Is CBD oil legal in the workplace?

Many employers — and employees — are not sure of the legal implication of CBD in the workplace.

Lately, society increasingly appreciates the once-demonized cannabis plant. Almost overnight, cannabis’s properties have grown remarkably popular, particularly among health seekers.

Like never before, more jurisdictions are enacting cannabis-friendly legislation. Kudos to the global campaign for cannabis legalization.

In December 2018, President Trump Farm Bill signaled a significant twist. Most analyses zeroed in on the controversial bill’s implication on medicine and wellness niche.

Lately, CBD in the workplace is becoming a concern among hirers.

Understanding cannabis, marijuana, hemp; CBD and THC

Marijuana and hemp plants are both members of the cannabis family. Although both variants contain similar compounds, they come in varying percentages.

For instance, while THC — short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, the high causing compound in cannabis — is predominantly found in marijuana, the hemp plant is notable for its rich CBD content.

So while marijuana-based CBD often comes with high-level THC, – and illegal in more jurisdictions – typically, and by the federal standard, the hemp-derived CBD ought to contain no more than .3% THC.

genuine hemp-based CBD products from envy hemp

CBD is widely considered safe and lacks any impairing effect that may threaten workplace norms. Even more, genuine hemp-based CBD products will not show up in employment drug tests, as they focus on THC’s use – not CBD.

The Farm Bill

After decades of campaigns for the legalization of cannabis and its products, the 2018 Farm Bill brings a ray of hope. Alias the Agriculture and Improvement Act of 2018 (AIA), the federal legislation decriminalized the production and use of industrial hemp.

Before the bill passage, cannabis and all its products were grouped as a Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) – alongside cocaine, heroin, etc.

However, this federal law does not override cannabis-specific provisions within state jurisdictions.

The Farm Bill allows the cultivation of the hemp plant and manufacturing of hemp-based products.

The CSA still groups marijuana-based CBD — and products with above .3% THC — under the illegal Schedule I substances.

Presently, 33 US states (DC inclusive) have decriminalized the private use of medical marijuana while 10 ( plus DC) permit recreational marijuana.

Regardless of recent state marijuana-friendly legislation, employers still uphold strong drug-free employment and workplace policies.

CBD in the workplace

The Farm Bill legalizes hemp-based CBD legal across the US. It becomes somewhat tricky how this law affects drug-use policies across US companies.

As with the CBD laws, CBD’s legality in the workplace varies across jurisdictions. That said, the source of the CBD – whether marijuana or hemp – is another primary consideration. 

Hemp-derived CBD — with below .3% — should be generally accepted by hirers – except in states with conflicting laws.

In some states with medical marijuana-friendly laws, you may not be automatically fired for testing positive to THC. However, you need to analyze the state’s provisions further. Somehow, not all states provide employee-specific protection for medical marijuana users.

That said, state, regardless, marijuana usage within the business property is generally considered unethical. Being under the influence of any regulated substances during work hours is highly prohibited.

Employers’ Challenge

With the truckloads of CBD products on the market, CBD users are not sure which is what. Most products marketed as CBD-oil infused products contain more than the .3% THC legal benchmark.

Sadly, you could find these adulterated products in dispensaries. More so disturbing, even in marijuana-hostile jurisdictions.

Since these products are not FDA-regulated, many fly-by-night manufacturers put phony claims on their labels and deceive unsuspecting buyers.

For instance, many so-called CBD products contain an insignificant CBD percentage. Instead, they come with several harmful substances and high-level THC.

So, one could dose on a supposed hemp-based (THC-free) legal CBD product and still fail the THC test during employment screening.  In such conditions, employers can never be sure if the employee (or prospect) is an actual stoner or was only a victim of adulterated THC-high products.

Again, is CBD Legal in the workplace?


First, CBD is considered safe and non-psychoactive. Hence, its use may not negatively influence workers’ behavior and performance.

Also, a typical federal-standard hemp-based product contains an insignificant THC amount, and may not show up on your drug tests.

Even more, the 2018 Farm Bill gives CBD users a legal backup.

That said, the unregulated truckloads of options on the market pose a huge scare. Selecting a genuine from the pile of fakes may be challenging. In the end, many inadvertently dose supposed pure CBD oil only to come out dirty on their drug test.

The many fakes pose a challenge for employers.

Here’s the concern — how would these employers tell the cause of a positive result?  

While the chances are that tested prospects or employees use marijuana, possibly, they may be victims of these untrustworthy so-called CBD manufacturers. 

Therefore, employers may review their policies to reflect these probabilities. Also, importantly, hiring managers may be trained to use case-based discretional measures to further determine the fate of workers/prospects who fail their marijuana drug test.

close up photo of man wearing black suit jacket doing thumbs

FAQ: CBD and Workplace

Does CBD impact employees' performance?

This is somewhat tricky. Well, it all boils down to the purity of the particular CBD oil-infused product. If the hemp product contains, as legally expected, less than .3% THC, such should not negatively impact one’s performance.

However, with up to 70% mislabeled products in the dispensaries, we can’t be so sure the real ingredients in your CBD product.

Out of 84 sampled products in a study, 18 had significant amounts of THC and in varying percentages.

 Any specific CBD-unfriendly occupations?

No such thing – as long as the product consumed meets CBD quality standard. While THC’s psychoactive tendency may hinder performance on sensitive positions like driving and operation of high-power industrial machines, pure hemp-based CBD won’t.

So, again, it all boils down to the purity of your CBD product.

For how long will CBD remain in one’s system?

It may depend on the individual dosage, body size, and overall lifestyle – fitness regime, water intake, etc.

However, in rare cases, it may stay between two to five days. On the extreme, traces may remain for even up to three weeks.

Averagely, it takes between one and two weeks to flush out CBD properties from one’s bloodstream.

Is CBD FDA-approved for treatments of health conditions?

Except for some forms of seizure disorder. Epidiolex, a CBD-infused drug, is the first and, currently, only cannabis-related drug recognized by the US. Food and Drug Administration. Epidiolex is approved for two rare forms of epilepsy — namely, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

For other medical conditions, although common testimonies support reports from growing studies, more human-based findings are necessary to validate existing “claims.”

Why do CBD users fail a drug test?

Intentionally or Inadvertently, many consume CBD products loaded with ‘illegal’ does of THC. So, while one could ignorantly purchase a supposed legal CBD for stress relief, the result could surprisingly come out dirty.


The increasing acceptance of cannabis – for both recreational and medical uses – brings more leniency to employee’s drug test policies. This is indeed, commendable.

Before any disciplinary action against Cannabidiol users, consider:

  • Modifying the company’s policy to reflect CBD users’ interest. Hirers in medical marijuana-friendly zones ought to consider the likely conditions that prompt CBD use. Or,
  • Train hiring managers with the necessary skills to handle situations where an applicant claims they come out dirty for using a CBD-labelled product

For workers or prospects, while CBD oil in the workplace is legal, insist on quality products from trusted manufacturers, preferably with relevant certification, and third-party lab-tested products.

[To learn more about finding quality CBD products, please check out our blog on "How to Shop CBD"]


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