CBD For firefighters & First Responders
Is it safe for us to take?
Most first responders on the job have had to go through recovery of an injury and/or surgery. We’ve been prescribed opiates for our pain, benzodiazepines for our sleep or PTSD and it affects the way we function not only at home but on the job. In most of the fire service, we’re not seeking an alternative of any kind, let alone a better one.
If this question hasn’t been brought up around your firehouse yet, it will be soon:
What’s the deal with CBD and first responders?
- Will our members fail a drug test?
- Is it addictive?
- Is it safe?
- Is it even legal?
It’s not marijuana, it’s not mind-altering and it IS legal at the federal level.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not an attorney, any opinions shared about CBD policy are not legal advice. Please consult with your organization about the proper legal course to change policies if you’re considering doing so.
And yet, first responders all over the country and their unions have been grappling with the concept and potential issues with allowing their members to use CBD. The majority of the time, department chiefs and municipalities just don’t know enough about CBD to write policy on it, so they’re waiting it out until it’s “safe” to do so.
I’m assuming you’ve heard of what CBD is, but if not here’s the quick rundown:
CBD is the non-psychoactive compound found in the hemp plant (if you’d like to read more on the basics of what CBD is see our article here) It’s been gaining a lot of interest in the recent years after it was shown to have a lot of positive effects in the body without any significant side effects. It’s potential therapeutic benefits and no “high” could mean great things for the fire service.
I’m a firefighter in South Florida and my brothers and sisters ask me this all the time since I’ve earned the reputation as “the CBD guy” over the last couple of years after starting Rescue 1 CBD: Can first responders or firefighters use CBD? The short answer is yes, and it’s important to understand where the misunderstanding comes from.
What Are The Benefits of CBD for First responders?
Look, this job isn’t a young person’s game. The longer we’re on the job, the more prone we are to back injuries, tears, cuts, bruises, etc. I think some of our retirees are held together with duct tape and stubbornness. We’re already loaded up with caffeine and synthetic pre-workout stuff, we walk around in a constant state of sleep deprivation, we’re always at risk for PTSD. Cancer and cardiovascular disease are bigger threats than flashovers.
Why wouldn’t we start looking to natural alternatives to some of these things that reduce our longevity?
So, let’s talk about CBD
While we can’t make any claims about what CBD can do, there has been a mountain of research over several decades for it’s potential uses.
The majority of research done on CBD is for:
- Seizure reduction
- Pain relief
- Reduction of inflammation
- Reduction of anxiety and depression symptoms
- Healthier sleep cycles
- Mood support
Currently, the only thing the FDA has approved CBD for is epilepsy, and that’s from a drug called Epidiolex (which is CBD and cherry flavoring).
There have also been case studies regarding CBD and PTSD, and one in particular was centered around 9/11 survivors at the World Trade Center.
You can see that article by clicking here
Is CBD safe?
The World Health Organization (WHO) published an official stance on CBD. They stated that it has no risk of addiction and has a very good safety profile with no possibility of overdose. Up until recently there has been no established dangerous dose (LD50) but it has been found by the University of Arkansas to be 615mg per kilogram of body weight. This is an astronomical amount and would require you to drink several liters of CBD all at once.
The parts of your brain that cause you to stop breathing from an overdose on heroin or a benzo for example, are not stimulated by CBD. Your brainstem is left untouched, so the areas that are responsible for breathing and level of consciousness are not stimulated or depressed when taking CBD
Is It Legal? What About The IAFF?
The picture below shows the 2018 farm bill legalizing all extracts of the hemp plant as long as they have less than 0.3% THC by weight.
The trickier questions come from your union contract (if you’re an IAFF member) which could specifically prohibit you from using CBD itself, if that’s the case then your hands are tied until your contract changes, obviously.
However, most contracts within the IAFF only prohibit the use of Marijuana and they test for it via a standard urinalysis drug screen. Included on this drug screen is THC (among opiates, amphetamines, benzos and cocaine, most commonly)
Random Drug Screens and CBD for Firefighters & First Responders
Here’s the MOST IMPORTANT factor to understand as a firefighter on the job interested in taking CBD:
They’re not testing for CBD, they’re testing for THC.
You will not fail a drug test from taking Broad Spectrum CBD (with 0.000% THC), but you can fail a drug test from taking full spectrum CBD (0.3% THC).
And since CBD doesn’t make you feel intoxicated, high, buzzed, or any of the like, it’s safe to use for first responders in the field.
A urinalysis is performed when you go in for drug testing, this is a cheap kit to look at your urine. This is a “dumb” kit because it can’t look at a molecular compound in detail. It’s simply triggered by metabolites.
If your CBD has 0.000% THC in it, you can’t test positive on a confirmatory drug screen. In theory you can trigger a false positive on a preliminary drug test, but when it’s tested with confirmatory tests, it will show NO THC.
A confirmatory test is automatically performed whenever a positive urinalysis is found.
This is where they use complex processes (like liquid or gas chromatography) and they’ll soon see that this is not THC it’s in fact CBD.
There are CBD products out there that contain THC in them, they’re called Full Spectrum products, and they contain the naturally occurring amount of THC that’s found in the hemp plant which is 0.3% or less by weight. When all of the THC (and other compounds) are filtered out, it’s then referred to as CBD Isolate which can be in an oil, skin cream, patch, pill, etc. If you’re taking full spectrum CBD, there is absolutely a chance you can test positive for THC on a standard urinalysis drug test.
Rescue 1 CBD does NOT sell Full Spectrum products
We’ve helped departments large and small with their policies and questions about getting CBD into their policies. Send us a message and we’ll help!
But, How Do I Really Know If There’s 0.000% THC In My CBD?
The answer is lab tests.
Any brand worth their salt will provide a readily-available lab analysis that’s been performed by a 3rd party. This most commonly uses Mass Spectrometry Gas Chromatography (My Hazmat members just got excited) to analyze the exact molecular makeup of these products. They can tell not only how much CBD and THC is in the sample but they can detect if any pesticides, heavy metals, solvents or other contaminants like bacteria are in the product. For a firefighter, verifying lab tests before you consume CBD products is mandatory.
I completely understand the apprehension behind taking something that you think might endanger your job.
We took it one step further and started including at-home THC test kits so that
you can see for yourself that you’re passing a drug test after taking our CBD.
Where Are We Getting This Information?
CBD has been studied for decades, but we still don’t know much about it due to the fact that hemp was considered the same as marijuana (even though they’re two totally different plants) and illegal up until December of 2018. We’re reading and learning every day, here are some of the most prominent studies, and what we’re basing all of the info on this article from.
- Canadian Doctors Study WTC survivors for effects of CBD on PTSD
- Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series
- World Health Organization (WHO): A Critical Review of CBD
- University of Colorado: Cannabinoids in pain relief
CBD and Firefighters: The Bottom Line
It is legal, it is safe to use and it won’t get you high, intoxicated or buzzed. If you ensure you’re taking CBD Isolate, you won’t fail a drug test and there is no possibility of addiction or even overdose. It’s a safe natural alternative to help with some of the issues we deal with being on the job!