Medical cannabis and driving

As part of the 2018 holiday season, police road checks across the country are aimed at pulling drivers drunk and on drugs off the streets to make sure we all get to our destinations safely. Our medical cannabis patients often ask how long they should wait to drive after consuming their medicine.

To help answer this question, Tilray partnered with researchers at the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney in Australia to study the effects of cannabis on driving and cognitive function. In this double blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers compared the effects of two varieties of cannabis – one with high levels of THC and the other with a balanced ratio of THC and CBD – against the placebo, which contained no cannabinoids.

Researchers studied the extent to which cannabis affects driving and whether CBD moderates the effects of THC. The six-month study aimed to understand how cannabis affects people’s driving and to establish whether differences exist in the effects of high-THC or balanced THC-CBD cannabis.

Results of the study are expected to be published in the coming year.

According to Health Canada, cannabis can impair each patient differently, depending on quantity, variety, and consumption method, such as vaporization or ingestion. As a result, Health Canada has no guidance to patients about how much cannabis can be consumed before it is unsafe to drive, nor can the government advise how long a patient should wait to drive after consuming cannabis.

Police are trained to detect drivers under the influence of drugs through a standard field sobriety test or a drug recognition expert. Law enforcement can also use an approved drug screening device to detect the recent presence of several drugs, such as cannabis. Police can also demand a fluid sample if they suspect a driver is under the influence of a drug. You can read more about how RCMP screens for drug drivers here.

Plan ahead by making sure you have a designated driver, a friend or a loved one to pick you up, or take public transit or a cab. Although the government does not provide guidance on when it is unsafe to drive after using cannabis, Health Canada recommends medical cannabis patients and holiday revelers alike don’t take chances. In other words, don’t drive high.