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This Is What a Landmark Study Found About CBD and Driving Safety



February 25, 2021

We all want to keep our roads as safe as possible. Along these lines, you may have wondered: is CBD safe for driving? In the following article, we’ll discover what researchers have found out about CBD driving performance and safety. A landmark study recently published will help us clear the fog around this murky issue. 

Discover what researchers have found about CBD driving performance and safety.

RELATED: The Safety Profile of CBD and Its Side Effects

Table of Contents

1. CBD and Driving Safety
    1.1 CBD and THC Do Not Have Equal Effects
    1.2 CBD-Focused Driving Data
2. A Groundbreaking CBD Driving Impairment Study
    2.1 How Long After Taking CBD Can You Drive?
    2.2 Driving After Vaping—CBD, THC, and Impairment
    2.3 CBD Delivery Methods and Driving Performance
3. Further CBD Driving Performance Evidence
    3.1 CBD and Safe Driving
4. Wrapping up Our CBD Driving and Safety Conversation
    4.1 Good News for CBD and Driving

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1. CBD and Driving Safety

 

There is no global debate on the importance of keeping our roads safe. In the year 2018, there were 33,654 fatal vehicle crashes in the United States. Rates of fatal accidents vary greatly by state due to numerous factors. The deaths that happen each day in America are tragic, and we should all strive to get this number down as low as we can. [1]

The ability to get where we need to go safely is an essential part of everyday life. In the past, there have been broad conversations about Cannabis sativa L. and the impacts on driving safety. In more recent years, there has been a much-needed nuance added to this conversation.

Cannabis sativa L. produces over 100 different types of cannabinoids, and they all impact humans uniquely. The impairing effects of THC are well-studied but were too often grouped together in all conversations around this plant. Society has grown to understand the differences between cannabidiol (CBD) and THC, and researchers are exploring this topic.

Society has grown to understand the differences between cannabidiol (CBD) and THC, and researchers are exploring this topic.

RELATED: THC vs. CBD: What’s the Difference?

1.1 CBD and THC Do Not Have Equal Effects

Due to the massive popularity of CBD, researchers are now well aware that they must separate the cannabinoids when having a conversation about safety. This is why we have started to see much more research exploring how CBD itself impacts humans and driving safety.

And this increase in attention directed toward CBD is not just looking at driving safety. There is a large collection of studies already planned for the year 2021. As more and more of these findings get published, we’ll substantially increase our understanding of the safety of CBD. Today, the focus is on CBD driving impairment and CBD driving safety. 

You might be wondering:

What do we know so far? The result of this increased attention to CBD is more evidence for us. As countries around the world determine how to handle the regulation and consumption of hemp-derived CBD, they need this data. We can thank this increased recognition of the uniqueness of CBD for the study we are now about to explore.

1.2 CBD-Focused Driving Data

This incredible landmark study helps to provide additional clarity that we need so badly. In response, we have decided to fully review this study so that we can all gain more confidence in the safety of CBD. After we explore this new study, we’ll take a look at older findings that create the foundation for these results. 

we have decided to fully review this study so that we can all gain more confidence in the safety of CBD.

2. A Groundbreaking CBD Driving Impairment Study

 

A groundbreaking study on the effects of CBD on driving was just released in December 2020. As we head into 2021, there is much we can learn from this study to help us expand the conversation on CBD and driving safety

The Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics performed the study at the University of Sydney. The research itself was conducted in the Netherlands at Maastricht University. Dr. Thomas R. Arkell led this rigorous study alongside his team of researchers. Their effort paid off, as the findings were published in the well-respected Journal of the American Medical Association. [2]

2.1 How Long After Taking CBD Can You Drive?

Researchers wanted to determine the magnitude and duration of driving impairment due to the vaporization of CBD and THC. They noted an increase in the use of medical cannabis and CBD-containing products in Australia and worldwide as the driving reason behind this study. [2]

Researchers wanted to determine the magnitude and duration of driving impairment due to the vaporization of CBD and THC.

RELATED: What Is CBD Oil and What Makes It so Popular Today?

There are a few details of the study design that help provide credibility to the findings. First, the study was double-blind, which means that both the drivers and driving instructors both did not know who was getting which dose. One of those dose options was also a placebo control, which provides a good baseline for assessment. [3]

Second, the study used a within-participant design, meaning that each person got to experience several of the treatment options to determine the impacts of each on that specific person. Finally, the study used a randomized clinical trial design, using algorithms to assign each participant to the various doses randomly in different orders. [3]

This is amazing:

The participants were given various mixtures of THC and CBD to determine the effects both separately and combined. After vaping their CBD mixture, each participant completed a 100-kilometer drive under a controlled public highway situation. These tests were performed 40 minutes and four hours after vaporization. Using a placebo control group helped add the rigor needed to confirm its findings. The results are incredible! [3]

2.2 Driving After Vaping—CBD, THC, and Impairment

These researchers discovered that vaping a mainly CBD mixture did not impair driving at either time point. Conversely, the THC/CBD mixture and high-THC versions did cause mild impairment at the 40-minute time point. (Click to tweet) Even these mixtures did not affect driving ability at the four-hour time point. [2] 

“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.” —Dr. Thomas R. Arkell

This is the first study to illustrate the lack of CBD effects on driving

Overall, 26 health participants were involved in this study. It should be noted that each driver utilized a dual-control car so that a driving instructor could take control if needed. The study method itself, as well as the outcomes, were completely focused on safety. The driving test itself monitored lane weaving, overcorrecting, and swerving. This well-established driving test has been used in many other studies on impaired driving. [2]

We should note that the CBD dosage was 13.75 mg, which may not represent common usage patterns. There is not enough evidence yet to declare that larger doses will also be just as safe as this dose. The researchers did note that they could have missed some signs of clinically important impairment. That said, this study was rigorously performed and was constructed well enough to get published in the JAMA network. [3]

How long after taking CBD can you drive?

