Drew Hinton, CSP, CHMM, EMT
Capitol Technology University, Laurel, Maryland, United States

Tyler Asher, PhD
Capitol Technology University, Laurel, Maryland, United States

Workplace Safety Implications Associated with Cannabidiol (CBD) in the Workplace

Sospes’ good friend Drew Hinton, CEO of Arrow Safety, is a PHD student researching the safety implications and negative impacts with the use and/or consumption of CBD. This is an interesting and relevant topic that brings insight and data to a topic that I have not seen tackled in the safety industry.

This article was recently published in the International Journal of Applied Technology & Leadership. The theory and hypothesis is included below with a link to the full article.

Stacey Godbold
Business Development Manager
Sospes EHS Software

This paper evaluates the perceived workplace safety implications and negative impacts associated with the use and/or consumption of cannabidiol- (CBD) products containing up to 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
While cannabidiol has been around for decades, it has recently increased in popularity due to the various claims of health and wellness benefits by CBD manufacturers and distributors. However, due to a lack of federal regulations pertaining to over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products, many workers in the United States are unsure as to what may be involved with CBD products, particular while at work. This article reviews various workplace issues associated with CBD use and/or consumption, the perception of worst-case scenarios, and the overall understanding of CBD’s chemical properties and characteristics. Based on the data, many people have mixed feelings and levels of understanding when it comes to CBD in the workplace – some saying that it’s completely safe to use, whereas others feel that employers should be more conservative and implement restrictions. This paper will differentiate between what is perceived by the surveyed population versus what actually occurs when a person uses and/or consumes CBD-related products.
Index Terms— Cannabidiol, CBD, Workplace Safety

As cannabidiol (CBD) products are becoming more popular across the United States due to their advertised therapeutic benefits, one thing that is lagging is the number of studies pertaining to the potential level of impairment caused when consuming these products. When workers who are in safety-sensitive functions use these products, impairment is not an option. While many CBD products advertise that their levels of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly referred to as “THC”) are below the 0.3% threshold, only one CBD-related product is currently approved and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meaning you’re taking a wild guess as to what the contents of the product truly are [42].

Statement of the Problem
This study will aim to determine the potential for impairment when employees in safety-sensitive functions are consuming CBD-related products with unverified levels of THC. While the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) clearly states that any level of THC is unacceptable, some companies allow employees to have up to the drug test threshold amount without any type of disciplinary action being initiated [37]. This relaxed stance due to the lack of definitive, published research can potentially lead to a work-related injury caused by the employee’s impairment levels. Particularly, this study will try to address the following problems:
• Is there a measurable amount of impairment when human subjects consume cannabidiol (CBD) products containing delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC)?
o If so, is the measured impairment level significant enough to increase the risk of workplace accidents for employees in safety-sensitive functions?
• When consuming CBD products containing THC, how long after the consumption of the product will the highest level(s) of impairment be noticed?

According to a 2016 research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 69% of the 84 CBD products analyzed from 31 different companies were mislabeled in regard to the actual CBD content, with only 31% of the products being accurately labeled. This, in turn, will cause additional areas of speculation since you may (or may not) know what is in your product [9]. In 2015, the National Institute of
Health (NIH) published a paper stating “While the existing data show promise, it is still too soon to tell whether and for whom CBD will be effective. Like most medical treatments, it doesn’t seem to work for everyone.” [26]. This lack of beneficial information and research can lead to additional confusion and misunderstanding among the workforce when determining if a CBD-related product is considered safe,
healthy, or compliant to use and/or consume.

CBD products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can potentially be detected on a drug screen, giving businesses and organizations a negative stigma about CBD as a whole. The lack of understanding causes organizations to create inaccurate and/or misinforming policies pertaining to substance abuse. Some organizations may believe that CBD (both with and without THC) will cause mental and psychomotor impairment enough to cause concerns for employees in safety-sensitive positions. This stance could be partly due to a misunderstanding of the chemical structure of CBD, causing the layperson to believe it is similar to marijuana.
Due to the overwhelming level of uncertainty within the CBD industry in regard to label accuracy, potential side effects, and the risk of “failing” a drug test, this research will help provide guidance to employers, employees, and the general public about the risks they may be taking while consuming CBD products.

Null Hypothesis: CBD-related products containing up to 0.3% THC pose a high risk of a work-related injury or illness.
Alternative Hypothesis: CBD-related products containing up to 0.3% THC will not pose a higher risk of a work-related injury or illness.

Read full research article here.

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