CBD Oil & Driving: Is It Safe To Drive After Taking CBD In Australia?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a relatively new and exciting cannabis medicine available in Australia.
We are still learning about its effects and creating rules and laws the use of CBD, but the biggest question is, do we need to worry about taking CBD and driving?
Cannabis is a drug that has an intoxicating effect, and it is illegal to drive under the influence. CBD, however, is a non-intoxicating safe compound extracted from cannabis. It is generally safe and legal to drive after taking CBD in Australia, as long as the driver is not impaired.
Table of Contents.
The Quick Difference Between Cannabis and CBD
Cannabis and marijuana are well-known as a recreational drug, and only in recent years have they become available in Australia as a medicine.
The public image of cannabis is still stoners, drugs, couch potatoes, and party-goers, but perception is changing fast with everyday medicinal cannabis use becoming normal in Australia.
The cannabis plant and flower have psychoactive properties, the most popular being THC, that causes an intoxicating effect.
THC produces the intoxicating effect by interfacing with our bodies CB1 receptors found in our endocannabinoid system.
Due to this fact, many people assume that it is unsafe to drive under the influence of Cannabidiol (CBD) as it extracted from the same cannabis plant.
At a glance, it makes sense; however, extensive studies show that CBD is a non-intoxicating and non-psychoactive cannabis compound.
This means that it should not have any adverse effects on Australians and their abilities to drive safely.
What Is CBD?
CBD oil, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, is the most popular medicinal cannabis medicine in Australia and New Zealand.
It is used to treat a broad range of medical conditions and their symptoms, including:
- chronic pain
- muscle spasms
The most common form of CBD prescribed to patients in Australia include:
- CBD oil
- cannabis Flower
- full-spectrum CBD
- CBD oil capsules
Alongside CBD’s ability to treat pain and physical symptoms, CBD oil can treat anxiety and depression by inducing a feeling of calm, relaxation, and clarity for patients.
It can treat patients while causing no intoxicating or psychoactive effects on patients.
How Does CBD Affect Driving Safety?
CBD is known to change the mental state of patients by raising the levels of GABA and anandamide.
Higher levels of GABA and anandamide increase comfort, relaxation, and decreased anxiety and excitability.
CBD does affect the mental state of its patients, but it does not cause drowsiness or impair our motor functions and alertness required to drive safely.
It is important to remember that CBD’s effects are different for everyone, so some patients may feel unsafe to drive after taking CBD oil.
If you feel CBD has caused impairment and does affect your fitness to drive, you must avoid driving until the effects wear off.
It is legal to drive after taking CBD oil, but it is unsafe and illegal to drive under the influence of THC due to its intoxicating effects.
Read through the Australian government’s fact sheet on driving after taking cannabis and CBD oil here.
How Long After Taking CBD Oil Can You Drive?
Medical cannabis is relatively new in Australia, and people are rushing to figure out the different types of CBD oil so that they can categorise each one.
How long should you wait after taking CBD oil before you can drive? If you have pure CBD isolate, then you can legally drive immediately after taking CBD oil. If you have had CBD full-spectrum that includes THC, then you may need to wait for hours or even days before you can drive.
Why would you need to wait days after taking CBD oil to drive again in Australia?
Australia’s Drug testing searches for alcohol, marijuana and other substances. What drug tests really look for is the THC found in marijuana, and it can stay in your system for days.
Whether its hours or days depends on how much THC you consumed.
Be safe knowing that it’s safe to drive after taking CBD oil, so you don’t have to wait for hours or days. Be sure to check whether or not your CBD oil medication has THC in it.
Side Effects Of Taking CBD: Does It Impair Drivers?
There are multiple reported side effects that may impair your ability to drive after taking CBD oil.
The possible side effects of CBD that may negatively affect driving include:
- low blood pressure
- light-headed (dizziness)
Taking a larger dosage of CBD oil may cause more drowsiness, fatigue, and an overall sedative-like effect.
Smaller dosages of CBD generally boost your mood and alertness.
Most doctors in Australia recommend starting with lower dosages of CBD oil and to only drive after you have become accustomed to the effects of medicinal cannabis.
The majority of driving issues caused after taking CBD oil is a placebo effect, as you may not be used to the effects and are more nervous than usual.
Marijuana significantly impairs judgement, motor coordination and overall negatively effects your ability to drive. CBD Oil, however, is a safe non-intoxicating marijuana extract that does not adversely affect your ability to drive.
