USCG Warns Mariners of Potential for Positive Drug Tests from CBD

Mike Schuler
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February 10, 2020

The U.S. Coast is warning credential mariners against the use of hemp-based CBD products that could result in a positive drug test. 

The warning was issued as Marine Safety Advisory 01-20 titled “Potential for Positive Drug Test Result from Use of Hemp-Plant Products”. 

Due to the easing federal and state regulations, it’s easier than ever for the public to obtain hemp-based products such as cannabidiol, aka CBD, to self-treat a whole host of issues from stress and anxiety to chronic pain. 

While typical over-the-counter CBD products do not contain the pyscoactive component tetrahydronnabinol (THC), mariners should be aware that some products marketed as CBD may actually contain trace amounts THC that could result in a positive drug test. 

Due to its intoxicating effect, the U.S. Coast Guard prohibits the use of THC by mariners and all Coast Guard required drug tests screen for the component. Under 46 CFR 16.201(c), an individual who fails a drug test must be removed from duties directly affecting the safe operation of a vessel, and could be subject to suspension or even revocation of his or her license.  

“For these reasons, mariners wishing to avoid a positive THC drug test should exercise extreme caution when considering the use of any hemp or CBD product because such use could result in the loss of their merchant mariner credential and immediate removal from safety sensitive duties aboard a vessel,” the advisory states.

The Coast Guard also warns that the use of CBD products is not an acceptable defense for failing a drug test. 

“It remains unacceptable for any U.S. Coast Guard credentialed mariner or other safety-sensitive worker working aboard a vessel that is subject to U.S. Coast Guard drug testing regulations to use THC. Claimed use of hemp products or CBD products is not an acceptable defense for a THC-positive drug test,” the alert states.

While the sale and use of marijuana is still prohibited under federal law, more than 30 states have passed laws legalizing marijuana in some form, either recreationally or for medical purposes with a doctor’s prescription. 

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