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The ABCs Of CBD For Employers

An increasingly common series of questions employers have been asking of late relate to their employees’ use of CBD. Will use of CBD products impair employees? If an employee or applicant tests positive on a drug test and blames seemingly innocuous use of CBD, what should we do? Should it be permissible to allow use of CBD products in a zero-tolerance workplace?

A Primer On CBD

Before diving into an analysis of these and similar questions, it’s important to get on the same page regarding the substance. Cannabidiol – or CBD – is a chemical found in marijuana and its close relative, hemp. Pure CBD does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana that produces a high.

The most common CBD formulation started as oil, but CBD is also sold as an extract, a vaporized liquid, and an oil-based capsule. CBD-infused beverages are probably the most common CBD product, but use of CBD-based cosmetic and skincare products is surging in both retail stores and online.

Currently, the only CBD product approved by the Food and Drug Administration is a prescription oil called Epidiolex, approved to treat two types of epilepsy. Aside from Epidiolex, state laws on the use of CBD vary. While CBD is being studied as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and anxiety, research supporting the drug’s benefits is still limited. However, the FDA recently announced hearings on the potential lawful use of CBD in cosmetics, food and supplements.

What’s The Difference Between CBD And THC?

The technical explanation regarding the difference between CBD and THC centers around the fact that all cannabinoids – both CBD and THC – interact with specific targets on cells in the body, the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found mainly in the brain and are important for learning, coordination, sleep, pain, brain development, and other functions; CB2 receptors are found mostly in the immune system.

CBD has very little effect on both CB1 and CB2 receptors. This is probably why it does not make people high and is not mind-altering; in fact it may even blunt some of THC’s psychotropic effects. Most marijuana grown for recreational use is very low in CBD content, and high in THC. As Medical News Today explained, “CBD is an entirely different compound from THC, and its effects are very complex. It is not psychoactive, meaning it does not produce a ‘high’ or change a person's state of mind.”

CBD And Impairment

While you should consult with your medical advisor on specific situations, you generally should not be concerned about your workers becoming impaired from CBD use. A 2015 NIH – National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) paper explained why CBD should not impair employees:

Different cannabinoids can have very different biological effects; CBD, for example, does not make people high and is not intoxicating. And, there is reason to believe it may have a range of uses in medicine, including in the treatment of seizures and other neurological disorders.

However, that’s not to say that CBD will never present a problem for you. Much about the substance is still unknown, as stated in a 2015 National Institute of Health analysis: “Marijuana has over 500 chemicals in total, including the 100 or so cannabinoids, so we will still be learning about this plant for years to come.”

A particular problem stems from the fact that your workers might not know exactly what else is in the CBD product they are using. Most CBD products are sold as supplements and are not regulated by the FDA, meaning they could also have various other substances mixed in. For example, is Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the metabolite that makes one high, present? What else could be added to the mix?

A recent study of 84 CBD products bought online showed that more than a quarter of the products contained less CBD than labeled, but that THC was found in 18 products. Research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that 43 percent of CBD oils tested had more THC in them than labeled.

Positive Drug Tests

This means that one of your workers or applicants might think they are staying on the right side of the law when using a CBD product, but could inadvertently ingest substances that violate your valid drug policies. Barry Sample, the Director of Science and Technology for the drug testing laboratory Quest Diagnostics, recently observed that the government is not ensuring the level of THC remains low because CBD oil is not regulated in the United States. Therefore, he said, “if somebody is using a CBD oil that contains residual THC in it, they very likely could test positive on a urine drug test. Not because of the CBD itself – but because of a contaminant that is in that oil.”

While CBD itself would not report positive for marijuana or marijuana metabolite, if the CBD product used by your employee or applicant contains THC at a sufficiently high concentration, it is possible, depending on usage patterns, that the use of these products could cause a positive urine drug test result for marijuana metabolites. For example, in some states, CBD may contain up to 5 percent THC.

So what should you do if an applicant or employee tests positive and claims they only used CBD? Unless an employee is using the sole FDA-approved medical product, Epidiolex, a confirmed positive for THC means that the employee has probably ingested THC – even though they may have assumed that a CDB product would not result in a positive test or lead to any sort of impairment. The burden would then be on the employee to prove that they did not ingest THC, and you would need to consider how to respond to such a positive test on a case-by-case basis.

Use At The Workplace

Because the FDA does not regulate CBD products other than Epidiolex, an employee has no guarantee that their supposedly pure CBD product does not contain THC. You should educate employees about this problem and explain that even if they advise you in advance that they are using a CBD product that is not supposed to impair them or create a safety threat, you will have to take action if they later test positive for THC.

Generally, it takes more of a food or drink containing THC to impair an employee or to result in a positive test, but there are no guarantees. Similarly, CBD creams, oils, and cosmetics containing THC would be less likely to result in a positive test result; the research on these products may be too sparse for an employee to risk their employment. 

