A question we often hear from new cannabidiol users is: is it safe to drive after taking CBD oil? The great news is… Researchers from University of Sydney found drivers who vaped CBD before driving could perform just as well as those who didn't take any cannabis. A small study suggests that CBD, a cannabis component in many medical marijuana products, may not have much effect on driving or cognitive abilities.
CBD Oil and Driving: Is It Safe?
A question we often hear from new cannabidiol users is: is it safe to drive after taking CBD oil? The answer to that is good news: recent evidence shows that even high levels of CBD do not impair driving ability. Furthermore, CBD could offer some benefits to drivers. But before you grab your highest strength CBD oil and jump behind the wheel, it’s essential to understand how to use CBD oil and remain a safe and confident driver.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the latest evidence linked to CBD oil and driving, legality surrounding cannabis compounds CBD and THC, and how CBD can affect your ability to operate a motor vehicle.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabis-derived compound that is often extracted from the hemp plant and used for medicinal purposes. A closely related famous cannabis-derived compound is THC; this is the substance that causes a high when ingested and is most commonly associated with marijuana.
The use of CBD is soaring in popularity in the UK. Many people enjoy it for its calming and soothing benefits. Cannabidiol, unlike THC, is capable of enhancing wellness without causing any psychoactive effects. CBD interacts with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) to potentially induce feelings of calm, reduced anxiety and stress, pain relief, inflammation relief and improvements in focus and concentration.
Despite the significant well-being benefits that CBD can offer, there remains a great deal of misinformation surrounding the safety and legality of CBD in the UK which leaves many people reluctant to drive after taking CBD oil.
CBD Oil and Driving UK: Is it Safe?
Safe driving is, quite rightly, a top priority for most people. Complete concentration and focus are critical for driving to the best of your ability every time you get behind the wheel, in order to keep yourself, other drivers and pedestrians, safe.
Since CBD is closely linked to the intoxicating substance THC, it’s natural to wonder whether CBD could harm your driving ability. It’s important to remember, however, that CBD is both non-addictive and non-psychoactive. So while THC alters the mind, affecting reaction times and judgement and ultimately potentially impairing your ability to drive safely and responsibly, CBD does not cause these effects. Provided your CBD oil or gummies contain extremely low or trace quantities of THC, they will not have such adverse effects on the body and mind.
CBD and Driving: The Latest Study
A new study published in May 2022 on the effects of cannabidiol on driving showed that CBD does not impair driving or cognitive ability, even at its highest medicinal dose. Simulated driving performance was monitored in 17 healthy adults across four sessions; each session consisted of oral administration of CBD (in either 15, 300 and 1500 mg doses) or a placebo. It was concluded that no dose of CBD – even the highest daily dose of 1500 mg – impaired driving ability and cognitive function or caused intoxicating effects.
Is It Legal to Drive in the UK After Taking CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol has been classified as a legal substance in the UK as long as it does not contain more than 0.2% THC. When purchasing a CBD-infused product, always do your research to ensure the supplier is trusted and reputable. A responsible supplier will be able to provide third-party laboratory reports to confirm legal concentrations of THC and assure product safety.
Since CBD is not listed as a controlled substance, using CBD oil and driving in the UK is completely legal. However, it is crucial to ensure you are using a trusted CBD product that doesn’t exceed 0.2% THC if you are driving. THC remains a controlled substance in the UK.
CBD Driving Laws UK
Strict restrictions are imposed, quite rightly, on driving while under the influence of alcohol and narcotics in the UK. However, when using a legal CBD product in the UK, you should encounter no issues while driving. UK drug tests are designed for THC detection, rather than CBD, so legal CBD oil will not cause you to fail a test.
In short, as long as your product does not exceed 0.2% THC, you can drive legally after using it. You will not feel intoxicated and you are highly unlikely to fail a drug test. Additionally, you do not need to disclose the fact that you have used CBD oil if you are stopped by an officer while driving.
Will CBD Make Me Sleepy While Driving?
Since CBD is often used to promote sleep, it’s natural to question whether the compound could induce drowsiness and impair driving ability. Studies into whether CBD induces sleep are ongoing and require further investigation, but evidence indicates that CBD can, in fact, promote daytime wakefulness. Though CBD can be effective for sleep, it is more likely that CBD indirectly induces healthier sleep by reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress and promoting relaxation, rather than by directly inducing sleepiness. It may also help you achieve better quality, deeper sleep.
This could, in fact, benefit driving ability. Getting a good night’s sleep will leave you feeling fresh, alert and potentially better focused when driving.
Could CBD Oil Help Reduce My Anxiety While Driving?
Yes. One of the most popular reasons people use CBD is to reduce anxiety, and one of the most anxiety-inducing activities for a lot of people in the UK is driving, especially on motorways. If you feel nervous behind the wheel, CBD could help promote relaxation and feelings of calm.
This may be especially beneficial for learner drivers and those anxious about taking their driving test. The more relaxed you feel behind the wheel, the more alert and focused you are likely to be.
However, if you are trying CBD for the first time to help calm your nerves while driving, we strongly recommend starting with a low dose and gradually building up as you observe your body’s tolerance for cannabidiol.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil and Driving
We now know that it’s safe and legal to drive after using CBD in the UK. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that cannabinoids such as CBD and THC affect people differently. When purchasing CBD always buy a quality CBD product from a reputable supplier. A legal product will contain less than 0.2% THC ensuring that the product is non-psychoactive.
Begin with a low dose and pay very close attention to how it makes you feel. Should you feel unwell or notice any adverse side effects, do not attempt to drive. If you feel well, you may find that CBD improves your driving ability by improving cognition, focus and concentration and reducing symptoms of anxiety.
