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Cbd oil for law enforcement

CBD, hemp and similar legal products are confusing the police and putting users at risk

The FDA needs to get to work and officers need to get trained so those who use these products don’t continue to be wrongly punished.

When Anuedy Gonzalez was pulled over outside of Amarillo, Texas, on Dec. 6, he was prepared. He handed the highway trooper a lab report showing that the 3,350 pounds of hemp he was transporting from California to New York was perfectly legal under both Texas state law and federal law. But that didn’t keep him from spending Christmas in jail and facing federal drug trafficking charges that carried a potential life sentence.

The lab analysis detailed how the hemp — marijuana’s non-intoxicating but lookalike plant cousin — contained less than 0.3 percent THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), meaning it’s a legal substance. But the report wasn’t enough to keep the law enforcement officer from arresting him.

It’s not just government officials who are confused — and doling out consequences for using a substance they (wrongly) think is verboten.

Though the charges were eventually dismissed, Gonzalez’s experience shows how confusing and risky it is to work in the industries using marijuana-adjacent products such as hemp and CBD as laws and regulations rapidly evolve — or don’t exist at all. The Food and Drug Administration needs to get to work and law enforcement officers need to get trained so those who use these products aren’t wrongly punished.

And an even larger group of people is currently in jeopardy than those working in the field: people seeking alternative approaches to chronic health conditions by using hemp, CBD and other low-concentration THC products. (Unlike THC, which produces a “high,” CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating chemical compound called a cannabinoid that offers a host of potential health benefits.)

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It’s not just government officials who are confused — and doling out consequences for using a substance they (wrongly) think is verboten. Take the experience of a school bus driver in Utah who used CBD oil to manage her stress and was fired after a drug screen came back positive for THC. She insists that she only used the non-intoxicating CBD product but tested as though she were using cannabis, which is illegal in Utah and definitely not permitted for school bus drivers. Because there’s little regulatory oversight of these items, it’s possible that her CBD product still contained enough THC to trigger a positive result.

In another case, a California couple trying to treat their daughter’s epilepsy with CBD oil was charged with “severe medical neglect” by the state’s Child Protective Services and temporarily lost custody of her. Thankfully, after the courts reviewed research showing the substance they were using can treat severe forms of the disorder (it’s the first FDA-approved medication with CBD), the case was dismissed.

What new CBD guidelines mean for consumers

All this confusion stems largely from these products’ close association with marijuana and the rapidly changing legal landscape surrounding its use. The umbrella species cannabis has a variety of strains, some plants have little THC (most commonly hemp) and others are high in THC (marijuana, or cannabis sativa).

Cannabis sativa is illegal under federal law, though increasingly not under state statutes; byproducts of hemp (such as CBD) are legal to grow, sell and possess nationwide under changes unveiled in the 2018 Farm Bill. That measure removed hemp plants that contain less than 0.3 percent THC from the Controlled Substances Act, and treats hemp like any other agricultural commodity. Some states like South Dakota, however, have opted out of the federal law and prohibit hemp and CBD.

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Compounding these complicated distinctions are the scientific and regulatory gaps facing the industry. The chronically underresourced and increasingly toothless FDA has few enforcement mechanisms in place to carry out its mandate: ensuring the products we put into our bodies are correctly labeled and safe for consumption.

In the case of CBD, whether you’re purchasing gas station curiosities or an expensive facial moisturizer, you don’t really know what’s in it. The product can contain more THC than what’s federally allowed, and after frequent dosing can potentially trigger a positive drug screen.

The FDA’s efforts to enforce its CBD rules — mostly aimed at mislabeling and weeding out bogus health claims — have been essentially limited to sternly worded letters addressed to businesses running afoul of marketing guidelines. A 2017 study shows that’s a lot of companies, leaving the FDA with a full plate. The researchers found that nearly 70 percent of all CBD products sold online are mislabeled, “causing potential serious harm to its consumers.”

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But companies engaging in sloppy manufacturing or false advertising aren’t the only ones responsible. There’s also a lack of reliable research for businesses and consumers to use. In the case of the bus driver’s positive drug screen, for instance, there’s conflicting scientific findings as to whether, in certain acidic conditions, CBD can break down and convert to THC in the body. (The World Health Organization, for its part, has concluded that there’s no evidence of public health problems stemming from the use of “pure CBD.”)

Daniel Mehler, a Colorado attorney who defended Gonzalez in Texas and is a student of cannabis pharmacology, contends that research has been stymied because of historic prohibitions on cannabis. As a result, knowledge lags far behind the industry’s popularity and health claims made by companies, which research estimates could rake in $20 billion by 2024.

