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High doses of CBD do not affect driving abilities

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabis component widely used for a variety of medical purposes, such as to improve sleep or boost energy. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another cannabis component that can induce sedation, euphoria, and cognitive and motor impairment, CBD does not appear to intoxicate people. Instead, scientific studies have shown that CBD has calming and pain relief effects, making it useful for wide range of medical conditions, including sleep disorders, anxiety, or various types of pain. 

Now, a research team led by the University of Sydney has discovered that this cannabis component has no impact on people’s driving or cognitive abilities, even if consumed in high doses of up to 1,500 mg.

“Though CBD is generally considered ‘non-intoxicating,’ its effects on safety-sensitive tasks are still being established,” said study lead author Danielle McCartney, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sydney’s Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics. “Our study is the first to confirm that, when consumed on its own, CBD is driver-safe.”

In order to test this, Dr. McCartney and her colleagues asked 17 participants to undertake simulated driving tasks after consuming either a placebo or 15, 300, or 1,500 mg of CBD. The participants had to try to maintain a safe distance between themselves and another vehicle, and “drive” along simulated highways and rural roads. 

In order to cover the range of CBD plasma concentrations at different times, they had to complete these tasks twice – first, between 45 and 75 minutes after taking the treatment, and then again after 3.5 to four hours. 

The scientists measured participants’ control of the simulated car, as well as their cognitive functioning and subjective experiences, and concluded that no dose of CBD induced feelings of intoxication or impaired their driving or cognitive performance. 

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

The study is published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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