Am I Allowed to Drive After Taking CBD?

Generally, using cannabidiol is unlikely to lead to a DUI.

Updated 9/27/2022

Cannabidiol (often called CBD) has become more common due to its homeopathic use for a variety of ailments including anxiety, migraines, and epilepsy. While CBD is a compound found in marijuana, it's generally legal and can be found in many grocery stores, pharmacies, and even gas stations. This article outlines the legality of CBD and what state DUI laws say about driving with CBD in your system.

CBD Legalization

The federal 2018 Farm Bill made CBD and other low-THC cannabis derivatives legal by removing them from the list of illegal controlled substances. Federal law requires that CBD be derived from hemp (not marijuana) and not contain .3% or more of THC (the main psychoactive compound in marijuana). These requirements ensure that the consumption of CBD doesn't lead to impairment.

State laws tend to follow federal regulations, but some states have juxtaposed laws regarding CBD usage. For instance, CBD is not technically illegal in Idaho, but any material derived from cannabis buds or containing any amount of THC is illegal. So, many types of CBD (those that contain any THC) are illegal in the state.

DUI Laws and CBD Use

All states prohibit driving under the influence of drugs or other controlled substances. In many states, a drug-related DUI can be based on actual impairment or having a prohibited amount of certain substances in your system. Because CBD is no longer an illegal controlled substance and shouldn't cause impairment, there probably isn't much risk of getting a DUI for CBD use. However, let's take a closer look at how DUI laws could potentially apply to CBD use.

Some states have "per se" DUI laws that make it illegal to drive with a certain THC concentration in your system. For instance, Washington prohibits operating a vehicle with five nanograms or more of THC in your blood. Since CBD products do contain trace amounts of THC, it's possible for THC to show up on a blood test during a DUI investigation.

While Federal laws require THC concentrations to be less than .3% in CBD oil, recent studies have found that approximately 20% of tested CBD products had incorrectly labeled THC concentrations. So, if a CBD product has a higher THC concentration than it's supposed to, the amount of THC that ends up in the driver's system could be higher than expected.

Best Practice

CBD users can take precautions to ensure that CBD usage remains legal and safe. Many states provide a defense or exception to DUIs for drivers who hold a valid prescription. In these cases, the mere presence of THC would not lead to a DUI unless the prosecutor could prove impairment. Furthermore, the risk of a failed drug test could be eliminated completely by ensuring that the CBD product contains no amounts of THC. Thus, the prudent choice would be to obtain a physician-prescribed CBD product that is free of THC and tested by the FDA for compliance.

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