The Workplace Is Still A Legal Gray Area For CBD Oil In Idaho

Aug 1, 2018

CBD oil is a derivative of marijuana with little to none of the ingredient that gets you high. It’s becoming wildly popular as a homeopathic treatment for many conditions.

But despite its rising stock across the country, laws in some states like Idaho can leave consumers in the dark about whether they’re doing something illegal.

You can find tens of thousands of videos on Youtube hyping up cannabidiol, or CBD, but 53-year-old Lilly Mosquera heard about CBD oil the old fashioned way: from a friend. She was dealing with depression and didn’t want to take medication.

When Mosquera started using CBD oil, she didn’t think she’d lose her job over it.

“I felt good about it. I feel like I’m standing up for my rights,” she says.

Mosquera was working full-time at Montana-Dakota Utilities. A few months ago, she went to a meeting where a CBD oil retailer based in Las Vegas was recruiting new distributors.

Mosquera was so excited about the treatment that she talked about it the next morning with her coworkers.

A few days later, she says she was suspended because her employer thought she was selling drugs on company property. She says she simply talked about CBD oil and wasn’t taking orders.

“All I had was paperwork. I went to a meeting and had paperwork. That’s it.”

53-year-old Lilly Mosquera posing at her home in Boise. She says she was facing a demotion and a schedule change at her job after talking about CBD oil with her coworkers.
Credit James Dawson / Boise State Public Radio

Montana-Dakota Utilities declined multiple interview requests for this story.

Mosquera got a written warning that she shared with Boise State Public Radio. She was facing a demotion and a shift change if she went back to work. So instead, she decided to quit.

Now, she’s selling CBD oil full time and coming up with a sales pitch, which she’s still working on. Even though this is a new gig, she hasn’t had a hard time finding customers.

“I’m doing actually really well with this CBD oil and I’m waiting for my next shipment to come in,” Mosquera says. “I’ve got a lot of them already sold.”

But the CBD oil she’s selling does have trace amounts of THC. 

This is a tricky area. It’s below the legal federal threshold, but Idaho law is clear: no amount of THC is allowed.

Joel Bordeaux runs Global CBD in Sandpoint and is one of the few people legally selling CBD oil in Idaho.

“It does cause confusion out there,” Bourdeaux says.

Lilly Mosquera says she only shared promotional materials about CBD oil with her coworkers when her employer, Montana-Dakota Utilities served her a written warning for allegedly selling drugs on company property. She eventually chose to quit in the face of a demotion.
Credit James Dawson / Boise State Public Radio

All of his products are made from hemp and they contain no THC. That means they won’t show up on a drug test or get you high.

“That’s why we’ve also gone down the path of not having THC in our products because we want people to keep their job and still have the benefits of cannabis and cannabidiol,” he says.

Still, it’s not always clear to every customer which type of CBD oil they’re getting.

Idaho lawmakers have talked about legalizing the substance for the past few years.

Sen. Grant Burgoyne (D-Boise) and many other politicians want to allow doctors to prescribe it. That way, patients know exactly what they’re buying and who they’re buying from.

“This is an area where, for the consumer, it’s difficult to know what the lines are and what is permissible and what is not permissible. There’s just a reasonable level of confusion out there for folks,” Burgoyne says.  

The measure overwhelmingly passed the Idaho House this year, but was buried in a Senate committee drawer.

Even if CBD oil with small amounts of THC is legalized, it’s a gray area for the workplace. Employees have no guarantee that their boss wouldn’t fire them for using it.

“Keep your private life out of the workplace,” says Eric Swartz, an employment lawyer in Boise.

Barring any contract that says otherwise, Swartz says it’s up to the company to decide what’s appropriate to talk about or do at work while you’re on the clock.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio