CBD Use and Pilots

Pilots who fly under Part 135 and Part 121 of the FARs are subject to random drug and alcohol testing.  There’s no such thing for those of us who fly strictly under Part 91.  But the same prohibitions of drug use still apply.  It’s up to the pilot to “self-enforce”.

Despite the fact that marijuana has been legalized for both medicinal uses and recreational uses in some states, the federal government doesn’t agree and still considers it a “Schedule 1” drug.  As such, it is in the same category as heroin, LSD, and other far stronger drugs. We need to be aware that Federal law is what governs FAA medical and pilot certification

Recently CBD (cannabidiol) has gained a lot of attention as an “elixir that’ll fix what ails ya”.  It is widely available through mail order and with a license for medical marijuana.  It is sold for a number of different treatments: pain relief, insomnia, anxiety, epilepsy, inflammation and more.  Its legal status is somewhat vague and is definitely in flux. The FDA [note: not the FAA] has approved it for the treatment of seizures in two rare cases.  But buying commercially available CBD is not the same as obtaining an FDA approved medication.  The production is not held to the same standards.  Since it is not regulated, it may be contaminated with THC, the psychoactive compound of marijuana.

Dr. Michael Berry, the FAA Federal Air Surgeon recently published a short piece on CBD that may be worth reading if you use, or are considering using it.  The bottom line is – “it’s your ticket”, and the stuff may not be clean.

Leave a Comment