CBD And Driving: New Study

You might be wondering: “Do CBD and driving go together?” “Do the CBD driving laws allow you to drive after taking any cannabidiol-infused product?”

Many people question the combination of CBD with driving since it comes from the Cannabis plant.

However, in this article, we will discuss if CBD can impair your driving judgments. We will also examine the legality of driving after taking CBD and what a new study suggests about CBD and driving.

CBD: What Do We Know?

CBD is one of many hundred prominent chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant. Unlike its counterpart THC, CBD does not produce a “high” and lacks abuse potential.

Recently, various scientific studies unraveled potential CBD benefits for many health conditions. In addition, the US Farm Bill in 2018 also legalized the compound federally. Consequently, people are now more than ever interested and encouraged to use it.

People walking across a street.

In 2019, a Gallup Poll revealed that 14% of US citizens use CBD products. Moreover, 40% of the people declared that they use CBD for pain, and 20% use it for anxiety.

But, FDA has still not fully endorsed this chemical compound. However, it has given the green light to one CBD-infused drug, Epidiolex, that purportedly can treat two rare forms of epilepsy.

CBD and Brain

In contrast to its cousin compound THC, CBD does not directly impair the brain. Instead, it typically enhances mood and alertness by modifying brain chemistry.

When you take CBD in a higher quantity, it affects serotonin receptors. This, in return, lowers anxiety and clams our mood.

In addition, CBD supports the brain to raise and maintain high anandamide levels. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that has a molecular structure just like THC. 

Moreover, CBD also helps the GABA-A receptors to bind readily to GABA neurotransmitters. Therefore, it induces feelings of comfort and relaxation by reducing anxiety and excitability.

However, since it does not impair the brain or its motor functions, it does not pose a real threat when driving.

CBD Benefits

Although the research on the substance is still in its infancy, the data available up till now is quite encouraging. Various studies and clinical evidence have shown CBD to be beneficial for many ailments.

CBD has the following potential benefits

  • It reduces pain
  • CBD makes you calm and lowers anxiety
  • It largely enhances mood
  • You can focus better on things with CBD
  • CBD helps you take deep and relaxing sleep
  • It releases stress

All these advantages can prove quite handy for you when driving. For instance, the stress in a traffic jam is common. Therefore, CBD can keep you relaxed and focused in such situations. However, you must buy CBD products from a trusted source to ensure you’re getting a legit product.

Can You Drive After Taking CBD Oil?

Yes, you can. Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is manufactured by extracting CBD – the active therapeutic component in the cannabis plant. CBD oil contains only 0.3% THC, which is not enough to cloud your judgment while driving. 

However, you should get a CBD product from a reputable brand. In addition, you must determine your right dose by observing how your body responds to CBD before you can start driving with CBD in your body system.

Can Cannabidiol Impair?

It is unclear whether the use of CBD can impair or not. But now, several studies try to unravel the effect of CBD on the human brain. 

However, the most documented side effects are drastic weight changes and diarrhea. So, we can say that CBD does not impair you to the point that you cannot drive a car. 

In comparison with alcohol and other substances that impair ability and judgment, CBD is undoubtedly the safest natural drug. It has no death-causing record or ability to affect your driving judgment.

CBD and Driving – What New Study Suggests?

According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, small doses of CBD seem to have no significant effect on driving. 

In addition, the study found that similar THC doses were associated with a temporary impairment. It was similar to that seen in drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 percent and moderate in magnitude. The signs of marijuana wear off after about 4 hours.

The most recent study on the impact of cannabis on drivers was conducted by the University of Sydney. This impact is a subject of growing public concern as the laws prohibiting the plant and its chemical components are removed by more jurisdictions around the globe.

According to Iain McGregor – the academic director of Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics of the university, the study’s outcome should reassure the users of CBD-only products that they are safe to drive.

Lambert Initiative funded the current study, which examines the health impact of cannabis, which was conducted in the Netherlands at Maastricht University. A draft of the paper was reviewed before it was published.

Study Method

To gauge the impact of the cannabinoids on drivers, the participants were first allowed to vape one of four cannabis blends. They were mainly CBD, THC, a mixture of the two cannabis components, or a placebo that contains less than 0.2 % total cannabinoids. The dose targeted for each cannabinoid (excluding the placebo) is 13.75 mg.

The participants were then allowed to get into the car to drive. However, each was accompanied by an authorized driving instructor. Thus, each subject completed a 100 km circuit twice on a Dutch highway stretch: the first 40 minutes after taking the cannabinoid and again 4 hours later.

The scientists calculated driving impairment by tracking fluctuations in the speed of the vehicle.  Moreover, by how much the cars drifted in the lanes using the Standard Deviation of Lateral Position (SDLP). 

The researchers also examined the subjects in a lab setting for cardiovascular indicators like blood pressure and heart rate, cannabinoid concentrations in the blood, and psychomotor and cognitive performance.

