Is it Even Legal to Drive with CBD?
We will try to answer all the commonly asked questions about CBD and driving in this blog. Let’s get started:
What is CBD?
CBD is short of cannabidiol. It is one of the over a hundred compounds found in cannabis plants. These natural compounds are known by the name of cannabinoids (or phytocannabinoids) and CBD is one of them.
CBD is being under the researchers’ microscope lately because of an array of possible medicinal benefits. It is recently being explored into and as a result of some initial research, CBD has shown a potential to benefit overall human health. It is being used extensively to treat the conditions like anxiety, chronic inflammation, pain, the early death of nerve cells, Alzheimer’s, seizures, etc.
One of the reasons why this natural supplement is being preferred by masses is that the phytocannabinoids (i.e. the cannabinoids derived from plants) work in our body in a way very similar to endocannabinoids (i.e. cannabinoids produced by our body). Hence, some of the very serious side effects associated with conventional medicines can be avoided by replacing them with CBD.
In order to know more about CBD and what are its potential benefits, what the research has unfolded about it so far, read here.
CBD vs. Marijuana – The Mind-Altering Effect
One of the reasons why CBD raises concerns over a person’s ability to drive safely is that it is often confused with marijuana. Where cannabis can be understood as a wide umbrella or genus of plants, marijuana and hemp can be understood as two plants belonging to two species under this umbrella.
The cannabis genus has three species under it;
- Cannabis Sativa
- Cannabis Indica
- Cannabis Ruderalis
Marijuana may belong to either Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica. Whereas, hemp plant belongs only to cannabis Sativa. When we talk about marijuana, it is often taken as a broader term meaning and is used to refer to CBD as well along with other cannabinoids. This is technically wrong and is a misconception.
Marijuana, like the hemp plant, is rich in CBD but is still not a common source of CBD. Hemp, however, is the predominant source of extracting CBD. This is because the growth and cultivation of marijuana and its commercial use to extract CBD-based products are prohibited in most parts of the world. Marijuana is high in the concentration of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is another phytocannabinoid found abundantly in cannabis plants
Marijuana, as compared to hemp, is high in the concentration of THC. And it is this compound that gives it a notorious reputation. Although THC has a lot of health benefits associated with it, it has a mind-altering effect. It can get you psychologically high i.e. it has an intoxicating impact. It is because of this property of THC, that the health-related authorities are wary about the abuse of marijuana. It is referred to as a drug because of high THC content and hence, it is prohibited to drive under the influence of marijuana (or more precisely THC). It can severely impair your driving capabilities.
On the other hand, hemp contains zero or below 0.3% THC. This makes it a favorite source of CBD for those who want to benefit from CBD without getting intoxicated.
Is it Safe to Drive after Taking CBD?
Logic says, if CBD alone doesn’t have a mind-altering effect, it should be perfectly ok to drive after taking CBD-based products. However, this is only partially correct.
Where THC, or marijuana, is certainly something that you must NOT take before driving, CBD has a few implications which need to be looked into in more detail. When CBD is derived from hemp, which is the case in most states of the US, it contains only up to 0.3% THC. This quantity is legally allowed as in most cases, it won’t create high.
However, the catch here is, every person’s nerves react to different concentrations of THC in different ways. This is especially true when you’ve just started your CBD health regimen. For some, even the slightest strains of CBD might be enough to have an impact on their mental capabilities. This may affect their level of concentration and their ability to focus, which in turn does have to do with the ability to drive.
Besides, a study conducted last year suggests, CBD might have a varying impact on the brain of different people especially when it comes to driving safely. To understand it more clearly, you need to understand how CBD actually works, especially how it impacts your brain.
How CBD Impacts Brain
Although, as said earlier, CBD doesn’t have a psychoactive impact and does not get you psychologically high as THC does, it does have an impact on your mood and level of attentiveness.
Where THC binds itself to the CB1 receptors in the brain, CBD acts rather indirectly. It helps our body produce its own endocannabinoids. It acts by prolonging the longevity of our endocannabinoids thus helping them maintain our homeostasis for a longer time period. However, CBD does have a profound impact on your mood, alertness, and level of calm in your body. This is the reason why it is being increasingly used as a sleep aid. It helps calm down the feeling of anxiety and provides a feeling of serenity.
