Wanting to take CBD but worried about how it will affect your ability to drive? We’ve gathered everything you need to know about driving on CBD oil. We ask a lawyer and a police officer; can you take CBD oil and drive? Is it safe? What if I'm stopped by the Police?
Can You Drive on CBD Oil?
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years, you’ve probably heard of CBD oil. This therapeutic oil has been hailed for its possible health benefits, but since it comes from cannabis, you might have a few questions about when you can use it.
We all know that we can’t drive under the influence of substances like alcohol or cannabis, but can you drive on CBD? We’ve gathered everything you need to know about driving on CBD oil.
What is CBD oil?
CBD oil is one of the more popular forms of cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is naturally found in cannabis and hemp material and is a chemical that is part of the family of compounds called cannabinoids. CBD is actually a major cannabinoid, meaning that out of the over 100 cannabinoids found, CBD is one of the most abundant.
CBD has gained quite a reputation for its potential health benefits. Research tells us that CBD oil may be able to help get a good night’s sleep, reduce anxiety and improve inflammation ( 1 , 2 , 3 ).
Can CBD get you high?
While CBD does naturally occur in cannabis plants, you don’t have to worry about it getting you high. The infamous psychotropic effects of cannabis are not due to CBD. Another major cannabinoid called THC is instead responsible for the high that comes with cannabis use. So long as your CBD contains no meaningful amounts of THC, you won’t experience any psychotropic effects when using CBD.
A 2015 study found that when consumed alone, CBD produced no psychoactive side effects, and the World Health Organisation wrote in a report that CBD demonstrates no ability for abuse or dependence potential ( 4 , 5 ).
CBD interacts with the body a little differently from THC, and this difference is thought to be the reason why one can get you high while the other can’t. THC largely induces its effects on the body through the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. CBD, on the other hand, can only weakly bind to these receptors. Instead, CBD largely induces its effects on the body by binding to non-cannabinoid receptors and acting on other receptor pathways.
Can you drive on CBD oil?
Because CBD can’t get you high, it is largely safe to drive after consuming CBD oil. Substances like alcohol and THC cannot be consumed while driving due to their ability to impact perception, reaction and overall driving skills.
In terms of legality, CBD is legal to consume in the UK , provided that it meets a few standards. For CBD to be legal, it must be produced from specific hemp lines that contain no more than 0.2% THC ( 6 ). So long as you consume legally regulated CBD oil, then you are safe to drive on it. UK law prohibits driving on illegal drugs or legal drugs that impact your ability to drive. So long as CBD does not impact your driving abilities, then it is legal to use while driving ( 7 ).
When to worry about driving on CBD oil
While it is legal to drive on CBD oil, it is illegal to do so if CBD oil impacts your driving ability. CBD won’t impact you by inducing a high, but it can result in some other side effects that could impact your driving ability.
Side effects of CBD that you should be aware of include:
- Reduced appetite
- Lethargy ( 8 )
Some of the mild side effects of CBD will have no impact on your ability to drive. Reduced appetite, for example, is nothing to worry about while driving. However, dizziness and lethargy could impact your reaction time and focus. If you experience these side effects, then it’s best to stay away from driving until they subside.
Consult your doctor about how CBD might impact your ability to drive if you are concerned about how it might affect you, especially if you are taking other medications.
Drug testing and CBD
While it is legal to consume CBD in the UK and drive, it is not legal to consume THC and drive. Because of this, it’s important to make sure that you are consuming CBD free of THC.
Purchasing CBD oil from a non-regulated source could mean that you’re consuming CBD oil with THC levels high enough to show up on a drug test . Even if the THC content is low and doesn’t impact your driving abilities, having THC in your system is illegal and may be considered driving under the influence if you were tested while driving.
To ensure your CBD oil comes from a reputable source, look for products that are produced under UK regulations and from approved sellers. The best option is to purchase CBD oil that contains no THC, CBD isolate.
The bottom line
When it comes to driving, you want to be sure that any substances you consume are safe and won’t impact your driving abilities. CBD itself is non-intoxicating, so you don’t have to worry about experiencing a high after consuming it. But CBD is derived from hemp and cannabis, making it slightly more complicated. Purchasing legal and regulated CBD will help to ensure that your CBD has only trace amounts of THC, the compound that will get you high.
While CBD can’t get you high, it can impact you in other ways. We recommend testing how CBD affects you first to see if it will impact your driving ability. As always, be sure to consult your doctor if you are concerned about the possible side effects of CBD.
CBD oil and driving in the UK
CBD oil won’t get you high, has a good safety profile and has been tried by nearly 10% of people in the UK.
Its explosive rise in popularity has set a new standard for food supplements. Even though you can pop into your local coffee shop and pick up a CBD latte, its association with cannabis means that many people remain, understandably, cautious.
In 2015, the law changed making it easier for police to catch and prosecute drug drivers. This has resulted in many people asking the question: Is it safe and legal to drive after taking CBD?
CBD & driving: fast facts
- You can drive legally after vaping or consuming CBD as long as you are fit to do so.
- If the CBD you take contains too much THC, this could cause you to fail a drug driving test.
- You can technically smoke CBD and drive but hemp flower is illegal in the UK.
- The DVLA makes no mention of CBD within their available information.
- There are no laws in the UK that prohibit taking CBD and driving.
Is it legal to drive after taking CBD oil?
