CBD does not impair driving, new study shows

December 02, 2020

A study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that CBD, a commonly consumed component of cannabis does not impact driving ability. 

While cannabis is the second most common drug found in under-the-influence drivers after alcohol, a study conducted by the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney found that individuals who consumed cannabis containing only CBD, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, could drive just as well as those who had not consumed anything.

Lead author, Dr Thomas Arkell stated that: “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.”

The study was conducted at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. 26 healthy participants inhaled vapourised cannabis and undertook a 100-kilometre drive under controlled conditions on public highways, both 40 minutes and four hours after consuming. Study participants were randomly assigned high-THC cannabis, high-CBD cannabis, cannabis containing equal parts CBD and THC, or a placebo. 

To study how the different levels of THC and CBD within cannabis affected their driving, the study focused on how much the participants veered from a straight path using a measurement called standard deviation of lateral position, an index of lane weaving, swerving and overcorrecting. SDLP increases under the influence of alcohol and drugs such as Valium and Stilnox.

Researchers found that participants who only consumed CBD were able to control the car and prevent swerving just as well as those who took the placebo. The test concluded that cannabis containing mainly CBD did not impair driving while cannabis containing THC, or a THC/CBD mixture, caused mild impairment measured at 40 minutes later but not after four hours.

Those who took THC and CBD together, and those who vaped only THC, were more likely to veer off route during the first driving test, but not at the second test four hours after consuming. 

The Lambert Initiative is a long-term Australian research program exploring the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Their aim is to conduct high-quality research required to discover, develop, and optimise safe and effective cannabinoid medicines in Australia and beyond.

These results are promising for people consuming CBD based medicines. Iain McGregor, the academic director of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics said, “The results should reassure people using CBD-only products that they are most likely safe to drive.” 





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