In the last couple of years, we’ve seen a massive growth of the CBD industry. The number of CBD oil users is going up every day, as both doctors and patients start to recognize the numerous health benefits of CBD. Unfortunately, since the legislature can’t seem to keep up with this growth, we’re left with numerous practical questions surrounding the use of CBD. One of those questions concerns CBD and driving – more specifically, is it legal (and safe) to drive while taking CBD oil?
The first question that we have to answer here, of course, is the legality of CBD itself in the United States. While a no brainer for most people who use it and are aware of CBD health benefits, at the federal US level, things are a bit murkier.
The only CBD that’s legal in the United States is the one that is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% of THC. This happened recently, though, when President Trump signed a law in December of 2018 that declared hemp oil legal, and not lumped in with other cannabis strains. Until that point, federal law made no distinction between hemp and marijuana, and using CBD oil manufactured from either of those plants was a federal crime. We wrote more about that in our post here – Legality of CBD Oil In The United States – but what’s important to note is that various states legalized the use of hemp CBD so the federal law was not heavily enforced.
After the new bill was signed into law, the use of near-pure CBD became federally legalized.
Currently, law enforcement officers do not test drivers for traces of CBD in their system. There is no saliva test that can be administered on the road to show whether or not a driver is taking CBD oil. There is also no legal limit (as is the case with alcohol) to how much CBD you can have in your bloodstream while driving.
This answers one of the questions from the beginning of the post.
Yes, driving while taking CBD oil is perfectly legal in the United States. You will never be pulled over by the cops and asked to undergo CBD testing on the side of the road. You can’t be tested for it, which means that you can’t be punished for it, either.
That said, the new law that decriminalizes CBD has a small clause in it that might prove problematic when driving. It explicitly states that CBD oil should not contain more than 0.3% of THC in it. Tetrahydrocannabinol, as you know, is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and it has been (and has stayed) a controlled substance for more than 50 years. There are numerous saliva tests that can be administered by police officers that can detect the substance. Driving while under the influence of THC is treated no different than driving while drunk – in both cases, you stand to lose your license and get a fine.
That’s because THC does, in fact, impair your ability to safely operate a vehicle. According to numerous studies, THC and driving don’t really mix because THC:
- Slows down your reaction time.
- Impairs your concentration.
- Alters visual perception.
- Impacts the perception of speed.
- Changes the subjective feeling of the passage of time.
On the other hand, the connection between CBD and driving is not that perilous because CBD doesn’t have the same effect on your brain. While it’s true that it does alter mood – which, technically, makes CBD psychoactive, as we’ve already written about here – CBD, generally, does not affect concentration to a great extent.
We’ve established that taking CBD oil and driving is legal, as long as it does not contain more than 0.3% of THC, but that says nothing about whether or not it’s safe. CBD, like THC, has mood-altering properties that, while not very similar, do affect our brain to a certain extent.
When you’re taking THC, you can often get too ‘stoned’ to drive. The sensations here vary from person to person but they include couch lock, a drop in concentration, the inability to judge the passage of time, and so on. With CBD, things are a bit different. The effects vary from person to person but, generally, no great loss of concentration occurs if you’re taking a reasonable dose of CBD. In fact, for most people, CBD will act as a stimulant in small doses, which means that it will heighten the senses for a small period of time.
That said, some users do report experiencing side-effects after taking CBD. These side-effects include, but are not limited to:
- Dry mouth after taking CBD
- A short period of drowsiness
- A drop in blood pressure
While not concerning in and of themselves, the last two side-effects (drowsiness and low blood pressure) can negatively impact one’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. Drowsiness can result in sleepiness, which means that you risk nodding off behind the wheel of a car and putting yourself and others in danger. Lower than normal blood pressure, on the other hand, can cause fatigue or fainting. In both cases, the worst result is the same – you crash your car, injuring yourself and others.
The effects of CBD on your driving ability are minimal for most people but they can still exist. This will differ from person to person, as we don’t all metabolize CBD in the same way. Some people experience a short period of sleepiness right after taking their CBD oil, after which they are fine. For others, that effect comes later and last longer.
The important thing to consider when taking CBD and driving is your own reaction to CBD. You should never experiment with it without knowing all the effects that CBD has on you. If you do feel a bit drowsy after taking it, it’s best not to drive until after the initial effect has worn off.
One last thing. Not all CBD oil is created equal. If you’re using one brand and switch to something else, but you’re accustomed to driving while on CBD, it’s best to see first how the new brand agrees with you. If it’s hitting you harder than usually, abstain from driving until you’ve had a chance to tweak the dosage and you’re comfortable with the effects.
CBD & Driving – The Verdict
The fact is that you can legally drive in the US minutes after you’ve vaped your dose of CBD oil, as long as standard THC saliva tests don’t pick up any THC in your system. That means that you know the CBD oil that you’re vaping, and you’re confident that the manufacturer is taking precautions that the THC level in it is almost non-existent.
As for whether you can safely take CBD and drive…well, only you can answer that question. If you experience any of the side-effects (and this goes double when it comes to sleepiness or low blood pressure), you should probably not mix driving and CBD. At the very least, you should always wait an appropriate amount of time between taking CBD and getting behind the wheel to allow your brain to start working at full capacity again. Remember, when driving, all it takes is one second of poor concentration for the worst to happen. Unless you’re willing to risk it, don’t get behind the wheel until you’re at 100% and ready to drive.
If you have any questions about CBD and vaping, we at Calm Vape always have time for you! Comment on this post or reach out to us over email, and we will do our best to answer all your CBD-related questions.
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