Study Findings

Taking only CBD appears to impact performance a little. However, the study shows that the placebo and CBD-dominant cannabis has no significant differences. Furthermore, SDLP in the CBD and placebo conditions shows no differences, which means that CDB does not impair driving skills or judgment.

According to Thomas Arkell – the lead author of the study, these findings show for the first time that CBD does not affect a subject’s driving skills or judgment when taken without THC.

THC vs. CBD: What Did Study Find?

At the same time, subjects who took a blend of cannabinoids or THC exhibited modest but statistically significant driving impairment during their first test drive with SDLP numbers similar to drivers with 0.05% blood alcohol concentrations. 

The authors of the study note the impairment’s degree “is believed to indicate the lower limit of clinically relevant driving impairment.”

However, participants who took CBD-THC blend, or THC, appeared distinctly conscious of the risk while driving, unlike many drunk drivers. That’s true even as noticeable symptoms of their impairment disappeared.

After taking THC or CBD-THC blend, participants said they are significantly more impaired. Also, they reported a decrease in confidence as their number one complaint. However, after completing the tests, most of the participants perceived that their driving quality was worse only throughout the first test.

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How Long Do the CBD/THC Effects Remain?

The 2nd test started 4 hours after taking THC or CBD-THC blend – which, according to researchers, is the time THC’s impact on driving seems to fade.

The study said that “previous simulator and on-road studies have described increased SDLP for up to three hours after inhaling cannabis.” “Consistent with this, the new study could not detect SDLP at 4 – 5 hours after consumption.”

That does not imply that 4 hours after consumption, cannabinoid users should certainly assume they are good to drive. However, the authors note that higher doses could elongate the impairment duration. So, you cannot consider the outcome of this study as definitive or conclusive.

The study’s CBD findings could have similar limitations. The authors record that the study’s target dose (13.75 mg) is significantly lower than what we usually administer in specific treatments like pediatric epilepsy. They also note that driving results may differ with different THC: CBD ratios and higher THC and CBD doses.

More essentially, the scientists acknowledge that the experiment may not detect the highly minimal impairment that CBD causes. Self-confidence limits used in evaluating data from the experiment show that subclinical impairment’s possibility is too low. Therefore, it is not possible to measure it in the study.

However, the findings provide valuable real-world data on how cannabis impacts driving – or how it doesn’t impact drivers in some instances, the author said.

Mc Gregor, the academic director of Lambert Initiative at the University of Sydney, said, “While some prior research has examined the impacts of cannabis on driving, most have concentrated on smoked cannabis that contains THC only and haven’t precisely measured the impairment’s duration.” “This is the first study to demonstrate the lack of CBD impacts on driving and also to provide a clear suggestion of THC impairment’s duration.”

Other Viewpoints

Despite general concerns that relaxing cannabis laws could result in more road accidents, data on the participants have been mostly inconclusive. Thereby, it allows assumptions to become rampant.

After assessing the existing data last year, experts commissioned by the U.S. Congress to investigate the issue resolved that the basic questions about the impact of THC on driving remain unanswered.

The Congressional Research Service wrote,

“Even though lab studies have demonstrated that the consumption of marijuana can affect a person’s motor performance and response times, studies of marijuana’s consumption impact on a driver’s risk of being involved in an accident have delivered conflicting results, with some research finding little or no increased risk of a crash from the use of marijuana.” 

Does CBD Driving Laws Allow You To Drive On CBD?

Woman driving in a truck.

Yes, you can legally drive after taking any CBD-infused product. However, the CBD in the product must come from hemp. In addition, it must not contain more than 0.3 percent of THC. 

The low THC content ensures that you do not get high while driving. Also, it keeps you relaxed without impairing your driving skills or judgment. 

However, it would be best to watch out for your state regulations. For example, some states do not tolerate any traces of THC found in your system while driving, irrespective of its concentration levels.

Side Effects of CBD

Although CBD is considered safe and well-tolerated, it still may have some downsides. However, they are not dangerous and are generally mild.

Potential CBD side effects may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

Ideally, you should start with a low CBD dose and see how your body reacts to it. Then, once your body accustoms to it, you may increase the quantity gradually, if required.

The medical professionals recommend waiting for few hours before driving after taking CBD. The drowsiness caused by the CBD is quite dangerous for driving, 

Therefore, you must be aware of how well your body can tolerate CBD. If you feel increased drowsiness, you can adjust the dose accordingly.

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The combination of cannabis with driving is often questioned since there are increased concerns about highway dangers. However, the new landmark study finds that CBD and driving can go together since it does not impair driving.

If you decide to take CBD,  select a CBD product with 0.3 % THC or less from a reputable brand. In addition, watch out for your state regulations to avoid flouting your state’s CBD driving laws. Also, always consult your doctor before trying a CBD product.

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