Acute Oral Dose of CBD does not Seem to Impair Cognitive Function or Simulated Driving Performance

BACKGROUND: Cannabidiol (CBD), a major cannabinoid of Cannabis sativa, is widely consumed in prescription and non-prescription products. While CBD is generally considered ‘non-intoxicating’, its effects on safety-sensitive tasks are still under scrutiny.

AIM: We investigated the effects of CBD on driving performance.

METHODS: Healthy adults (n = 17) completed four treatment sessions involving the oral administration of a placebo, or 15, 300 or 1500 mg CBD in a randomized, double-blind, crossover design. Simulated driving performance was assessed between ~45-75 and ~210-240 min post-treatment (Drives 1 and 2) using a two-part scenario with ‘standard’ and ‘car following’ (CF) components. The primary outcome was standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP), a well-established measure of vehicular control. Cognitive function, subjective experiences and plasma CBD concentrations were also measured. Non-inferiority analyses tested the hypothesis that CBD would not increase SDLP by more than a margin equivalent to a 0.05% blood alcohol concentration (Cohen’s dz = 0.50).

RESULTS: Non-inferiority was established during the standard component of Drive 1 and CF component of Drive 2 on all CBD treatments and during the standard component of Drive 2 on the 15 and 1500 mg treatments (95% CIs < 0.5). The remaining comparisons to placebo were inconclusive (the 95% CIs included 0 and 0.50). No dose of CBD impaired cognition or induced feelings of intoxication (ps > 0.05). CBD was unexpectedly found to persist in plasma for prolonged periods of time (e.g. >4 weeks at 1500 mg).

CONCLUSION: Acute, oral CBD treatment does not appear to induce feelings of intoxication and is unlikely to impair cognitive function or driving performance (Registration: ACTRN12619001552178).

McCartney D, et al. Effects of cannabidiol on simulated driving and cognitive performance: A dose-ranging randomized controlled trial. J Psychopharmacol. 2022 Dec;36(12):1338-1349.

doi: 10.1177/02698811221095356. Epub 2022 May 30.