Can Airline Pilots Take CBD Oil?
People of all occupations and walks of life are discovering the many applications of Cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Airline pilots are especially keen to consider its use, after long hours of sitting in cramped cockpits and waiting around crowded airports. But is CBD Oil okay for pilots to use? Here’s an overview.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
The short answer is, yes, but there is a caveat. In December of 2018, a piece of legislation known as the U.S. Farm Bill federally legalized industrial hemp, that is, products made from cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC, which includes marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin, CBD.
In contrast, marijuana typically contains from three to thirty percent THC, which accounts for the “high.” Some states have adopted stricter regulation than the national allowance, so be sure to check your local and state laws for the most current information on CBD usage, possession, and distribution.
Are Pilots Allowed to Use CBD Oil?
This is where the specifics become less clear. In June of 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released an advisory in response to a flood of inquiries to the Federal Air Surgeon’s office regarding pilot use of CBD oil. FAA medical and pilot certification is governed by federal law (not state), which means possession and use of CBD oil is legal for pilots.
However, the bulletin reminded pilots that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug test includes screening for THC, and warned pilots about the lack of regulation of commercially available CBD.
Specifically, the FAA briefing states:
“Commercially available CBD, by contrast, is not regulated and may be contaminated with a variety of substances, most significantly, THC. Product labels are often inaccurate. Although most CBD products claim to have under 0.3-percent THC, they could contain high enough levels of THC to make a drug test positive. Use of CBD oil is not accepted as an affirmative defense against a positive drug test.”
In other words, while pilots are technically allowed to use CBD oil that contains less than 0.3% THC, if they should somehow ingest CBD that contains amounts high enough to pop a drug screen, they could lose their flight certifications.
Due to the lack of federal regulation surrounding the testing, packaging, and marketing of CBD oil, it seems the FAA is choosing to err on the side of caution. Scientists, medical professionals, and industry-leading CBD manufacturers like NuLeaf Naturals continue to believe more research is needed to understand the potential health and wellness benefits of CBD oil for everyone.