In Practice

The implications of the use of cannabidiol-related products in a safety-sensitive drug testing environment: A medical-legal perspective

J Jooste, J B Laurens, M Jordaan, A A S Marais, L G Curlewis


Cannabis access laws allow for the use of cannabis in private and the trade, purchase and use of hemp-related products as a complementary medicine and for other benefits. Cannabidiol (CBD) has the treatment potential for several conditions but, with the lack of resources in South Africa to maintain the legislation, products contaminated with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) are sold by some suppliers who do not comply with the legislative provisions in terms of the threshold concentrations for Δ9-THC. This dilemma complicates a medical review officer’s decision regarding intentional use of Δ9-THC or otherwise, since a CBD user may have purchased the product legally and in good faith. Hemp- and CBD-containing products were analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and compliance was assessed for CBD and Δ9-THC purity against the legislative thresholds. A strategy based on metabolite ratios is suggested to distinguish between intentional or irresponsible cannabis use and legitimate CBD use.

Authors' affiliations

J Jooste, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

J B Laurens, Expert Laboratory Services, Pretoria, South Africa

M Jordaan, Expert Laboratory Services, Pretoria, South Africa

A A S Marais, Forensic Science Laboratory, South African Police Service, Pretoria, South Africa

L G Curlewis, Department of Procedural Law, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Cannabis; Drug testing; THC; CBD; Cannabinol; Cannabidiol; Tetrahydrocannabinol; CBD oil; Workplace drug testing; THC contamination; GC-MS analysis

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(10):942-945. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i10.15866

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-10-05
Date published: 2021-10-05

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