WASHINGTON, D.C. – Law enforcement officers who use CBD products could still face professional consequences, as some of the products contain trace amounts of THC.
An NBC 4 investigation found that federal law enforcement officers who used popular CBD oils for legal pain relief tested positive for THC during random drug tests and suffered suffered injuries including indefinite suspensions and dismissals.
THC is a psychoactive compound in marijuana that is prohibited for use. CBD oil also comes from the cannabis plant but does not make users high. Federal law allows hemp-derived CBD to contain trace amounts of THC.
"I'm like, 'It wasn't marijuana, guys.' But I'm caught between a rock and a hard place, "a former federal law enforcement officer told NBC 4." They can't check that I smoked marijuana, and I can't check that I didn't.
Don Mihalek, executive director of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, told NBC 4 that similar issues were encountered by his members across the country.
"I think think a lot of agencies have really gotten to the point of addressing how to handle that," he said.
Dr. Michael Kosnett, a medical toxicologist at the University of Colorado, told NBC 4 that it was not just a law enforcement problem, but also a drug test problem that had fallen behind the times.
"The issue right now is the panel of testing," he said. "Even with sophisticated confirmatory testing, it does not look for the metabolite of CBD. It only looks for the metabolite of THC.… It may not at all be enough to cause the person to feel high or intoxicated but it's enough to have the metabolites of THC appear in their urine. "
Until testing catches up, Kosnett told NBC 4 that he advises all law enforcement officers to stay away from all CBD products. Even if the label claims no THC in the product, that is sometimes not the case, and no reason for a poorly-labeled product to become a career-ender, he said.
"Unless a person really knows and has confidence in the purity of that particular brand they have, they could have an unfortunate surprise on a urine drug test," he added.