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Cannabis And Driving : Smoke & Drive, Maybe!


According to a recent study, driving ability is not significantly affected by cannabis. However, the cannabis used here was noted for its significant CBD compound content. Further, the research also concludes that exceeding legal THC limits might have minimal impact on vital signs.

Such were the findings of a Swiss pilot study with a sampling of 33 persons. The participants consumed 500 mg of tobacco along with 500 mg of placebo or 500 mg of cannabis which had 0.9 percent total of THC and 16.6 percent of CBD. The placebo used Knaster Hemp, a herbal hemp aroma free from both nicotine and any cannabinoid. After the consumption, the study participants underwent DUI tests common to both groups. The participants included 14 women and 19 men aged between 19 and 31. Then, they flipped a coin and, according to its result, consumed either the CBD-rich cannabis or the placebo. The exercise was repeated after a period ranging from 7 to 14 days, with the choice of cannabis and placebo being reversed.

The results of tests conducted to know effects cannabis on driving were grouped into three categories through statistical analysis:

  • Placebo Vs Cannabis
  • First trial Vs Second
  • Women Vs Men
cannabis and driving
Photo by Edward Jenner, Courtesy of Pexels

The study included psychological assessments besides a mere recording of vital signs. It had three separate tests with a particular aim to determine their attitude towards safety on the road and the participants driving fitness. The tests can be said to be reliable when assessing their decision-making abilities. It actually consisted of the following measurements:

  • Determination assessment sheds light on reaction ability when faced with complex stimuli
  • A reaction test
  • And a Cognitrone assessment tells us about the participant’s ability to differentiate between geometric figures

Reaction assessment test

The first test put the participant in an overtly strenuous situation. The high amount of stimulus frequency ultimately results in the inability to react appropriately. The said facets of the tests helped the researchers to zoom in on the participant behaviour when subject to differing levels of psychophysical stress. According to the available data, there was “no significant diffe­rences in the comparison between CBD and placebo consumption, between male and female participants, or between the first and second trial.”

An in-depth study of driving fitness was made possible by conducting three individual and standard reaction tests that measure coordination and balance ability. These tests are commonly used by drug recognition experts. Medical personnel working on behalf of the police use them in Switzerland to assess neurological deficiencies resulting from intoxication or/and substance abuse resulting in suspected impaired driving.

The results of the balance and internal clock test were within normal ranges. However, there was a noticeable difference between the CBD and placebo tests. The finger-to-nose tests were regular, too, with only one test participant failing to touch his nose-tip twice. However, the researchers found that the alternate arms left-right-left-right-right-left exercise was more frequently incorrectly performed. The CBD group failed it three times, while the placebo group missed it twice.

The final reaction assessment exercise, the walk-and-turn test, resulted in all participants successfully carrying out the required hop-around and heel-to-toe activities. The present discrepancies, i.e. the 19 tests with the wrong number of steps, were evenly distributed amongst the CBD and the placebo groups.

driving under THC influence
Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky, Courtesy of Pexels

Cognitrone test to determine cannabis effect on driving

The results of the Cognitrone test were similar. The subjects were asked to compare a particular geometric figure with four others. Again, there were no significant differences between the three mentioned analysis categories.

The research found the absence of any significant variation in behaviour, blood pressure, mood, orientation, psychomotor abilities and language. The researchers concluded that CBD had no effects on vital signs. The finding should be noted as all participants had higher than legally sanctioned blood THC levels. Free THC concentration usually results in activity impairment. The current study’s researchers attributed the absence of the same to “higher CBD concentrations,” causing “a negative allosteric effect in the endocannabinoid system, preventing the formation of such symptoms.”

However, the researchers still remained firm on the advice of not driving till several hours had elapsed since smoking cannabis. It is necessary due to the legal restrictions on blood THC levels.

What are your thoughts about using cannabis and then driving? Have you ever driven immediately after smoking cannabis? Do you think smoking cannabis can impact judgement during driving? Do share your thoughts here in the comments below. And for latest updates don’t forget to follow us @cannalifenet

Also if you want to know about driving laws related to cannabis read the following article:


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