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Driving on Cannabis Oil Safe or Not?

3 minute read

A 2022 study shows that the highest daily medicinal dose of CBD oil or cannabidiol – a form of medicinal cannabis – when consumed on its own, has no impact on a person’s driving.

CBD oil is derived from the cannabis plant and is usually taken orally for medicinal and wellness purposes. It is one of many cannabinoids, or compounds, in the cannabis plant and is not psychoactive. This means that while the oil may produce changes in the body such as calming and pain relief effects, it does not affect a person’s state of mind.

A small study, led by the University of Sydney tested 17 participants’ driving abilities after consuming either a placebo or three different amounts of CBD oil using simulated driving tasks. Participants were given 15mg, 300mg or 1500mg of CBD oil which represents frequently consumed dosages of the oil. The highest daily medicinal dose of CBD oil is 1500mg and is used for conditions such as epilepsy, pain, sleep disorders and anxiety.

Participants had to practice safe driving such as maintaining a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle in front as well as driving along highways and rural roads. These tasks were completed at two different intervals after participants consumed the CBD oil, roughly an hour after participants took the CBD oil and then 3.5-4 hours after, which is when peak concentrations of CBD are found in a person’s blood plasma.

Researchers concluded that no dose of the CBD oil that participants took, when consumed by itself, induced feelings of intoxication or appeared to impair either driving or cognitive performance.

CBD oil is said to have a wide range of benefits and is mostly prescribed for pain relief, sleep disorders and anxiety. While CBD oil can be legally used in Australia, at the moment, it can only be legally obtained via a healthcare professional’s prescription. It is also noted that CBD oil can also legally be obtained over the counter via a pharmacist, however, no cannabis products currently meet the Therapeutic Goods Administration guidelines to be sold in pharmacies.

Australia allows people to drive while using CBD-only medicines as it does not change a person’s state of mind when they use it. The bottom line however is that drivers must not be ‘impaired’ when they are using the oil.

It is important to remember that while taking the highest daily dose of medicinal CBD oil may not impact a person’s ability to drive as the above study shows, the effects of taking CBD oil with other drugs or alcohol may not be the same.

On the other hand, it is strictly illegal in all states to drive with THC or Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, another common compound of medicinal cannabis, in your system. Unlike CBD, THC is a psychoactive substance that can induce sedation, a ‘high’ and impairment. THC impairs cognitive and motor function, impacting drivers’ ability to drive safely and is one of the drugs that Mobile Drug Tests (MDT) can detect.

While a MDT generally can detect the presence of common illegal substances such as cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and methamphetamine (including speed and ice) that does not mean you cannot be charged with Driving under the Influence if you are using a prescription drug.

According to the NSW Government, “You can be charged with Driving under the Influence (DUI) of illegal or prescription drugs, if you are driving while affected by a drug.”

Read more about the ‘War on Drugs’ here.

Please note this article does not substitute legal or medical advice. Always consult with a licensed professional.


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