Industrial hemp-derived Cannabidiol oil (CBD oil) is now sold in vape shops and health stores within Knoxville, but the federal and state policy differ sharply on its use. Hemp-derived oil contains minimal amounts of THC, a chemical that produces psychoactive effects, but it is hard to determine the difference between marijuana and hemp products through standard drug tests. Therefore, the federal law classifies hemp products as Marijuana, which is categorized as a Schedule 1 drug.
According to Y-12 and DOE representatives, contractors and direct federal employees are under the above law, and are currently almost 10, 000 individuals. However, the thinking is based on a 2015 memo on “the use of marijuana” from the Personnel Management’s office, which does not address the use of CBD oil. The presidential executive order also influences the reasoning during the campaign war against drugs in 1986.
However, if workers at the Y-12 NSC (National Security Complex) and Oak Ridge’s U.S Department of Energy facilities use it, they are likely to face charges similar to hard drugs users such as LSD or heroin. But the policy affects over half of the people working at Y-12. According to N.N.S.A.P.O (the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office) spokesperson, Steven Wyatt, contractors and all federal employees at Y-12 are all under federal law. “The National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office” is a department that supervises “the Y-12 National Security Complex” as well as another plant in Texas (Pantex). In his email, the spokesperson says that there are 4,975 people and 74 federal employees who work with the corporate partnership, which manages Y-12 (Consolidated Nuclear Security). Wyatt says that the Y-12 plant reminded employees recently that the federal law still classifies the use of hemp products as illegal through their electronic news service as well as during their security training, which is done annually.
“The Y-12 and other facilities in the D.E.N.N.S.A (Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration) need drug tests routinely, which include scans on marijuana products,” Wyatt said. “The urine drug screen test can be positive due to the use of Cannabidiol oil.”
According to Wyatt, federal workers can be tested, after an accident, under “reasonable suspicion,” through random testing and voluntary testing and most importantly as job applicants. For DOE contractor employees testing is done on hiring, but he said he could not discuss how often the tests are taken. “A federal employee can have his or her security clearance suspended if the drug test comes out positive or if found in with any banned substances which restrict access to facilities and classified information,” he said.
However, Wyatt would not say the number of Y-12 employees that have been found to use CBD oil or the consequences they faced. “There have been cases of drug testing policy violations, but we might not be free to talk about the specifics,” Wyatt confessed.
Uncertain Hemp Products Origins
Tennessee law considers CBD legal if it is industrial hemp-derived, but cannabidiol made from marijuana is classified as illegal. However, the major challenge is determining the difference between the two CBD oil sources.
For instance, almost two dozens of convenience stores were closed by Rutherford County following a raid on illegal products in February nicknamed “Operation Candy Crush,” which saw the owners of these stores charged for selling CBD oil made “gummies”. However, the prosecutor dropped all the charges on the basis that the tests by Tennessee Bureau Investigation (TBI) could not determine if the oil was made from industrial hemp or marijuana plants.
The TBI then declared that the responsibility of proving whether CBD oil comes from hemp or marijuana plants does not lie on the accused but the state. “As TBI Forensic Scientists, we identify compounds contained in the substance in the evidence sent to the lab, and give a report on the schedule as stated in the Code Annotated to the agency charged with the responsibility to submit the results in Tennessee,” said Leslie Earhart, the TBI’s public information officer in Knoxville. “Besides, our laboratory analysis does not determine the particular origin of any substance, but the relevant compounds found in it.”
“We do not determine these compounds are legal or not. As the District Attorney has to determine based on the circumstances the case whether there is any breaking of the law.”
Earhart offered industrial hemp’s legal description and stated that the Department of Agriculture in Tennessee was the agency that regulates the source of hemp oil. The agency cites a statute on its web page, which says “industrial hemp should not feature in a criminal code that defines marijuana.”
Effects of the Old Rules on the Use of CBD Oil
As mentioned earlier, the federal law classifies CBD oil as marijuana, which is a controlled substance under Schedule 1 like LSD and heroin regardless of its origin. However, many states, including Tennessee have more relaxed penalties, and now, THC, marijuana and related synthetic products have been downgraded to Schedule VI. Growing, selling or transporting large amounts is considered a felony, but the distribution of any amount below ½ oz is a misdemeanor under the state law.
A memo from Katherine Archuleta in May 2015, noted that several states were decriminalizing marijuana for recreational and medical use, and thus, the office of the U.S Attorney’s Y-12 spokesperson and the “Office of Personnel Management” were all referring to it.
“The relaxations of state laws on CBD oil and other hemp products have brought a debate on determining if Federal employees in such states are allowed to use marijuana as stated in the local statutes,” Katherine wrote. “But Federal statutes are still against the use of any substance classified as marijuana.”
Therefore, federal employees are not allowed to use any substance considered marijuana while on or off duty.
