Study: Proper Medical Cannabis Use Does Not Impair Driving

Whenever society promotes a substance with psychoactive effects, there are usually impairment questions. Concerns over cannabis users driving while impaired are the perfect example. However, a new study out of Australia seems to suggest that proper Medical Cannabis consumption does not impair driving.

Researchers define “proper’” consumption as consumption that adheres to prescription recommendations. Another way to put it is to say that a patient is following a medical provider’s recommendations to the letter. When that is the case, driving ability is not impaired – at least according to the researchers.

What the Researchers Looked At

In order to get a better understanding of the impacts of Medical Cannabis on driving performance, researchers at Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Human Psychopharmacology enrolled 40 study participants utilizing Medical Cannabis for a variety of chronic conditions.

Each participant’s driving abilities were assessed in a simulator both before and after taking a prescribed dose of cannabis medication. Additional post-consumption simulations were performed at 2.5 and 5 hours. Researchers did not observe any notable impairment at either follow-up period.

The 5-hour post-consumption assessment is of particular interest due to the longstanding belief that residual THC can affect driving abilities for hours after cannabis consumption. We now know that is not the case based on data from this study.

A Small-Scale Study

Full disclosure dictates that we acknowledge the small-scale nature of the study. A cohort of just forty study participants is not enough to unequivocally say that a Medical Cannabis patient would not be impaired by their medications. Still, the evidence is strong enough to be compelling and we hope to see the results of further research on this topic in the future.

We should also point out that the study is by no means an excuse to be careless with Medical Cannabis. Patients who use their medications according to medical provider recommendations should still pay close attention to how they feel before getting behind the wheel of a car.

As for the broader implications of the study, they point to the fact that driving while impaired is probably not something we have to worry about among Medical Cannabis patients who follow their provider’s instructions. Medical Cannabis appears to be no more impairing than an over-the-counter cough medicine.

Talk to Your Medical Provider

If you are ever concerned that your medications are impairing your ability to drive, do not hesitate to talk to your medical provider. Whether it is the Qualified Medical Provider (QMP) such as Utah Marijuana who helped you get your card or the Pharmacy Medical Provider (PMP) at your Medical Cannabis pharmacy, trained medical professionals are the most qualified to answer your questions and offer advice.

The same is true for any other concerns you might have. Maybe you feel like your current medication isn’t working well enough. Talk to your PMP about it. Have a discussion if you don’t like the way your medication makes you feel.

Remember that using Medical Cannabis is a journey – it takes time to figure out the ideal doses, delivery methods, and products for any given patient. A willingness to work with your QMP and PMP can help you get there faster.

Always Approach Driving Cautiously

As for the Australian study, we can sum up our thoughts in a simple statement: always approach driving cautiously. You can never be too safe about taking to the road while medicated. Impairment is not likely to be a problem if you use Medical Cannabis according to your provider’s advice. Still, you don’t need to take any chances.  

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Published April 2, 2024

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