Last year, Congress legalized hemp at the federal level and, by extension, a product called CBD when it's derived from hemp. CBD is a compound found in cannabis -- both marijuana and hemp -- that many people believe has healthful and even medical properties. In Tennessee, medical CBD is only legal for those whose doctors have recommended it for a state-qualifying condition.
CBD products aren't supposed to get people high. CBD, by itself, contains a fraction of a percent of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, which is illegal. Today, low-THC CBD products are widely sold, although still of questionable legality. And, according to a Consumer Reports survey, more than 64 million people have tried it in the past two years.
According to Quest Diagnostics, a marijuana urine test should turn up negative if the person being tested is using pure CBD. That's because their drug tests are looking for a compound the body creates when it metabolizes THC.
So, people who use CBD should be fine to drive, right? Unfortunately, it may not be that simple.
Many CBD products do contain THC or other adulterants
CBD products sold online and in retail stores are supposed to contain no more than 0.03% THC. Unfortunately, with little regulation or oversight of the industry, mis-labeling of the THC amount and even adulteration with other drugs are relatively common.
In 2017, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined 84 CBD products that were purchased online. Of those, 18% had THC levels high enough to cause impairment.
Indeed, according to Consumer Reports, one truck driver lost his job after testing positive for THC. He had been using a CBD product marked "zero THC," but subsequent tests found it contained enough THC to produce a positive result on a drug test.
This could be the result of how THC is tested for. In some cases, the percentage of THC is measured as a portion of the plant's dry weight, which may not equate to the level in a finished CBD product such as an oil or tincture. Various states measure the THC content differently, and few require testing of the finished products.
On top of the mis-labeling or adulteration issue, there is a possibility that the low levels of THC in a fully compliant CBD product could gradually build up in your body until the amount is detectable.
In Tennessee and many states, you can be charged with DUI for having any detectable amount of THC in your system.
If you are arrested for DUI after using CBD oil, be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.