CBD while driving, what are the risks?

Written by: Arthur Leclerc


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CBD while driving

 CBD – short for cannabidiol – is a compound found in the cannabis plant that is not prohibited while driving. Other compounds have distinct characteristics, the best known of which is THC's high. CBD, for its part, has other properties, the beneficial effects of which on health are the subject of numerous studies. Cannabidiol is a hemp extract, varieties of which are selected for their low THC content.

CBD while driving - what are the risks?

To manufacture the different cannabidiol-based products, the THC level is reduced to comply with regulations. The THC level authorized for CBD-based products in France cannot exceed 0.3%. Therefore, CBD products, including CBD flowers, may contain a trace amount of THC. Broad Spectrum oils , capsules and gummies and also isolates do not contain it. You may therefore wonder if its consumption could impair your driving abilities. And if a positive screening test is possible in the event of a check by the constabulary. It is actually not recommended to smoke CBD flowers containing THC before getting behind the wheel because any trace of THC can give a positive result.

Is it legal to drive after consuming CBD?

The law punishes the consumption of substances classified as narcotics, such as cannabis containing THC. But this ban does not apply to CBD while driving. Cannabidiol is not considered an intoxicating substance. This was recently confirmed by a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union. She thus concluded that CBD “does not appear to have a psychotropic effect”.

We therefore authorize the consumption of CBD before getting behind the wheel. This provision obviously considers that CBD-based products comply with the regulations concerning the THC level. If you regularly use a CBD product that contains THC, you run the risk of testing positive.

And a simple drug test will verify this instantly, as explained below. To avoid taking unnecessary risks, we advise you to select products verified by independent laboratories. We do not recommend consuming CBD flowers by burning or vaporizing before getting behind the wheel (either in a joint or in a vaporization device) because the flowers contain traces of THC. If you get tested, traces of THC, no matter how small, can cause a positive result.

Can CBD impair your ability to drive?

The majority of CBD consumers do not notice any impairment in their abilities and can drive. However, side effects can occur, the most common of which are signs of fatigue. A 2017 review of studies found that fatigue was the most commonly observed side effect.

In a study of 2,400 users , 2% reported drowsiness after consuming CBD. In 2018, research was conducted on the drug Sativex in patients with multiple sclerosis. Sativex is prescribed to improve symptoms related to muscle stiffness. It is composed of two cannabinoids and takes the form of an oral mucous spray. It contains 270mg of THC and 250mg of CBD per 10 ml bottle .

Researchers noted that THC levels in patients' blood could be higher than legal thresholds in some countries. If you are taking Sativex, it is therefore important to know the local regulations and to have a certificate attesting to your medical use.

A study on the difference between CBD and THC while driving

Another Dutch study published in 2020 compared the skills of 26 subjects who consumed different amounts of THC and cannabidiol. After driving on a highway for between 40 and 100 minutes, the researchers measured their ability to navigate traffic, their memory, their decision-making and other cognitive skills. It appeared that the groups who took both high-THC cannabis and the THC/CBD combination showed short-term impairment similar to that observed in drivers with an alcohol level of 0.05% (i.e. the legal limit in France). In contrast, those who took CBD alone showed no change in their driving abilities. The study thus concluded that cannabidiol in these circumstances did not impair driving.

Does CBD show up on drug tests?

The police have drug testing kits, used to detect cocaine and THC. If they stop a motorist and suspect they are under the influence of an illegal drug, officers may ask them to take a saliva test. The tests provide results within five minutes. Although they are not admissible in court, they can lead to laboratory analyzes which can constitute evidence against them. These tests are not designed to detect CBD, only THC. It is therefore possible that you may test positive for THC if you have used cannabidiol products containing traces of THC.

To avoid any risk, we advise you not to drive after smoking CBD flowers containing traces of THC. It is therefore essential to purchase your CBD from a reputable producer who can demonstrate the THC levels of their products via independent laboratory testing.


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