What Is In CBD Oil? Are There Different Types Of CBD Oils?
Whether its cannabidiol (CBD) oil or other CBD medical products, what else is inside that may affect your ability to drive?
The CBD compound by itself is non-intoxicating, but there are medicinal CBD oils that include potentially intoxicating compounds.
There are three main types of CBD extracts that are prescribed to patients in Australia:
- CBD isolate
- full-spectrum CBD
- broad-spectrum CBD
The safest option is the CBD isolate, as this is pure CBD concentrate without any other potentially intoxicating compounds.
Full-spectrum CBD is the most natural extraction from the cannabis plant, but this includes a wide variety of other compounds, including THC. This is not recommended for driving.
The broad-spectrum CBD is the same as the full-spectrum, except for the THC. They filter out the THC during the production process to create a natural CBD oil without the main THC intoxicating effects.
Always consult with your doctor to find a form of CBD oil that’s safest for you to drive with, while not limiting its ability to treat your medical condition.
The Effects of Cannabis and Alcohol when driving
One of the controversies around legalising cannabis (marijuana) in Australia is that it will cause more traffic accidents on the road while drivers are “high” on weed.
What is the difference between cannabis and alcohol when driving in Australia?
Is it more dangerous to drive high, under the influence of marijuana, or does alcohol impair your driving more?
Alcohol greatly impairs your ability to drive effectively and increases the risk for accidents.
Alcohol at 0.75 g/kg (roughly four standard drinks) causes high levels of impairment in:
- psychomotor performance
- short-term memory
- reaction time
- hazard perception
- hand-to-eye coordination
There are many misconceptions with the use of marijuana and how it affects people. But studies have shown that driving after a moderate dose of marijuana impairs driving performance.
It affects alertness, concentration, coordination and reaction time. At a glance, it would seem that both alcohol and Cannabis will have similar effects that increase the dangers of driving.
The main difference is Cannabis lasts between 1-3 hours and Australians who use Cannabis in moderation use it once or twice a month vs alcohol two or four times a week.
Cannabis and Driving The Government Facts (FactSheet)
Since CBD had become legal in 2016, the laws and government regulations around cannabis have been both confusing and contradictory.
Cannabis is a plant and weed, marijuana, “grass”, “dope”, THC, CBD, CBN are either different names for the plant or concentrated extracts from the plant.
The good news is that the government has released its official stance on cannabis and driving through the StreetSmarts organisation.
“Driving whilst under the influence of cannabis is dangerous. Cannabis can affect your judgement, vision, coordination and reflexes – all of which increase your risk of having a crash.” StreetSmarts Initiative
Through research and studies, the government has come up with a list of facts that have determined the risks involved in driving under the influence of marijuana (THC and CBD).
THC is the primary cannabis ingredient that negatively affects your ability to drive in Australia. Symptoms include:
- short attention span
- slow reaction time
- inability to concentrate
- poor judgement and decision making
Like alcohol, the amount of marijuana consumed is directly related to its negative effects on your ability to drive.
CBD oil does not affect your ability to drive, but everyone is different, so if you are feeling drowsy, tired or any other symptoms that makes you second think about driving, then be sure to wait 1-2 hours before getting behind the wheel of your car.
You can also read the government’s factsheet for cannabis and driving here.
Government FAQs Around Cannabis and Driving
A great way to understand the relationship between cannabis (CBD oil and THC oil) use and driving is through questions and answers.
Question: Can I drive after taking legal, medical cannabis (marijuana) that has been prescribed to me by a doctor?
Answer: Like with any schedule 4 or 8 drug that is quite strong, you should not drive if it negatively affects your ability to drive. It is an offence to drive with THC in your system.
Question: Can I drive after taking medical marijuana if I feel safe and confident?
Answer: Whether it’s prescription or recreational marijuana, it can be as dangerous drink driving. It may affect your judgment and decision making that could lead to an accident. Because of this, you may not be able to accurately judge at that time whether or not you are capable of driving after taking CBD and THC oil.
Question: How can I plan ahead to stay safe after taking cannabis products like CBD and THC oil?
Answer: Plan ahead like you would if you were drinking. Always have a designated driver and avoid getting behind the wheel if your CBD oil or cannabis medicine has THC in it. Public transport, uber, taxis are all safe alternatives when you are under the influence of THC.
Question: Do Australian police drug test for cannabis (THC and CBD) in drivers?
