CBD may be legal, but people in these jobs need to abstain

cbd jobs

The 2018 Farm Bill effectively legalized CBD across the country (as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC). Hemp fans rejoiced, and soon CBD was in everything from toothpaste to skincare products.

However, even though CBD is technically legal, people in some lines of work are still barred from consuming it. From truckers to airline staff, folks in these five job categories must abstain from hemp for the foreseeable future.

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Flight attendants

Walking back and forth between the cockpit and the back cabin, serving snacks, and working odd hours—flight attendants could surely benefit from CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. However, due to federal regulations, all airborne employees are forbidden from using the compound. 

The Association of Flight Attendants, a union representing tens of thousands of airline staff, put out a notice last year reminding members of the risks associated with CBD consumption. Even isolate products, which contain no THC, are banned by many major airlines.

Truck drivers

Sitting behind the wheel of a big rig can do a number on your back, but truckers in the U.S. will have to seek relief elsewhere. The Department of Transportation (DOT), a federal agency that regulates commercial driver’s licenses (CDL), has set strict drug testing guidelines for cannabis. Concerns over positive THC tests in full-spectrum hemp products have led to an anti-CBD stance in the organization.

Drivers who qualify for medical cannabis may also see their CDL revoked since DOT laws “do not authorize ‘medical marijuana’ under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result.”

Ship captains

The high seas are a great place to relax and unwind, but off-duty sailing crews and boat captains have to leave cannabis off their happy hour menu. The federal government regulates water vessels, and even though hemp is legal, it’s still a no-no on board. Since cruise terminals are federal property, some companies have taken to deploying drug-sniffing dogs at port to ensure contraband stands on shore.

“Safety-sensitive” positions

The DOT has specific rules about drug testing for people in so-called “safety-sensitive” jobs. This includes pilots, school bus drivers, train engineers, transit vehicle operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, fire-armed transit security personnel, and more. Basically, any position where there’s “heightened danger” means that any and all substance use (including cannabis) is heavily regulated.

In 2020, the DOT put out a warning on CBD, all but banning it for safety reasons. The TLDR: a positive THC test from CBD can still cost you your job.

Federal employees

While the government may be changing its policies on hiring people who may have used marijuana in the past, that doesn’t mean you can imbibe once you’ve secured the job. Anyone working for the Department of Defense, Customs and Border Patrol, and other federal agencies may not consume any form of cannabis, including CBD. 

While active military members are subject to strict drug testing, there has been progress for veterans who are medical marijuana patients. Just a few years ago, cannabis use meant veterans could lose key government benefits. However, the Veterans Equal Access Act changed this policy, allowing qualified vets to get prescriptions in states where medical cannabis is legal.

The CBD space is booming, but not everyone can enjoy the benefits. Regardless of your career, it’s important to understand your individual employer’s policies on cannabis and hemp. Rules and regulations may vary, and losing your job over a plant is definitely not the vibe.


Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist and Editor of GreenState.com. She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, Cannabis and Tech Today, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter