The use of cannabis before driving is a hotly-debated topic because of safety issues.
However, when it comes to cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component in the marijuana plant, studies show that we should be able to smoke CBD and not have to worry about driving under the influence.
A new study out of Bern, Switzerland, confirms that inhaling CBD-dominant cannabis plants doesn’t affect reaction time, time perception, concentration, balance, and other skills that are needed to drive safely. The study, which was published in Forensic Sciences Research, involved Swiss researchers studying the impact of CBD-high cannabis strains with 16.6% CBD and 0.9% THC, as well as placebo, on various psychomotor and neurocognitive skills. They found “no symptoms of impairment” among the subjects who smoked the CBD-dominant strains.
However, even if the CBD didn’t impair their performance, many of the participants did test positive for THC in blood tests 45 minutes after they inhaled it. For this reason, the study’s authors warned that increased THC levels in the blood could still mean they are violating traffic rules where detectable amounts of THC in the bloodstream could lead to criminal offenses.
Similar Results In Older Studies
There are some older studies that all reveal the same results.
In December 2020, a study conducted by scientists of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney, while verifies that CBD is safe to use for driving. The study, which was conducted at the Netherlands’ Maastricht University, also notes that THC impairment can last as long as 4 hours, another warning to drivers.
For the research, 26 healthy participants were asked to inhale vaporized cannabis with a range of THC and CBD ratios afterwhich they were made to go on a 100km drive with controlled conditions on public highways, for 40 minutes followed by four hours later once again. They found that the subjects who inhaled high CBD cannabis did not have impaired driving skills but those with high THC cannabis or a THC/CBD ratio resulted in mild impairment that was noticed 40 minutes later, though it wasn’t noticeable four hours after.
The scientists who conducted the study in Maastricht University utilized renowned scientific tests that analyze the standard deviation of vehicle position, which is used to test for swerving, lane weaving, and overcorrecting. The test measures the impact of drugs and alcohol on drivers.
“These findings indicate for the first time that CBD, when given without THC, does not affect a subject’s ability to drive. That’s great news for those using or considering treatment using CBD-based products,” explains Dr. Thomas Arkell, lead author of the study.
“Road safety is a primary concern,” he says. “These results should allow for evidence-based laws and regulation for people receiving medical cannabis.”
“We were delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with Professor Jan Ramaekers and his team on this study. Studying the effects of cannabis on driving with such precision in a real-world context is incredibly important,” says Professor Iain McGregor.
“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,” he adds. “While some previous studies have looked at the effects of cannabis on driving, most have focused on smoked cannabis containing only THC (not CBD) and have not precisely quantified the duration of impairment,” McGregor says. “This is the first study to illustrate the lack of CBD effects on driving and to also provide a clear indication of the duration of THC impairment.”
“This is the first study to illustrate the lack of CBD effects on driving and to also provide a clear indication of the duration of THC impairment.”
As of the time of writing, there are no known negative reports of people who have “overdosed” on CBD. However, there still may be some undesirable effects for people who intend to drive, which is usually dependent on the concentration of THC in the CBD products. These include drowsiness and fatigue.
Before you go ahead and consume CBD then drive, it’s also important to understand the legalities behind it.
The good news is: yes, in the United States it’s legal to drive after consuming CBD for as long as you consumed CBD derived from hemp, and it doesn’t contain over 0.3% THC. This is the legal benchmark and has been for a while now; anything higher than this may get you drowsier than expected and cause difficulties or hazards while driving.
If you are about to try a new CBD product, it’s best to do so in a safe environment and carefully monitor how it impacts your cognitive abilities and motor skills. And depending on where you intend to drive, look up the state regulations since there are still some states that have zero tolerance to traces of THC found in the body when you are driving, no matter how little the concentration is of THC.
Also, keep in mind that you may get a DUI for consuming CBD before driving in certain states because DUI laws were in place long before the government allowed cannabis use. That’s why it’s so important to research driving laws before you consume CBD, or you may have to consult with a lawyer in the event that you do get a DUI because you took CBD.