5 Important Takeaways

The five most important things you should keep in mind regarding CBD use and the workplace:  

CBD Labeling Requirements

What you should & shouldn’t include on your CBD product labels

Labeling CBD products can be an incredibly confusing process with the lack of specific regulations surrounding the product’s booming popularity. Unfortunately, the lack of strict CBD label requirements is leading to mislabeled CBD products, violations and a trend of lawsuits being filed against companies dues to mislabeled CBD packaging or misleading marketing. Whether it’s the amount of THC contained in products or false claims about products’ “benefits”, some manufacturers are pushing the envelope on their CBD product labels.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently reported to Congress on rampant mislabeling in the CBD industry. According to law firm Akin Gump, the FDA sent a report to Congress in July on the excessive mislabeling of CBD products. The report outlines the testing of 200 hemp products being sold online.

Akin Gump states that “Of the products tested thus far that indicated a specific amount of CBD, almost 55 percent contained a CBD level that differed from the labeling by more than 20 percent. Just under half of the products tested contained THC or a related compound. Hemp products must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC to avoid potentially facing scrutiny for containing marijuana, which remains an illegal substance under federal law.”

The testing has currently been put on hold due to the coronavirus, however, the FDA plans a more comprehensive study in the near future.

FDA Sends Out Warnings

One example of the warnings the FDA is sending to CBD manufacturers is a letter sent to The Dragon Tree Apothecary. The warning letter stated the CBD company is in violation for using false claims on their product labels and website.

“Based on the inspection and a review of your product labels and your websites, we have identified serious violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) and applicable regulations,” the FDA said in the letter.

It goes on to say, “…the claims on your company’s product labels and websites establish that your products are drugs under section 201(g)(1) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)] because they are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease and/or intended to affect the structure or function of the body.”

The letter contains a laundry list of violations the company has committed in its product labeling and website claims by calling their products dietary supplements or stating they are intended for use as a drug, such as “relief of cold and flu symptoms” and “anxiety relief.”

The FDA has also sent out numerous warning letters to CBD companies trying to take advantage of the COVID 19 pandemic. Cbdgaze.com received a letter a for violations stating the company had “claims on your website representing or implying that the products can mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 in people.” The website has since been taken down.

What you need to know

Since the FDA doesn’t currently allow the sale of CBD ingestible products, it’s important to note the labeling requirements on a state-by-state basis. Some states permit the sale of CBD in foods and dietary supplements but require specific label information and warning requirements. To help you understand where your product fits, the FDA has put together a list of the 26 most common questions about cannabis products and their regulations.

We’ve put together some important things every CBD seller should include on their CBD product labels. We’ve also included some common mistakes you should avoid.

At a minimum, you should follow the FDA regulations for cosmetic product labeling for your CBD-infused products below. If you’re selling in a state that allows edible CBD products, then make sure to check state regulations for CBD label requirements.

  • Do not make any false or misleading claims of treating or preventing disease. The FDA has already sent warning letters to companies selling CBD products that have made these false claims.
  • Properly display your label information (See 6 items below) and make sure it’s legible.
  • Do not violate the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970.

CBD Labeling Guidelines

Basic requirements you should include on your CBD product labels:

1. Product identity

This is what your CBD product is or does. It must be included on the Product Display Panel (PDP) of your product. This is not the brand or trade name but it must be easy to locate and see. It doesn’t have to be on the inner container of a product, but putting it in both places is often helpful to consumers.

2. Net quantity of contents

You must state the amount of the actual product without any of the packaging or container, as well as the amount of active CBD per serving. This must be measured by volume for liquids or by weight for solids. The net contents must appear within the bottom 30% of the PDP of the outer container and on an informational panel on an inner container.

3. Name and place of business

Customers must have a way to contact the manufacturer or distributor. The name and address are required on an informational panel on both the outer and inner packaging of your CBD product. Including a phone number is also a good idea or a QR code where consumers can get more information.

4. Ingredient declaration

All CBD products require a full declaration of all ingredients. They must be listed on an informational panel on the outer packaging. It isn’t a requirement on inner containers if on the outer packaging. If no outer packaging, it must be on the product container itself.

5. Warning or caution statements

It’s a good idea to include the standard warnings for children and pregnant women as well as any complications for people taking other medications. It’s also a good idea to include a warning that users could fail a drug test if consuming hemp products as well.

6. Disclosure of material facts

These are any facts that a reasonable person would deem to be important, significant, or essential when buying your CBD product. For instance, if your CBD oil is only good for nighttime use, then that should be disclosed.

Other things that you should consider including for consumers:

  • Whether your product is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or isolate
  • Expiration date
  • Manufacturing date
  • Batch codes

Please note: The suggestions above are just guidelines. You should consult all federal, state, and local regulations that pertain to your CBD product before completing your labels.

What CBD labels are right for you?

Avery offers a huge catalog of CBD labels that are easy to create and order online. You can simply personalize a free CBD label template and order professionally printed CBD labels by the roll or by the sheet. Or you can order blank CBD labels by the sheet that you can print from a laser or inkjet printer.

