What are the risks of driving while taking CBD oil? Is it safe?
Many CBD oil users want to know if it’s safe to drive or operate a vehicle while undergoing CBD treatment. Generally speaking, the answer is yes.
Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a “high.” If you are using legal CBD oil (cannabidiol) and know its effects on your body, you are safe and legal to drive in almost all U.S. states. CBD is non-intoxicating and non-psychoactive.
If you follow these basic rules, you should be fine to drive a car while using CBD:
- Use oils or products from reputable and legal sources.
- Know how your CBD product affects you.
- Restrictions apply for Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota (see below).
How CBD affects you
CBD is one of the cannabinoids found within the cannabis and hemp plants. When taken, CBD enters your body and works with your natural endocannabinoid system. Within that system, it raises the levels of anandamide and GABA.
These chemicals affect your mood by calming you down and relieving pain and anxiety. For most people, those are the only effects of taking CBD (other than some ailment-specific effects). Most people’s driving abilities are completely unaffected.
Some people do experience side effects such as dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness and fatigue. If CBD causes such side effects in you, then you must be the judge of whether or not you can drive safely.
Only you know how your body reacts to your normal dosage. Don’t decide to triple your dose for the first time when hitting the road. Try it out at home first.
Watch out for THC or adulterants
There have been problems in the past with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) accidentally getting into CBD products. Carefully review the contents of your CBD oil, both on your bottle and on the Certificate of Analysis (COA). The COA represents the lab testing required for each batch of CBD product. It can be found in the shop or on the webpage of the company who made the oil. This lab report includes a list of cannabinoids and you can see how much THC (if any) is included.
Some oil is a CBD isolate. This means it has only CBD and no THC, and therefore should not affect your driving. Most users prefer a full-spectrum oil. This oil contains all the cannabinoids (including trace amounts of THC) that work together to bring relief to many. Again, THC at this low level is not likely to affect your driving.
If you buy your CBD oil from a reputable source—mostly domestic suppliers who can produce lab-testing results for their oils—then you are generally good to drive. Problems do arise with some CBD sellers who import foreign CBD or adulterate their goods. Without a reputable lab test, anything could be in the oil. Some underground sellers don’t test their oil, so it could contain a higher level of THC and other substances. People have even become sick on underground CBD products that contained synthetic marijuana or other adulterants. Buying reputable brands will protect you from this danger.
Is it legal to use CBD oil and drive?
Yes, it’s generally considered legal and safe to use CBD oil and drive. CBD is not tested for in DUI blood tests, and it doesn’t have any negative affect on a person’s driving ability as far as we know.
You do, however, have to watch out for the amount of THC in your product. Even in states where cannabis is legal, you need to make sure that the product you are using contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Any higher and you risk a DUI charge.
Hemp-derived CBD is completely legal under federal law if it meets 3 qualifications:
- There is less than 0.3 percent THC,
- It adheres to shared state-federal regulations, and
- It was grown by a licensed grower.
If all 3 of these qualifications aren’t met and you use the product before getting behind the wheel, then it may be considered for a DUI if you are pulled over for a traffic violation.
Special state restrictions
- Idaho – Only 0 percent THC products are legal. Additionally, the CBD must be derived from hemp stalks or seeds.
- South Dakota – CBD products are only legal when approved by the FDA. If illegal product is found in a blood test, you may be responsible for a DUI. As of October 2019, the FDA has approved just 1 product for epilepsy.
- North Dakota – CBD is allowed for medicinal use. Hemp-derived CBD is a grey area and individual towns have made different laws.
References and further reading:
“Can You Take CBD and Pass a Drug Test?: Not always, even though it’s legal. Here’s how to protect yourself” Lisa L. Gill “Consumer Reports” May 15, 2019.
“Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report” Expert Committee on Drug Dependence of the World Health Organization, Fortieth Meeting Geneva, June 4-7 2018.
“Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t” Peter Grinspoon “Harvard Health Blog” August 27, 2019.
“The trouble with CBD oil” A. Hazekamp “Med Cannabis Cannabinoids” 2018.
“An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies” Kerstin Iffland and Franjo Grotenhermen “Cannabis Cannabinoid Res”. 2017.