RELATED: CBD Dosage 101: What You Need to Know

2.3 CBD Delivery Methods and Driving Performance

It is also worth considering the differences in delivery methods of CBD. This study did explore the vaporization of CBD specifically, as opposed to oral consumption. Further research is needed to investigate whether there are any substantial differences in these delivery methods on CBD driving safety.

We can say confidently that topical CBD products will not cause driving impairment based on what we know about the way CBD is absorbed by the skin(Click to tweet)

Topical CBD products will not cause impairment.

RELATED: Topical CBD: Benefits and Uses of CBD Balms and Lotions

What’s the bottom line?

Based on prior research, we do know that oral administration of CBD leads to lower blood-serum levels than vaporization. This would provide indirect evidence that the oral consumption of CBD would be even less impairing than via vaporization. Oral consumption does delay the release of CBD into the bloodstream, so it would be fascinating to see the effects on driving four hours after consumption. Based on the evidence we do have, there is no indication that surprise impairment would occur, even under these circumstances. [4]

“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.” —Dr. Thomas R. Arkell

CBD, when given without THC, does not affect a subject’s ability to drive.

WATCH: CBD-Infused Maximum Strength Herbal Balm

3. Further CBD Driving Performance Evidence

 

It should be noted that these findings are not new, nor do they stand alone. The World Health Organization recently performed a complete review of CBD, finding similar results. They stated that no public health problems have been associated with pure CBD usage. More specifically, there was a lack of problems associated with driving under the influence of pure CBD. [4] (Click to tweet)

Want to know the best part?

The World Health Organization also stated that even large CBD doses do not cause the THC-like effects that we all have heard about. While THC does cause motor impairment, CBD does not cause any impairment of motor or psychomotor performance. (Click to tweet)

These are the foundational findings that helped lead to the safe investigation of CBD driving performance. [4]

Another study performed in 2018 resulted in some interesting findings. They noted that the use of a THC:CBD oromucosal spray did not impair driving in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). This study provided evidence that medical cannabis patients with MS using this 1:1 spray as intended did not cause driving impairment. This patient population suffers from motor dysfunction and impairment that can reduce driving performance, and so these findings are very optimistic. [5]

Further CBD Driving Performance Evidence

RELATED: Is CBD Safe for All Ages?

But here’s the kicker:

Conversely, these results were refuted by a study from 2019. In this healthy participant population, the vaping of THC:CBD did cause driving impairment. Taken together, these findings suggest that the effects of THC on driving warrant more research. Those reducing the symptoms of illness and disease may find their driving improved overall, while healthy individuals may note a small decline in performance. Nonetheless, all individuals should avoid driving after the consumption of THC. [6]

3.1 CBD and Safe Driving

Now, we can safely say that driving ability is not impaired when it comes to CBD. The World Health Organization knew what they were saying when they claimed that CBD has a good safety profile with no abuse potential indications. Ultimately, they found no public health-related problems associated with CBD itself. [4]

Here’s the deal:

We do know that CBD has the following effects: [4]

  • Reducing seizures
  • Decreasing anxiety
  • Pain reducing
  • Anti-inflammatory 

What is unknown is whether any of these potential benefits from the consumption of CBD will affect driving safety. Based on the studies explored above, there are indications that healthy populations may be unimpaired while individuals with specific diseases may actually benefit more than others.

What is unknown is whether any of these potential benefits from the consumption of CBD will affect driving safety.

RELATED: Does Your CBD Get You High? This Is What to Check if It Does

Future research will help us discover whether certain groups of people should either avoid or possibly even take advantage of CBD to promote safe driving

4. Wrapping up Our CBD Driving and Safety Conversation

 

As you can see, we have collected a solid base of evidence, but more is needed. You can expect a flood of additional studies to help provide more certainty and clarity in the coming years. What we have learned so far, however, is positive.

What’s the bottom line? 

Based on the evidence, it appears that CBD alone does not cause any driving impairment or safety concerns. Adding THC to the mixture makes things far more complicated, but CBD itself is safe. For CBD consumers who must drive in their daily lives, this is incredibly reassuring. (Click to tweet)

CBD alone does not cause any driving impairment or safety concerns.

RELATED: Hemp CBD vs. Cannabis CBD: There's a Difference

Further, since CBD has not been shown to impair driving abilities, it is considered perfectly legal to drive after taking CBD oil. Stick to hemp-based CBD oil just to be doubly safe, especially if you’re worried about legality. (Click to tweet)

4.1 Good News for CBD and Driving

All citizens should work together to keep the roads safe. This is a collective goal that requires everyone to cooperate and assume personal responsibility. For those seeking the numerous benefits of CBD oil, it is fantastic to learn that no driving safety issues exist. 

Now:

If you do happen to feel any CBD effects that could impair your driving, however, stay off the road. The good news is that you very likely won’t, as the evidence suggests that CBD itself is non-impairing. 

The evidence suggests that CBD itself is non-impairing.

RELATED: How to Choose CBD Oil Products That Are Just Right for You

In summary, safe driving is a goal we can all work together to achieve. We all mourn the loss of the 36,560 lives lost on the road in 2018 in the United States. It is only through working together that we can achieve the goal of getting this number as close to zero as possible. [1]

Sources:

  1. https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state
  2. https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2020/12/02/Cannabidiol-CBD-in-cannabis-does-not-impair-driving-landmark-study-shows.html?utm_source=SocialAnimal&utm_medium=referral#.X8aT05nLNQw.reddit
  3. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2773562?resultClick=1
  4. https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5943754/
  6. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-019-05246-8

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