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Highest medicinal dose of cannabidiol is safe for drivers, study confirms

By on May 31, 2022 0

Millions of consumers and patients around the world will be comforted by the results of the latest study on cannabis and driving. Research led by the University of Sydney reveals that 1500mg, the highest daily medicinal dose of cannabidiol (CBD), has no impact on people’s driving or cognitive abilities.

CBD is a component of cannabis widely used for medical and “wellness” purposes, such as inducing sleep or boosting energy. It is often consumed orally, in the form of oil.

Most countries, including Australia, allow people to drive in the CBD. In New South Wales, for example, it is legal provided a driver is not “intoxicated” due to fatigue and/or low blood pressure. The present study shows, contraindications aside, that even at the highest medicinal dose of 1500 mg, CBD does not cause impairment.

Although CBD is generally considered “non-intoxicating”, its effects on safety-sensitive tasks are still being established. Our study is the first to confirm that, when consumed alone, CBD is safe for drivers.”

Dr. Danielle McCartney, Lead Author, University Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics

Unlike THC, a component of cannabis that can induce sedation, euphoria (a “high”), and impaired ability, CBD does not seem to intoxicate people. Instead, it has been reported to have calming and pain-relieving effects.

Peak concentrations of CBD in a person’s blood plasma are usually reached within three to four hours of taking it orally, although individual responses vary.

CBD use is increasing in Western countries, with recent research from the University of Sydney showing around 55,000 applications for medicinal CBD have been approved in Australia since 2016. It is most commonly prescribed for pain , sleep disturbances and anxiety.

About the study

Posted in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the study involved 17 participants undertaking simulated driving tasks after consuming either a placebo or 15, 300 or 1500 mg of CBD in oil. These quantities represent dosages frequently consumed: up to 150 mg/day without a prescription; and up to 1500 mg/day for conditions such as epilepsy, pain, sleep disturbances and anxiety.

First, participants had to try to maintain a safe distance between themselves and a lead vehicle, then “drive” along highways and rural roads. They completed the task between 45 and 75 minutes after taking their assigned treatment, and then again between 3.5 and four hours afterwards, to cover the range of plasma concentrations at different times. They repeated this under each of four different treatments (placebo plus three different doses).

Researchers measured participants’ control over the simulated car, tested by its degree of weaving or drifting (a standardized measure of driving ability), as well as their cognitive function, subjective experiences, and CBD concentrations in their plasma. .

They concluded that no dose of CBD induced feelings of intoxication or appeared to impair driving or cognitive performance.

“We caution, however, that this study only looked at CBD in isolation and that drivers taking CBD with other medications should do so with caution,” Dr. McCartney said.

A 2020 study, also conducted by the University of Sydney, found that very low doses of vaporized (“vaped”) CBD – an uncommon method of taking the drug – were safe for drivers.