Can I Drive Whilst Taking Medicinal Cannabis in Australia?

DATE: Tuesday 12th April 2022
Author: Medlab,

Categories > Patient Articles

Did you know that Australian cannabis laws consider it to be illegal to drive with any detectable THC in your system? Even if you are only taking CBD and driving. This poses a problem for patients using medical marijuana in Australia, as cannabis stays in your system for up to 30 days after use. 

As medical cannabis products become more widely used there certainly need to be laws in place to ensure safety. But currently, there is no distinction between medical marijuana use and adult use. 

If you are using medicinal cannabis in Australia and driving you may be taking a risk. Please take the time to learn about important information you need when it comes to medicating and driving.


THC or CBD, Does it Matter?

Studies have shown that products containing THC produce an intoxicating effect. They can impair cognitive function which is why taking these products and driving can result in a driving under the influence charge.

The impairment period depends on the person taking the medication. For medical users, studies suggest that impairments lighten or completely lift within about four hours. 

CBD products that contain no amount of THC do not cause the same type of cognitive impairment that comes with using THC products. However, you should always use them with extreme caution as they can cause drowsiness, fatigue, and lower blood pressure which may be a concern while driving. 


CBD in Australia and Driving

Safety is the most important thing to consider when driving, and the simple truth is that driving while impaired can result in an accident. 

Even if you are only experiencing the effects of CBD, it is best to avoid the unnecessary risk of an accident that could change your life or the life of others when practising the habit of medicinal cannabis driving. Australia has a zero-tolerance policy so you may also be taking big legal risks. 

However, driving laws state that it is legal to drive after taking a CBD-only product prescribed to you, as long as there is absolutely no THC.


What is Driving Under the Influence When Using Cannabis?

Two main laws cover driving under the influence of cannabis in Australia. They are driving under the influence and driving with detectable cannabis in the system. They are not the same, but they do garner similar offences. 

All Australian jurisdictions operate on a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to driving and using cannabis. Driving with any amount of THC in your system is illegal, even if you are not currently impaired. 

There is no exemption for patients that are using medical marijuana in Australia. If you are certain your CBD products contain absolutely no THC then you can legally drive after using a CBD product.



Mobile Drug Testing For Cannabis

Mobile drug tests only check for the presence of drugs, and not impairment. If you are given a mouth swab test that detects any THC in your saliva you will be treated as if you are driving while impaired by cannabis. 

Each Australian jurisdiction implements random mobile drug testing, similar to that of alcohol testing. The standards for testing can vary by state and territory. 

For example, any driver involved in a crash in Victoria that results in death or injury must provide a blood sample to law enforcement for testing. This sample can be used as evidence for prosecution if the presence of THC is found. 

THC is typically detectable in your saliva for four to six hours after smoking or vaporising it. This can vary drastically depending on the person and their habits.


Issues Surrounding Australian Cannabis Laws and Driving

The main issue with Australian cannabis laws is that they don’t take into account the fact that there are patients who use cannabis legally as a therapeutic treatment for many health conditions. The second problem is that THC remains in your system long after initial use. 

These issues greatly affect medicinal cannabis patients. Roadside drug tests look for any detectable cannabis in your system. So even if you are using a CBD prescription to treat a condition like diabetes you can be charged if they find trace amounts of THC in your system.

It makes no difference if you are currently impaired or not. 


How Can Cannabis Affect Driving Abilities?

It is a fact that THC affects driving abilities, as it can impair various functions important for driving. It can impact your divided attention, processing time, and reaction time.

Studies have shown that average motor control functions significantly decreased for cannabis users consuming THC products. One study even suggests there is evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and increased risk of vehicle crashes.

However, the World Health Organisation published a report suggesting that pure CBD not be placed under international drug control as it was not found to have psychoactive properties.

Furthermore, they doubt its potential for abuse or dependence. Research around CBD is limited, but what is available might suggest it is unlikely to have impairing effects that impact driving. 


Is it Safe Taking CBD and Driving?

While it may seem like a safe option when using CBD and driving, it is still a grey area. The wide variety of CBD products available makes it complicated to navigate. To do so you need to know what cannabinoids are in your products, and what regulations they are subject to. 

As long as you get your cannabis products by medically prescribed from a legal pathway in Australia you can be confident about what cannabinoids are present in your medication. In this case, you may be able to confirm there is no trace of THC in your medication and make a safe decision about driving.


How Long After Consuming Cannabis is it Safe to Drive?

You can look at three things when trying to find the answer to this question. 

  1. Is THC present in your cannabis medication?
  2. What is the impairment time for your cannabis products?
  3. Is THC still present in your system?

If you're absolutely positive your cannabis does not contain THC, then it is safe to drive, as CBD-only cannabis is non-impairing. If your medication does contain THC then it depends on the way that you consume it to determine when you can legally drive again. 

Oils and Tinctures

Cannabis oils and tinctures have a different effect than inhaled cannabis. The time that it takes for the oil to take effect is different for each person. It depends on factors like your body mass, metabolism, eating habits, tolerance, and sex. 

The onset of effects usually happens anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes after ingestion. The peak of impairment usually hits two to four hours after ingestion. 

Studies have shown that impairment can last much past this. You must use caution when using medical cannabis and driving. Therefore, it is best to wait at least 8 hours to drive after consuming a cannabis product that contains THC.

Inhaling Cannabis

If you smoke or vape your cannabis medication the onset of effects can happen rapidly. It is best to wait at least 5 hours to drive to ensure you do not drive while impaired. This way you are waiting well beyond the average impairment period. 

These time frames are estimates based on results from available clinical trials, so it is best to err on the side of caution. Aim to practice generous wait times. 

Cannabis affects everyone differently, so while impairment might only last for three hours for one person, impairment from the same product might last five hours for another. Always use caution.

NanoCelle Delivery Methods

Thanks to in-depth research into nanoparticles we can now administer cannabis medications in a variety of new ways.

Many patients are now administering their products through oro-buccal sprays. Thankfully, the science behind NanoCelle delivery allows standardisation of dosing and safe usage. 


Different State Laws Regarding CBD Oil and Driving

All states outlaw driving with THC in your system.

However, each state and territory has specific laws you must abide by. You can find the specific information for each state regarding medical marijuana and driving by checking your local government website. 


Get the Info You Need About Medical Cannabis in Australia

If you are taking CBD oil and driving it is imperative to know what type of ingredients are in the cannabis product.

you are taking and the effects they have on your system. Since there is no consensus on the level or length of impairment it is best to avoid driving when using cannabis products, even when using medicinal cannabis like CBD oil in Australia. 

If you are interested in using a product that is simple to self-administer in measurable dosages then please contact us for a free consultation

About the author


Medlab in-house Editor.