Effects of cannabidiol on simulated driving and cognitive performance: A dose-ranging randomised controlled trial

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McCartney, Danielle
Suraev, Anastasia S
Doohan, Peter T
Irwin, Christopher
Kevin, Richard C
Grunstein, Ronald R
Hoyos, Camilla M
McGregor, Iain S
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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 randomised, 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).

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Journal of Psychopharmacology

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© The Author(s) 2022. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, providing that the work is properly cited.

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McCartney, D; Suraev, AS; Doohan, PT; Irwin, C; Kevin, RC; Grunstein, RR; Hoyos, CM; McGregor, IS, Effects of cannabidiol on simulated driving and cognitive performance: A dose-ranging randomised controlled trial, Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2022