The federal 2018 Farm Bill legalized CBD (cannabidiol) oil containing no more than 0.03% of THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes people to get high.
Such oils are now available over the counter in many shops, and doctors prescribe it for conditions ranging from chronic insomnia to anxiety.
But low THC isn't no THC, said City of Dalton Human Resources Director Greg Batts. Use of such oils could potentially trigger a positive results in drug tests. He noted that marijuana remains illegal under federal and state law.
"But if an employee tests positive on a drug screen (for marijuana), he could say 'Oh, that's my CBD oil.' And we would have no way to differentiate," Batts said.
Batts suggested to the City Council at their Thursday Finance Committee meeting that they add CBD oil to the list of banned substances under its drug policy.
"Would this mean we can't hire them?" asked Mayor David Pennington.
"You can hire them as long as they don't test positive for THC," Batts said.
Council member Gary Crews said he has concerns about city employees using CBD oil operating heavy equipment or driving city trucks.
Batts said that under federal law drivers can lose their commercial driver's license if they test positive for THC whether that positive test is the result of marijuana use or CBD oil use.
But council member Annalee Harlan said she was concerned that city policy allows people to use painkillers and drugs such as Xanax that are used to treat anxiety disorders and depression if they are prescribed by a doctor but might not allow them to use CBD oil that is prescribed.
Pennington asked Crews and Harlan to look into the issue and come back with a proposal for the council.