CBD is legal in Australia for medical use, however, there is a hazy understanding of the legalities that surround CBD.
With cannabis medication prescriptions growing across Australia, confusion is also growing around drug testing, impairment and how cannabis can affect driving or working. The TGA require medical cannabis prescribers to inform their patients about the legalities around driving and performing safety sensitive tasks whilst using medications containing THC. However, CBD is a different story.
What is CBD?
CBD, short for Cannabidiol, it is a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant. CBD oil is produced by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil such as hemp seed or MCT (coconut) oil.
As CBD is non-psychoactive, employers and police do not test for it in workplace and roadside drug tests. However it is important to be aware that some CBD products on the market, while being CBD dominant, still contain small traces of THC (2mg/mL). This may cause impairment depending on the patient’s dosage.
Both workplace and roadside drug tests do test for THC, which is psychoactive and is detectable in a drug test.
What does this mean?
This means that if a medical cannabis product contains any trace of THC, a person may potentially fail a drug test. This is a major concern with illegally sourced CBD oil, as it is not always possible to know the amount of THC in a black market CBD product.
With a legal product that is manufactured in a government approved facility, there is rigorous testing required to obtain a certificate of analysis, detailing the amounts of THC and CBD is present in that product.
When does THC leave the system?
There are numerous factors that determine the length of time THC takes to depart the body’s system. A few factors to note is the dosage taken, length of time using that product, metabolism, method of administration and even levels of hydration. As everyone is different, it is difficult to determine when THC has completely left one’s body.
Cannabis metabolites are fat-soluble, which means that they bind to fat molecules in the body. As a result, it can take some time for them to leave the body’s system. According to Mayo Clinic Proceedings, cannabis is detectable in urine for the following amounts of time (after last use):
- Occasional users (up to three times a week): 3 days
- Moderate users (four times a week): 5 to 7 days
- Chronic users (daily): 10 to 15 days
- Chronic heavy users (multiple times a day): more than 30 days
What if a product does contain THC?
Patients concerned about the presence of THC in a prescribed CBD product should speak with their prescribing doctor and review any workplace drug and alcohol policies for clarification. As medical cannabis is still surrounded by negative stigma, it is important that approved patients understand the related state laws and individual workplace policies before using or disclosing the use of medical cannabis therapies.
Keep in mind that even if a person is using prescribed medical cannabis legally, they will not be excused from the law. People who test positive for THC could receive a fine, lose their license or even receive criminal charges for driving under the influence.
Driving laws differ by state
THC is illegal throughout Australia in each territory and state. However, each state has different laws around the legalities of driving. Below is a collation of links for each driving law in different states:
- Medical cannabis and driving in Queensland
- Medical cannabis and driving in Tasmania – N/A (No documentation available)
- Medical cannabis and driving in Australian Capital Territory
- Medical cannabis and driving in Northern Territory
- Medical cannabis and driving in South Australia
- Medical cannabis and driving in Victoria
- Medical cannabis and driving in New South Wales
- Medical cannabis and driving in Western Australia
In summary, CBD is not tested for in roadside drug tests, however some CDB-dominant products may still contain traces of THC. Driving with any THC system is illegal, whether it is a legal prescription or a black market product. Regardless of legality, you should never drive whilst impaired.
It’s essential that doctors and their patients discuss the specifics of each product prescribed and the effects it can have on a drug test.
Disclaimer: The contents do not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek legal advice or other professional advice in relation to any matters you or your organisation may have.
CanView does not endorse the use of Medicinal Cannabis without lawful prescription. Just like any Medicine, Medicinal Cannabis may have both positive and negative side-effects on the user, and should only be prescribed to patients by a Health Professional with the authority and expertise to do so. The information provided by CanView is for informational and educational purposes, and is of a general nature. If you are interested in accessing Medicinal Cannabis please talk to your doctor and request a referral to a Medicinal Cannabis clinic.