Can you use CBD and drive?

Man driving a car.

Driving safely and CBD.

CBD is a popular cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant, appreciated for its medicinal value. Although CBD is not intoxicating, users still need to be aware of possible side effects. Today, many CBD users may wonder whether it is safe and legal to drive a vehicle after taking other cannabinoids such as CBD. This is a reasonable question considering that CBD comes from a plant that can be psychoactive.

However, it is well documented that CBD is a non-psychoactive compound. Therefore, it is generally legal and safe to drive after taking. However, there are some nuances to be taken into account so that this decision is always safe in individual cases. Let us now take a closer look at what CBD is and how it can affect driving on the road.

What is CBD?

CBD is a chemical component of the cannabis plant. This compound has gained and continues to gain popularity in recent years. Scientific research continues to elucidate its effects on the body and its potential role in the treatment of many health disorders and diseases. The cannabinoid is popular among both recreational and medicinal users. It is used to gain calm, clarity and relaxation. In the medical field, it is used to relieve symptoms, the compound is used against anxiety and seizures, among other things, and also has anticarcinogenic, antioxidant and neuroprotective effects.

CBD is classified as non-psychoactive. Nevertheless, the cannabinoid can subtly affect the state of mind. THC triggers its psychoactive effects by binding to CB1 receptor sites in the central nervous system. These receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system, an organism-specific system of receptors that are located on the membranes of many different cell types. CBD, in most cases, exerts its effects by also interacting with the endocannabinoid system, but it does so in a more indirect way.

CBD and brain function.

CBD is not directly psychoactive like its cannabinoid cousin, THC. However, it can still affect mood and possibly alertness by catalyzing changes in brain chemistry.

CBD, when taken in high doses, is known to affect the serotonin receptors in the brain. This effect is partly responsible for the anti-anxiety effects of the compound. Besides, CBD can act as a reuptake inhibitor in the brain, increasing and maintaining levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide, which is similar to THC at the molecular level. CBD also inhibits the reuptake of adenosine, which increases its concentration in the brain and thus helps to further reduce the effects of anxiety.

Also, scientists report that CBD also acts as an allosteric modulator, which means that it can either increase or inhibit the transmission of receptors. In particular, the cannabinoid acts as a positive allosteric modulator of the GABA-A receiver. This receptor thus binds more easily to the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA has inhibitory effects on the activity of the nervous system, which induces relaxation.

Is it safe to drive and take CBD?

CBD generally alters mood by increasing levels of anandamide and GABA in the brain, leading to greater relaxation and decreased excitability. As we have seen, these are not intoxicating effects, but simply a change in mood. Therefore, for most people, CBD will not affect functionality while driving. It should be noted, however, that the cannabinoid can cause side effects in some people that may affect their ability to drive.

Reported side effects include lightheadedness and drowsiness. For these reasons, it's best to know how you react to CBD before you drive after taking it. If the compound causes you any of these side effects, it is probably best not to drive a vehicle under the influence of CBD. Instead, talk to your doctor about the reasons for these effects. An adjustment of the dose may be sufficient.

Small doses of CBD are associated with mood-enhancing stimulant effects, while high doses can cause sedative effects. Therefore, if you wish to drive after taking CBD, it is best to start with small doses. Besides, CBD can have different effects on different people. A dose that is too low for one user may have a different effect on another. Discover your tolerance at home and not when you are in the car.

THC content of CBD products.

We have given the CBD the green light on road safety, but we do not want to hide the legal situation either, which makes things even more complicated. Many CBD products contain small amounts of THC, with amounts between 0.2% and 0.6% of the cannabinoid being legally permitted in many European countries. These amounts are so small that they have no intoxicating effect unless the oil is ingested in large quantities. Even then, too much CBD will cause sedation rather than intoxication.

In many countries, there are strict zero-tolerance requirements for THC levels in the blood. In the US, EU countries and elsewhere, if you think you are driving under the influence of drugs, the police may require you to take a drug test, for example, a saliva test. In the UK, for example, a THC level of only 2µg / L (micrograms per litre) has been set as a limit, and exceeding this limit can lead to fines and driving bans. Such small amounts can even be considered as "accidental ingestion". These tests can detect the consumption of cannabinoids up to 10 hours after ingestion.

Final thought about CBD and driving.

In general, CBD is not considered psychoactive because it does not induce a high or interfere with the ability to continue the day as usual with clear ideas. Taking into account individual effects and dosage, taking CBD before driving a motor vehicle can be considered safe. On the other hand, cannabis has long been the subject of controversial discussions. Due to strict laws, the levels of THC found in the body can lead to legal problems in some countries. As many CBD products contain low doses of THC, it is up to you to decide whether you consider it worth taking a risk.


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