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A new study shows that high doses of medical cannabis have no effect on driving

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A new study shows that very high doses of medicinal cannabis have no effect on driving. Researchers in Australia found that 1500mgs of cannabidiol (CBD) – the highest daily medicinal dose out there – “has no effect” on people’s driving or cognitive abilities.

CBD is an ingredient in cannabis that many people around the world use to improve their sleep and energy levels. It’s often taken orally, in the form of oil, but it can also come in the form of bears, chocolate, or even beer.

In the UK it is classified as a food supplement because it is illegal to market the substance as a health product and is not available on the NHS. Many countries, including the UK, allow people to drive on CBD because it is not psychoactive and contains less than 0.1% THC which is the substance that makes people high when smoking cannabis.

US sleep experts recommend that anyone weighing 70 kg should take between 10-60 mg per day. The current study shows that even a high dose of 1500 mg does not cause impairment.

Lead author, Dr Danielle McCartney, from the University of Sydney, said: ‘Although CBD is generally considered non-intoxicating, its effects on safety-sensitive tasks are still being established. Our study is the first to confirm that CBD, when consumed On its own, it is safe for the driver.”

Unlike THC, which can cause sedation, euphoria, and weakness, CBD does not appear to be toxic to people and its sedative and pain-relieving effects have been reported. Peak CBD concentrations in a person’s blood plasma are usually reached within three to four hours after oral administration, although individual responses vary.

CBD use is increasing across Western countries and other University of Sydney research shows that around 55,000 applications for access to medicinal CBD have been approved in Australia since 2016. They are mostly prescribed for pain, sleep disturbances and anxiety.

The study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, had 17 participants perform simulated driving tasks after taking a placebo or 15, 30 or 1,500 mg of CBD oil. These amounts represent the most frequently consumed doses available in Australia: up to 150 mg per day without a prescription and up to 1,500 mg per day for conditions such as epilepsy, pain, sleep disturbances and anxiety.

Participants first had to try to keep a safe distance between themselves and a driving car and then drive along highways and country roads. They did this between 45 and 75 minutes after taking their assigned CBD dose and again 3.5 to four hours later, to cover the range of plasma concentrations at different times.

Each participant repeated this four times, one for each varying dose level including placebo. The researchers measured participants’ control of the simulated vehicle, testing their amount of spin or drift (a standardized measure of driving ability), as well as their cognitive function, personal experiences, and CBD concentrations in their plasma. They concluded that no dose of cannabidiol causes feelings of intoxication or appears to impair driving or cognitive performance.

“However, we caution that this study looked at CBD in isolation only, and that drivers taking CBD in combination with other medications should do so with caution,” Dr. McCartney said. A 2020 study, also conducted by the University of Sydney, found that very low doses of vaped CBD, an uncommon way of taking the drug, was also safe.


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