Can CBD Impact Your Driving Ability? What we know

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  • A small study found that cannabidiol (CBD) had little effect on driving, but more research is needed.
  • Millions of Americans use CBD to relieve chronic pain, sleep disturbances and anxiety.
  • People may experience drowsiness while using CBD.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, had little effect on people’s driving or cognitive abilities, a new study found, even at higher doses.

This should reassure million americans who use this cannabis compound for chronic pain, trouble sleeping or anxiety.

“This is a very important topic, given the growing prevalence of CBD use by the public for a variety of medical and psychiatric symptoms,” said Thomas D. Marcotte, Ph.D.co-director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the study.

The study authors caution that more research is needed and that their study focused on CBD in isolation, so people taking other medications in addition to CBD should drive with caution.

“Although CBD is generally considered ‘non-intoxicating,’ its effects on safety-sensitive tasks are still being established,” study author Danielle McCartney, PhDresearcher at the University of Sydney’s Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, said in a Press release. “Our study is the first to confirm that, when consumed alone, CBD is safe for drivers.”

Unlike THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the high, CBD doesn’t seem to have the same effect on people.

However, only one precedent studyalso by researchers from the University of Sydney, directly studied the effect of CBD on driving performance.

Researchers found that CBD did not increase the number of people weaving or drifting when tested on a driving simulator – a standardized measure of driving ability.

This earlier study used vaporized cannabis containing CBD. CBD is more commonly ingested orally in the form of oils, capsules, or edibles.

In the new small study, which was published May 30 in the Journal of Psychopharmacologythe researchers gave 17 people CBD in oil — at one of three doses (15, 300, or 1,500 milligrams) or an inactive placebo.

Most studies on the beneficial effects of CBD use doses up to 1,500 milligrams.

Before and several times after taking CBD or a placebo – up to 3.5 to 4 hours – the participants performed tasks on a driving simulator.

This included following safely behind another car and driving along highways and rural roads. The researchers used these tests to measure how well people could control the simulated car.

The participants also took several computerized tests that measured their cognitive function, drug-induced impairment, and reaction time.

Additionally, they reported their subjective experience, such as whether they felt ‘stoned’, ‘sedated’, ‘alert’, ‘anxious’ or ‘drowsy’.

Each person performed the test four times – for the three different doses plus the placebo – with at least seven days between each session.

None of the doses of CBD seemed to impair participants’ driving ability or cognitive performance or induce feelings of intoxication, the researchers found.

Additionally, the average change in the amount of people weaving or drifting was smaller than what was seen with other drug intoxication in another study, the researchers said. It was also smaller than in the previous CBD and driving study.

“This is a well-conducted study that adds to an evolving literature that suggests CBD alone is unlikely to impair cognitive abilities or negatively affect driving performance,” Dr. Marcotte said, “ although data on the latter remain sparse”.

To decide if CBD-impaired drivers, the researchers specifically looked at whether the impact of CBD was greater than what occurs at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05%.

In the measures they examined, this was not the case.

Tim Brown, Ph.D.director of drug-impaired driving research at the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator, said while blood alcohol level is a useful comparison, some impaired driving does occur at 0.05%.

And in some countriesthat’s the legal limit, whereas in most US states it’s higher — 0.08 percent.

“So don’t be worse than this level [0.05 percent] doesn’t mean “safe,” Dr. Brown said.

The researchers found that people who took 300 or 1,500 milligrams also reported lower levels of anxiety than those who took 15 milligrams of CBD or the placebo. It agrees with other to research looking at the anti-anxiety benefits of CBD.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time of the study, the researchers were unable to recruit as many people as they originally planned.

As a result, they could not determine the impact of CBD on the “next car” portion of the first simulated driving test, which took place 45 to 75 minutes after people took CBD.

Brown said that while the study suggests little effect of CBD on driving, the results should be viewed with caution.

Most of the participants were not frequent users of cannabis or CBD, he said, so more research is needed to find out whether long-term use of CBD or use of CBD with other drugs affect driving ability.

Marcotte said future studies should also focus on drivers taking CBD for medical or psychiatric symptoms, including the elderly.

Additionally, while the ability to stay in your lane while driving is a “good proxy measure of safety,” Brown said the results don’t rule out CBD’s impact on other aspects of driving.

“The drugs might have little effect or even improve lane retention, but would still result in delayed reaction time to critical events,” he said.

For example, if a stimulant improves concentration, a driver may be so focused on what is happening in front of him that he misses – and is slow to react – what is happening in his periphery, like a child rushing down the road. .

Brown said there were also signs that people in the study taking CBD may have driven slower, which may mask the drug’s effects on how much a person weaves or drifts.

Although the new study suggests that CBD is unlikely to impair drunken driving, some people taking CBD may feel drowsywhich could affect their ability to drive.

CBD can also potentially interact with other medicationsincluding pain relievers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and diabetes medications.

Drivers should also be careful about the CBD products they use, as some may contain other cannabis compounds.

“In poorly regulated markets, it is important for users to be aware that the purity of CBD products is not always clear and that THC (which can impair driving) may be present in some products,” Marcotte said. .

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