Many medicinal compounds come with warnings about operating heavy machinery. Things like sleep aids, anxiety medications, and even antihistamines for allergies can all have a distinct impact on one’s cognitive abilities, which can make driving dangerous or even deadly. However, limited research has been put into the effects of taking CBD products and driving. Thankfully, a small study done in Australia has found no correlation between impaired driving abilities and taking CBD within recommended doses.
While this study was relatively small (containing only 17 adults), it was double-blind and tested several popular dosage levels and their impact on a driving course. The study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reflects growing anxiety around CBD products, as well as an increased medical interest in the overall effects of the product.
While all of this is encouraging for those taking CBD for pain, what should you pay attention to when taking CBD oil, and is driving on CBD safe?
At a Glance
While the studies done on CBD are limited due to the complicated legal history of cannabis products, one small study suggests that CBD does not impact cognitive abilities or driving. This means that while those taking CBD may have mild tiredness or drowsiness, it is unlikely that the sleep aid qualities of CBD are likely to impact driving.
While it is worth noting that these CBD tests did not include THC levels, most CBD products in the United States have only trace amounts of THC, meaning they are lacking the psychoactive components found in other cannabis products that can make driving or other tasks dangerous. In general, while it is not guaranteed that CBD does not affect driving, this study strongly points to the overall safety of the product and may offer a pain management option that allows sufferers of chronic pain to manage their symptoms throughout the day, without having to worry about the activity-limiting effects of other pain management medications.
Driving Under CBD vs. THC
As mentioned previously, driving under CBD is considered largely untested, but most studies point to little to no effect of the compound on one’s ability to operate heavy machinery. However, the legality surrounding driving under the effects of THC is varied.
Unlike drunk driving, which is universally outlawed in the United States for safety reasons, the laws surrounding other cannabinoids vary from state to state, much like the legality of THC products themselves. In general, it is a good idea not to get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you are feeling at all impaired, or even if you think you may be fine but have anything in your system that may cloud your judgment.
While THC is not known for the same impacts as alcohol on the body, it may impair your reaction speed, which can be potentially deadly when traveling at high speeds. It can also make your special awareness less accurate and can lead to dizziness, as well as a string of other cognitive symptoms. The CDC does not advise driving while under the influence of THC.
Keep in mind that traveling with THC or CBD in your vehicle can also be an issue depending on the state. Before you plan on taking a road trip with your CBD products, check out the legal status of CBD products in each state, to make sure you don’t run into any issues.
It is also a good idea to swap drivers if you find yourself needing to take CBD with any other sleep aids, as the compounded effects of different relaxing supplements have not been studied thoroughly and may impair your judgment.
Should I Take CBD for Driving Anxiety?
While CBD may help reduce anxiety, taking it as a driving anxiety aid has not been studied, and may be risky. Although the study noted in this article does not show any correlation between CBD use and impaired driving abilities, without a wealth of research to back up the safety of taking CBD for driving stress, it is always best to err on the side of caution rather than put yourself in a dangerous situation.
If driving stress negatively impacts your day-to-day life, talk with a mental health professional about potential treatment options, and be sure to discuss CBD with them before starting any new supplement or increasing your doses.
While CBD on its own is unlikely to fully manage anxiety symptoms, some studies show it may be beneficial when paired with other mental health management techniques. As always, working with your medical team to find the best treatment for you is always the best course of action, as they will be able to screen for more medical interactions than you would be able to on your own, and may have additional treatment suggestions to help ensure that your condition is fully managed.
Can I Take CBD to Sleep on Long Trips?
If you find yourself riding in the car for a long-distance, CBD may function as a gentle sleep aid that is unlikely to make you feel drowsy upon arrival. Of course, keep in mind that you should not operate a vehicle while tired, but if you take CBD oil to sleep for a portion of the trip and then trade off driving, following the information in the above study, it is unlikely that you should see any impact on your driving abilities. Of course, this depends on if the CBD product you are taking has higher than legal levels of THC, and if you are taking any other sleep aids. Once again, it is better to be safe when taking to the highway, so be sure to talk with your driving companions before taking any sleep aids on a long trip, and do not attempt to drive when drowsy or impaired in any way.
While there is not a significant enough study to guarantee that CBD will not impact your driving ability at all, the appearance of smaller studies, and other areas of research that shows CBD does not noticeably impact cognitive functions, point toward the safety of driving while taking CBD. Not only does this bode well for the overall legality of taking CBD and other cannabinoids, but it also may open up new avenues of chronic pain treatment that allow patients to continue their day-to-day activities without the complications of added medication symptoms associated with stronger methods of pain control.
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