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Hemp Sun-Screen Story Wrong on Drug Testing

Posted on May 5, 2004

Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico — A report first published April 23rd in Mach Meter: The Online Publication of Cannon Air Force Base has spread across the Internet through a poorly researched Associated Press story. It raises unfounded concerns that sun-screens, tanning lotions, and other personal care products made with hemp seed oil could cause false positive drug tests because they contain trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana. These concerns are not based on scientific research and contradict earlier studies on this issue. There are no documented cases of a person failing a drug test after using hemp oil or hemp oil containing personal care products, such as soaps, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, tanning lotions, and sun-screens on the skin.

“Whether you work for the Air Force, police or local transit authority, Americans who are subject to workplace drug-testing will never fail a test because they use a personal care product made with hemp oil,” says David Bronner, chair of the Hemp Industries Association’s (HIA) Food and Oil Committee and President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. “My soaps are made with hemp oil because it contains an extraordinary amount of omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids that restore and moisturize the skin, and is an effective natural alternative to chemical-based skin care ingredients,” says Bronner.

The April 2004 issue of the Medical Review Officer Update, a leading publication serving drug-testing professionals, addressed the question of whether hemp oil used on the skin can cause positive drug tests by referring to a scientific study conducted by Dr. Gero Leson. Dr. Leson determined that even in an unrealistic worst-case scenario, in which a person with highly compromised skin uses pure hemp oil as massage oil and leaves it on for 24 hours, the amount of THC potentially absorbed is insignificant compared to the amount required for producing a positive drug test. Consequently, the publication’s editor, Dr. Swotinsky advised that “commercial hemp oil skin products contain minuscule THC concentrations, and use of these products does not create the right conditions for THC-positive urine drug test results.”

In recent years a handful of people have alleged that they failed workplace drug tests as a result of using hemp oil products on the skin. Such allegations were routinely proven to be false, and there has yet to be a case in which someone was excused due to use of a hemp oil personal care product. U.S. hemp companies voluntarily observe THC limits similar to those adopted by European nations and Canada. These limits protect consumers, with a wide margin of safety, who use hemp-content personal care products and routinely and extensively consume hemp food products from the risk of a positive drug test. Please see the hemp industry’s voluntary standards regarding trace THC at

“Concerns reported in the story that drug-sniffing dogs could target a person wearing hemp sun block are ridiculous,” says Bronner. He adds, “Thousands of gallons of hemp seed oil are legally imported into the U.S every year, yet drug sniffing dogs on the border have never confused these raw materials with marijuana. News organizations need to do a better job of reporting the facts about hemp before they do greater damage to legitimate businesses by airing unfounded allegations.”

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