“People are jumping into this industry feet first and consuming unknown quantities of CBD,” Mehler said. “A lot of these products are mislabeled, and there’s no understanding of what the potential long-term health consequences are.”

While scientists pursue answers, the job of law enforcement has become complicated. From a policing perspective, telling the difference between smokable hemp (legal) and smokable cannabis (illegal in states that include Texas) isn’t so simple for the naked eye, likely requiring lab tests to determine the potency.

Companies engaging in sloppy manufacturing or false advertising aren’t the only ones responsible. There’s also a lack of reliable research for businesses and consumers to use.

Even those most versed in the technicalities can struggle with key distinctions. Mehler told NBC News that the Drug Enforcement Administration agent who took on the case against his client incorrectly testified in courtthat the law defined hemp as containing 0.03 percent THC when it’s actually 0.3 percent. Mehler said even the 0.3 percent threshold is an infinitesimal amount of THC.

Confusing one decimal point nearly upended Mr. Gonzalez’s entire life. And it destroyed his cargo. Mehler said the hemp wasn’t properly stored by the authorities and had to be dumped.

Unless these issues are addressed, people will keep losing their jobs for no reason, delivery drivers will continue being jailed and patients seeking alternative treatments will remain in the dark about what they’re actually taking.

Zachary Siegel is a freelance journalist in Chicago. He covers public health and criminal justice.

How CBD Is Helping Police Officers and First Responders

With the increasing popularity of CBD products, more people started showing high interest in the therapeutic potential CBD contains.

Commonly used to relieve stress, soothe away aches and pains, and inspire a good night’s sleep, CBD is being used by everyone around the world. This includes police officers and many first responders. While the cannabis plant has been around for a long time, it only gained the public’s attention recently.

Ever since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp-derived products in the US, it got removed from the Controlled Substances Act, which changed the history of hemp forever. According to federal law, CBD products are legal and can be used freely as long as they contain less than 0.3% of THC 1 .

Can Police Officers Really Use CBD?

While governmental positions in law enforcement have a zero tolerance policy for illegal drug use, several agencies across the country are starting to change their stand for CBD.

There’s a rise in the number of police officers who claim CBD to have helped them. Both seasoned and potential police candidates noticed the same effect.

While the FDA hasn’t yet set regulation standards when it comes to CBD, the 2018 Farm Bill made CBD products, derived from hemp, legal at the federal level. States still have the final say, but CBD is legal in the majority of the US.

Historically, CBD has been treated the same as THC. Both were considered to be substances that are psychotic and make you high. So, both were banned law enforcement. Even though it’s not a controlled substance, it has become somewhat of a standard in screening questions for individuals interested in becoming police officers in several states.
But, things changed. Take Arizona, for example. In June 2019, the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board (AZPOST) changed their stance on screening potential officers for the use of CBD products. A statement was issued that ensured AZPOST “does not view the use or possession of over-the-counter products containing CBD as constituting the illegal use or possession of marijuana, a dangerous drug, or a narcotic drug.” 2

AZPOST executive director, Matt Giordano, maintains that potential police officers aren’t using CBD to get high. They’re using it for its therapeutic properties.

“Police agencies have seen an increase in the number of applicants that have disclosed the use of products containing CBD during their backgrounds,” said Giordano. “What we are finding is someone who might rub a product containing CBD oil on their elbow or knee before going out for a run.”

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Even potential police officer candidates in Utah , a state historically know for its strict marijuana laws, can now divulge if they have used medical marijuana or CBD in the past and not immediately be rejected for hire. According to Utah officials, any applicant who admits to medical cannabis or CBD use will be considered on a case-by-case basis 3 .

As it stands, the legality of CBD use by police officers varies from state to state and each individual department. Some police officers are given the go-ahead to use CBD products, while others are forbidden.

What stands clear for cops when it comes to using CBD, however, is just how beneficial it can be. When you consider the stress levels and physical exhaustion a police officer faces, it’s no wonder that many are turning to CBD for the relief they need.

The same applies for first responders like EMTs, paramedics, and firemen.

There’s serious benefit to be found in CBD products, especially for those who put their lives on the line to help the lives of others.

How CBD Can Benefits Police and First Responders

For some, CBD is a the precious solution. With its ability to relieve everything from stress and depression to chronic pain and sleepless nights, there’s nothing else that quite compares. CBD contains impressive benefits that make it ideal for many different people, including police officers and first responders.

Taking on the role of a police officer or first responder is a serious commitment. It can be dangerous and lead to significant stress levels. Research shows that the demands of being in law enforcement can put police officers at an increased risk for increased levels of stress, insomnia, high blood pressure, PTSD, depression, and even suicide 4 .

Here’s how CBD could help.

