Cannabis, CBD oil and driving
As of 2019 there were over 300,000 Aussies using cannabis daily for medicinal or adult-use purposes. It’s safe to assume that a vast majority of those people are drivers. Marijuana is becoming more widely used. And, increasingly people are concerned about whether or not they can drive while using cannabis.
- If you’re asking whether you can simultaneously drive and consume cannabis – no you can’t.
- If you’re asking whether you can take cannabis then walk out the door immediately and get into a car and drive – you can’t.
- If you’re asking whether you can drive after an extended period of time after taking cannabis or CBD oil – this article is for you.
Regardless of legality, the team at honahlee are the first to tell you not to drive while impaired. Driving while impaired could result in an accident which would not only impact your life but the life of others too.
When deciding whether it’s safe to drive after consuming cannabis, it’s important you understand all of the factors that come into play. While we recommend you don’t drive after taking cannabis, there may be cases where you’ll need to get from A to B and won’t have any other option. By the time you finish this article, you’ll have all the information to make the best decision possible.
We’ve broken this topic into two articles. In these two articles, expert Tom Arkell explains:
- Is it legal to drive while consuming medical marijuana? | 03:52
- What is considered driving under the influence of cannabis? | 05:50
- How long after consuming cannabis is it safe to drive? | 04:30
- What are the driving laws in my state?
How does cannabis or CBD oil affect driving abilities article:
- Does cannabis affect your driving abilities?
- Does THC affect your ability to drive?
- Does CBD or CBD oil affect your ability to drive?
- Is there a difference between CBD oil and CBD vaporised?
- Does CBD reduce the impairment of driving?
Feel free to jump ahead to any part of the article or skip to the other article. If you find this information useful, we’d ask that you share your new-found knowledge with a friend or family member. Let’s get started.
Is it legal to drive while consuming medical marijuana?
Yes, as long as you do not have any THC in your system. If you are prescribed a CBD only product then you may legally drive. If you take a medication containing THC and test positive for THC in a mouth swab test, you can lose your license.
To learn more about cannabis and drug tests or roadside cannabis testing in Australia, read our article, how long does cannabis stay in your system.
Overseas, Canada has a multifaceted system for testing for cannabis impairment. A 2018 law created standards for cannabis driving impairment which have different fines and penalties based on the amount of THC in your blood. The government has set the levels so low, effectively taking a zero tolerance approach until the science improves.
Can you drive (legally) while taking CBD oil?
There are multiple types of CBD oil which means that there isn’t really a definitive answer to this question. The ability to drive legally depends on the cannabinoids in your oil. Some CBD oil has THC, and others do not.
If you are prescribed a CBD oil via legal pathways in Australia you will know exactly which cannabinoids are present in your medication.
With CBD oil from non-legal channels (e.g. CBD oil from overseas or non-prescribing local suppliers), it’s not always clear what cannabinoids are in your oil. Before purchasing these products, make sure you understand what cannabinoids are in the products and what quality standards or regulations those products meet.
Regardless of where you obtain your CBD oil, if your CBD oil contains THC then you want to avoid driving because driving with any amount of THC in your system is illegal regardless of whether or not you are impaired. You can however drive with CBD oil in your system if the oil only contains CBD and not THC.
What is considered driving under the influence of cannabis?
There are two main laws around cannabis and driving:
- Driving under the influence and
- Driving with detectable cannabis in your system.
The two things are not the same, however the offences are treated the same.
All Australian jurisdictions all have a zero tolerance approach to cannabis, specifically THC. This means that it’s illegal for you to drive if you have any THC in your system (driving with detectable cannabis in your system).
There is no exemption for patients that might be using cannabis for therapeutic purposes. So, driving under the influence of cannabis is really just being found with cannabis in your saliva.
There are two problems with cannabis driving laws. The first is that they don’t take into account the fact that there are people using cannabis as a legal medicine. The second problem is that THC may be found in your system long after impairment has ended.
Roadside drug tests look for detectable cannabis in your system. So, regardless of whether impaired or not, you can find yourself in legal trouble if you have THC in your system.
So, how long after consuming cannabis is it safe to drive?
In order to answer this question, you need to look at three things:
- Did your cannabis contain THC?
- What is the impairment time of your cannabis?
- Is there still THC in your system?
If your cannabis didn’t contain THC, then driving is okay as CBD only cannabis is non-impairing. If your cannabis did contain THC, then it depends on how you’ve consumed cannabis. Here we’ll cover impairment, but if you want to learn more about cannabis and drug testing, please read the, how long does cannabis stay in your system article.
When is it safe to drive after a cannabis oil or tincture?
Cannabis oils and tinctures have a different pattern of effect than inhaled cannabis. The time that it takes an oil or tincture to take effect depends on a number of factors including body mass, metabolism, sex and eating habits.
Onset typically happens between 30-90 minutes and if the cannabis has THC then the peak impairment tends to be between two and four hours. Some studies have shown impairment lasting even longer.
So, to be very safe, we recommend you wait up to 8 hours after consuming a cannabis oil/tincture product containing THC.
When is it safe to drive after smoking or vaping cannabis?
When cannabis is smoked or vaped it enters your system very quickly. The factors that come into play with an oil/tincture or edible don’t have the same impacts.
When cannabis with THC is inhaled the onset happens within minutes and peak impairment is between 30 minutes to an hour. While the peak impairment is quite short, the duration of effects can last between two and four hours.When smoking/vaping cannabis it’s best to wait for about 5 hours to drive, well beyond the average impairment period.
One of the important things to realise is these are estimates and based on findings from current clinical research. Cannabis affects everyone differently. So this is something, even with more research, that we’re probably not going to come up with specific answers to.
When is it safe to drive after taking an edible?
Edibles are similar to an oil or tincture. Onset is between 30-90 minutes and peak impairment from THC is often between two and four hours. Some studies show impairment lasting even longer.
Before driving, wait up to 8 hours after consuming a THC infused edible (results may vary).
Driving laws by state
Driving with THC in your system is illegal in each state and territory. However, each state has specific laws that you must abide by. Here is the specific direction from each state on medical cannabis and driving:
- Medical cannabis and driving in Victoria
- Medical cannabis and driving in New South Wales
- Medical cannabis and driving in Queensland
- Medical cannabis and driving in South Australia
- Medical cannabis and driving in Western Australia
- Medical cannabis and driving in Tasmania – documentation doesn’t exist
- Medical cannabis and driving in Australian Capital Territory
- Medical cannabis and driving in Northern Territory
Cannabis and driving don’t mix, even more so than alcohol and driving because there isn’t a standards system in place when it comes to cannabis. The research shows that THC can impact driving. And, that CBD may have physical effects on your system, but it’s unlikely to have an impact on your driving.
In Australia laws between states vary and some are more strict than others. In Australia, driving with any THC in your system is 100% illegal whether you’re taking medicinal cannabis or otherwise. So if you’re getting a drug test at work or are concerned about driving, understand the detection window of cannabis in your system.
The bottom line is that you should not drive under the influence of marijuana.
Safety for yourself and fellow Aussies is of utmost importance. The cannabis community is for all who need cannabis for health and wellness. Cannabis however is a drug and should be used responsibly and only when prescribed. If you’ve used cannabis in the past 24 hours please don’t drive.