CBD oil and driving in the UK

by Tim W. Shaw September 16, 2021

CBD Oil and Driving in the UK

Is it legal to drive after taking CBD oil?
What happens if I am stopped by the police?
Can you take CBD and drive safely?

 

CBD oil won’t get you high, has a good safety profile and has been tried by nearly 10% of people in the UK.

Car driving through countrysideIts explosive rise in popularity has set a new standard for food supplements. Even though you can pop into your local coffee shop and pick up a CBD latte, its association with cannabis means that many people remain, understandably, cautious.

In 2015, the law changed making it easier for police to catch and prosecute drug drivers. This has resulted in many people asking the question: Is it safe and legal to drive after taking CBD?

CBD & driving: fast facts

  • You can drive legally after vaping or consuming CBD as long as you are fit to do so.
  • If the CBD you take contains too much THC, this could cause you to fail a drug driving test.
  • You can technically smoke CBD and drive but hemp flower is illegal in the UK.
  • The DVLA makes no mention of CBD within their available information.
  • There are no laws in the UK that prohibit taking CBD and driving.

Is it legal to drive after taking CBD oil?

THC-and-CBNCBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid and won't impair your ability to drive. This has been proven in a 2020 study undertaken at Maastricht University and led by the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics.

Dr Thomas Arkell the lead author said: “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.”

We also spoke with cannabis lawyer Robert Jappie, a partner at London law firm Ince. We asked him if it is legal to drive after consuming CBD, he said:

"Yes, it is legal. CBD is not a controlled substance and has no psychotropic effect. Therefore, a person’s driving would not be impaired by the consumption of CBD."

However, most CBD oils contain traces of other cannabinoids including CBN and THC. Both are controlled substances and mustn't make up more than 1mg of any container of CBD. The UK drug driving laws are clear that driving under the influence of THC is illegal. 

THC is the cannabinoid that gives cannabis its intoxicating qualities and trace amounts are found in full-spectrum CBD products. The best CBD producers use legal industrial hemp varieties with less than 0.2% THC. They also invest in specially designed extraction techniques to reduce this further, ensuring the oils for sale comply with UK law

By checking 3rd party lab results and researching the brand, you can be confident that they contain only traces of THC and CBN, making it both legal and safe to drive after taking CBD. 

What happens if I am stopped by the police?

English Police CarThis is unlikely to happen, but if an officer believes that you are unfit to drive, they may ask you to do a 'field impairment test' or complete a roadside drug screening kit. The test is a series of quick tasks such as walking in a straight line, which will give an indication if you are intoxicated. This may be followed up with a drug kit which tests for cannabis and cocaine.

A Police Constable told us that you will only fail a drug screening check if you have more than 2 micrograms of THC per ml of blood.

"The blood test results show the micrograms of THC per ml of blood. So if the thing you [take] doesn't contain THC then it won't come back in the blood […]. So [take] all the CBD you like, if it has no THC, you won't go over the limit in theory."

You can take some of the steps outlined in our "will CBD cause me to fail a drug test" article to ensure THC doesn’t build up in your system. 

We also asked Robert Jappie what to do if you were stopped by the Police after consuming CBD, he said:

"Don’t say anything. CBD is perfectly legal and you don’t need to volunteer any information to the police."

He also went on to add that he was not aware of any "occurrence" where someone had failed a drug driving test after consuming CBD. 

Can you take CBD and drive safely?

While CBD is known to be safe, it is always important to pay attention to how any new food supplement affects you personally.

Safe DrivingEvery time you drive, it is necessary to make the personal assessment that you are fit to drive, for any reason. UK law states:

"It's illegal to drive if either:

  • You're unfit to do so because you're on legal or illegal drugs.
  • You have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood (even if they have not affected your driving).

    Legal drugs are prescription or over-the-counter medicines. If you're taking them and not sure if you should drive, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional."

    Regent Street Bus and Cab Marijuana LeavesWhile CBD is classes as a food supplement and not a medicine, if you believe that you are unfit to drive, then don't.

    During a chat with us, a member of the East Anglian Police Force encouraged CBD users to stay safe by purchasing from reliable brands. Specifically, companies with a good track record of happy customers and evidence of low THC content.

    He emphasised that the current lack of regulatory enforcement presented the most significant risk. The potential for misleading or inaccurate labels could result in illegal levels of THC.

    "I don't think that the current market for CBD is well enough regulated and the product can vary in the amount of THC contained by a significant amount to be able to state with certainty that CBD is safe to use while driving."

    The officer went on the encourage drivers to be aware of their fitness to drive at any time. This applies whether you have taken a food supplement, over the counter medicine, prescription drug or are feeling unwell or tired.

    "Always avoid driving if you are feeling any effects that may impair your ability, while CBD in itself is not illegal, it doesn't take much imagination to see someone having a crash, a prosecutor finding out they use CBD and then a charge of driving while impaired or unfit (or similar) could be brought."

    Love Hemp collection

    Conclusion

    English Countryside RoadCBD is non-intoxicating, making it safe to drive after consuming, but you must always be aware of how it affects you personally.

    Choose a brand that has low levels of THC to be on the safe side and buy your CBD from retailers with:

    • Good reputations and a range of positive reviews
    • A policy of being honest about their products and processes
    • Third-party certificates available for each batch

    As a driver, you are responsible for your fitness to be behind the wheel, so, be aware of how you feel before setting off. Whether you feel strange after drinking a coffee, from an over the counter cold and flu remedy or are drowsy following a bad night, don't drive until the effects have entirely worn off.

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    Car driving through forest

    Tim W. Shaw
    Tim W. Shaw

    Author

    Tim W. Shaw writes extensively about CBD oil, cannabis and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.


    2 Responses

    Stuart
    Stuart

    February 10, 2020

    Hey Ron, if cannabis was legalised I wouldn’t expect this amount to change unless they found conclusive evidence to prove you were not impaired with a higher level of THC in your system.

    How long THC stays in your system also has a lot to do with how often you consume, how much you consume and also the method of testing. Blood testing which is the method described is around 1-2 days. If someone is consuming large amounts daily this can take much longer.

    There was some testing in the US where they checked micrograms per ml straight after smoking where it could show 38 micrograms per ml and within two hours is under 5micrograms (the legal limit in Colorado and Washington) per ml. After 12 hours you should be safe unless your consumption is high.

    Ron
    Ron

    February 08, 2020

    What happens if it is legalised, how much THC can you have in your system then? I heard it takes 6 weeks or more to totally get out of your system, so driving a car one week after smoking weed could end you up in jail? This is messed up! 2 microgrammes in your blood is the limit. They would need to increase loads this to make it legal to drive 12 hours after a blaze?

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