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid and won’t impair your ability to drive. This has been proven in a 2020 study undertaken at Maastricht University and led by the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics.
Dr Thomas Arkell the lead author said: “These findings indicate for the first time that CBD, when given without THC, does not affect a subject’s ability to drive. That’s great news for those using or considering treatment using CBD-based products.”
We also spoke with cannabis lawyer Robert Jappie, a partner at London law firm Ince. We asked him if it is legal to drive after consuming CBD, he said:
“Yes, it is legal. CBD is not a controlled substance and has no psychotropic effect. Therefore, a person’s driving would not be impaired by the consumption of CBD.”
However, most CBD oils contain traces of other cannabinoids including CBN and THC. Both are controlled substances and mustn’t make up more than 1mg of any container of CBD. The UK drug driving laws are clear that driving under the influence of THC is illegal.
THC is the cannabinoid that gives cannabis its intoxicating qualities and trace amounts are found in full-spectrum CBD products. The best CBD producers use legal industrial hemp varieties with less than 0.2% THC. They also invest in specially designed extraction techniques to reduce this further, ensuring the oils for sale comply with UK law
By checking 3rd party lab results and researching the brand, you can be confident that they contain only traces of THC and CBN, making it both legal and safe to drive after taking CBD.
What happens if I am stopped by the police?
This is unlikely to happen, but if an officer believes that you are unfit to drive, they may ask you to do a ‘field impairment test’ or complete a roadside drug screening kit. The test is a series of quick tasks such as walking in a straight line, which will give an indication if you are intoxicated. This may be followed up with a drug kit which tests for cannabis and cocaine.
A Police Constable told us that you will only fail a drug screening check if you have more than 2 micrograms of THC per ml of blood.
“The blood test results show the micrograms of THC per ml of blood. So if the thing you [take] doesn’t contain THC then it won’t come back in the blood […]. So [take] all the CBD you like, if it has no THC, you won’t go over the limit in theory.”
You can take some of the steps outlined in our “will CBD cause me to fail a drug test” article to ensure THC doesn’t build up in your system.
We also asked Robert Jappie what to do if you were stopped by the Police after consuming CBD, he said:
“Don’t say anything. CBD is perfectly legal and you don’t need to volunteer any information to the police.”
He also went on to add that he was not aware of any “occurrence” where someone had failed a drug driving test after consuming CBD.
Can you take CBD and drive safely?
While CBD is known to be safe, it is always important to pay attention to how any new food supplement affects you personally.
Every time you drive, it is necessary to make the personal assessment that you are fit to drive, for any reason. UK law states:
“It’s illegal to drive if either:
- You’re unfit to do so because you’re on legal or illegal drugs.
- You have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood (even if they have not affected your driving).
Legal drugs are prescription or over-the-counter medicines. If you’re taking them and not sure if you should drive, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional.”
While CBD is classes as a food supplement and not a medicine, if you believe that you are unfit to drive, then don’t.
During a chat with us, a member of the East Anglian Police Force encouraged CBD users to stay safe by purchasing from reliable brands. Specifically, companies with a good track record of happy customers and evidence of low THC content.
He emphasised that the current lack of regulatory enforcement presented the most significant risk. The potential for misleading or inaccurate labels could result in illegal levels of THC.
“I don’t think that the current market for CBD is well enough regulated and the product can vary in the amount of THC contained by a significant amount to be able to state with certainty that CBD is safe to use while driving.”
The officer went on the encourage drivers to be aware of their fitness to drive at any time. This applies whether you have taken a food supplement, over the counter medicine, prescription drug or are feeling unwell or tired.
“Always avoid driving if you are feeling any effects that may impair your ability, while CBD in itself is not illegal, it doesn’t take much imagination to see someone having a crash, a prosecutor finding out they use CBD and then a charge of driving while impaired or unfit (or similar) could be brought.”
CBD is non-intoxicating, making it safe to drive after consuming, but you must always be aware of how it affects you personally.
Choose a brand that has low levels of THC to be on the safe side and buy your CBD from retailers with:
- Good reputations and a range of positive reviews
- A policy of being honest about their products and processes
- Third-party certificates available for each batch
As a driver, you are responsible for your fitness to be behind the wheel, so, be aware of how you feel before setting off. Whether you feel strange after drinking a coffee, from an over the counter cold and flu remedy or are drowsy following a bad night, don’t drive until the effects have entirely worn off.
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Tom Russell writes extensively about CBD oil and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.
February 10, 2020
Hey Ron, if cannabis was legalised I wouldn’t expect this amount to change unless they found conclusive evidence to prove you were not impaired with a higher level of THC in your system.
How long THC stays in your system also has a lot to do with how often you consume, how much you consume and also the method of testing. Blood testing which is the method described is around 1-2 days. If someone is consuming large amounts daily this can take much longer.
There was some testing in the US where they checked micrograms per ml straight after smoking where it could show 38 micrograms per ml and within two hours is under 5micrograms (the legal limit in Colorado and Washington) per ml. After 12 hours you should be safe unless your consumption is high.
February 08, 2020
What happens if it is legalised, how much THC can you have in your system then? I heard it takes 6 weeks or more to totally get out of your system, so driving a car one week after smoking weed could end you up in jail? This is messed up! 2 microgrammes in your blood is the limit. They would need to increase loads this to make it legal to drive 12 hours after a blaze?