Cannabis legalization: new THC limit for traffic

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Following the legalization of cannabis, which came into effect on April 1, 2024, the coalition government formed by the SPD, Greens and FDP also agreed on changes for drivers. The Bundestag passed the Traffic Light Act to amend the Road Traffic Act and the Bundesrat approved it. In the next step, the law will be enacted and then come into force. This is expected this summer.

Tip: You can read about what has and has not been allowed since partial legalization in our Specialty Cannabis: Legalized – but risks remain.

Expert group recommends higher THC levels

The law provides for an increase in the current legal limit of 1.0 nanograms (ng) of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to 3.5 ng per milliliter of blood serum. According to its information, the federal government followed the recommendations of an interdisciplinary expert commission. This assumes that with the new limit of 3.5 nanograms, a deterioration in road safety can almost be ruled out. Immediately after consuming a joint, the THC level is significantly higher than the limit now introduced, according to the commission. Intoxication is also comparable to the effect of 0.2 per mille of alcohol and is well below the limit of 7 ng, at which the increased risk begins. A surcharge for measurement errors is also included.

Excessive cannabis consumption leads to fines and driving bans

In future, anyone who intentionally or negligently drives a motor vehicle in traffic, even if they have 3.5 ng or more of THC in their blood serum, will be guilty of an administrative offence. Violations result in a fine of normally 500 euros and a one-month driving ban. Both novice drivers on a two-year probationary period and those under 21 are not allowed to consume cannabis if they want to drive. The new limit does not apply to them. A limit value of 1.0 ng/ml still applies to them.

Furthermore, there is a strict ban on alcohol on the roads for people who consume cannabis. Otherwise, you risk a fine of up to 3,500 euros.

THC control by saliva and blood test

During traffic checks, the police must determine whether a driver has consumed cannabis by checking their appearance for typical symptoms of intoxication, such as red eyes or slurred speech, and by performing saliva tests. If the result is positive, but also if the result is negative, if the symptoms of intoxication are still evident in the person tested, a blood test may also be carried out.

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