CBD, one of the hundreds of cannabinoids found in cannabis, has become one of the fastest-growing medicinal products on the market. There is evidence that this marijuana extract can help suppress seizures by slowing down chemical messages sent to the brain, ease chronic pain, lower cravings from tobacco and other drugs, reduce anxiety, and treat insomnia.
Although CBD is thought to be non-intoxicating, unlike its high-producing cousin THC, you can never be too careful, especially in situations where being under the influence of a psychoactive drug can lead to dramatic consequences. This is why researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia wanted to see whether taking a very high dose of CBD impairs people’s ability to drive.
According to the results, not even a daily dose of 1500mg, which is more than most people would ever hope to take in one single go, has any impact on people’s driving or cognitive abilities, for that matter.
“Though CBD is generally considered ‘non-intoxicating’, its effects on safety-sensitive tasks are still being established,” said lead author Dr. Danielle McCartney, from the University’s Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics. “Our study is the first to confirm that, when consumed on its own, CBD is driver-safe.”
The study involved 17 participants who underwent a driving simulation in a safe environment about an hour after consuming either 15 mg, 300 mg, or 1,500 mg of CBD in oil form or a placebo. Most of the CBD oil found on the market is taken under a 150mg/day regimen, but some patients who use the cannabis extract to treat epilepsy or pain can use up to 1500 mg/day.
During the driving task, the participants had to keep a safe distance between themselves and a lead vehicle, while driving along highways and rural roads. The task was undertaken twice: 45 to 75 minutes after taking the CBD dose, and then again about three and half hours later, in order to cover the entire range of plasma concentrations at different times.
The researchers looked for signs of driving impairment by measuring how much the vehicle weaved or drifted, as well as testing each driver’s cognitive functions. No dose of CBD appeared to impact driving or cognitive performance. Previously, the same team from the University of Sydney concluded that vaped CBD, a more uncommon method of taking the drug, was also driving friendly.
These results were somewhat expected given CBD’s history of not producing intoxication, although the researchers “caution that this study looked at CBD in isolation only, and that drivers taking CBD with other medications should do so with care.”
Tibi is a science journalist and co-founder of ZME Science. He writes mainly about emerging tech, physics, climate, and space. In his spare time, Tibi likes to make weird music on his computer and groom felines.