Cannabis & UK Drug Driving Laws

Cannabis Drug Driving

On March 2nd 2015 the UK Government implemented changes in drug driving limits and introduced tests to detect if drivers have been using substances that could lead to dangerous driving. 

The new driving limits are set as a zero tolerance level meaning that taking a prohibited substance and driving a vehicle will see the force of the law come down on you. Police can now detect traces of 8 commonly used drugs in your saliva thanks to new roadside technology that allows swabbing of the tongue for one of the following substances. If something is detected you will be arrested and taken to the station for a full blood test.

 

‘Illegal’ drugs (‘accidental exposure’ – zero tolerance approach) Threshold limit in blood
Benzoylecgonine 50µg/L
Cocaine 10µg/L
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannibinol (Cannabis) 2µg/L
Ketamine 20µg/L
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) 1µg/L
Methylamphetamine 10µg/L
MDMA 10µg/L
6-monoacetylmorphine (Heroin) 5µg/L

 

Punishment for being caught driving with cannabis or any other drug in your system will now see you loose your driving licence for a year and fines of up to 5000. You will be prosecuted and may even be imprisoned.

The tests are reported to detect THC metabolites in your saliva up to 10 hours after consumption, but this may be much, much longer if you use frequently or for medical purposes

What if I use cannabis as a medicine?

Currently the only way to be prescribed cannabis in the UK is in the form of Sativex, the cannabis mouth spray or to be prescribed Dronabinol (Marinol) a synthetic version of THC. There are an extremely limited number of patients inthe UK witha legitemate Bedrocan prescription which allows them to use imported Dutch pharmaceutical cannabis for a prescribed condition. If any of these are you, your prescription gives you permission to drive with that amount of active medication in your system.

As with other listed medications that are often used without a doctors prescription there have been limits imposed on the amount acceptable in the blood. When you have been taking a medication for a period of time you become used to any side effects that may impair your judgement due to tolerance. If you use cannabis for medical reasons but do not carry a prescription you are at risk of the law. Whilst legal cannabinoid medications are not listed on here we have confirmed that the same principal applies.

 

‘Medicinal’ drugs (risk based approach) Threshold limit in blood
amphetamine (regulations were recently laid with the proposed limit and expected to come into force after 2 March 2015) 250µg/L
clonazepam 50µg/L
diazepam 550µg/L
flunitrazepam 300µg/L
lorazepam 100µg/L
methadone 500µg/L
morphine 80µg/L
oxazepam 300µg/L
temazepam 1,000µg/L

 

There has been quite a lot of attention in the mainstream media about these changes and we have been contacted by many asking for more information and advice. Here is a playlist of videos that we have complied talking about the drug driving changes. Below is more information, FAQ and advice that we think you should make yourselves aware of.

Are these changes legal?
Yes they can introduce zero telerence drug driving limits, one of the main supporting arguments it that it is against the law to possess these drugs in the first place, why would it be OK to drive whist on them? What this now does is gives the police a chance to arrest people that may not be a danger to people but have a listed substance in their system. It is not a scientific way of dealing with the issue and is not evidence based.

What if I am not impaired?
Unfortunately this isn’t going to be good enough. We currently have road side sobriety and cognition tests, which many experts will agree show if someone is competent to operate a car or not. These will be used less and less now as the swab test acts as a less time consuming method of detection.

How long does cannabis stay in your system?
Regardless of the method you use cannabis, smoking, vaping, eating it or as suppository cannabis metabolites are active in your system for between 3 and 6 hours, eating it usually lasts longer than smoking it as it is digested through the liver. Inactive cannabinoid metabolites are stored in the fat and released slowly over a month to six weeks. The more a person uses the longer it takes to be completely free of any cannabinoid metabolites. This means that urine tests can show THC even if the person hasn’t smoked anything for a month.

Can the police test anyone driving?
No, they still need probable cause so the best way to do that is to not drive around with a car smelling of cannabis as that is the usual “probable cause” that police like to bring up.

Advice to stay safe.
Don’t smoke and drive.
Never smoke when you are driving.
Use mouthwash after you smoke and before you drive.
If you carry cannabis in your bag, use an airtight jar or container to conceal the smell.
Don’t have torn up rizla packets that have been used for roaches in your car or any other paraphernalia visible.

Here is Fifth Gears test  on cannabis and driving.

If you have been stopped and been tested for drugs under the new system please get in touch and let us know what happened in the comments below. If you have any questions about the new driving laws and limits please ask in the comments and we will add them to the blog.

