Cannabis and driving in Australia

Study finds Australian medical cannabis users aren’t driving blind

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A study published in the journal of Accident Analysis and Prevention has reported that the majority of medical cannabis users describe not experience any impairment while driving.

The study interviewed 1,388 Australians who use cannabis for medical purposes, as part of the CAMS survey for 2018 – 2019. 

Of the people included, 71.9% of people were confident that cannabis does not impact their driving performance. Despite this, 71.2% don’t drive under the influence of cannabis and 54.1% took more precautions while driving. This included leaving a larger gap between themselves and the vehicle ahead and waiting for a ‘high’ to wear off before driving. 

The study assessed the impact of cannabis on driving by dividing cannabis by its active component. This included THC-dominant cannabis and CBD-dominant cannabis, THC/CBD equivalent cannabis and unknown cannabis.

On average, participants stopped feeling the effects of the cannabis after 188 minutes. This was shorter for THC-dominant cannabis (172 minutes) and longer for CBD-dominant cannabis (204 minutes). The full results are below. 

Despite this, over 65% of participants waited at least 4-12 hours to drive after using medical cannabis. This is likely wise, as previous research has shown that cannabis may temporarily impair lateral control and lane weaving – but only up to 3.5 hours after consumption and not to the same degree as alcohol. 

Finally, the CAMs study found that only 13.2% of the participants in the study had been given roadside drug testing in the past year. Just 1.3% of respondents were convicted of driving under the influence of cannabis. A low number compared with the current harsh and poorly executed cannabis drug driving testing.

The study concluded that more testing is required to understand the impact of medical cannabis on driving, stating: 

There are clear differences between medical and non-medical cannabis use that may have relevance for driving.

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1 Comment

  1. I would argue that for many daily cannabis users, driving whilst abstaining from cannabis is more dangerous.
    I know! from personal experience, that if I refrain from using cannabis I become irritable, angry, uncomfortable and suffer, which demands my attention. Rather than focusing on the road and traffic.
    Irwin Rosenfeld is a medical cannabis user and consumes 300 cannabis joints per month, supplied by Mississippi Uni. He drives to work every day, joint in mouth and has done so for the past 35 years and has never had an accident or incident.
    For the uninitiated cannabis user, caution is needed.
    For those who have a family history of mental illness, caution is needed.
    For those who first have a few drinks, then a few joints, that’s a worry.
    Well done Pondering Pot, a great topic that needs some research.
    I think medical users that have been assessed and don’t have a family history of schizophrenia, should be given a driving test whilst on cannabis and if they pass, they drive.

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Based in Victoria, Karie's passionate about pro-cannabis legislation in Australia. She's joined Pondering Pot to share and bring awareness to the latest cannabis news across Australia.

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