New research by Swinburne University has found no evidence of impairment in medicinal cannabis users during a simulated driving test.

The open-label study assessed the influence of prescribed medicinal cannabis on simulated driving performance among 40 patients with a range of chronic health conditions. 

Participants had their driving ability assessed in a simulator before and after consuming a standard dose of their prescribed medication.

The findings revealed no notable impairment in driving capabilities during a highway driving simulation at 2.5 hours after consumption, and no residual impairment on driving performance at five hours.

Lead author Brooke Manning said: “Our main finding was the absence of impairment on a simulated highway driving task. We noted that patients consuming their medication as prescribed drove with slightly greater consistency in highway driving speed and reported a decrease in the perceived effort required to drive.

“It’s crucial to highlight that this study, while revealing, involved a relatively small sample size and its results apply specifically to patients undergoing stable, long-term medical cannabis treatment for refractory conditions.”

Swinburne’s Dr Thomas Arkell, who also contributed to the paper and is currently leading a longitudinal study investigating the cognitive and health effects of medicinal cannabis for chronic pain, said rigorous scientific research is required to support the increase in prescriptions for the medicine.

“People with chronic pain often say that medical cannabis has a positive impact on their everyday life and helps them to function normally, but we really need the clinical evidence to support this.

“We are specifically focusing on people with chronic pain who have never used cannabis before, and we’re looking at how medical cannabis impacts quality of life and everyday activities, such as driving, over a period of 12 weeks.”

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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