Is it safe to consume CBD while driving?

So what happens when you get in a car after using CBD based products? Is it safe to consume CBD while driving? Our experts at UrthLeaf take you through the details…

Is it safe to consume CBD while driving?

Have you considered whether it is safe to drive once you’ve consumed CBD? The good news is yes, but let’s explore a little further to understand the science behind CBD and any possible side effects from using it. CBD is a highly sought-after cannabinoid from the cannabis plant, highly regarded for its medical value. Even though CBD oil isn’t intoxicating, it’s worth being aware of any potential side effects and the presence of that funny property THC, to ensure you don’t get into trouble whilst out and about in a vehicle.

PS: If you’re into chemistry talk, this blog post is for you!


First a little bit of science!

Cannabis is an herb that’s well-known for its psychoactive impact. However, the plant is full of lots of molecules and most of them do not elicit psychoactive effects. THC is the main cannabinoid in most strains and generates a psychoactive high by interfacing with the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptors. This psychoactive impact induces a sense of creativity and euphoria in conjunction with sedation, drowsiness and even anxiety and panic when used in greater doses. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) has been found to impair motor coordination, judgment and response time. For that reason, most countries forbid motorists to drive a car under the influence because of the possible danger it poses.

Due to this, most cannabis users question whether it is legal and safe to operate a vehicle after the use of other cannabinoids, like CBD. A very sensible question considering that CBD stems from an occasional psychoactive plant. However, research continuously shows that CBD is a non-psychoactive molecule. So generally, it is both legal and safe to operate a vehicle after using CBD. However, maybe a better question should be, is it safe for ME to consume CBD while driving? Let’s take a further look at CBD itself and how it can affect brain function.


What is CBD?

Cannabidiol is a chemical constituent found in cannabis. In recent years, CBD has soared in popularity and continuously does so as scientific studies confirm it’s benefits to the human body. CBD is highly sought after among both medicinal and recreational groups. It is used medicinally for symptomatic alleviation, having anti-seizure, anti-anxiety, antioxidant, anti-tumor, as well as neuroprotective effects. It is used recreationally to induce a sense of relaxation, clarity, and calm.

Cannabidiol is categorized as non-psychoactive however the molecule can subtly influence the mental state. It is more accurate to say, as stated by cannabis-studies pioneer Dr. Ethan Russo, that CBD is non-intoxicating. As we mentioned before, THC accomplishes its psychoactive states by adhering to CB1 receptor sites in the central nervous system. Those receptors comprise part of the endocannabinoid system, a system of receptors discovered on the membranes of different cell types. Differently, cannabidiol exerts most of its impact by interacting with the endocannabinoid system but in a more direct way.

How does CBD alter brain function?

So, in summary, CBD is not directly psychoactive like THC. However, it can affect mood and potentially alertness by catalyzing alterations within brain chemistry. CBD is notorious for affecting brain serotonin receptors while ingested in higher doses, an action partially responsible for the molecule’s anti-anxiety impact. Also, CBD may work as a reuptake inhibitor inside the brain, permitting it to rise and sustain high anandamide levels, an endocannabinoid that’s molecularly similar to THC. In addition, CBD inhibits the reuptake of adenosine, which increases molecule levels inside the brain and contributes to more anti-anxiety effects.

What’s more, CBD is also said to act as an allosteric modulator, which means it either can inhibit or enhance receptor transmission. Specifically, cannabidiol works as a positive allosteric GABA-A receptor modulator. CBD, in doing so, causes the receptor to adhere more easily with GABA. The neurotransmitter has an inhibitory impact on activity in the nervous system which induces a state of relaxation and calm.


Back to the original question

What effect will CBD have on a person’s driving capability? Generally, CBD changes the mental state by increasing anandamide and GABA levels in the brain, which results in decreased excitability and increased relaxation. That impact isn’t intoxicating but it certainly alters mood. So, when it comes to driving, in most people CBD won’t impair function. However, it must be noted that some people do suffer side effects from CBD which could potentially lower driving ability.

Reported side effects involve lightheadedness, low blood pressure, and drowsiness. For those reasons, it’s better to become used to how CBD impacts you on an individual basis before you consume it and then go for a drive. If the molecule generates any of those side effects, it is probably best not to go out to the shops in your car. Instead, consult your physician about why those effects are occurring. It may just be as simple as altering the dosage.

Small CBD doses are related to stimulating effects which boost mood, whereas larger doses administer more sedating effects. For those reasons, it is best to begin with smaller doses of CBD if you know you will need to drive. What might be a small dosage for one person may sustain a more sedating impact on another? Discover what your level of tolerance is in the comfort and safety of your own home.


THC content in CBD products

So, when it comes to driving safety, CBD basically gets the all clear! However, when the law enters, it complicates things. Most CBD oils have trace amounts of THC, with most countries permitting legal small quantities of between 0.2%to 0.6% of the cannabinoid. Those quantities are so minor that they aren’t likely to generate an intoxicating effect, unless the CBD oil product is used in vast amounts. In this case, the use of a higher dose of CBD will probably be the main reason for any sedation.

Psychoactive impact aside, the small quantities of THC in many CBD products could still place many motorists at risk of being legally prosecuted for drug driving. When it comes to THC levels in the blood, most countries have zero-tolerance laws. If you’re in the US or EU and are suspected of impaired driving, the authorities might pull you over and perform a drug test. For instance, in the UK, a THC level of only 2µg/L (micrograms) is said to be the threshold limitation and might result in a driving suspension and fines, if that limit is exceeded. Such trace amounts can even be considered “accidental exposure”. The tests authorities use to detect cannabinoid use are reliable up to ten hours after exposure.


Let’s Summarise

Ultimately, CBD is not typically considered psychoactive because it doesn’t cause intoxication or impair someone’s capability of going on with their day as normal. Based on individual dosage and effects, CBD is more than likely safe to use before operating a vehicle. However, cannabis is a controversial topic and there have been long debates concerning all aspects of it for a long time. Because of harsh regulations, trace levels of THC inside the system may result in legal problems when it comes to driving in some countries. Seeing as many cannabinol products contain minute doses of THC, it boils down to an individual decision as to whether it is a risk worth taking.

Hopefully, you understand what CBD is and the benefits it can bring to your day-to-day life. UrthLeaf sells tried and tested high-quality products, providing people with therapeutic and non-habit-forming relief for everyday stressors. CBD has been around for centuries, and recently, with the legalization of hemp, we can all reap the benefits of this all-natural extract.


So that’s why we do it!

At UrthLeaf, we have 3 main principles that guide us every day: quality, transparency, and authenticity. We believe it is our job to provide pure, quality and safe CBD oil to our clients. That means we’ll go to great lengths of CBD testing to ensure that our product is of the highest quality standard.



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