Want to Toke Up and Drive? CBD-Dominant Weed Does Not Impair Your Driving Skills Says New Study
With legalization trending all over the world and a wide pool of options in terms of consuming cannabis, CBD-rich cannabis creates another layer of complexity when it comes to impaired driving. This is probably one of the more difficult problems that the world still hasn’t completely figured out yet. Nobody wants impaired drivers on the road, yet at the same time – the presence of THC doesn’t necessarily indicate impairment.
Prior to legalization, if cannabis was detected ‘at all’ – it would be more than enough to convict of you of a DUID (Driving under the influence of drugs). However, the problem with simply testing for the “presence” of cannabis is that cannabis can remain in your system for weeks. This means you could smoke a joint at a party a few days before getting pulled over, and still test positive for cannabis. While in some places they are putting a number variable to this to indicate impairment – the science still hasn’t worked out many kinks.
Currently, most drug impairment testing are done by “drug recognition experts”. These are basically people who are trained to spot if you’re high. They look for basic cues like motor function, and might try to trick you with suggestive language. Their entire objective is to figure out if you’re impaired to drive or not.
For the most part, the way they judge if you are impaired while driving usually comes down to simply testing positive and a police officer claiming that you were impaired. Not very scientific.
CBD – Exceeding THC limits but not impaired?
CBD has antipsychotic properties and often is credited for counter-balancing the euphoric side effects of THC. Now with the rise of CBD-Rich weed, people are smoking not to get high, but to calm down feelings of anxiety, depression, and so forth. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t THC in the weed. Strains like Harlequin for example contains up to 5% of THC, but roughly 9% of CBD. This strain helps you feel clear-headed and relaxed, but you don’t really feel “high”. In other words, you’re probably more “aware” of your surroundings.
However, against current testing protocols, if you were to smoke a joint of Harlequin and get pulled over and tested – you’d probably end up dealing with a DUI of some sort irrespective of your lack of impairment.
To back this up, a new study from Switzerland tested 33 participants in a pilot study giving each participant a joint of either 500 mg of tobacco and either 500 mg of CBD-rich cannabis (17% CBD | 0.9% THC) or 500 mg of a placebo, which contain neither nicotine or CBD.
Their results found that those who smoked CBD-Rich cannabis and the control group had no significant differences in reaction time. They verified an excess of THC in their blood samples which the researchers took right after the test was concluded. A coin flip indicated whether the participants received a CBD joint or the placebo. Seven and fourteen days later, they would test the group again, except they would then give the group that received the placebo the CBD and vice versa. Within the statistical analysis, they divided the groups into;
The researchers used three different psychological assessments that indicated the attitude to overall road safety and was designed to see if someone is fit to drive. The test included reaction tests, tested their ability to react when under pressure from “complex stimulus”. Their overall conclusions at the end of the study was that there was no significant difference between the control group and the CBD group.
This despite the fact that all the participants were above the legal threshold and would technically be charged for “driving under the influence”. As you can see, this poses a difficult task for law enforcement because how can you prove impairment when there is no difference between performance? Either the limit would need to be increased or some other means of testing impairment would need to be invented. Some people are attempting to create digital solutions to test impairment, however whether this can be reliable used in a real world scenario is still not “proven”. At least not to the level where mass adoption of the technology is occurring.
“Although free THC concentrations reached levels that were considered to cause symptoms of impairment in other studies in which THC-rich marijuana was smoked, no signs of impairment were observed in the current study,” the authors wrote. “These findings suggest that higher CBD concentrations caused a negative allosteric effect in the endocannabinoid system, preventing the formation of such symptoms.” – SOURCE
This is why field sobriety tests are still the number one means of how the police determine your impairment.
Why it’s important that we get an accurate means of testing
With cannabis becoming more widely available we need to have an accurate means of testing impairment. With alcohol, they have a pretty solid pulse on what it means to be “impaired”, however – with weed it isn’t that simple.
The reason we want proper testing protocols is to deter people from driving truly impaired. I have been smoking weed for twenty years and while most of the time there is no real problem driving an hour or two after smoking weed – I have felt “impaired” before. Especially under the influence of edibles. Some of the newer strains are also designed to obliterate your sobriety and therefore, having a set standard of “this is too high” is a good thing.
Fortunately, even with these ultra-high strains, we have not really seen an increase in traffic fatalities due to the legalization of cannabis. We also need to protect consumers from police who would like to use arbitrary rulings to extort you for your money or to simply display their power.
Whoever officially figures out this problem with be a very wealthy person.
MORE ON THE CBD AND DRIVING STUDY, READ THIS…