Man smoking joint with cannabis plant

Two Aussie drivers disqualified after testing positive for cannabis days after using it

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A Queensland court has fined two locals after police caught them driving with cannabis in their systems.

Australia (currently) has a zero-tolerance policy for driving and THC (the primary psychoactive component in cannabis). Although THC can stay in the body for weeks after a person consumes cannabis, any driver who tests positive for THC is considered to be driving under the influence of cannabis – despite their actual level of impairment. 

While a zero-tolerance policy for THC and driving is hotly debated worldwide, these drug laws still have a huge impact on everyday Australian drivers. Two recent cases in Toowoomba, Queensland embody that. Both drivers faced Toowoomba Magistrates Court on Tuesday the 15th of May. 

The first driver, a male support worker, was arrested after he returned a positive result for THC during a roadside drug test on Anzac Ave. The test was performed just after 6 pm on April 23rd. However, the support worker told police that he had not smoked cannabis for at least a week. 

Despite this, he pleaded guilty in court to driving under the influence of cannabis. Magistrate Kay Ryan disqualified him from driving for three months and fined him $350. 

Magistrate Ryan also heard the case of the second driver, a local woman. She was arrested after returning a positive result for cannabis during a roadside drug test on Mort Street. The test was performed just before 2 pm on April 24th, though she also explained that it had been two days since she used cannabis. 

She later pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of cannabis and was given a one-month disqualification from driving and a $300 fine. 

Although Magistrate Ryan didn’t record a conviction against either driver, they were both negatively affected by Australia’s zero-tolerance approach to THC. Assuming they were both truthful with police, neither driver was impaired by cannabis when they were arrested. Current research shows that the “high” from cannabis lasts 3 – 10 hours and drivers recover “almost all” driving skills 7 hours after consuming cannabis. 

Although they didn’t make our roads more dangerous, both drivers were given the sentence our drug laws say they deserve. Perhaps it’s time to re-think them.

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3 Comments

  1. If a person takes oxycontin or Valium that is prescribed from a GP, will they be tested to see if there is any of the drug in their system? The discriminatory laws need to be changed for patients who are prescribed Medical Cannabis.

  2. If a person takes oxycontin or Valium that is prescribed from a GP, will they be tested to see if there is any of the drug in their system? The discriminatory laws need to be changed for patiens wgho are prescribed Medical Cannabis.

  3. The charge in Queensland would have been ‘Driving while a drug is present’ NOT the more serious, ‘Driving under the influence of a drug’ (akin to high range drink driving).

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