Stress Relief

Some jobs are undoubtedly more stressful than others. Being a police officer or first responder are both jobs where you experience your fair share of stress. The things that stress most of us out on a regular basis are vastly different from the stress police officers and first responders experience.

Think about it. When police officers respond to a call, even for something as simple as shoplifting, they have no idea what they’re getting into. Take the two Dallas, TX police officers who were shot at a routine shoplifting call at Home Depot, in 2018. As they attempted to arrest the shoplifter, he shot them both of them and the store’s loss prevention officer. Both were critically wounded, and one of the police officers died.

Environmental stress is also a big part of these jobs. Death of a co-worker or citizen isn’t uncommon and is an unfortunate reality many police officers and first responders experience on a regular basis. Add on occupational stressors such as increased fatigue, negative commentary from the public, working overtime, dealing with court proceedings and arrests, and it’s easy to see why stress affects these individuals the way it does.

While CBD won’t make the demands of these types of positions any less, it can help with the stress they entail. Numerous studies have shown CBD could be a potential treatment for anxiety disorders , including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, social anxiety disorder, and more 5 .

Better Sleep

Lack of sleep has been likened to an epidemic in the US, and police officers and first responders certainly aren’t exempt. Research indicates that 40% of police officers have symptoms of some type of sleep disorder. Insomnia and sleep apnea tend to be the most common 6 .

Many police officers and first responders have irregular sleep schedules. Taking into consideration how much stress affects your sleep and vice-versa, there are countless officers and first responders that aren’t getting the sleep they need.

Here’s where CBD might help. It’s known to regulate the sleep/wake cycle, and depending on how much is taken, CBD can promote either wakefulness or sleepiness. In low doses, it’s known to work as a wake-promoting agent . When taken in higher doses CBD shows to contain more of a sedative-like effect 6 .

According to Consumer Reports, about 10% of the people that take CBD do so for better sleep. For police officers and first responders that need to sleep well, be well rested and fully alert to perform to the best of their ability, CBD could be the answer. Especially for those that don’t want to take over-the-counter or prescription sleeping pills.

While these options might work for short-term sleep relief, they’re not designed to be used after sleepless nights. Sleeping pills can also be addictive and come with some serious negative side effects. CBD offers a natural alternative to help police officers and first responders not only get better sleep but relieve the stress that’s likely led to their sleep issues. Sounds like a win-win to us.

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Pain Relief

According to Police Chief Magazine , police officers are “almost guaranteed to events that can be physically traumatizing.” There’s no doubt that field operations can lead to serious injuries, but there are also common everyday happenings that can injure a police officer or first responder 7 .

Research shows that due to the unpredictability and physical nature of such positions, they are at a higher risk of work-related physical injury. The most common injuries amongst police officers are soft tissue sprains, but more serious injuries are also a part of the job 8 .

Lower back pain is also extremely common, with 62% of police officers experiencing back pain on a regular basis. Sitting or standing for long periods of time, wearing heavy duty belts, and even working late nights are all known to contribute to lower back pain amongst police officers 9 .

With its numerous studies and countless anecdotal accounts of the efficacy of CBD to manage both chronic and acute pain, it provides an OTC and opioid-free alternative for officers and first responders for pain relief. Whether taken orally as or used topically to target sore areas, CBD can be a serious help to police officers and first responders looking to naturally relieve the pain they experience on a daily basis 10 .

Final Thoughts on CBD for Police Officers and First Responders

While not every jurisdiction permits police officers and first responders to use CBD products, there are certainly those who use it with great results.

Many companies understand how important it is for people in such positions to be able to confidently use CBD product without the risk of THC showing up in a urinalysis.

WKND! Wellness , for example, formulates all CBD products without THC, specifically for police officers and first responders to have the option to safely use CBD, THC-free.

There’s no doubt that CBD can help police officers and first responders with the demands of their duties. We truly look forward to the day when all active duty personnel can freely use the non-psychoactive cannabinoid without having to worry about the repercussions of doing so.

CBD use could put cop’s jobs in jeopardy

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 use popular CBD oils for legal pain relief tested positive for THC during random drug tests and subsequently faced consequences including indefinite suspensions and dismissals.

Because some legal CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, cops who take it could test positive for drugs. (Photo/AP)

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THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana, which 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 hard place,” a former federal law enforcement officer told NBC 4. “They can’t prove that I smoked marijuana, and I can’t prove that I didn’t.”

Don Mihalek, executive director of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, told NBC 4 that dozens of his members across the country have encountered similar situations.

“I don’t 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’s not just a law enforcement problem, but also a problem with drug tests that have fallen behind the times.

“The issue right now is the panel of testing,” he said. “Even with the sophisticated confirmatory testing, it doesn’t 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 metabolite 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 there’s no THC in the product, that is sometimes not the case, and there’s 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.