A San Antonia drug counselor is taking legal action after being fired for CBD use.
Melanie Farr, 48, started taking CBD oil to help relieve symptoms of her multiple sclerosis, including easing pain and lowering her blood pressure. She was fired by her employer, Utah-based Management & Training Corp, after failing a drug test.
Now, Farr is suing the company for failing to provide her with a ‘reasonable accommodation’ in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
She alleges her supervisor knew she was taking CBD oil for her MS before the time of her drug test. Farr told Express-News: “We discussed it many, many times. I worked there a long time taking it. I’m a counselor. That’s what I do. So if I was high, somebody would have said something. It was clear I wasn’t high.”
Spokeswoman for Management & Training Issa Arnita said she could not comment because the matter is currently in litigation.
It is thought the case is the first of its kind in Texas, although not for America altogether.
Since CBD was legalized in 2018, numerous employees have been fired for failing drug tests linked to cannabidiol. It highlights the risks professionals undertake when using CBD, despite it being legal in the eyes of the law.
The problem could lie, however, in the type of CBD workers are taking. While the law states CBD products should not contain more than 0.3% of the psychoactive chemical THC, a lack of FDA regulation has left those involved in the industry wondering just how many oils, creams, and cosmetics are breaking the rules. Some manufacturers even produce CBD food, which is technically off-limits.
Grace Kroner from the clinical chemistry program at the University of Utah School of Medicine has studied whether taking CBD can lead to a positive drug test. She said that although some products do contain too much THC already, it is possible that taking a perfectly legal product over a longer period of time could lead to a build-up of the chemical in the body.
Kroner added: “I don’t think there is any perfect way to get around this problem if someone is using CBD of some kind. I wouldn’t have any good advice for how to approach it. The easiest way would not be to take it, (but) I know there is evidence that it might help, or some people feel it might help.”
Farr was diagnosed with MS in 1997 and started working as a chemical dependency counselor for Management & Training in October 2018.
She was stationed at the Dominguez State Jail in San Antonio, which contracts with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. CBD was suggested to her by her doctor, following the MS diagnosis.
The lawsuit adds that Farr told the lab technician conducting her random drug test that she took CBD oil, knowing it could cause the test to come back positive. The following week, her supervisor told her she had tested positive for marijuana, and put her on administrative leave, asking for a doctor’s note to confirm she was ‘prescribed CBD’.
A doctor’s note was passed to Farr’s workplace; it said CBD oil did not contain THC. She was terminated on March 8, 2019, despite the state of Texas carrying out research studies on CBD.
The complainant’s lawyer, Michael V. Galo Jr, filed the lawsuit on February 20 of this year in San Antonia federal court.
He said: “They should have allowed her to continue using what was an appropriate medication for her, for her condition”.
Farr seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as reimbursement for lost wages and benefits.