CBD is marketed as non-psychoactive, but this doesn’t mean it can’t affect your driving. Learn whether or not it’s safe to take CBD on the road. 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.
Is It Safe To Drive After Taking CBD? Does CBD Affect Driving?
CBD is marketed as non-psychoactive, but this doesn’t mean it can’t affect your driving.
Even though CBD won’t get you high, that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t impair your driving.
CBD can produce relaxation and sedation. This can impair your ability to respond quickly to stimuli while driving.
CBD can also interact with medications and other drugs. This can create unwanted risks.
Learn all about the different effects of CBD and how they may affect your driving ability.
Table of Contents
Risks of Using CBD While Driving
CBD is not intoxicating, but it is psychoactive, and there are some risks that you should consider.
Firstly, sensitive people are more likely to find themselves somewhat impaired by CBD. Smaller people and those with quick metabolisms may find that CBD produces a stronger effect than they expect.
People who need large doses of CBD are also more at risk. Some patients need to take doses of more than 100 mg. At doses this high, the relaxation caused by CBD becomes way stronger. At this point, it can become full-blown sedation.
If you take this much CBD, then you’re absolutely going to have a harder time driving. Even if you’re not high or intoxicated, you’re still going to be sleepy. Most states recommend that you avoid driving when you’re tired.
CBD can also cause dizziness. Again, this is more likely when you’re highly sensitive to CBD.
Why Would You Use CBD While Driving?
People use CBD for all sorts of reasons. In many cases, they will use it before driving for reasons that have nothing to do with their ability to drive.
Pain patients, for example, often use CBD throughout the day. If they’re using CBD consistently and need to go for a drive, it will remain active in their system.
Some people may also use CBD to quell their anxiety. If driving provokes anxiety in an individual, they may want to use CBD to help manage it.
People may also use CBD to manage anxiety before a social gathering or a business meeting. In this situation, they may take it before driving to the said gathering, or even use it in their car, so that it takes effect by the time they arrive.
CBD also tends to cancel out some of the effects of THC.
CBD can also reduce these negative emotional states on its own. Whether or not it’s safe to drive while anxious and stressed out is debatable.
It’s also debatable whether it would be more or less risky to use CBD to fight these issues before driving.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the many cannabinoids found in the hemp and marijuana plants.
To be sold legally in the United States, CBD must be derived from hemp. Hemp is classified as any strain of cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC.
As a cannabinoid, CBD is non-intoxicating.
CBD is often described as non-psychoactive, but this isn’t really true. It’s non-intoxicating, yes, but it’s definitely psychoactive. A psychoactive compound is anything that produces changes in mood, behavior, thoughts, or feelings.
So, by definition, CBD is indeed psychoactive. Many of its benefits are psychological in nature. These include reduced anxiety, stress, and depression.
However, the substance is far milder than THC. CBD can be used throughout the day without causing significant impairment.
Benefits of CBD
If you want to know how CBD might affect your driving, you should first take a look at its benefits and effects.
Here are some of the most common benefits associated with CBD:
1. Anxiety Relief
One of the main benefits of CBD is anxiety relief. CBD has been shown to help fight the anxiety of all types, including panic disorder and social anxiety.
2. Pain Relief
CBD excels as a pain reliever, and many people find that it has helped them stop using addictive pain-killing drugs like opioids. CBD can also reduce inflammation in a comparable way to NSAIDs like Tylenol.
3. Mood Regulation
CBD has been used for helping people manage stress and depression. It can help to decrease both the physical and mental symptoms of stress by managing blood pressure and relaxing the muscles.
For depression, CBD works a bit differently than conventional antidepressants. Rather than simply quashing your unhappiness, CBD can help produce some that changes in perception that may encourage you to reach out and take further steps.
4. Relaxation & Insomnia Relief
Another one of the main reasons that people use CBD is to help them relax after a long day. People who struggle with stress often experience insomnia. CBD can help to reduce any physical or mental symptoms preventing you from getting to sleep.
CBD can also help to reduce insomnia caused by PTSD and related emotional challenges.
CBD Side Effects
CBD doesn’t generally have any side effects, at least not according to how people typically define ‘side effects.’
The term itself is a bit of a misnomer, suggesting that certain substances cause certain effects, whereas other effects are not related to the substance at all.
The reality is that all effects of a substance are the direct result of its actions, whether they are desirable or not. Both benefits and side effects are the same, biologically speaking.
Most people use the term ‘side effect’ to describe an unwanted effect of a drug or substance. So in that sense, some of the benefits of CBD may actually be perceived as an unwanted side effect if you’re driving.
Relaxation and sleepiness, for example, are two common benefits of CBD. However, when driving, these effects are not beneficial and might be considered side effects.
CBD Interactions With Other Drugs
The other main precaution that you’ll want to take is important if you use drugs or take supplements.
CBD is an inhibitor of a set of enzymes known as the cytochrome (CYP) enzymes. These enzymes are important for processing about half of the drugs that people take. There are different CYP enzymes, and each one metabolizes a different set of drugs.
CBD inhibits the same set of enzymes that are inhibited by grapefruits and grapefruit juice. If you’ve ever seen a bottle of prescription medication that recommends you not to take the medication while drinking grapefruit juice, this is why.
When the CYP enzymes are inhibited, drugs become much stronger and/or longer-lasting. The enzymes that pass them out of the body are no longer being produced. This can increase the risk of side effects and dangers.
These risks are especially dangerous if you’re taking drugs known to cause dizziness, sleepiness, fogginess, or confusion.
To be safe, avoid taking CBD alongside any medication that warns against drinking grapefruit juice within two hours of taking your dose.
The cytochrome enzymes also metabolize illegal drugs that carry no such warnings. It can increase the potency of drugs like opioids and thus increase the risk of over-sedation. You should be cautious when combining CBD with other substances regardless of whether or not you’re driving.
So, Is It OK to Use CBD While Driving?
Knowing the risks of CBD and driving, it’s easy to simply say that you shouldn’t take it while you’re on the road. However, because CBD is fairly benign, sometimes that’s easy to forget.
It’s not like drinking and driving. When you’ve had a few drinks, you know you’re intoxicated. However, since CBD is so much more subtle, you might end up forgetting that you’re using it before getting behind the wheel.
On the one hand, this is sort of a good thing. CBD is mild enough that you’re unlikely ever to be so impaired as to create a serious risk. On the other hand, though, this is a risk in itself. You should be as clear-headed and straight as possible whenever you’re driving.
Most people won’t find CBD to be dangerous when they’re driving.
We don’t recommend driving under the influence of anything. However, we won’t pretend that there aren’t people who do.
CBD-only cannabis doesn’t appear to affect driving ability, unlike THC
Email Twitter icon A stylized bird with an open mouth, tweeting.
Snapchat Fliboard icon A stylized letter F.
Flipboard Pinterest icon The letter “P” styled to look like a thumbtack pin.
Pinterest Link icon An image of a chain link. It symobilizes a website link url.
- 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.