LEGALITY & POLITICS

CBD while driving a car

car-driving-cbd
Written by Stefan K.

Driving a car is a cultural technique that can be practised after passing the driving test. Driving this heavy machine at high speeds always requires a maximum of concentration. Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is therefore forbidden. Distractions such as writing messages on smartphones are also not allowed.

In most countries, a zero-percent policy with regard to drugs is only applied to new drivers. In Germany, the zero-percent limit applies to novice drivers under the age of 21. All other motor vehicle drivers must adhere to a 0.5 per mille limit. In Germany, the THC limit is currently usually one nanogram per millilitre of blood. Bavarian courts accept two nanograms as the limit. If the limits are exceeded, fines and points are imposed in Flensburg. A driving ban is also often imposed.

THC is only one of over 100 cannabinoids that are extracted from the hemp plant. The other best- known variety is the cannabidiol, or CBD for short. In contrast to THC, CBD is not psychoactive, does not cause intoxication and is not addictive. It is often used as an antagonist of THC to counteract its psychoactive effects.

CBD products such as CBD oil or CBD liquid can be sold legally in the EU and therefore of course, also in Germany. A prerequisite for this is that the THC content of the products does not exceed 0.2%. Now the question arises whether this content can be determined in a blood drug test and whether a person could thus face an administrative fine or even lose their driving licence?

Is it allowed to drive a car after consuming CBD?

Before we go into depth on the topic, here is the quick answer to the question “Is it allowed to drive a car with pure CBD products without THC content? The answer is clearly YES.

As already mentioned, the effect of CBD is completely different from THC. If you have taken THC in any form, experts advise you to take CBD to counteract the negative effects of THC. However, this does not mean that you should simply take CBD products after taking THC and immediately start driving again without any restrictions.

The consumption of CBD containing THC in the different dosage forms, such as:

  • CBD oil,
  • CBD liquid,
  • CBD tablets,
  • CBD food,
  • CBD ointments,
  • CBD creams

… or many others whilst driving a vehicle does not result in the loss of your driving licence. It does not matter whether you have consumed or used one of the CBD products mentioned above once or over a longer period of time.

The CBD dosage is also irrelevant when it comes to the driver being able to retain their driving license. You can use CBD oils with 5%, 10%, 15% or even 20%, none of them is illegal.

Although CBD has no influence on driving ability and thus on the driving licence, it certainly has an influence on other physical processes. For example, CBD has anti-inflammatory [1], pain-relieving [2], mood-lifting [3] or stress-relieving [4] effects.

In contrast to alcohol, age does not play a role regarding the driving of a vehicle after consuming CBD. Even during the trial period, it is permitted to drive a car after taking CBD products not containing THC.

Drug test and CBD? What do the police allow?

A normal drug test is performed either via urine, hair or blood. This screening does not look for CBD and therefore it is not shown in the results. However, a specific search is made for cannabidiol THC.

Although CBD could theoretically be detected, there is no need for action by the authorities. Nevertheless, one should always keep in mind when using CBD products that many of them do not consist exclusively of CBD. In order not to become unfit to drive and/or to lose your driving licence during a police control, you should take a closer look at CBD products, which are derived from cannabis.

Is THC in CBD products? Within the European Union it is legal to sell CBD products that contain a maximum THC content of 0.2%. In Switzerland, for example, the limit for THC in CBD products is 1 %. Therefore, it is important to always take a close look at the packaging or package leaflet regarding the THC content of cannabis oils.

To be on the safe side when it comes to your driving licence and CBD, you should use products with a guaranteed THC content of zero. This means that you will not face any problems during a control examination. The control results do not say anything about driving ability.

How much CBD would one have to take to deliver a positive drug test?

Blood or urine tests in the context of drug tests do not show the CBD content, but they do show the THC content in the body.

If you were to ingest 1,000 mg of CBD oil, the amount of THC in the blood would be a maximum of 2 mg. Even this amount would not affect the ability to drive. However, the THC blood test would detect this amount. It can therefore be said that in order not to lose your driving licence, you should use THC-free CBD products.

