High CBD strains with low THC do not impact driving

Published Apr 25, 2022 09:00 a.m. ET
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We’ve pretty much always assumed that THC could negatively impact one's ability to operate a motor vehicle, hence the variety of Cheech and Chong inspired joke references, like waiting at a stop sign forever or forgetting you’ve been pulled over. Of course, the level of impairment isn’t typically so intense for all consumers, but that’s not what we’re interested in now. Instead, we want to know if patients who rely on CBD-rich strains are at any risk out on the roads.

The research

In Switzerland, a pilot study including 33 subjects took place, and the results are surprising. Each of the participants was given a joint filled with 500mg tobacco and either 500mg of high CBD flower or 500 of hemp-derived placebo with absolutely no cannabinoid content. All subjects were then challenged with various DUI tests to determine whether or not they might be impaired.

This country is determined to uncover the truth now that CBD products have exploded in popularity over recent years, leading to far more people using nicotine-rich CBD smokables that are widely available in stores. According to three of the study’s lead researchers from the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Bern, the goal was to collect enough information to determine appropriate warning labels on these goods.

How high is too high?

CBD-rich strains are few and far between, and to understand the results of this study, you’ll need to recognize the potency (or lack thereof) behind the combinations used by these researchers. The placebo contained no cannabinoids, and the high CBD flower contained approximately 16% CBD paired with 0.7% THC. So, while these results are incredibly promising in particular for those who need the medicinal benefits of high CBD strains, it is important to note that strains with any more THC might increase a consumer's risk of impairment.

High CBD does not cancel out the effects of THC

It is widely believed that CBD might have the ability to soften the powerful blow of euphoric effects brought on by high doses of THC, and there is even some scientific evidence out there that seems to back up this theory, but it will never work to eliminate the effects of THC entirely. So though a high CBD content is essential for those seeking relief without risking impaired driving, it is just as important to use a strain with 0.7% or less THC, which may be difficult to find.

THC may lead to impaired driving, but only for so long

No matter how much CBD is in your pot products, low to moderate amounts of THC may be enough to leave a consumer stereotypically high, which will likely impair motor skills. However, the latest research we have on the subject seems to suggest that being stoned will only adversely impact the driving ability for approximately 30 minutes, assuming it’s smoked. Edibles have their own long-lasting guidelines, but that’s another subject entirely.

Impaired driving is a crime, so proceed with caution

Driving high is a crime with punishments that may be, just as if not more, severe as those you’d expect from drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel, and that is why it’s so important to know exactly what you’re putting into your body. The only way to be sure is with thorough testing which is typically only available when buying store-bought pot products, which are batch tested, offering reliability, and consistency you won’t find anywhere else.

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