BECOME A CBD EXPERT
CBD is one of the most talked about topics on the planet. We believe many more could benefit from CBD if given access to better information. Our role isn’t to overpromise or to underplay, but to encourage a balanced perspective on CBD.
CBD-only cannabis doesn’t appear to affect driving ability, unlike THC
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- People who use CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, 40 minutes before driving were able to operate a car just as well as a person who didn’t consume any cannabis, researchers found in a new study.
- Previous research found that cannabis is the second most common drug that increases the risk of car crashes, after alcohol.
- These new findings from University of Sydney scientists suggest that CBD-only users may not need to restrict their driving after using such products. .
Opponents of cannabis legalization often cite the drug’s ability to impair driving and contribute to car crashes. Indeed, cannabis is the second most common drug found in under-the-influence drivers after alcohol.
But a study from University of Sydney researchers, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found people who vaped cannabis that contained only CBD, a non-psychoactive component of the drug, could drive just as well as those who didn’t consume anything.
They also found that people who vaped cannabis containing 9% CBD and less than 1% THC, a psychoactive component that can cause slowed reactions and warp the perception of time, were less likely to sway a car off-path than people who vaped THC-only cannabis before driving.
These findings could benefit people who use CBD products for pain, epilepsy, and anxiety on a regular basis, according to researchers behind the 26-person study.
“The results should reassure people using CBD-only products that they are most likely safe to drive, while helping patients using THC-dominant products to understand the duration of impairment,” Iain McGregor, academic director of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney, said in a press release.
CBD didn’t affect drivers’ abilities, but THC did
To study how different types of cannabis affected participants’ driving skills, the researchers focused on how much they veered from a straight path while driving, using a measurement called standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP).
They randomly assigned study participants to vape a placebo, high-THC cannabis, high-CBD cannabis, or cannabis that contained equal parts CBD and THC.
Researchers asked each person to rate how high they felt. They also rated their levels of anxiety, sedation, confidence, and enjoyment of the drug effect on 10-point scales.
40 minutes later, participants drove on a 60 mile-long public highway at 60 miles per hour while in-car cameras recorded their behavior. They drove the same route four hours later and were asked to rate how they thought they did following each hour-long drive.
After the experiment, researchers found that participants who only vaped CBD were able to control the car and prevent swerving just as well as those who took the placebo.
Those who took THC and CBD together, plus those who vaped just THC, were more likely to veer off route during the first driving test, but not at the second test four hours after consuming THC-containing cannabis.
The researchers also found that THC-related car-veering was about the same as that in drivers with 0.05% blood alcohol content after drinking, the equivalent of at least four alcoholic beverages in two hours for a 170-pound man.
“These results provide much needed insights into the magnitude and duration of impairment caused by different types of cannabis and can help to guide road-safety policy not just in Australia but around the world,” Arkell said in a press release.
The study did have limitations. The small number of participants, all of whom were healthy, between ages 20 and 50, and reported cannabis use up to twice weekly, only represent a subset of the population. That means the findings can’t be generalized for those who don’t use cannabis regularly or have underlying medical conditions.
CBD Has Little Impact on Driving Even at High Doses
A small study suggests that CBD, a cannabis component in many medical marijuana products, may not have much effect on driving or cognitive abilities.
Researchers caution that their findings apply only to the specific CBD oil doses they tested. Marc Tran/Stocksy
Cannabidiol (CBD) may not impair people’s cognitive abilities or driving skills when taken in doses commonly used for medical purposes, a small Australian study suggests.
For the study, scientists asked 17 healthy adults to a complete a series of four driving assessments and cognitive tests after taking a placebo or CBD oil in doses of 15, 150, or 1,500 milligrams (mg). These doses represent amounts typically consumed to manage conditions like epilepsy, pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders, the researchers reported May 30 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
In each of these four testing scenarios, participants completed tasks between 45 and 75 minutes after taking the placebo or the dose of CBD oil, then again between 3.5 and 4 hours afterward. CBD is thought to reach peak concentrations in the blood within three to four hours after an oral dose, according to the researchers.
To demonstrate how CBD impacted driving, participants had to drive behind another vehicle at a safe distance, then navigate simulated routes on urban highways and rural roads. Scientists measured how well participants controlled the car as well as how much the vehicle weaved or drifted. They also administered cognitive tests and took blood samples to determine CBD concentrations in the participants’ plasma.
None of the CBD oil doses appeared to impair driving or cognitive performance or make participants feel intoxicated, the study found.
“Though CBD is generally considered ‘nonintoxicating,’ its effects on safety-sensitive tasks are still being established,” said the lead author, Danielle McCartney, PhD, of the University of Sydney, in the university’s press release. “Our study is the first to confirm that, when consumed on its own, CBD is driver-safe.”
Medical marijuana was legal in 37 U.S. states and the District of Columbia as of February 2022, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. While drunk driving is illegal in every state, laws against driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs vary from state to state; you can view them on a site produced by the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Driving while on CBD is legal in Australia and in many other countries, researchers note. The results of the new study build on earlier evidence suggesting that CBD doesn’t necessarily cause intoxication. Another cannabis component, THC, can induce sedation and a euphoric high that has been previously associated with impaired cognition.
THC can negatively impact areas of the brain that control movement, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For drivers, THC can also slow reaction times and reduce the ability to make decisions.
Even though the new study suggests these issues might not arise for drivers using CBD oil, the study team cautions that their findings apply only to the specific doses they tested. At higher doses of CBD, or combined with other substances, it’s possible drivers might not perform optimally.
“This study looked at CBD in isolation only,” Dr. McCartney said. “Drivers taking CBD with other medications should do so with care.”