Answer: Police test for more than alcohol. Random drug tests can check for marijuana (THC) in your system. Whether you are in the city or the country, the police may conduct roadside drug tests that detect cannabis (THC) in your saliva or blood. If you are driving and caught with THC in your system, this can result in a drug driving charge.
Question: Can I avoid a drug driving charge if I have a medical certificate (prescription) for medicinal marijuana?
Answer: Whether or not the cannabis medicine is prescribed, if you are caught with THC in your system, you cannot use a valid prescription as a defence against a drug-driving charge in Australia. It is an offence to have THC in your system at the time of a drug-test when behind the wheel.
Question: How long should I wait after taking medicinal cannabis (CBD and THC) products?
Answer: How long does THC remain in your system is not currently known. It depends on the person, the amount is taken and how you took it. Eating cannabis will stay in your system longer than smoking it. An estimated 3-6 hours after taking CBD and THC oil and it will be out of your system. To be safe, most patients are recommended to wait up to 24 hours after taking CBD oil with THC before driving. Consult with your doctor for a more accurate duration tailored to your situation.
Question: What happens if I am involved in a car (motor vehicle) crash after taking cannabis (CBD & THC)?
Answer: Depending on your state, after drivers are involved in a car crash that results or injury or death, they are required to provide a blood sample to the police. Your blood is tested for alcohol and drugs, including marijuana (THC). Having THC in your system at the time of a car accident (crash) may be used against you.
Want to find out more information about driving and cannabis from the government? Here is a state by state guide from official government websites:
Conclusion: Is It Safe To Drive On CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the cannabis plant for medicinal and therapeutic applications.
Cannabis, in its original form, has psychoactive and intoxicating effects that impair your ability to drive.
CBD, however, is a cannabis compound without any psychoactive or intoxicating effects.
CBD can alter your state of mind by boosting your alertness, and it can also cause a relaxing and calming effect.
It is legal and generally safe to drive after taking CBD oil that does not include any psychoactive cannabis compounds.
The most common CBD oil without psychoactive compounds is the CBD isolate and the broad-spectrum CBD oil.
The effects of CBD is different for everyone, so it is best to consult with your doctor to find the most suitable medical treatment.
As cannabis is the more widely used illicit drug in Australia, its important to remember that there is no legal limit when it comes to drugs and driving.
So educating yourself on the drug use statistics, safe use of CBD oil while driving and avoiding THC is an important safe step to keeping our roads safe.
James is an experienced writer and legal cannabis advocate in Australia. He answers all the questions about business, legalisation and medicinal cannabis.
Disclaimer: Cannabis Place are not doctors and we recommend consulting health professionals for accurate information. This site may contain information regarding drugs. This content is designed for an 18+ audience. Click here for our full disclaimer
CBD is the most popular medicinal cannabis, but does it affect your ability to drive in Australia? Learn about cannabidiol (CBD) and safe driving in Australia.
Is It Safe To Drive After Taking CBD? The Facts You Need To Know
CBD is a popular cannabinoid from the cannabis plant known for its medicinal value. Although CBD oil is not intoxicating, users should be aware of possible side effects—as well as the presence of THC—to avoid getting in trouble on the road.
Cannabis is an herb that is most well-known for its psychoactive effects. However, the plant is rich is many different molecules, and the vast majority of them don’t elicit psychoactive effects. THC is the primary cannabinoid within many strains, and produces a psychoactive high by interfacing with CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. This psychoactive effect induces feelings of euphoria and creativity, along with drowsiness, sedation, and even panic and anxiety at higher doses. THC has been found to impair judgement, motor coordination, and reaction time. For this reason, many countries forbid drivers to operate a vehicle under the influence due to the potential danger this poses.
Many cannabis users may also question whether it is safe and legal to drive after using other cannabinoids, such as CBD. This is a sensible question, considering CBD does stem from a sometimes-psychoactive plant. However, scientific literature extensively documents CBD as a non-psychoactive molecule. For the most part, it is both safe and legal to drive after ingesting CBD. But there are some nuances that should be ironed out to make sure this is a safe decision for you as an individual. Let’s take a deeper look into the nature of CBD, and how it can affect brain function.
WHAT IS CBD?
