Cannabis in traffic: This applies if you smoke weed before driving

Cannabis in traffic: This applies if you smoke weed before driving

Cannabis or other drugs make driving less safe. However, you can often still drive after a beer. The Bundestag has now decided on limits for THC.

Following the partial legalization of cannabis, new regulations are being introduced for drivers. Late on Thursday evening, the Bundestag 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 those who consume both cannabis and alcohol. Tighter limits were also decided on for joint cannabis cultivation in clubs, which can start in July.

Since April 1st, smoking weed has been legal for adults – with many requirements, 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 day, experts spoke out in favor of an “appropriate” increase as early as 2022. This is because this is so low that many people would be sanctioned for whom there is no justification for a reduction in driving safety.

The THC limit for road traffic

In 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.

Rules for the mixed consumption of cannabis and alcohol

In future, it will be a new offence to drink alcohol while smoking weed. If you have reached the threshold of 3.5 nanograms of THC or more, drinking alcohol while driving is prohibited – that is, if you then drink an alcoholic drink or start driving while under the influence of alcohol. Violations will result in a higher fine, usually 1,000 euros. For new drivers, the same applies as for alcohol: during the two-year probationary period and for those under 21, cannabis is prohibited – 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 illness”. During checks, sensitive saliva tests should be used “as a preliminary screening to prove current consumption”, the justification for the draft states. 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 way cannabis works is not the same as 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 effects. 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 can still be detected in the blood for days or weeks.

Reactions to the THC limit

CDU expert 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 was a question of justice to treat cannabis users and alcohol drinkers equally was absurd. Green MP Swantje Michaelsen, on the other hand, stressed: “In the future, too, 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 should be refused if cultivation areas or greenhouses are in a “structural association” or in close proximity to those of other associations. It should 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 is now “regularly”.

Source: Stern

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