CBD and driving? FDA warns motorists!

It is common knowledge that consuming cannabis (or, more precisely: THC) makes people high. Therefore, it is strictly prohibited to drive while under the influence of THC. Violations of this mandate can result in fines, driving bans or even imprisonment.

CBD (cannabidiol) is derived from the hemp plant as well but has quite different effects on the human body than THC. For example, CBD is not psychoactive (doesn’t make you high) but is used to ease pain and other disabilities. What does all that mean though – are you allowed to drive after consuming CBD? Discover the answer in this article.

Warning from the US, science from Australia

In December 2019 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned American drivers not to drive after consuming CBD. In its release the FDA stated that CBD led to tiredness, sedation and lethargy. So, that’s the administration’s view, but what does science have to say to this?

So far, there is very little research regarding the question of how CBD affects people’s driving abilities. Thomas R. Arkwell, PhD candidate at the university of Sydney, and others published an article regarding that topic in the international professional journal Psychopharmacology in 2019. According to his findings it is unlikely that CBD affects one’s driving ability. Nonetheless, people should be mindful, cautioned Arkwell, since further studies and scientific work are needed to shed more light on the subject. At the same time, he mentioned that high doses of CBD can cause a light sedation which might slightly impair one’s ability to drive.

Comparison with other substances

The effects of other substances, such as sleeping pills, on the ability to drive are well studied. A study carried out in the USA in 2015 found out, that the intake of Trazodone (an antidepressant), Temazepam (a sleeping pill) or Zolpidem (a sleep aid) resulted in a higher likelihood of having an accident. That held especially true for the often prescribed Zolpidem, which is also sold in the US under the name “Ambien”.

Those findings cannot be transferred to CBD though since those substances have different chemical structures and are intended for different use cases. CBD does not induce sleep but may lighten the burden of one’s own worries thus helping the person to fall asleep more easily.

Dangerous misbelief

In this context, Arkwell mentioned a dangerous misbelief. In some forums on the internet from time to time the opinion pops up that CBD could unmake the negative effects of the consumption of THC. It’s true that there are studies, that CBD can alleviate fears caused by THC. Arkwell thinks that those results should not be wrongly interpreted.

In his own studies he found that CBD will not negate the effects of THC on people’s driving abilities, said Arkwell.

Is your driving license at risk?

Interestingly, most people do worry more about their driver license than the actual effect substances may have on their ability to drive. Generally, CBD does not pose any danger to driver licenses but you will have to check with your local jurisdiction. In any case you should be aware of residual THC that may be in your CBD product. Those small amounts may accumulate (especially when taking in CBD in high dosages) and cause a positive drug test. To avoid that, I recommend that you stick to high quality CBD products only.

On our website we do review CBD oils of known suppliers. Those tests can save you time and money. To check out the latest reviews click here.


Looking at the result available, it seems that CBD does not have major effects on people’s driving abilities. Nonetheless, we will have to wait until science finally sheds more light on the question. Until then, I recommend that you only drive well rested. Should you notice that tiredness is affecting your ability to drive, take a break at a suitable location. If you want to play it safe, do separate driving and CBD intake while leaving enough time in between.

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