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:
And many more!
The most common form of CBD prescribed to patients in Australia include:
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?
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.
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.
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.
The summary is:
“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:
James is an experienced writer and legal cannabis advocate in Australia. He answers all the questions about business, legalisation and medicinal cannabis.
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