developments regarding CBD that could impact our employee and employer clients.


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