CBD and Driving
Since the legalization of cannabis in Canada in 2018, there has been some discussion around the topic of cannabis use and driving. THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive high, does impair driving as it can impair judgment, motor control, and reaction time. As a result, it’s illegal in Canada to drive after consuming THC. That being said, the cannabis plant is made up of many more components. So, the question is, is it safe to drive after consuming other cannabinoids such as CBD. But, before we address the question of CBD and driving, let’s quickly review the cannabis and driving laws in Canada.
Cannabis and Driving Laws in Canada
In June 2018, Bill C-46 was passed – this bill added federal laws and penalties to the Criminal Code of Canada surrounding driving while impaired. Provinces and territories have introduced new, varying laws related to cannabis and driving to complement the federal laws.
The federal laws under Bill C-46 for DUI charges are as follows:
- Between 2 and 5 nanograms of THC per ml of blood within two hours of driving results in a $1,000 fine.
- Over 5 nanograms of THC per ml of blood within two hours of driving could be a summary or indictable offence, and the punishment ranges from a $1,000 fine to a maximum of 10 years in jail for repeat offenders.
- Both alcohol and THC in your system would be a hybrid offence, indictable or summary, and would also be punishable by a $1,000 fine to a maximum of 10 years in jail for repeat offenders.
How Do Police Test for Cannabis?
With legalization, new methods of drug detection are being tested and approved. Since Bill C-46 sets out the limits of THC you can legally have in your blood while driving, the Draeger DrugTest 5000 lets officers test a driver’s saliva for THC at the roadside. This device is being used by police in Ottawa, while other regions are waiting for different devices to be approved.
But generally, if police officers have reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence, they can demand that the driver complete a standardized field sobriety test. The police may then bring in a drug recognition expert (DRE) or a blood sample for testing.
But what about medical marijuana? The same rules apply to medical cannabis- there are no allowances or permissions for driving. You should not drive during or immediately after the use of cannabis.
How Long to Wait After Consumption
Right now there is no standard for how long to wait after consuming cannabis. There are a number of factors that can impact a person’s level of impairment as well as how long the impacts will last. Some of these factors include the consumption method as well as how fast a person metabolized the substance.
A number of resources suggest waiting a minimum of four hours after consuming cannabis before driving. But if you’re at all unsure, be cautious and don’t drive.
What about CBD? CBD and Driving
When testing for impaired driving police are specifically testing for THC and preliminary research suggests CBD does not impact driving because it does not create the same intoxicating effects. But, of course, it’s not as simple as that. CBD does still have mood-altering effects and can impact individuals differently. Some of the side effects, such as drowsiness, can impact some people enough that it could affect their driving. So, it’s important to be cautious, and if you’re new to cannabis or CBD start with a low dose and increase slowly to familiarize yourself with the effects. (Read about how to dose CBD).
It’s also important to pay attention to the products you’re consuming as there are often trace amounts of THC in CBD products (up to around .3%) which may impact driving at higher doses. This could also impact circulating levels of THC which can impact the impaired driving tests.
The only products that contain almost no THC are CBD isolates. Learn more about CBD isolate here.
Final Thoughts on CBD and Driving
While CBD does not cause impairment in the same way THC does and therefore it’s generally safe, and legal, to consume CBD prior to driving, it’s important to be cautious. Safety while driving is extremely important, so if you’re feeling any concern about your ability to drive, don’t. Also, familiarize yourself with the impaired driving rules in your area. Stay safe, and don’t drive impaired.