Legalization: cannabis and road traffic: associations warn of risks

Anyone who has had a beer can usually still drive a car - thanks to the 0.

Legalization: cannabis and road traffic: associations warn of risks

Anyone who has had a beer can usually still drive a car - thanks to the 0.5 alcohol limit. Road users who smoke weed and are caught with the active cannabis ingredient THC in their blood risk hefty fines, even if the concentration is low. That is the current legal situation. Adjustments are being considered here as part of the cannabis legalization planned by the traffic light coalition. However, associations and experts warn of possible risks in road traffic.

The question of when a person who has consumed cannabis is still able to drive and when is no longer fundamentally important for road safety, said the deputy chairman of the police union, Michael Mertens, the "Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung". "Cannabis is detectable in the blood for much longer than alcohol, which means that your ability to drive may be restricted for days." After the traffic light legalization plans had been presented, the TÜV association demanded: "No experiments in road safety! Legalizing the consumption of cannabis as a stimulant must not legitimize intoxicated driving."

In its cannabis key issues paper, the government had announced that it would review the applicable limit values ​​for driving vehicles "with the involvement of the relevant specialist committees". It wasn't more precise. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) only said when asked that the review was open-ended. However, his cabinet colleague Cem Özdemir (Greens) added: "We are simply changing the injustice that we treat cannabis differently than alcohol, for example." The traffic light emphasizes that regulations on the admissibility of driving under the influence of cannabis should be based "exclusively on the requirements of road safety".

The current legal situation

The current legal situation is as follows: If the police catch you in a car so intoxicated that you are unfit to drive, whether through drugs or alcohol, you face imprisonment in the worst case. This is where the Penal Code comes into play. With lower doses or consumption that is a bit older, however, it gets trickier.

In principle, drivers who are "under the effect" of the cannabis active substance THC at the wheel commit an administrative offense under the current road traffic law - with the exception of patients who have been prescribed cannabis as a medicinal product. According to the law, there is an effect when THC is detected in the blood. According to the ADAC and TÜV association, there is now an established limit of 1 nanogram of THC per 100 milliliters of blood. The catalog of fines and the driving license regulation provide for 500 euros, two points in Flensburg and a one-month driving ban. As a rule, according to the associations, a medical-psychological examination (MPU) is also ordered.

Whether those affected are still under the influence of cannabis with such a THC concentration in the blood, so that a drug trip can be assumed, is controversial. At the Traffic Court Day in Goslar last year, experts advocated raising the limit and argued that it was useless because it made no statement about unfitness to drive and also punished people who were already fit to drive again after consuming cannabis. As with alcohol, the value must be set in such a way that only intoxicated drivers would be sanctioned, according to the German Lawyers' Association.

ADAC: Road safety must not suffer

ADAC Traffic President Gerhard Hillebrand told the German Press Agency: "The question of which specific limit value is appropriate is complex because it cannot be determined scientifically." The aim must be to prevent unjustified penalties and still prohibit and, if necessary, sanction trips under the effect of cannabis. "Traffic safety must not suffer from the release."

Details on potential new limits may be available later this month when the first cannabis legalization bill is introduced. Lauterbach and Özdemir had announced such a draft on Wednesday when the key points for the project were presented.