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Ever wondered if it is legal to drive when using CBD oil? It’s a common question because many don’t understand the differences between CBD itself and cannabis. While the two may originate from the same plant, they are ultimately two different products entirely.

Because of the confusion between the two, it is always good to know your facts regarding cannabis and CBD. In addition, knowing the facts can help you distinguish between what is and isn’t illegal when using CBD products frequently.

What Exactly is CBD Oil?

When you understand precisely what it is, you will quickly grasp how it can affect you when undertaking different daily activities such as driving after taking CBD. CBD, or to give it its full name – cannabidiol is a compound found in cannabis plants such as hemp and marijuana. The cannabis plant itself has over 100 different cannabinoids. Two of the most prevalent compounds are CBD and THC. THC is a cousin compound to CBD.

In the UK, as we are still currently part of the EU, CBD oil’s manufacture and regulation are strictly adhered to. It is extracted from specially grown hemp plants and contains less than 0.2% THC. CBD holds unique properties and, unlike THC, it is non-psychoactive. This means it doesn’t make you feel anxious or get you high as cannabis would, nor does it have that telltale “red-eye” look letting people know you have consumed the oil. These side effects or properties are attributed to THC.

Is CBD Oil Legal in the UK?

Many people still wrongly believe that CBD oil is, in fact, illegal for use in the UK. CBD Oil or cannabidiol is not unlawful. You can buy it in many UK high street stores and online from reputable companies.

Cannabis and weed-derived medications are currently only legal in the UK for patients suffering from nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Use is also permitted for those with multiple sclerosis or severe epilepsy. It was initially banned in 1928 and reclassified as a class B drug in 1971 before being briefly downgraded to a Class C drug in 2004. It was returned to a Class B status in 2009. However, the medical use of cannabis was legalised in 2018.

CBD is most commonly used in the UK for medical reasons not for getting high as the compound required for this is usually of such a low level – under 0.2%, it has minimal if any effect on users.

Does CBD Oil Show Up on A Drugs Test?

It is natural to be concerned about THC levels – the compound which gets you high in your CBD oil. After all, they are both derived from the same plant. But mostly no, using CBD oil will not show up on a drug test. All CBD products and retailers are different, and if you are worried that the type you are using could result in a positive result, you want to check it before taking it or looking at switching to a different strain.

Check the Level of THC. As we mentioned, CBD has low THC levels; however, it is always wise to check the one you are using to make sure the levels are low enough. There are rare occasions when someone may test positive after using CBD. This is down to the amounts, compound, and composition of the specific oil you are using.

How Much THC Would Produce a Positive Drug Test?

When drug tests are administered, the component it is testing for is the presence of THC. Specifically, THC-COOH, which is one of the primary metabolites. As with an alcohol screening, there are limits which they determine and cut off values determining your competency to be evaluated as fit to drive.

Three different tests can be undertaken to prove the presence of drugs in your system.

  • Urine Test. This type of drug screening is most commonly performed in a work environment. A positive test is produced when the concentration in the sample is 50 nanograms per millilitre. THC metabolites can be detectable from 3 to 15 days after application, and the detection window can change depending on the dose, the concentration of the dose, and how frequent usage is.
  • Blood Test. These detect the presence of THC and are used less frequently. This is due to how quickly the body expels the presence of THC. THC is only detectable in plasma for 5 hours. However, metabolites can be detectable for up to a week after use. Despite this, blood tests to determine if you are unfit to drive due to drug use are conducted to indicate impairment at the current time.
  • Hair Tests. Unlike other methods, there is no actual cut off time for undertaking hair follicle tests to establish the presence of THC. THC metabolites are detectable for up to 90 days in hair samples. The private industry has set the limit at one picogram per milligram.

As you can see, none of them look for CBD. That’s why it can’t show up on the results. The only risk is taking CBD that is contaminated and has more than the acceptable amounts of THC, which would result in positive drug tests for the THC but not for CBD.

Should you Drive After Taking CBD Oil in the United Kingdom?

Let’s look at the facts. All legal CBD in the UK is licensed, and the presence of THC has to be below 0.2%. CBD doesn’t make you high, but knowing if it is legal to drive on CBD is something you should familiarise yourself with.
As everyone is different, people taking CBD need to be aware of how the compound affects them personally. Be it drowsiness, headaches, nausea. While it isn’t illegal and classed as safe to use for drivers, allowing yourself to drive when experiencing side effects, can be cause for concern. If you find yourself experiencing any unwanted side effects after taking CBD, it may be worth experimenting with your dosage or the timing of your dosage.

In conclusion, taking it as a driver won’t cause you to fail a drug test or be charged with driving in the UK under the influence. That being said, driving while experiencing adverse side effects can put you at a higher risk of below standard reactions and impaired driving. Use your common sense and always ensure you are 100% fit and healthy before getting behind the wheel.

What does the research say about driving after taking CBD?

Most of the research that has been done on cannabis and driving has been focused on the driving risks associated with THC use, without considering other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD). The results have been inconclusive in these studies, but the THC in marijuana is thought to produce mild driving impairment that lasts up to four hours.

A new study looking at the link between CBD and driving risk has just been released. It found that CBD that doesn’t include the psychoactive compound THC does not impair driving. It is an important study as very little is known about how consuming CBD behind the wheel affects your ability to drive.

This is good news for people who use CBD regularly to manage their health and wellness but still need to feel that they can go about their normal daily activities, such as driving in the UK.

It is worth noting that the study’s sample size was small at only 26 participants, so more research is needed. Interestingly, the CBD was derived from marijuana, not industrial hemp, so it is likely that CBD in the UK (which can only be derived from industrial hemp) will have no impact on the individual’s ability to drive.