A new study conducted by the University of Sydney found that 1500 mg of cannabidiol (CBD) – the highest daily drug dose – has no effect on people’s management or cognitive abilities.
Most countries, including Australia, allow people to drive to the CBD. For example, in NSW, this is legal provided that the driver is not “damaged” by fatigue and / or low blood pressure. The latest study shows, in addition to contraindications, that even at the highest therapeutic dose of 1500 mg CBD does not cause damage.
“Although CBD is generally considered ‘intoxicating’, its effects on security-sensitive tasks are still being investigated,” said lead author Dr. Danielle McCartney of Lambert University Cannabinoid Therapy Initiative.
“Our study is the first to confirm that when CBD is consumed alone, it is safe for drivers,” McCartney said.
Unlike THC, a component of cannabis that can induce sedation, euphoria, and weakening, CBD does not appear to intoxicate people. Instead, it has been reported to have calming effects and pain relief.
Peak concentrations of CBD in human blood plasma are usually reached within three to four hours after oral administration, although individual responses vary.
CBD use is on the rise in Western countries, with recent University of Sydney research showing that approximately 55,000 applications for access to medicated CBD have been approved in Australia since 2016. It is most often prescribed for pain, sleep disorders and anxiety.
Design and scope of the study
The study included 17 participants who performed the tasks of simulated driving after consuming placebo or 15, 300 or 1500 mg CBD in oil.
These amounts represent frequently consumed doses: up to 150 mg / day over-the-counter and up to 1500 mg / day for conditions such as epilepsy, pain, sleep disorders and anxiety.
First, the participants had to try to keep a safe distance between themselves and the leading vehicle and then “drive” on highways and country roads. They completed the task between 45-75 minutes after the assigned treatment and then again between 3.5 and 4 hours thereafter to cover the range of plasma concentrations at different times. This was repeated for each of the four different treatments (placebo plus three different doses).
The researchers measured participants’ control over the simulated car, testing how much it weaved or drifted (a standardized measure of driving ability), as well as their cognitive function, subjective experience, and the concentration of CBD in their plasma.
They concluded that no dose of CBD caused feelings of intoxication or appeared to impair management or cognitive performance.
“Please note, however, that this study examined CBD only in isolation and that drivers taking CBD with other drugs should do so with caution,” Dr. McCartney said.
A 2020 study, also conducted by the University of Sydney, found that very low doses of evaporated (“vaped”) CBD – an unusual way of using drugs – are safe for drivers.
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