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FAA Clarifies Regulations for Pilots Who Want to Medicate with Cannabis


Recently, the TSA clarified that you can bring CBD oil on flights now without concern, but there are many more issues surrounding cannabis policy and flying that still need to be addressed. This week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an advisory, addressing what pilots should consider when looking at drug testing prior to certification.

While the FAA will not penalize pilots for CBD use with regard to the FDA approved drug Epidiolex, using CBD oil is not going to be an accepted reason for testing positive for THC. As for medical marijuana, it’s illegal under federal law and pilots will continue to be tested for THC. If a test is positive for THC, they won’t be taking to the air – even if it’s only trace amounts of THC from full spectrum hemp oil or state-legal and doctor recommended medical marijuana.

“Product labels are often inaccurate,” said the FAA in a bulletin published in its FAA Safety Briefing magazine. “Although most CBD products claim to have under 0.3-percent THC, they could contain high enough levels of THC to make a drug test positive. Use of CBD oil is not accepted as an affirmative defense against a positive drug test.”

This means that anyone who medicates with medical marijuana and is hoping to become a pilot will need to consider whether abstaining would be worth it for the chance to get certified.

“We need to understand much more before considering the use of marijuana and its derivatives for airman certificate holders,” the agency wrote. “Please also be aware that no special issuances have been granted for conditions treated with medical marijuana.”

As more states move towards legalizing cannabis – whether it be medical or recreational – it continues to leave government agencies with the need to ensure people fully understand their drug testing policies. While some states may be moving towards banning drug testing for cannabis, we are a long way off from that happening in federal government jobs and any jobs that rely on a federal certification, as they will continue to fall back on “cannabis is illegal under federal law.” And until federal cannabis laws are reformed, this policy is unlikely to change.