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Legal CBD-hemp cigarettes – how do they affect your ability to drive?

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“Legal weed” is literally on everyone’s lips at the moment. But are you actually allowed to drive after consuming CBD-hemp? Should drivers expect their driver’s license to be revoked or to receive a ticket if they are stopped at a traffic check after they have consumed legal cannabis products?

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    Cyril Senn

    Cyril Senn is a legal expert at AXA-ARAG and is interested in all aspects of criminal and road traffic law. He explains changes in traffic law and shares facts and tips on prevention in road traffic.

What are the effects of CBD?

Although research on the subject is still in its infancy, CBD-hemp is said to have many therapeutic qualities – including antioxidant, antipsychotic, and inflammatory effects. The effect on the individual consumer varies greatly; in many cases, however, CBD has at least a calming influence. And it is exactly this point that is decisive in connection with the ability to drive: Because if you participate in road traffic, you must be able to control your vehicle at all times and be able to fulfill the prescribed duties to take precautions (Art. 31 para. 1 of the Swiss Road Traffic Act (SVG)).

Are you unable to drive a car after smoking hemp cigarettes?

According to Art. 31 para. 2 SVG, you are considered to be “unable to drive” if you are physically or mentally unable to safely drive the vehicle. This not only refers to the effects from the consumption of narcotics or stimulants, but also to other reasons – such as strong nausea or fatigue. If CBD leads to a perception of relaxation or “unwinding,” then you are strongly discouraged from driving a vehicle after consuming legal hemp.

Although legally available CBD products are only allowed to contain less than 1% of the narcotic substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), there is the latent risk that the detection limit of 1.5 micrograms per liter of blood could be exceeded after consuming CBD-hemp. If you are caught at a traffic stop with this level, then you will automatically be deemed to be unable to drive.

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What are the effects of cannabis consumption?

The consequences of driving under the influence of narcotics are: Imprisonment or a fine, a criminal record, assessment as to whether you are fit to drive and capable of driving, and at least a three-month revocation of your driver’s license as a warning. However, even if the permitted blood level limit is not exceeded, you could still face charges if you are unable to drive due to consumption of CBD-hemp. If your driver’s license already has a cannabis abstinence restriction, then you should also forgo consuming CBD since the substance could lead to a positive urine test. 

But the strict legal situation is not the main reason why you should stay off the road if you have CBD in your blood: If you drive without being fully capable of driving safely, you endanger yourself and others – and, in the worst case scenario, put people’s lives at risk.

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