Most people know that smoking marijuana while driving is a big no-no. Even in states with recreational marijuana laws, there are steep penalties for using this herb while in a motor vehicle. But does that mean these cannabis driving laws include federally-legal CBD hemp?
Although we don’t know precisely how hemp affects driving, new data suggests low doses of CBD don’t significantly impact motor skills. At this point, most of the bans on using cannabis while driving focus on THC. Since CBD products must contain ≤ 0.3 percent THC, it’s technically legal to take these products while cruising down the highway.
However, just because CBD hemp is technically legal doesn’t mean it’s a wise choice for all drivers. Indeed, since this plant affects everyone differently, you should test your CBD products at home before hitting the road. If you have any concerns about using CBD, please reach out to a trusted primary care doctor before adding it to your diet.
Is CBD Safe To Take Before Driving? – Some Research Suggests “Yes!”
To date, there’s only one significant clinical trial examining CBD’s effect on driving. Researchers at the University of Maastricht compared participants’ driving performance after they vaped 13.75 mg of CBD, THC, or a mix of THC and CBD. As a control, scientists gave a few people a placebo vaporizer.
About 40 – 100 minutes after vaping, study participants drove down a 100 km highway in the Netherlands. Researchers tracked each driver’s lane weaving using a common measure known as the standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP).
In this first test, the SDLP scores for the CBD and placebo groups were almost identical (~18.2 cm). By contrast, people who vaped THC or hybrid cannabis had slightly higher lane weaving scores of 20.59 cm and 21.09 cm, respectively. Scientists say the drivers who took THC before driving had an equivalent blood-alcohol content of 0.05 percent.
To track the long term effects of vapeable cannabis, researchers tracked the SDLP of drivers on the same road about 240 – 300 minutes after vaping. Interestingly, the SDLP score for CBD users was lower than the placebo group (19.03 cm vs. 19.37 cm). The hybrid users were the worst performers at 20.59 cm, while the THC group had an SDLP of 19.88 cm.
Although the group size in this trial was small, these findings suggest low-dose CBD does not alter a driver’s skills. It’s also worth noting that high-THC and hybrid strains had the most significant impact shortly after vaping. Study authors hope these results will inspire other scientists to organize similar studies to understand how cannabis affects driving.
Why Doesn’t CBD Seem To Impair Driving?
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t bind with the brain’s CB1 receptors. Instead, scientists believe CBD interacts indirectly with the endocannabinoid system. Specifically, recent research suggests CBD helps increase the production of a natural, feel-good compound known as “anandamide.” This indirect effect on the brain might explain why CBD has a more “subtle effect” versus THC.
Another interesting finding is that CBD seems to block THC from landing on the brain’s CB1 receptors. So, even if a hemp strain has minute traces of THC, the CBD molecules could prevent THC from making contact. This “buffer action” could explain why high-CBD strains aren’t as psychoactive versus high-THC marijuana.
So, Is It OK To Smoke CBD Hemp While Driving?
After reading all of this impressive data, you may feel there’s no issue using CBD hemp while driving. Although few territories have explicit bans on using CBD, there are potential risks customers should know.
Unfortunately, in the current legal environment, hemp flower looks incredibly suspicious in a vehicle. Since most states have strict bans on using marijuana while driving, you could face legal issues if police catch you holding hemp flower in your car.
Yes, hemp flower is technically legal at the federal level; however, there’s no way officers could verify you’re smoking CBD hemp on the spot. Most likely, they will assume you’re taking marijuana and charge you accordingly.
For your safety, we recommend keeping your stash of Cannaflower hemp buds at home until your state has explicit laws concerning smokable hemp while driving. You might also want to reserve your hemp smoking for times when you’re not in a vehicle.
Could CBD Hemp Wreck Your Drug Test?
Another issue hemp smokers have to consider is taking a drug screening. Even though all of Cannaflower’s products have ≤ 0.3 percent THC, everybody absorbs this cannabinoid at a different rate. So, even if you don’t feel “high,” there may be relatively “high” traces of THC in your bloodstream.
Unfortunately, there’s no way we could guarantee THC won’t appear on your test results. It’s also impossible to know just how accurate your police officer’s THC scanner will be.
The only way to avoid this unpleasant scenario is to take CBD goods with zero traces of THC (e.g., CBD isolate). While you might not experience an intense “entourage effect” with these goods, they will protect you from failing a drug screening.
Could CBD Make Me Sleepy Behind The Wheel?
Some people who are new to CBD ask whether this cannabinoid will make them feel sleepy while driving. This is a valid concern, especially considering the many sleep-related CBD oils hitting store shelves.
Generally speaking, CBD doesn’t have a pronounced sedative effect at low doses. However, some studies suggest CBD may have sedative potential, so you need to figure out how this cannabinoid affects you before driving.
We should also note that different hemp cultivars could have a different impact on users. For instance, most indica-heavy strains tend to have a relaxing effect versus energizing sativas. Sometimes the aromatic terpenes found in different strains could also have a physiological effect.
Bottom line: you should test your chosen CBD product at home to see if it makes you feel drowsy. You could also learn more about the indica v. sativa distinction and notable terpenes on Cannaflower’s informative blog.
How Much CBD Is Too Much Before Driving?
There’s no standard dosage for hemp flower or CBD. In fact, since so many factors influence CBD absorption, it’s unlikely scientists will ever come up with an “average” CBD dose.
Everyone has a slightly different metabolism, which means we all absorb CBD at different speeds. Plus, each CBD product has a unique absorption rate. For instance, CBD edibles take longer to get into the bloodstream versus smokable hemp flower. It’s also possible for customers to build up a tolerance to CBD with repeated use.
If you’re new to CBD, please start with the lowest possible dose and see how your body reacts. Slowly increase your daily CBD intake until you find a level that works for your body. It would help if you also recorded your daily CBD doses in a notebook. Please only drive after you know how different CBD products affect you.
Worried About Driving With CBD? Talk With A Trusted Doctor
While CBD hemp doesn’t appear to interfere with a person’s driving skills, there’s always a risk you could experience adverse side effects. This is especially true if you’re already taking prescription medications.
If you have any concerns about taking CBD, we encourage you to talk with a doctor who’s familiar with medical cannabis. Only a certified physician could help you figure out when’s the best time to add CBD to your daily routine. Of course, you could also contact the Cannaflower team at [email protected] with any further questions.