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Could legal hemp put your security clearance at risk?

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2020 | Employee Disputes

Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. This is even more true when the legal product is almost the same as one that’s still illegal.

Government Executive recently pointed out that CBD oils are often loosely regulated—or completely unregulated. Manufacturers often fail to list their product’s THC levels. Buy the wrong product, and you might find yourself in possession of marijuana instead of hemp. This could be trouble for anyone, but it could be a disaster for federal employees who need to maintain their security clearances.

What should you know about hemp and CBD oils?

The 2018 Farm Bill lies at the heart of Government Executive’s reminder. It removed hemp from the FDA’s list of controlled substances. And that change prompted an explosion of new hemp products, many of which aren’t yet legal.

The confusion owes largely to the fact that hemp is closely tied to marijuana. In fact, the differences between the two are often misunderstood and hard to identify:

  • Hemp and marijuana are both names for different types of Cannabis plants
  • Hemp is a term used to describe Cannabis plants with less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • The plants look and smell alike
  • Hemp generally doesn’t get people high
  • Hemp and its derivatives are legal, but marijuana is illegal in many states and at the federal level

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a hemp derivative. It’s legal, but as The Washington Post recently noted, it’s still not legal in food. But that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from making it available in food. Nor has it stopped them from selling CBD in places they’re not supposed to. The Post noted that it purchased 11 different CBD items from Amazon, even though the online giant claims it bans the substance.

As you might expect, the manufacturers willing to break the law and violate Amazon’s online policies might not be the most reliable sources of information. Their hemp products might actually contain more than 0.3% THC. And that means if you use them, you could fail a drug test. You could put your clearance at risk.

CBD and your career

While the military still bans CBD use, other employees may need to use their discretion. If you choose to use CBD, your career could hang on the accuracy of some product’s labeling. You shouldn’t be punished for using products within your rights. But if those products aren’t labeled correctly—and you fail a drug test—you’ll want to build a strong case.

As Government Executive notes, your odds get better when you can show the product listed its ingredients and an acceptable THC level. Your due diligence could pay off.


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