Cannabidiol (CBD) has been growing in popularity since it was legalized in 2018. Since it comes from the cannabis plant, which is also a natural source of THC, it’s understandable that many lawmakers and individual Americans are concerned about whether it could impair drivers’ abilities to handle their vehicles safely on the road. The research into this subject is ongoing, but CBD users can read on to find out everything there is to know on the subject so far.
Difference Between Hemp-Based and Marijuana-Based CBD
Getting a clear idea of the effects of CBD requires acknowledging one important distinction: the difference between hemp-based and marijuana-based CBD. If a grower buys dwarf seeds from i49, cultivates them, and gets a great harvest of marijuana flowers, they may have a lot of CBD. However, they’ll still contain THC, as well.
The research into the safety of driving immediately after using marijuana is fairly clear. THC may impair driving ability, though it’s likely not as dangerous to get behind the wheel after smoking marijuana as it is to drive while drunk. Local, state and federal laws reflect that danger, and it is illegal to drive after using marijuana even in states where recreational or medicinal use is legal.
According to one recent study, the story behind driving after using hemp-based CBD, which contains little to no THC, may be different. Strains that contain high concentrations of CBD with no THC do not seem to impair driving ability. That finding should come as no surprise given that CBD is non-intoxicating.
The Laws Have Not Caught Up
In some states, driving after using even pure CBD concentrates that contain no intoxicating THC at all is still considered driving under the influence. There are currently no field tests for CBD. However, in states that ban driving under the influence of CBD, officers can request that drivers perform a field test. If they fail that field test, they may have to go in for drug testing. In that case, CBD users could be penalized.
Let’s take a look at one example. In Florida, it’s legal to buy and use CBD products that contain less than 0.3% THC. Using these products is unlikely to cause an accident. However, if a driver does get into an accident and has CBD and THC in his or her system, prosecutors could still charge the driver with a DUI. If the accident was caused by side effects from the CBD, the driver could be charged with negligence.
What to Do About It
The best thing to do is to use cannabis products only in controlled environments and plan ahead, especially if those products contain more than the federal upper limit of 0.3% THC. Since it would be very difficult for home growers to test all their own plants, anyone cultivating cannabis for CBD at home should treat it as they would a more intoxicating marijuana product and arrange rides in advance.
The Bottom Line
Researchers are still investigating the effects of CBD and other cannabis-based compounds on people’s health, cognitive function, and driving abilities. Eventually, the research might definitively show that it’s safe to drive after using CBD and public policies may change to reflect that. For now, though, it’s best to treat all cannabis products as potential intoxicants and make plans to avoid getting behind the wheel after using them.