Road traffic abroad – what are the CBD guidelines?

Losing your driver’s license abroad because you have taken CBD?

 The same limits and restrictions apply everywhere in the European Union. CBD is therefore legal here. However, CBD and its role in road traffic is treated quite differently by certain countries within the EU.

CBD and driving in Holland

Holland has some of the most liberal drug laws in the European Union. Although the sale and consumption of THC is allowed here, driving under its influence is prohibited. If you should nevertheless drive in the Netherlands with THC in your blood, you would face a heavy fine (starting from 850 euro) in addition to losing your driving licence for several months.

After taking THC-free CBD products, the driving licence is not revoked in Holland.

CBD and driving in Austria

In Austria, once THC has been detected in the blood of drivers, there is an absolute zero tolerance policy. This applies regardless of the source of the THC. If a CBD product contains the legal amount of 0.2 % THC and this is detected, a penalty is not usually waived.

CBD and driving in Switzerland

The Swiss Confederation has similarly strict regulations as Austria. The difference between Switzerland to Austria and Germany is that here CBD products may be legally sold, providing the THC content does not exceed 1 %.

And this is exactly where the problem lies in Switzerland. On the one hand it is legal to buy and take these CBD products with the mentioned THC content, on the other hand there is a zero-percent THC policy in traffic. Although the amount of THC found in the blood after consumption of CBD products is considerably lower than after smoking a joint, there is still no way for the police to determine the different source in blood tests.

In Switzerland, a person is considered officially fit to drive if 0.0 % THC is detectable in the blood. Currently, however, there are efforts in the country

 to bring a test onto the market that can identify the different sources of THC. This would eliminate much of the CBD-THC problem.

THC and driving

The reasons why THC is banned at the wheel is because of its effect on the human body. THC acts directly on certain receptors in the body and thus also on the nerve cells. This leads to a state of relaxation. If THC is consumed in sufficient dosage, one experiences joy, euphoria as well as variously strong waves of positive feelings.

In addition to these more desirable effects, the consumption of THC can also cause nervousness, hunger, fear and drowsiness. All these things should be enough to make you refrain from driving under the influence of this cannabis ingredient. However, there is one more point. Under the influence of THC, the perception of time can slow down considerably. This significantly increases the reaction time in road traffic. The risk of accidents increases.

Conclusion

  • The legality of CBD products is no longer questioned in the European Union. As long as the THC content is below 0.2 %, free trade is allowed. CBD generally does not affect people’s driving behaviour. Therefore, blood tests after a vehicle inspection do not test for it. However, minimal traces of THC can be detected in such a test.
  • Since most countries have a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs while driving, this can cause problems. You can be on the safe side if you do not take CBD products containing THC before driving. As a rule, THC-free CBD products should not affect your ability to drive. However, each body reacts differently. Factors such as age, the ability to break down substances as well as how you feel on the day can determine how a person feels after using CBD oil and other CBD products.
  • Every person should have enough self-responsibility to recognize if and how CBD affects their own body when driving.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3371734/ – 06.08.2020

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/ – 06.08.2020

[3] https://www.cbd-anxiety-study.com/ – 06.08.2020

[4] Leinow, L. & Birnbaum, J. (2019). Heilen mit CBD. Das wissenschaftlich fundierte Handbuch zur medizinischen Anwendung von Cannabidiol. Riva Verlag: München. 

When taking products containing cannabinoids, interactions with various drugs may occur under certain circumstances. If you are taking medication yourself, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your treating physician beforehand.

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About the author

Stefan K.

Stefan K.

Stefan is not only a valuable part of the CannaTrust magazine but also convinces with his sound knowledge about the effects of cannabinoids. As an author in Austria he gathered valuable experiences when writing for 'Stadtblatt Salzburg'. He got in contact with cannabis through several positive media reports. Nowadays he writes about everything around the most popular cannabinoid these days: CBD.