This is according to the 1986 executive order that states, “the use of marijuana might not enhance the efficiency of service delivery of the user or safeguard the integrity of his or her service. But the conduct of each should be evaluated on the basis of each case at a time.”
Using any substance that is classified as marijuana can even lead to firing, according to Oak Ridge’s facility Integrated Support Center DOE spokeswoman, DiAnn Fields. She also cites a 1986 executive order, which says, “People who use illegal substances do not qualify for Federal employment.”
Fast Growing Markets and Easy Access
Despite the clash between the federal and state law on the use of CBD oil and other hemp products, employees at Y-12 and DOE do not need to look far for CBD oil if they want it. CBD oil is available in vape shops, health stores and on multiple websites. Usually, online prices for CBD oil range from about $20 to over $100 for bottles with larger amounts.
For instance, Eddie’s Health Shoppe, which is a health store at Kingston Pike and in Suburban Plaza provides CBD-infused products and numerous brands of CBD oil made from industrial hemp such as CV Sciences, Charlotte’s Web and Mary’s Nutritional. According to the store’s General Manager, Mike Wright, Eddie’s Health Shoppe has sold CBD oil products for around a year, and the business is great. Customers can buy even up to 250 bottles of popular brands of CBD oil in two weeks, while the business is still growing, Wright said.
“This is something that we have never seen before,” he said. “What we are currently seeing is impressive, since this is a big item, especially from companies such as Terry Naturally. Terry Naturally is a supplement and vitamin company that has been in the business for about 36 years, which has now added curcumin and hemp oil mixture to its stock, a product in the anti-inflammatory category. According to their website, there are no claims of CBD in the product, but CBD is one of the primary compounds in oil derived from hemp.
CBD is also contained in dog products and tea, specially designed to treat arthritis, he said.
According to Wright, Eddie’s Health Shoppe receives many referrals from doctors to patients with sleep problems, cancer-related nausea, and arthritis urging them to try CBD oil. Wright also says confirmed CBD products are not placed in the checkout counter because they are expensive and not because there is a restriction of their sale. He also confirmed the products are available for anyone who wants them.
Claire Sinclair, spokesperson for the DOE at the Science facility and Fields, echo Wyatt on testing standards, federal policy, and consequences. Besides, apart from Y-12, the same rules apply to about 5,000 more employees and contractors at various Oak Ridge’s DOE offices.
According to Sinclair, nearly 4,500 contractors and 30 federal employees in the DOE at the Oak Ridge’s science Site office are also under the federal law, but the potential breath of the matter is yet to be made public. “Disciplinary actions are confidential, and thus we do not have the freedom to talk about such actions,” Sinclair said.
On the other hand, Fields reveals that 260 other federal employees at the Integrated Support Center’s DOE are also under the same rules. These employees are informed of the rules upon hiring, reminded during security training done yearly and by an internal agency through emails, Fields said. She also clarifies that tests are not only limited to tests on urine alone.
“All any person is subject to administrative inspections while getting into government facilities,” she said.
However, both the DOE and the Y-12 spokesperson did not reveal whether those who were found using CBD oil were charged in court. But it does not appear like any person has been referred to local or state authorities for these cases.
Dave Clark, District Attorney at Anderson County, confirms that he has not heard of anything on CBD oil or other hemp products; no cases on it, no directions on its legality and no charges for use or possession. He has also not heard anything about the the use of the oil from Y-12 either, he said. Besides, he also affirms that he has not received any queries on Cannabidiol oil or its products from the general public or law enforcement.
“We have not encountered such questions at all here,” Clark clarifies.
However, this is not a surprise because CBD oil derived from industrial hemp is legal according to the state law, though federal policy still states that it is illegal.
The U.S Office of the Attorney in Tennessee’s Eastern District public information officer, Sharry Dedman-Beard would not discuss whether the cases against CBD oil users are being pursued by the office of the U.S Attorney’s, from Y-12 or any other place.
“However, the U.S Attorney’s office makes all the relevant considerations before making a decision on whether to prosecute offenses or not,” she said.
CBD Oil Sold Freely in Knoxville, but State Law, Federal Policy Clash on Its Use: https://www.knoxnews.com/story/money/business/2018/07/30/cbd-oil-y-12-tennessee-law-federal-policy/826600002/
CBD: What’s Legal in Tennessee: http://www.wvlt.tv/content/news/CBD-Oil-whats-legal-in-Tennessee–476337963.html
Tennessee Laws & Penalties: http://norml.org/laws/item/tennessee-penalties-2
Is CBD Legal? The Legal Status of CBD in 2018: https://medium.com/cbd-origin/is-cbd-legal-legal-status-of-cbd-2018-d1b4a0ed42df
Rapid Changes in CBI Receptor Availability in Cannabis Dependent Males After Abstinence from Cannabis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4742341/
Marijuana extract now legal, but can you get it? https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2015/05/18/marijuana-extract-now-legal-can-get/27517847/