Posted on Wednesday, September 1st, 2021 at 10:28 pm
The use of CBD products has exploded since 2018 when the federal Agricultural Improvement Act removed hemp-derived CBD from the list of Schedule I drugs subject to stringent regulation under the Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”). However, that doesn’t mean that every CBD product is legal, effective as a treatment, or harmless. As a result, if you’re currently receiving benefits under a Long-Term Disability policy (“LTD”) or government program or expect to do so in the future, you need to know which CBD products are legitimate and helpful and which might complicate your current or future entitlement to LTD coverage. When in doubt, check in first with your attorney from Capitan Law to learn how best to protect your claim for benefits.
Cannabidiol oils (“CBD”) are low tetrahydrocannabinol products derived from the plant Cannabis sativa that, in extracted form, don’t constitute “medical marijuana;” that is, they don’t produce a “high” typically associated with other Cannabis extracts. CBD products appear in a variety of forms, from CBD-infused beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), candies, teas, oils and ointments, and other consumables. Your body already naturally produces some cannabinoids, so most CBD products are designed to stimulate increased production of “good endocannabinoids” to suppress or reduce chronic and acute pain.
Existing research on CBD suggests effectiveness in reducing muscle spasms, preventing epileptic seizures and related symptoms, and decreasing joint inflammation and emotional anxiety. Specifically, CBD interferes with the body’s absorption of anandamide, a chemical compound that affects how pain is perceived – when more anandamide remains in the bloodstream, there’s a greater sense of relief from pain. Because CBD does not have any narcotic effects, in the right circumstances, it can replace some or all of the opioids doctors prescribe to manage pain (e.g., OxyContin, morphine, etc.).
So long as you acquire your CBD products from reputable over-the-counter sources such as a pharmacy, you should not trigger a positive result for marijuana on a drug test. Certified CBD products should not contain a detectable amount of TCH (the active compound in marijuana that produces psychoactive effects). However, keep the following points in mind when considering whether to use any CBD products while seeking LTD coverage or receiving benefits:
- Because CBD products are largely unregulated, some product labels might not fully or accurately disclose the concentration of THC and also might omit reference to other toxic ingredients
- Before buying or using any CBD product, check to see if the manufacturer has filed a Certificate of Analysis regarding the contents of its products
- Not all CBD products are legal under state or federal law. Hemp-derived CBD is legal “if and only if that hemp is produced in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill, associated federal regulations, association state regulations, and by a licensed grower”
- Rules about whether your LTD benefits provider must allow you to use CBD oil for medicinal purposes may be different from one state or location to another, may depend on whether the CBD product at issue is made from extracts of hemp or marijuana, and the kind of work you do. For example, NASA sent a memo to employees in August 2021 warning employees that using CBD products could put their jobs at risk
If you are seeking LTD benefits under Social Security, federal law – not state law – controls. Be aware that the Social Security Administration guidelines authorize the Administration to deny benefits to an applicant that “abuses” illegal drugs or alcohol. Under the 2018 Farm Act referenced above, CBD products approved by the FDA for medical treatment of recognized conditions are no longer listed as Schedule I substances.
Any product containing THC, however, remains illegal under federal law regardless of whether the state in which you live has “legalized” medicinal or recreational marijuana use. Federal and state laws – and, in turn, LTD benefit providers’ policies — are evolving rapidly on these issues. The challenge is for legislators and policymakers to craft regulations that permit patients with verified conditions to reap the benefits of “clean” CBD products without exposing the public to products labeled as CBD that may do more harm than good.
If you follow the guidance above and carefully screen what CBD products you use and where they come from, you should be able to enjoy the benefits CBD products provide without risking your initial qualification for LTD benefits or continuation of those benefits.
As always, with respect to any issue that may affect your eligibility for LTD benefits, you should get advice about the most recent rules, regulations, and trends from your long-term disability attorney from Capitan Law. Call us at (267) 419-7888 or set up an appointment through our website to get the latest updates.