Driving & Medicinal Cannabis

November 30, 2023

Whether you can drive while taking medicinal cannabis is an important and commonly asked question. Put simply, it is illegal throughout Australia to drive with any THC detected in your system, whether it is taken as a prescribed medicine or not. It is also illegal to drive if impaired by any substance whether that be another medicine or cannabis. CBD and THC can have different effects on individuals regarding their ability to drive and this is where it gets complicated.

Although THC (9-delta tetrahydrocannabinol) is the substance that is absolutely forbidden with driving, some CBD oils may contain none, or various amounts of THC as well. You need to be very clear about exactly what you are taking, and what it contains as far as driving is concerned.

CBD (cannabidiol), although not illegal for driving specifically, may cause fatigue or drowsiness. The degree of impairment, if any, will vary depending on dose, route of administration, other medications taken at the same time, body mass, sex and health status. Any impairment occurring would then make it illegal to drive whilst affected.
So how long should you wait before driving after consuming cannabis? That is the million dollar question to which there is no clear answer. The rate that cannabinoids are absorbed, metabolised and eliminated varies, and can affect the degree of impairment based on length of treatment, dose, ratio of cannabinoids, food consumption and how the cannabinoid is consumed. Greater and more rapid impairment is observed with vaporised or smoked recreational cannabis compared to a similar dose taken orally. Even different oral formulations can have varying effects. Although some consider 24-72 hours to be a sufficient time for the effect cannabinoids have on the body to be gone, detectable amounts of THC have been found weeks or even months later in some individuals.

Whilst zero tolerance to THC in your system when driving exists Australia wide, all the states have their own specific laws. These can be found on the health department websites for each state.

It is important to consider and discuss with your prescriber how to manage your own individual circumstances whilst taking medicinal cannabis.