By John Wood
On Dec. 17, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tweeted the following:
“Taking CBD products and driving can be dangerous. In thisConsumer Update, find out about the potential risks associated with using CBD products if you’re planning to take the car out for a spin.”
The response from the Twitter universe was mostly negative ranging from…
“Seriously?!? Does the FDA not understand the difference between psychoactive and non-psychoactive?”
to the quite harsh…
“FDA liars... quit and go to your jobs at the pharmaceutical companies...”
"...there was no significant difference in the the driving performance of the subjects in the CBD-only group vs. the placebo group." — University of Sydney study
That said, if you are a regular user of CBD, whether it’s OK to drive after taking CBD is an extremely important issue that deserves serious examination — especially since CBD is often marketed as promoting healthy sleep.
What the Science Says About CBD and Driving
We’ll address the sleep issue in a minute. First, let’s take a look at a recent “CBD and driving” study that was done by researchers from the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney. (The actual tests were conducted in the Netherlands).
In this study, 26 healthy men and women (averaging 23 years of age) were given one of four preparations: 1) 13.75 milligrams of THC; 2) 13.75 milligrams of THC and CBD; 3) 13.75 milligrams of CBD; 4) a placebo. Their driving skills were tested before vaping. After vaping, they were measured for things such as decision making, memory and thinking skills.
What they found was that the THC and THC/CBD groups suffered a short-term impairment, the equivalent of a driver with a 0.05% blood alcohol content (0.08 or higher is legal).
More importantly, there was no significant difference in the driving performance of the subjects in the CBD-only group vs. the placebo group.
Nevertheless, critics could look at the study as being too small in terms of the participants and dosage levels to draw any hard-and-fast conclusions, and they’d have a point. More study is needed.
So, Does CBD Make You Drowsy?
Other than its association with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis), the main issue with CBD when it comes to driving is that it’s been labeled as something that might make you drowsy and that it’s often marketed as a product that offers sleep support. (Note: CBD by law must contain less than 0.3% THC. At that level, CBD will NOT get you high.)
But here’s the thing. When it’s being marketed to promote restful sleep, there are usually other ingredients added to the mix. For example, our Zebra CBD Sleep Support Tablets, in addition to 25 mg of premium CBD oil in each tablet, contain the following ingredients:
- Chamomile extract (whole plant) – A mild sleep aid commonly used to “calm nerves and and other problems,” according to a report published on the U.S. National Library of Medicine website.
- Valerian root extract – A medicinal root (known as nature’s Valium) that’s been used to improve the quality of sleep since ancient times.
- Melatonin– A naturally occurring human hormone and popular supplement used for resolving sleep issues. Melatonin regulates your body’s sleep/wake cycles.
- L-theanine – An amino acid present in green tea leaves that promotes a sense of calm and decreased alertness.
CBD, on the other hand, has been shown to improve your mood and reduce your stress level, which — while it sets the stage to have a more relaxing sleep — is not a recipe for drowsiness.
In fact, a 2017 review found that CBD has the potential to treat excessive daytime sleepiness. And a 2014 review concluded that CBD could have the potential to promote wakefulness.
The bottom line being, you should not take CBD that has been engineered to promote healthy sleep if you’re going to be driving. But if you take CBD each day for say, general wellness, you should be perfectly fine to drive.