 

About Admin

Greg de Hoedt is the President of the United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs. He has had experience working in several states with medical marijuana exemptions in the law including the two legal states Colorado and Washington. He travels to other cannabis locations throughout Europe. Greg has Crohn's Disease for which he uses cannabis as a medicine after many years and failed attempts of pharmaceutical prescriptions.

30 comments

Cannabis actually stays in your system for about 3-6 weeks. For someone who smokes very little or just tried it once, it shouldn’t be detectable in your blood or urine for this length of time. For a heavy user, it will be very prominent for a number of weeks. I’ve also read somewhere that it might actually be detectable in your hair for a number of months. However, the road side test used by police will be testing your saliva. From what I’ve read, cannabis is only detectable in your saliva for around 10 hours (not sure how reliable this figure is), but again it really depends on how much you’ve consumed. This seems to be somewhat of a grey area, so you can’t be too careful. We will see what happens over the next few months.

ganja stays in the system for 28 days only, I know this because I was sent to prison once ( no proud of it ) and went on a drug free wing where we was piss tested all the time, and they wasn’t allowed to do one for 28 days , cocain only lasts for 3 days make me mad that drink is more harmfull than cannabis yet you can drive a car the day after being wasted on booze , but 1 month for weed, where’s the justice ? green army !

I think the swab tests rely on the traces of cannabis residue in your mouth. These are washed away over the course of the day, by the digestive processes occurring within the mouth.
Cannabis, when metabolised, is stored in the fat cells and released over the period of about a month and this can be detected in urine or blood (probably hair too).
It is interesting to note that CBD is not on the list, of unapproved molecules.

What do you mean by cbd not on a list? Sorry got stopped and blood tested came back 0.05 cbd. But if this is legal should the court not be charging me with my thc levels. Freaking out up in court tomorrow and could do with some advice please

Well I went to scarboura and got drug teated I’m from Scotland so never smoked that day and fell a sleep at 11 the night before got swabed at 8pm and it showed

Hi I was stopped and my car smelt of cannabis as I had a small bag in the centre console (stupid I know), I had not smoked a joint for 22 hours, I was a regular smoker smoking approx 3-4 js a day (not while driving may I add) I was in no way shape or form impaired at the time of the swab. The roadside swab tested negative for cannabis but positive for cocaine (they didn’t know how to read this test as I have not been sniffing coke) I was taken to the station for a blood test and am currently on bail which I answer on 05/09, I have a feeling I wi fail for cannabis in my blood.. once I answer bail I will update this post and let you know how I got on!

I was caught a couple of days ago police found marijuana in my car and took me to the station for a blood test I did not smoke anything for 19hours I am a regular bud smoker will the thc show up?
Im on bail untill 20 october

Got pulled the other night because my car smelt of cannabis, I had a joint about an hour prior to this, failed the saliva test which the officer barely knew how to use! Took me down to the station breezed through the impairment tests and got my blood taken, bailed until 26th October, does anyone know what I’m likely to get?

Sorry to say this but ur fucked, same shit happened to me. It goes on your blood test, cops opinion and doctors observation.
I am based in Belfast which are ten years behind you guys and cops are go getter university educated wankers that can’t get a job so hey £20000 a year I’ll be a cop.

There is a zero limit here so if you had a joint a week ago cops find skins in you motor gives them the right to blood test you. If you smoke like me there’s always a trace in your blood say goodbye to Lience for a year. Lost mine yesterday. Apply for an Irish Lience and they can touch you. Use the Irish spelling for you name and practice you accent.
Good luck buddy!

Got Stopped December 27th Hadnt Smoked That Day But Tested Positive Obviously Cos I Smoked The Night Before , Took To Police Station n Bloods Taken , Answer Bail Next Month.
8 Days Later Stopped Again ( some idiots got police on speed dial ) Said Information Received That Day From A Male Saying I Smoke n Drive , Thought Here We Go Again Told Him Had Couple Night Before Test Done And Came Back Negative , Could Have Jumped On The Coppers Knee n Kissed Him 🙂
As The Government Cant Exactly Tell Us What Is 2µg/L How Would We Know We Over That Limit , I Have 10 Hour Cut Off Point Before I Will Get In And Drive …. Anything I Can Do About The Positive Test Apart From Hope Whatever Levels Was Under The 2µg/L ??

Thanks In Advance

Family member just received court date, had 3.5 ug/l Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and 210 ug/l Benzolecgonine in blood. Any ideas on likely outcome?