CBD is a chemical constituent found within cannabis. This molecule has surged in popularity in recent years, and continues to do so as scientific research clarifies its action on the body and its potential role in treating numerous health conditions and diseases. The cannabinoid is popular among both recreational and medicinal circles. Recreationally, the cannabinoid is used to induce feelings of calm, clarity, and relaxation. Medicinally, CBD is used for symptomatic relief, with the molecule displaying anti-anxiety, anti-seizure, antitumour, antioxidant, and neuroprotective effects, among others.
CBD is classed as non-psychoactive. However, the molecule can subtly influence mental state. What’s more accurate to say, as articulated by cannabis research pioneer Dr. Ethan Russo, is that CBD is non-intoxicating. THC achieves its psychoactive states by binding to CB1 receptors sites within the central nervous system. These receptors make up part of the endocannabinoid system, a body-wide system of receptors found on the membranes of many different cell types. CBD exerts many of its effects by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, yet in a more indirect manner.
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CBD AND THE BRAIN
CBD isn’t directly psychoactive like its cannabinoid cousin THC. However, it can impact mood and possibly alertness by catalysing alterations in brain chemistry.
CBD is known to affect brain serotonin receptors when ingested in high doses, an action partly responsible for the molecule’s anti-anxiety effects. Additionally, CBD can work as a reuptake inhibitor  in the brain, allowing it to raise and maintain high levels of anandamide, an endocannabinoid that is molecularly similar to THC. CBD also inhibits the reuptake of adenosine, increasing levels of the molecule in the brain and contributing to further anti-anxiety effects.
Furthermore, CBD is also reported to act as an allosteric modulator, meaning it can either enhance or inhibit receptor transmission. More specifically, CBD works  as a positive allosteric modulator of the GABA-A receptor. In doing so, CBD causes this receptor to bind more easily with the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA has inhibitory effects on nervous system activity, inducing states of calm and relaxation.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR DRIVING SAFETY?
CBD generally changes mental state by raising levels of anandamide and GABA within the brain, resulting in increased relaxation and decreased excitability. These effects are not intoxicating, yet certainly alter mood. Therefore, CBD will not impair function when it comes to driving in most people. However, it should be noted that some people experience side effects from the cannabinoid that could potentially lower driving capability.
Reported side effects  include low blood pressure, lightheadedness, and drowsiness. For these reasons, it is best to become accustomed to how CBD affects you on an individual level before taking it and going for a drive. If the molecule produces any of these side effects, then it’s probably best not to expose yourself to the roads. Instead, talk to your doctor and discuss why these effects are happening. It might just involve modifying the dosage.
Small doses of CBD are associated with stimulating effects that boost mood, whereas large doses are linked to more sedating effects. For these reasons, it’s better to start out with small doses when you begin driving with CBD. Additionally, CBD affects different people in different ways. What may be a small dose for one user might sustain more sedating effects on another. Find out what your tolerance level is at home, in comfort, as opposed to behind a steering wheel.
THC CONTENT WITHI N CBD PRODUCTS
So, we’ve pretty much given CBD the clear when it comes to driving safety, but then the law comes in and complicates things. Many CBD oils contain small amounts of THC, with many European countries allowing legal trace amounts of between 0.2–0.6% of the cannabinoid. These amounts are so small that they are not likely to produce any intoxicating effect, unless the oil is consumed in vast quantities. Even in this event, the sedation of a high CBD dose will probably be the primary effect here.
Psychoactive effects aside, the trace amounts of THC in many CBD products may still put many drivers at risk of being prosecuted for drug driving. Many countries have strict zero tolerance laws when it comes to THC levels in the blood. If you are suspected of impaired driving in the United States, countries within the EU, and elsewhere, the police may pull you over and conduct testing using methods such as saliva. For example, in the United Kingdom, a THC level of just 2µg/L (micrograms) is deemed to be the threshold limit, and may result in fines and driving suspension if exceeded. Such small quantities can even be perceived as “accidental exposure”. These tests can detect cannabinoid ingestion up to 10 hours after exposure.
Ultimately, CBD isn’t usually considered psychoactive because it doesn’t cause intoxication or impair one’s ability to go on with their day as usual. Based on individual effects and dosage, CBD is most likely safe to consume before driving. However, cannabis has been a subject of debate and controversy for some time now. Due to harsh laws, minute levels of THC within the system can result in legal issues when it comes to driving in some countries. Seeing as many CBD products contain small doses of THC, it comes down to a personal decision as to whether this is a risk worth taking.
CBD is reported to be a non-psychoactive compound, making it safe to use before driving. However, side effects in some people may make them want to think twice.