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Health: Bundestag decides limit for cannabis while driving

Health: Bundestag decides limit for cannabis while driving

Drugs make road traffic less safe – that’s pretty clear. But you’re often still allowed to drive after a beer. It’s now clear what will apply to drivers who smoke weed in the future.

Following the partial legalization of cannabis, new regulations are also being introduced for drivers. The Bundestag recently passed a law by the traffic light coalition that sets a limit for the active ingredient THC while driving and fines for violations – similar to the 0.5 per mille limit for alcohol.

Stricter rules apply to novice drivers and mixed consumption of cannabis and alcohol. Tighter limits have also been decided on the joint cultivation of cannabis in clubs, which can start from July.

Since April 1st, smoking weed has been legal for adults – with many regulations, including private cannabis cultivation. This is now being accompanied by regulations for road traffic, which experts have been discussing for some time. Until now, the strict line was that consequences could be threatened even if tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was detected.

A value of 1 nanogram per milliliter of blood has been established in case law. At the traffic court meeting in 2022, experts spoke out in favor of an “appropriate” increase. This is because it is so low that many people would be sanctioned for whom there is no justification for a reduction in driving safety.

The limit

In the future, a legal limit will determine when tolerance for cannabis ends: Anyone who intentionally or negligently drives with 3.5 nanograms of THC or more will then generally risk a 500 euro fine and a one-month driving ban. The threshold follows recommendations from an expert commission of the Ministry of Transport, according to which a safety-relevant effect is “not unlikely” from that point onwards.

It is comparable to 0.2 per mille alcohol and is well below the threshold of 7 nanograms, at which an increased risk begins. A surcharge for measurement errors is also included.

Mixed consumption

In future, it will be a new offence to consume alcohol while smoking weed. If you have reached the threshold of 3.5 nanograms of THC or more, you will be banned from drinking alcohol while driving – that is, from consuming an alcoholic drink or starting a journey while under the influence of alcohol.

Violations can result in a higher fine, usually 1,000 euros. For new drivers, the same applies as for alcohol: cannabis is prohibited during the two-year probationary period and for those under 21 – so the limit of 3.5 does not apply. Sanction: usually 250 euros.

Further specifications and tests

THC while driving concerns cannabis consumption of all kinds, as explained in the draft – i.e. joints, but also edibles, drinks, oils and extracts containing THC. However, it is expressly excluded if the THC “comes from the intended use of a drug prescribed for a specific case of illness”.

During controls, sensitive saliva tests should be used “as a preliminary screening to detect current consumption,” according to the justification for the draft. If someone shows signs of impairment, a blood sample is required in any case, even if the saliva test is negative.

Cannabis effects

It is undisputed that drugs affect the ability to drive. However, the effect of cannabis is not the same as that of alcohol. It is therefore not possible to “feel closer” to the THC limit, as the draft states. The expert commission referred to studies on the effect.

Safety-relevant effects are most pronounced 20 to 30 minutes after consumption and subside after three to four hours. In users who smoke weed no more than once a week, the THC concentration drops within a few hours. With frequent consumption, THC can accumulate in the body and be detectable in the blood for days or weeks.

Reactions

CDU politician Florian Müller spoke of a “black day for road safety”. The discussions had shown that the traffic light coalition was concerned with making it easier for cannabis users to drive. The argument that it is a question of justice to treat cannabis users and alcohol drinkers equally is absurd.

Green MP Swantje Michaelsen, on the other hand, stressed: “In the future, no one will be allowed to drive while intoxicated.” At the same time, there is now a fair regulation for everyone who separates consumption and driving. The blanket criminalization through traffic regulations is now over.

Cannabis cultivation associations

The Bundestag also decided on improvements to the Cannabis Act, which the federal government has promised the states. To ensure that no large plantations are created by cultivation associations from July 1st, permits can be refused if cultivation areas or greenhouses are in a “structural association” or in the immediate vicinity of those of other associations.

It will also be prohibited to commission a commercial provider to provide several services in order to ensure the “non-commercial character of home cultivation”. At the request of the states, controls can be handled more flexibly: instead of “annually” it will now be “regularly”.

Source: Stern

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