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CBD Oil and Driving UK: A Guide to Safety & the Law in 2023

6 min read
CBD oil and driving UK

CBD Oil and Driving UK: A Guide to Safety & the Law in 2023

6 min read

Medically reviewed by

Driver safety is a top priority for many people these days, and rightly so.

Every time you get behind the wheel it is critical that you can drive to the best of your ability, with full focus and concentration.

Authorities have rightly imposed strict restrictions on driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. In the UK, these regulations have been accompanied by aggressive testing campaigns to catch and prosecute offenders.

Since CBD is often grouped with other cannabinoids such as THC (a controlled substance), you might be wondering if CBD and driving can be mixed.

Keep reading as we explain everything you need to know about using CBD oil and driving in the UK, including

  • Can you drive if you take CBD oil? 
  • Is it legal to drive on CBD
  • Does CBD oil help with driving anxiety?
Let’s dive in.

In this guide:

Can you drive on CBD oil?

When talking about CBD oil and driving, it’s essential to understand the difference between CBD and THC.

CBD is one of the dozens of compounds, called cannabinoids, derived from hemp plants and is non-psychoactive. On the other hand, TCH is mostly found in cannabis plants, and it creates a ‘high’ that can affect your judgement and reaction time. 

This difference is crucial because it means that CBD does not impact your ability to drive safely, but THC does

Another thing to remember when talking about CBD and driving is the different types of CBD. CBD isolate and broad-spectrum CBD contain no THC and will not impact your driving ability, while full-spectrum CBD has trace amounts of THC. 

However, for full-spectrum CBD to be sold legally in the UK, it must contain less than 0.2% THC. THC in these low concentrations will not get in the way of your ability to drive.

Therefore, buying a CBD product that has been legally approved in the UK will eliminate the risk of unknowingly taking high levels of THC before getting behind the wheel and will not impact your driving ability. 

However, if you take a CBD oil with an above-legal THC concentration, you may experience some effects that make driving more difficult. This is why it is essential to buy a high-quality, accurately labelled CBD oil that has a THC concentration of 0.2% or less.

If you’re nervous about using CBD while driving, it would be a good idea to get used to how it makes you feel at a time when you don’t have to drive.

Can you drive on CBD oil
As long as your CBD contains less than 0.2% THC, you can drive on CBD oil.

Is it legal to take CBD and drive in the UK?

There can be some confusion over the legality of CBD oil and driving, usually because of the confusion between cannabis, hemp and marijuana.

In the UK, there are restrictions on driving while under the use of various substances, as well as set drug driving limits for each.

However, like we just explained, THC and CBD are not the same things and different laws apply to them in regards to driving. 

Driving while under the influence of THC is restricted, this doesn’t mean that using CBD oil and driving afterwards is also illegal.

Let’s take a closer look.

CBD driving laws UK

If you are using a CBD oil or other CBD product that is being sold legally in the UK, you should have no issues when driving. And since drug testing is designed to detect THC and not CBD, you should not fail a test, either.

For a product to be sold legally in the UK, it must have no more than 0.2% THC concentration.

If your CBD product adheres to this law, you are unlikely to get a positive result in a drug test, and will not feel any of the psychoactive or other effects of the THC.

In short: as long as it is legal to buy, possess, and use CBD in your country, it is likely that taking CBD oil and driving is legal – here is a handy list of countries where CBD is legal.

What is the legal THC limit for driving in the UK?

A detailed of the current threshold limits for illegal drugs while driving in the UK, as determined by the Department of Transport, can be found here

You’ll notice that CBD is not on this list, meaning that driving with CBD in your system is not illegal. 

However, THC is. Legally, you are only allowed to have a blood content of up to 2µg/L of THC (two micrograms per litre) while driving in the UK.

Penalties for drug driving in the UK

Since 2015, the UK has implemented tests to check drivers for the presence of illegal substances. If you are found to be driving with concentrations of any of these substances above their legal limits, you will face strict penalties which could include:

  • A minimum one-year driving ban
  • Unlimited fines
  • Up to six months in prison.

If convicted of drug driving you will also have a criminal record.

CBD driving laws UK
As long as it is legal to possess CBD in your country, it should be legal to drive on it.

CBD oil and driving drug test

Under current UK law, police officers can test drivers if they suspect that they are under the influence of drugs. If you’re driving dangerously or have drug paraphernalia in your car, for example.

In recent years, they have developed and introduced drug screening kits that can test drivers for THC, cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs. Alternatively, they may ask you to do a “field impairment check” to see if your driving abilities are impaired.

If either test returns a positive result, you will be taken back to the police station for a blood test. The results of this official blood test, if positive, can then be used to prosecute you.

There are some limited situations where you may have a detectable concentration of THC in your saliva or blood after using CBD oil or another CBD product.

However, most of these instances relate to buying low-quality CBD products that have a higher THC concentration than you were aware of. It could also happen if you are taking very high doses of CBD close together. 

Some people metabolise CBD slower than others, so it might build up in your system to higher concentrations. How long CBD stays in your system will be influenced by a number of factors. 

However, the bottom line is, if you use CBD that has less than the legal concentration of 0.2% THC, you are very unlikely to return a positive result for THC on a drug test.

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Can you take CBD oil for driving anxiety?

According to one study, around one-quarter of British drivers feel anxious when they drive on motorways. If you get anxious every time you get behind the wheel, you might be wondering if CBD could help to calm your nerves

Learning how to drive can also be a nerve-wracking experience. Could CBD oil help learner drivers relax and focus on the task at hand?

Provided you find a CBD product that does not contain any THC and you stick to the recommended daily limit of no more than 70mg of CBD, there is no legal reason you cannot use CBD to help with driving anxiety.

CBD and driving UK
Provided your CBD does not contain THC, there is no reason it cannot be used for driving anxiety.

Does CBD make you sleepy while driving?

Many people take CBD for sleep, so it’s natural to wonder if CBD could make you a less attentive driver.

Some studies have indicated a link between CBD and better sleep, though research is still in its early stages and this area needs further investigation.

Does this mean that CBD makes you sleep and therefore taking CBD oil and driving could impact your driving? The answer is no.

Helping you get a good night’s sleep is not necessarily the same as making you sleepy. A recent literature review found that CBD is effective in promoting deeper REM sleep overnight. Furthermore, the review found that taking CBD over time can help to reduce daytime sleepiness.

This is because when you regularly sleep better, with quality, REM sleep overnight, you will be more alert and refreshed during the day. In this way, taking CBD may actually make you feel less sleepy rather than more sleepy while driving.

In some cases, it could even help you to find more focus while driving.

The verdict on CBD oil and driving UK

Rules and guidelines are helpful, but it is important to remember that compounds affect everyone differently. How you feel after you take CBD may be different to how others react, so it’s all about taking personal responsibility for your actions.

As long as you are using a quality CBD product with negligible levels of THC which are legal for sale in the UK, from a legal perspective you are absolutely ok to drive after or while taking CBD.

Taking CBD oil and driving will ultimately be a personal decision. Pay close attention to how it makes you feel and make sure you are conscious of the effects. 

Just like you wouldn’t drive if you are feeling very unwell, you shouldn’t drive if you notice any adverse side effects from taking CBD. Notice how you feel after taking CBD and see whether you feel it is safe and responsible to drive.