The UK’s Cannabis Industry Council (CIC) has called for a comprehensive revamp of what it calls ‘discriminatory’ cannabis driving laws. The call follows the release of a new report that argues current regulations are adversely impacting patients using prescription medical cannabis.
The report states legislation regulating driving for those on medical cannabis is outdated, still falling under the ‘zero tolerance’ category within the Road Traffic Act 1988. This mandates a legal limit of two micrograms per litre of blood for drivers – even though legalisation of medical cannabis occurred back in 2018.
Elisabetta Faenza, Chair of the CIC Standards Working Group, called the existing scenario a ‘complete minefield’ for medical cannabis patients needing to drive.
The argument for change is around impairment. Blood and saliva tests prove unreliable as indicators of a driver’s impairment because traces of the intoxicating cannabinoid THC can linger in the body for many days after last consumed, and even though the effects of final consumption have long subsided. Even when taking medicines as prescribed, driving may not be impaired.
“The risk of losing their license or facing criminalisation poses a significant threat to vulnerable patients due to the outdated and contradictory legislation,” said report author, Frances Crewdson of Ananda Developments.
In a bid to address these challenges, the report outlines six recommendations. Key among these are the standardisation of medical cannabis and driving guidelines to focus on impairment over the current ‘zero tolerance’ threshold, the continued usage of the Field Impairment Test (FIT) as an accurate measure of impairment, and standardising warning labels on medical cannabis products about potential driving impairment.
The recommendations also extend to enhancing communication with patients about their statutory rights, and improving law enforcement training and safe driving communication with prescribers of cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPMs).
The full report “Cannabis And Driving” can be found here.
The issue of legally prescribed medical cannabis restricting patients from driving isn’t confined to the UK. For example, in most Australian states and territories patients can lose their driver’s license for testing positive to THC at any level. In March this year, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews signalled he was ready to act in his state to address the issue.