The growing popularity of CBD oil means that more and more Australians are seeking access to medicinal cannabis for its range of therapeutic values.
We’re still learning about many of the plant’s effects, but an important question to consider is whether it will impact your ability to drive.
In this article, we’ll dive into what CBD is and how (if at all) it will affect your ability to drive and whether it’s legal to do so.
What is CBD?
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the 113 known cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike its counterpart THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is a non-intoxicating compound extracted from cannabis and won’t impair your ability to drive.
It’s generally legal to drive with medically prescribed CBD in your system, and it can’t be detected on a roadside drug test.
The compound is known to promote relaxation in users and is a prized therapeutic agent known for treating various illnesses and diseases.
However, it should be noted we’re talking hemp-derived pure CBD.
If you want to learn more about CBD, check out our article where we explore how to buy CBD oil in Australia
Can CBD affect my ability to drive?
In a breakthrough study conducted by the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, scientists have discovered that Cannabidiol (CBD) in cannabis does not impair driving, and moderate amounts of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) produce only mild driving impairment, which may only last up to four hours. 
The lead author, Dr Thomas Arkell, states that “these findings indicate for the first time that CBD, when given without THC, does not affect a subject’s ability to drive. That’s great news for those using or considering treatment using CBD-based products.” 
According to FreshLeaf Analytics, at the end of 2020, there were roughly 30,000 active medicinal cannabis patients in Australia; this only captures the small number of people who have succeeded in going down the medical pathway, it doesn’t reflect the thousands of people seeking cannabis medicine on the green market.
Given this, a fair and effective road safety policy must reflect updated legislation and encompass medicinal cannabis use. This evidence-based study will hopefully help guide such policies in Australia.
What about THC?
While the study suggests that the effects of THC may produce mild impairment up to four hours after use, it’s still illegal to get behind the wheel after consuming THC, regardless of whether it’s medicinal or recreational.
While the study suggests that the effects of THC only last a few hours, it’s important to understand that the detection period in a roadside drug test varies depending on the amount consumed, frequency of use, and other factors that vary between individuals, such as metabolism, height and weight. 
Dr Thomas Arkell also states, “THC is fat-soluble and can build up in your body fat. If you consume cannabis regularly, you may have THC metabolites in your system for an extended period. The more body fat you have the more potential for THC to be stored in your system.” 
The laws regarding road-side drug testing are outdated, and if you do test positive on a road-side drug test, it’s inferred that you are under the influence regardless of how you feel. There are reports that roadside drug tests’ efficacy is not reliable, with false-negative rates of about 9% and false-positives rates between 5-10%.
Considering all of the above, it’s just not worth the risk, as hefty fines apply if you get busted driving with THC in your system. If you’re going to consume THC legally or illegally, it’s best to factor this into your plans if you need to drive soon after use.
Is it safe to drive after consuming CBD oil?
If you take a CBD isolate that contains zero THC, you can rest assured you will be within the bounds of the law when driving.
However, there is a multitude of CBD oil products available both medically and on the green market, and some of these products may contain a higher concentration of THC.
It’s essential to understand the type of product you’re taking and what’s in it.
Many CBD oils contain 0.03% of THC, which is such a small amount that it’s virtually impossible to impair you.
However, that does depend on how much oil you are consuming and your unique tolerance to the compound. So, while it sounds safe to ingest CBD oil and drive, there isn’t 100% certainty that THC won’t show up in a roadside drug test.
While CBD oil won’t get you high, it does have a calming and relaxing effect on the body. When taken in large doses, it has the propensity to make people feel drowsy, which could inadvertently affect your ability to drive.
Therefore, it’s vital for those new to CBD oil to start low and go slowly with dosing to ensure the effects are monitored and understood before getting behind the wheel. Taking just a few drops of oil is a great way to start out.
Another issue to consider is the potential for drug contraindications, which include but aren’t limited to:
• Oral contraceptives
• Opioid pain medications
• Thyroid hormones
• Blood thinners
CBD oil can increase or decrease some medication effects, and it’s important to discuss this with a medical practitioner to ensure the symbiotic efficacy of both medication and CBD oil.
Is it legal to drive after consuming CBD oil?
Yes, as long there’s no THC in your system. Road-side drug tests don’t detect CBD, and it is not illegal to consume this cannabinoid and drive. There are a number of other beneficial cannabinoids that aren’t detected in a roadside test, such as Cannabichromene (CBC), Cannabigerolic (CBG) and Cannabinol (CBN).
It’s vital to source CBD oil from a medical professional who knows your medical history. If you do find CBD oil via the green market, again it’s important to find a reliable supplier who can provide independent third-party lab reports, so you know exactly what you’re consuming.