Does CBD Use Impair Driving Ability?

Using CBD does not impair driving ability, according to a recent Dutch study. That’s important information that those new to cannabis may not know, and industry leaders would do well to make clear.

The study also confirmed that using “THC dominant” cannabis or a THC/CBD combination impaired driving for between 40 minutes and 100 minutes, depending on the driver. The level of impairment reached levels like those found with those with 0.5 percent blood-alcohol content. All states except Utah define 0.8 percent blood-alcohol content as the legal limit (in Utah it is 0.5 percent).

Essentially, the study confirmed what those who use cannabis products already knew: THC gets you high so you shouldn’t drive, while CBD doesn’t impair driving ability. But now they can point to science for proof.

Study Participants Drove the Highway to Test Impairment

In a research approach that likely would not get approval in the United States, researchers from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands put the test subjects behind the wheel on the highway rather than in a driving simulator.

The average age of the 26 participants was 23 years old. Each said they use cannabis less than twice per week, but have used cannabis at least 10 times in their lifetime.

Each test subject drove four different sessions on a highway near the university. They drove once about 40 to 100 minutes after vaping, and then again 240 to 300 minutes after vaping. Each test featured cannabis with different levels of chemical composition. They were:

  • 13.75 milligrams of THC
  • 13.75 milligrams of THC/CBD
  • 13.75 milligrams of CBD
  • A placebo

The impairment equal to those with 0.5 percent blood-alcohol content happened to drivers during the tests that included THC. Those who used the pure CBD strain had no different level of impairment than those who took the placebo.

Issues With Driving and Cannabis

The study shows that even those who have never tried cannabis should be fine using CBD, which does not impair driving ability when taken on its own. As NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano told WebMD, the study’s results are “relatively unsurprising.”

“CBD is not psychoactive in the same manner as THC and thus one would not anticipate that it would significantly impact driving performance,” he said.

However, it’s worth taking note of the impairment caused by THC. Other studies have shown that the “high” caused by THC can impact people as long as four hours – even longer if they eat cannabis rather than smoke it.

Armentano pointed out that frequency of use could have an impact on level of impairment, as some people build tolerance. It’s also important to know that law enforcement is still working out how to judge if a person is legally too high to drive. It’s illegal everywhere to use marijuana in a vehicle or while driving.

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