I am a 24 year old car salesmen in London who uses my licence to work. It took me two years in the trade to even become a salesmen after striving about four years in telecommunications/sales. I payed nearly over £1000 to get my licence in 3 months 4 years ago and I passed first time and went for my pass plus licence. I’ve owned three cars after that time, had them all mot’d, taxed and insured. I’ve now got a wife and a 1 year old son. My fourth car I bought was a skoda superb. I decided to drive to Cornwall from London on the 19th of December 2015 as a warm up with mates leading up to the New Years partying with intentions of going back home for Christmas Day and Boxing Day and hopefully go back to Cornwall for New Year’s Day. How wrong could I have been?
I remember seeing the sign saying welcome to Cornwall, not too long after that, I heard a knock on my window as the traffic had slowed down.
I looked to my left, who is it? It’s the police “can you please step out of your vehicle”?
As soon as I complied with what they said and stepped out, they placed me straight into handcuffs.
You can imagine the sort of questions I was asking at that point, for someone who has been taken out there car and placed in cuffs for no reason, I questioned them a bit.
They said they stopped me because I flagged up as having NO INSURANCE.
I said impossible because I genuinely had insurance so I knew they were lying at that point.
They then said before putting me in the back of there car with cuffs still on that my car smelt of cannabis. I told them at the 1st chance I could that I had a unrolled joint in my pocket and it had a really strong smell especially in a closed car.
They had a officer jump in my car with me in the police car behind to outside Bodmin police station which was about 2miles away from the scene of the stop.

Outside the police station, they thoroughly searched my car like none of a car search I have seen before.
They then started questioning me quite vigorously in a way as If to say I was lying about something. When really I knew they were dealing with me very unlawfully.

I drew them back quite quickly to the reason why they stopped me because I wanted to get back in my car and drive back to London and family at that point.
I said to the officer ” go to my car and get my phone it is on the dashboard and I can show you a picture of my certificate of motor insurance” he said NO.
I asked more than once.

I TOLD THEM I HAVE INSURANCE AND I KNOW THERE LYING.

So he quickly added but another reason why we stopped you was because ” you were swerving and it looked as if you were going to take a exit and you carried on going straight and that I was really close to a lorry.

I ASKED TO SEE THAT EVIDENCE IN COURT.

They wouldn’t even bring my belongings with me back to the station and told me my car was being seized with 14 days notice to produce my licence to the police station. Bearing in mind this is 6 days before Christmas. I was swabbed for drugs still outside Bodmin police station and tested positve so arrested and driven to a further police station in Newquay about a half hour drive away where I was strip searched and blood tested without charge until the tests came back and produce my certificate of motor insurance. For the small bit of weed I was given a on the spot fine at the police station which I haven’t paid but neither the courts or the police have contacted me or even have that on record that it was issued. I was bailed to return back to the police station on the 14th January where I would find out the test results and charges if any.

When I returned to bail.

I was found to have 0.12mg of tetra-cannabinol in my blood which is classed as 6 times over the legal limit when I had’nt touched a joint since the night before.

(How can a drink driver, drive Scott free on the day but the next day be breathalysed and walk)and (a person driving who had a joint the night before and is fit to the drive the next day be penalised??)

WHERES THE JUSTICE IN THAT? its just another way to ruin the lives of the unfortunate and dubious means of taking money from people in the form of a fine.

I was CHARGED with driving with that amount in my blood.

But FUNNYILY enough I wasn’t charged with driving with no insurance.

BUT MY CAR WAS SEIZED AND CRUSHED.

The dilemma I had with the police when I produced my insurance at the station is another story which I’ve caught most on recording.

To cut a long story short they gave me a hard time by tossing about for three days and made my insurers scared as it police which made them send my policy to underwriters who as you know don’t work on Christmas periods. By the time I could get everything sorted with them . 14 days is up my car CRUSHED.

I WASNT CHARGED BECAUSE CLEARLY I HAD INSURANCE.

I appeared at my first court hearing in CORNWALL, BODMIN, after gaining legal advice from Caddick Davies motoring offence specialist solicitors and Michael Carrol and co, Tottenham. On the day used there duty solicitor.

the police report had lies like ” I told them I had stopped off 4 hours prior to them stopping me and smoking a joint and having a nap and continued to drive to Cornwall”

LIES!

they also conducted an interview but on their report they said there wernt none.

I PLEADED NOT GUILTY AND HAVE REQUESTED ALL THE POLICE CARS VIDEO FOOTAGE, STATEMENTS REPORTS, INTERVIEW, TOXICOLOGY REPORT, TO HAVE MY SAMPLE TESTED AND EVERYTHING RELEVANT TO PROVE MYSELF INNOCENT BECAUSE I WILL FIGHT THIS UNTIL I HAVE NO FIGHT LEFT,

EVEN IF I NEED TO GET RICHARD BRANSON, PRINCE HARRY OR EVEN THE QUEEN INVOLVED NOT JUST FOR ME BUT FOR ANYONE AFFECTED BY THESE SORTS OF ACTIONS OR AFFECTED BY IT IN ANYWAY SHAPE OR FORM, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT AFFECTS SOMEONES LIVELIHOOD. I WILL HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE BUT TO MAKE THIS MY JOB,

WHEN I LOSE MY JOB.

