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Driving and cannabis – is CBD safe? For how long does THC affect driving?

wallpapers News 2020-12-14

Cannabis products are rapidly gaining popularity. Taboo associated with recreational use of cannabis is disappearing, it is becoming legal in more and more countries and scientists are more free to try to unlock medical uses of cannabis.

However, at the same time it has become a real headache for policy makers. What about driving while on cannabis? Scientists at University of Sydney took a deeper look into safe driving and cannabis.

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound from cannabis, which is used for many different drugs. Image credit: Cannabis Pictures via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

There are two main compounds in cannabis that scientists are interested or worried about – cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The first one is known to reduce inflammation and is not psychoactive. The second one is what intoxicates people. Obviously, it is a bad idea to have intoxicated people driving around, but what can and can’t they actually do? CBD is already widely used to treat a variety of conditions – should these people not drive?

Scientists designed an interesting experiment. They asked 26 people to inhale vaporizer cannabis containing different mixes of THC and CBD and then 40 minutes and four hours later go on  a 100-kilometre drive under controlled conditions on public highways.

Scientists measured the standard deviation of vehicle position (SDLP) – basically, they were looking how the car is weaving around being unable to maintain a straight line. It is known that alcohol, Valium, Stilnox and some other drugs significantly impact SDLP and THC does as well. Effects of THC were noticeable 40 minutes after inhalation, but not after 4 hours, which means that these drugs impair the ability to drive only for a relatively short time.

Meanwhile CBD, which is not a psychoactive substance at all, does not affect a person’s driving ability. These are very important findings, because no one uses CBD recreationally – if you use it, you probably need it. THC is another story – if you use it, you may as well take a cab.

Professor Iain McGregor, one of the authors of the study, said: “With rapidly changing attitudes towards medical and non-medical use of cannabis, driving under the influence of cannabis is emerging as an important and somewhat controversial public health issue. 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.”

Of course, this is not the final answer at all. Driving in a straight smooth line is just part of the story – reaction times and the ability to make quick decisions are important as well. However, this and some previous studies have shown that CBD does not impair one’s ability to drive safely. And that’s great news for millions of people who use CBD to alleviate symptoms of their sicknesses.


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