This property of CBD can sometimes act against you, especially when you get overwhelmed by it. It can sometimes reduce your level of alertness and thus the level of focus. It can also result in sedation and lethargy. In some people, it can have the following side effects;
- The decrease in blood pressure
However, when taken in low to moderate doses, CBD generally does not impair any of your mental capabilities. The side effects associated with this supplement are experienced either due to a heavy dose or when you are just starting to take the supplement.
Moreover, the drowsiness or other related symptoms caused by CBD cannot be compared with those resulting from conventional anti-depressants or sleep aids. The side effects it causes are very subtle. The mild mood alteration caused by CBD cannot be regarded as an impairment to your capability of driving in most cases.
Is It Legal to Drive after Taking CBD?
CBD, which was once federally illegal due to a ban on all cannabis plants federally, does not come under controlled substances anymore since last year. The Controlled Substances Act has removed CBD from the list of unlawful drugs.
Hence, it is legal to drive after you have taken a CBD supplement. However, although it is legal federally, different states still have different rules regarding CBD products. Moreover, it must be noted here that only the CBD derived from hemp is federally legal. The federal law states a plant as hemp if it contains 0.3% or lesser THC. Anything above that will qualify as marijuana and that is federally illegal.
Is It Legal to Keep CBD Oil in the Car
Since CBD oil and related products are federally legal, there should be no problem traveling with CBD products in your vehicle. However, as mentioned earlier, on the state level, the laws differ from one state to another. While one state might have legalized the possession of CBD products, others might have total restrictions on them. Moreover, there are some states which haven’t yet come up with a final ruling on the possession of CBD products. even the states which have legalized CBD products have some conditions attached to their possession. This means, what might be legal in one form is illegal in another form in the same state.
Besides, the interstate sale and transport of CBD products also have different rules attached to it. So, you ought to be careful while traveling from one state to the other with CBD in your car. Furthermore, even if you are traveling in a state that totally legalizes the possession of CBD, you might have to answer a few questions by security personals due to the huge confusion that surrounds CBD and marijuana.
This is especially true when there is the word cannabis is mentioned on the label because it refers to both hemp and marijuana. So, you might not be a victim of any legal action but the questioning can cause a bit of inconvenience. Hence if you want to avoid the slightest inconvenience, it is recommended that you do not keep CBD oil and other related products in your car.
Moreover, extra caution needs to be taken if you plan to travel to another state with CBD in your vehicle. You need to have complete knowledge of the CBD-related laws of the state you are in and the state you are traveling to.
Read here to know more about the legality of CBD in all 50 states of the US and in what forms it is allowed or prohibited.
The Final Verdict
When it comes to CBD and driving, there are three major areas to be addressed, and here is a final verdict on each one of them;
it is generally safe to drive after you have taken CBD. This is because CBD derived from hemp is non-psychoactive, non-intoxicating, and incapable of altering your brain significantly. However, you must be cautious about the dose and make sure you haven’t taken an overdose of CBD.
On the federal level, and by the laws of most states of the US, it is perfectly legal for you to drive after taking a CBD supplement made from a hemp plant.
Keeping CBD in Car
While the state’s federal laws do not prohibit the possession of CBD products, states have different rules regarding its possession. Some states totally allow the possession of hemp-derived CBD while others prohibit it. There are yet others that legalize CBD only under certain conditions and in certain forms. So, you need to have knowledge of what your state’s laws say about CBD possession.
Moreover, carrying a CBD product from one state to the other may also be dealt with differently. So, to be on the safer side, it is generally recommended that you don’t keep CBD in your car. This is especially true when it has the word cannabis on the label because this can result in unnecessary questioning from security personals.
Moreover, you must keep in mind that CBD has the capability to interact with other medications. So, if you are already taking some medicines, you must not embark upon your CBD journey unless you’ve asked your physician. In such a case, you should be cautious about taking CBD at all, set aside the question of traveling after taking CBD.