IM NOT SAYING I AM PERFECT BUT I HAVE TAKEN EVRY POSSIBLE MEASURE TO STAY ON THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW ON BEHALF OF ME AND MY FAMILY AND THE ONLY WAY THESE SORTS OF SITUATIONS CAN BE RESOLVED IS REHABILITATION NOT PUNISHMENT.

I WISH I COULD STOP SMOKING THAT IS WHY INHAVE CUT DOWN AND SMOKE OCCASIONALLY BUT THIS WILL SEND ANYONE BACK INTO THE SAME CYCLE.

I was instructed by the court to now let them know, who will be representing me at my next hearing by a date of which I met.

They also needed to send over any supporting evidence to my solicitors to my solicitors on a deadline of which they have not met.
They also want me to notify them if my sample is possible to be tested as I didn’t keep it in the fridge.

AFTER ALL IVE BEEN THROUGH, THE INCONVENIENCE, AND WHAT I AM ABOUT TO LOSE.

CAN ANYONE HELP???

Pulled over. No probable cause…nothing in car on display or anything like that….yet I was swabbed. No explanation was given as to why I was being tested. I do have form for possession which I suppose might be the excuse they use eventually. Failed roadside test so was arrested and taken for a blood test which thankfully was delayed nearly 3.5 hours. That was a month ago and I’ve heard nothing since. I’m told though that no news is not necessarily good news in cases like this.

I know one thing though…when it comes to the Police you are dealing with little better than Criminals that have the luxury of using taxpayer’s dough to amuse themselves. Next time I’m nearly ran over/into, pulled out in front of by a blind person of a certain age who is completely unimpaired (in the eyes of the law), I will know that my tax money is getting put to good use by ex bullying victims in uniform criminalizing people who are doing no harm. It’s very easy to say cannabis was a contributing factor in an accident when you consider how many people smoke and how long it stays in your system. Far more ladies who lunch steaming around our roads at circa 8.45am on the school run after 2 bottles of Pinot Grigio the night before but no….the Great British public are definitely more at risk from someone who enjoys a smoke in the evenings and drives with the correct amount of gravity the situation requires…it is not lost on the smoker how crap the standard of driving is in this country so this extra awareness, caution and attention can only be of benefit.

Now I’m not saying for one minute that cannabis makes you a good driver, that’s a ludicrous idea. What I am saying is that the mindset of a smoker tends to be more considered and cautious whether under the influence or not.

Hi, I was caught driving on a provisional licence last night. I was at a party and I’ve had a bit to drink and smoke as well. I admitted taking cannabis and I tested positive to the drug test. So I’m going to get done for two offences; drug driving and driving with a provisional license. What are my chances? I don’t want to go to jail and I don’t want an heavy ban either. I will lose my job if I didn’t drive and I’ve got my driving test coming up in two weeks.

Have look at hemp oil as a positive test for cannabis it was band in the USA forces because it tested positive if you took it. Taking hemp oil you just might have case in court. Good luck everyone.

Hi guys, my court day is near for a drug driving offence and a ban is pretty much imminent. My job requires me to drive and I’ll starve and be homeless if I don’t so basically my livelihood depends on driving. If I get banned, does that mean myself or my car will be under police intelligence? Like if I drive anyway, will I be spotted by a nearby police car or van? I know its risky but I’ve got to pay bills and feed. I shouldn’t have committed a drug driving offence in the first place I know but sh*t happens.

Hi, i was pulled over for driving too fast and when i was being questioned the offer smelt cannabis off of me, due to the passenger smoking several spliffs on a 132mile round journey. Due to this the offer swobbed my mouth, however he swobbed 6 times (2 x 3 swobs) but with the same utensil. My bloods read 3.9mg and i have stated it was passive. The blood levels are over the 2mg limit. I wasnt intoxicated directly as i dont smoke. I look to lose my license for a minimum of a year and this is crushing me. I work for myself and have been a tiling company who only generates enough work for myself. This will collapse. My father has a rare defective gene which effects the heart and i aid as his emergency driver. It appears this wont help me at all. I find this immoral and an injustice. Ive never read or been informed by government nor police that passive smoking could make you fail a test. I was hoping that the fact the officer used the same swob kit twice in quick succession, that it may deem the test a void?? Any suggestions?
Regards
Paul

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