Find the right material for your CBD including waterproof and CBD oil-resistant films, metallics, glossy, clear, and many more. Avery also offers thermal transfer roll labels available in white, chrome, and metallic film.

You can easily create and order your CBD labels, CBD tincture labels, and CBD bottle labels to your exact specifications, all online. We can print your barcodes or QR codes or custom compliance labels for your specific state. Just customize with your compliance needs and order.

If you have any questions or need help choosing the right labels, please call our California-based Customer Care Center at (800) 942-8379. Or let us know in the comments below and we’ll respond within 24-48 hours.

Author: Melanie Neff

Melanie has an extensive writing background built on an impressive journalism foundation. As a journalist for USA Today and The Los Angeles Times for almost 20 years, she covered everything from the Los Angeles riots, fires and floods to LA Lakers and Clippers games and movie premieres. She followed her newspaper career with a long tenure covering commercial real estate financing and development. Melanie has currently been writing about small business marketing and labeling needs for the past 10 years. She thrives on reading, researching and expanding her knowledge of everything going on in today’s business world and looks to provide the most valuable information she can to her readers. View all posts by Melanie Neff

18 thoughts on “CBD Labeling Requirements”

How would I label a muscle rub with cbd and essential oils in it? Does calling it a muscle rub, make it a drug and not a cosmetic?

Ashlee,
It depends on how you describe your muscle rub. If you say that a product ingredient can heal or cure, it becomes an unapproved drug.Check out this example for a company that did it wrong. Avery recommends you contact an attorney or the FDA before you print or order your labels to make sure you’re doing it correctly. I hope this helps.

We are thinking of offering a honey product with 100mg of hemp (isolate) with NO THC per serving.
Can our ingredient panel simply state “US Grade A Honey, Hemp Isolate”? These are the only 2 ingredients for our honey product.

Glenn,
You should be fine with that as long as you list everything in your CBD product, but I am not a lawyer, and I’m strictly going off the FDA guidelines. And with all the confusion going on with CBD and cannabis labels right now, I would suggest that you contact the FDA to make sure you are doing everything correctly. Questions concerning the labeling of food products may be directed to the Food Labeling and Standards Staff (HFS-820), Office of Nutrition, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 5001 Campus Drive, College Park, MD 20740-3835, Telephone: (240) 402-2371. Hope this helps.

What if some one is selling products without any labels just a their company name? How can you report that

Layla,
Thank you for the question. You can report products that are mislabeled to the FDA. You can call the FDA Consumer Complaint line for your state listed here. Or you can report it online at the FDA Safety Reporting Portal. I hope this helps. Let us know what you find out. Thanks for reading.

Interesting post. Would like more information on ointments containg full spectrum hemp oil

its fascinating post and You included all the necessary information for us to make a better decision and presented the information in a one-page table that was really easy to read. Your work made it really easy to make a perfect decision. Great job!

I’d like to get more info about design and printing labels for 1oz tincture bottles.
Thanks

Clayton,
Thanks for that suggestion. We will add that to our upcoming content ideas. If you need some help right now, please feel free to call our customer care center. We’re open and doing business and they’d be happy to help you design and print your bottle labels. Call them at (800) 942-8379.

How does nearly every CBD product have a Dietary Supplement Fact label on it if the FDA says it isn’t a dietary supplement?

It’s because of all the confusion over regulations we believe. There are a lot of mislabeled products on the market. And each state also has different laws. It’s always our recommendation to check with your local, state and FDA regulations before labeling any product.

Avery – I’d like to use your labeling graphic for an upcoming legal education course on CBD labeling and marketing. Would Avery grant a license to use the graphic for that narrow purpose?

Olivia,
Thank you so much for reaching out. Due to the confusing and constantly changing CBD label regulations, Avery would prefer if you just share the link to the post or the post itself and not only the graphic. It’s a topic we’re keeping close eyes on, and if the guidelines change we will update the article and graphics as well.
Again, thank you for reaching out. Good luck with your course!

What are the label requirements for hemp flower verses a tincture?

Since tinctures are ingestible you’ll need to follow the FDA guidelines for dietary supplements. The more information you put on your labels, the better off you and your customers are.

#4 states that “Disclosure of material facts: They must be listed on an informational panel on the outer packaging but isn’t a requirement on inner containers.”

Can you clarify what that means exactly?

Let’s take for example the common CBD oil/tincture…

Does this mean you NEED to place your CBD vial inside some sort of box or envelope? Whereas the box/envelope would contain this required information?

Does this mean you CAN put this required information on the vial itself? (that is if it fits and is legible; e.g. 6pt font size)

Thank you for your question. To clarify, if your product has outer packaging, it must be on the outer packaging. So if you don’t have outer packaging it can be on the vial itself. Consumers need to be able to read the ingredients without opening the packaging.
I’ve clarified it in the article. Hope this helps.