They also found that people who vaped cannabis containing 9% CBD and less than 1% THC, a psychoactive component that can cause slowed reactions and warp the perception of time, were less likely to sway a car off-path than people who vaped THC-only cannabis before driving.
CBD didn’t affect drivers’ abilities, but THC did
The researchers also found that THC-related car-veering was about the same as that in drivers with 0.05% blood alcohol content after drinking, the equivalent of at least four alcoholic beverages in two hours for a 170-pound man.
To study how different types of cannabis affected participants’ driving skills, the researchers focused on how much they veered from a straight path while driving, using a measurement called standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP).
This special vehicle is able to detect lane weaving behavior and record it for researchers to . [+] analyze
Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney
Those evaluating the driving abilities of participants were looking to measure lane weaving behavior – how well participants were able to stay in their lane as opposed to weaving into neighboring lanes. Known as standard deviation of lateral position or SDLP, this is a standard test for how substances impact driving. For example, those under the influence of alcohol tend to have higher SDLP than those driving sober.
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This study adds evidence that vaporized CBD doesn’t impair driving ability, but it isn’t without its limitations. For one thing, CBD and THC dosing varies widely. While some available products have low doses like 5mg, clinical research on CBD has tested much higher dosing, such as 500mg doses. So a 13.75mg dose may be low compared to potential doses some cannabis consumers might be utilizing. It’s possible that with higher doses, we could see impairment from CBD, or increased impairment from THC.
Drivers being tested during the study
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This study, led by the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney and conducted at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, included 26 healthy occasional cannabis users. Participants were asked to vaporize one of three different cannabis options or a placebo. For those who took one of the cannabis options, they were given a 13.75mg dose of CBD, THC, or a combination of the two. Of course, since it was a double blind study, neither the participants nor those evaluating their driving knew who was under the influence of one of these substances and who had taken a placebo.
As access to legalized cannabis continues to expand throughout the world, many are wondering about how cannabis may affect those driving under its influence. Previous studies have found mild impairment to driving ability for those using cannabis with higher levels of THC (the chemical primarily responsible for cannabis’ characteristic high). But few studies have looked at whether CBD (another popular chemical in cannabis) impacts driving ability in similar ways.