J. J. Keller® Compliance Network Logo
Start Experiencing Compliance Network for Free!
Update to Professional Trial!

Be Part of the Ultimate Safety & Compliance Community

Trending news, knowledge-building content, and more – all personalized to you!

Already have an account?
Thank you for investing in EnvironmentalHazmat related content. Click 'UPGRADE' to continue.
Enjoy your limited-time access to the Compliance Network Professional Trial!
A confirmation welcome email has been sent to your email address from ComplianceNetwork@t.jjkellercompliancenetwork.com. Please check your spam/junk folder if you can't find it in your inbox.
Thank you for your interest in EnvironmentalHazmat related content.
You've reached your limit of free access, if you'd like more info, please contact us at 800-327-6868.

New hemp products designed to bring a high have been hitting store shelves, even in states where marijuana is illegal. These products can bring confusing drug test results.

The hemp products are legal under federal law because of a regulatory loophole in the Farm Bill. Under the law, hemp products are legal if they contain less than .3 percent delta-9 THC. At this level, the products don’t cause the high associated with marijuana.

The new products also contain delta-8 or delta-10 THC, however. These intoxicating chemicals are found in small amounts in cannabis plants. Through a synthetic process, CBD derived from hemp (which doesn’t cause a high) can be chemically converted into delta-8 (which does).

Delta-8 products are proliferating, as they’re unregulated on the federal level and in many states as well. Available in many forms, they’re commonly packaged to look like candy or cereal. Delta-8 can also be added to oils, creams, vapes, chocolates, and beer.

Drug testing yields unclear results

An individual who uses delta-8 products may test positive on a workplace drug test, because its molecular structure is similar to the delta-9 chemical the test is looking for

The action an employer takes based on the positive test will depend on state laws and an employer’s workplace policy. In states where marijuana is illegal, use of a CBD product containing delta-8 is not an excuse for a positive marijuana test. It is also not an excuse for drivers covered under federal DOT drug testing regulations.

However, a confirmatory test for delta-8 may be negative. Delta-8 THC may also interfere with a test looking for delta-9 THC, causing a false negative that essentially lets the employee off the hook from a drug testing perspective.

Impairment the real issue

Whether a drug test is positive or negative, however, impairment in the workplace due to drug use is a significant concern. An employee who is impaired can pose a safety hazard and may jeopardize their health and the health of others.

A decline in productivity and absenteeism are additional issues that can arise from employee drug use. An employee who is not fulfilling job duties hurts the bottom line and is a burden to coworkers who must pick up the slack.

Watching for signs of drug use

To address the issue, supervisors should be ready to address any behavior and performance issues that are the result of impairment.

They should be aware of the signs of impairment and know what to do when they are observed.

An employee who is acting in an unsafe manner should always be dealt with accordingly, and removed from a situation where harm could occur. All signs of impairment, from drowsiness to sloppy work, should be documented.

Taking action when impairment is observed

While drug test results may play a role in any action that’s taken, the documented signs of impairment can also be a reason for an employer to take appropriate action under state laws and workplace policy. Depending on the situation, that could be a performance improvement plan, information about substance abuse rehabilitation options, or termination.

A training program and familiarity with your workplace drug and alcohol policy can help supervisors handle issues that arise from employee use of delta-8, delta-10, or other drugs.

Educate them on the risks of the new products and what should be done if they observe evidence of their use in the workplace.

Key to remember: Employers do not need to allow employees to have delta-8 products, or other intoxicating substances, in the workplace. Being aware of the dangers these products may pose can help employers stay on top of this evolving workplace issue.