Study Finds CBD Has No Appreciable Effect on Driving Ability

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Cannabidiol (CBD) is a major cannabinoid of Cannabis sativa widely consumed in prescription and non-prescription products. Though generally considered “non-intoxicating,” the effects of CBD on safety-sensitive tasks remain the subject of scrutiny. Recently, a study by The University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia found that CBD has no appreciable effect on one’s driving ability. For more information on the university’s findings, please read on.

Does CBD have any effect on your driving ability?

Even at higher doses, CBD is driver-safe when consumed on its own. Unlike THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the “high” sensation, CBD does not appear to have the same effect on people. Researchers at The University of Sydney found that CBD did not increase how much people weaved or drifted in tests done on a driving simulator, a standardized measure of driving ability. This should come as a relief to the millions of people taking CBD for chronic pain, sleep disorders and anxiety. However, some people can experience drowsiness while using CBD.

How did the research team measure the impact of CBD usage on one’s driving ability?

The research team conducting the study had the seventeen subjects complete tasks in a driving simulator. Then, the researchers gave those same subjects CBD in oil form at one of three doses (15, 300 or 1,500 milligrams) or an inactive placebo and had them repeat the driving simulator multiple times over the course of 3.5 to 4 hours. Tasks included following safely behind another car and driving along highways and rural roads. Participants also took several computerized tests that measured the following attributes:

  • Cognitive function
  • Drug-induced impairment
  • Reaction time

Lastly, participants were asked to report their subjective experiences, including whether they felt “stoned,” “sedated,” “alert,” “anxious” or “sleepy.”

Each participant completed the testing four times – for the three different doses and the placebo – with a minimum of a week between each session.

What is the takeaway?

Though the results should be viewed with caution, none of the doses of CBD appeared to impair participants’ driving ability or cognitive performance or induced feelings of intoxication. The effects of CBD on one’s driving ability are less than what occurs at a 0.05 percent blood alcohol concentration, which is lower than the legal limit in most U.S. states. However, not being worse than 0.05 BAC does not mean it is without dangers. While CBD usage should not automatically equate to “impairment,” people who take CBD should use caution when getting behind the wheel.

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