Medicinal Cannabis & Driving Legislation in New South Wales

In this article, we explore the laws and consequences around driving and medicinal cannabis in New South Wales, Australia.
Jan 30

Can you drive on medicinal cannabis in NSW?

In short, no, you can’t drive on medicinal cannabis in New South Wales. While patients can legally be prescribed medicinal cannabis in Australia, driving with any THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) in your system is illegal in New South Wales. Furthermore, given its illegal nature and risk of driving impairment, driving under the influence of medicinal cannabis is strongly advised against by Government bodies.

What are the laws regarding driving on medicinal cannabis in New South Wales?

The main law which governs medicinal cannabis in New South Wales is the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW). That law dictates that there must not be the presence of an illicit drug in someone’s oral fluid, blood or urine while driving or assisting a learner to drive.

What are the consequences if caught driving under the influence of medicinal cannabis in New South Wales?

If caught under the influence of active THC, the NSW Government lists several consequences.

If it is a first offence, you can receive:

  • A penalty notice fine of $603
  • A licence suspension of 3 months if the penalty is dealt with through a penalty notice.
  • A maximum court imposed fine of $2200.
  • A minimum disqualification of 3 months.
  • A maximum disqualification of 6 months.
  • A 6 month automatic disqualification (a disqualification period that applies in the absence of a specific court order)

The consequences become more severe if it is your second offence and include increased fines and a potentially unlimited disqualification time.

Is there roadside testing for medicinal cannabis in New South Wales?

Roadside testing is used throughout New South Wales.  Cannabis - even when prescribed - is one of the drugs which police will look for in their tests. 

Roadside testing is referred to as “Mobile Drug Testing” by Transport New South Wales. Transport New South Wales lists the typical process for a Mobile Drug Test as:

  • A test stick administered in your mouth to check for the presence of drugs such as cannabis
  • A wait of a few minutes for the result of the test
  • If the test is positive, drivers are taken to a testing van or police station to give a saliva sample
  • These samples are then tested and can be sent to a laboratory for analysis

Like blood-alcohol level, is there a certain dosage I can have and be OK to drive in New South Wales?

No. As discussed in a recent Guardian article, “it is illegal in NSW to drive with any amount of THC, a psychoactive component of cannabis, in your body even if you have a prescription.” 

Even if you feel you’re safe to drive, you should not drive when there’s any THC in your system. As the Australian Journal of General Practice notes, “Patients may test positive for THC even if they do not feel impaired.” 

Does having a prescription exempt me from cannabis-related driving offences in New South Wales?

Having a prescription does not exempt you from cannabis-related driving offences in New South Wales. 

Guidance produced by the New South Wales Government categorically states that: “There is no medical defence to these offences specified in the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) for using a prescribed cannabis medicine.”

Are the rules different for CBD Oil?

The rules for driving on CBD (cannabidiol) only treatments like CBD oil are different in New South Wales from the rules governing THC treatments.

According to the New South Wales Government, “Patients taking cannabidiol(CBD)-only medicines can lawfully drive if they are not impaired”. 

Though driving while using CBD products is legal and the Australian Journal of General Practice notes that little evidence exists that CBD affects driving, this doesn’t mean driving and CBD treatments don’t carry risk. The New South Wales Government states that CBD treatments can cause “drowsiness, fatigue and low blood pressure” and recommends that anyone seeking to use CBD oil and continue driving should consult with their doctor for advice first.

Does being a medicinal cannabis patient affect my car insurance?

Car insurance policies are individual to the insurer so the effect your treatment has on your insurance is totally dependent on your cover.

However, some themes do emerge. When it comes to driving under the influence of medicinal cannabis (THC), insurers like Suncorp and AAMI have advised that driving under the influence will invalidate your insurance claim. 

Furthermore, for those convicted of medicinal cannabis related driving offences, the NSW Government acknowledge that getting future insurance cover may be difficult, stating: “There may also be insurance implications for patients who are convicted of these offences.” 

If you’re thinking of undergoing medicinal cannabis treatment, it may be worth reaching out to your insurer to see how it could affect your policy or future cover with them.

Guidance from Government Bodies on driving with medicinal cannabis

Many Government bodies have given guidance on driving under the influence of medicinal cannabis. In their factsheet, the NSW Government quoted a release from Health Canada, which states: “Patients using cannabis should be warned not to drive or to perform hazardous tasks, such as operating heavy machinery, because impairment of mental alertness and physical coordination resulting from the use of cannabis or cannabinoids may decrease their ability to perform such tasks”. 

Furthermore, Australia’s medicines and therapeutic goods regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration ( TGA), advise against driving under the influence of medicinal cannabis. The TGA argues that given medicinal cannabis can take so long to leave the body, driving while receiving treatment is not advised. In a patient advice document, they state: “measurable concentrations of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the main psychoactive substance in cannabis) can be detected in urine many days after the last dose. It may take up to five days for 80 to 90 per cent of the dose to be excreted. Drug-driving is a criminal offence, and patients should discuss the implications for safe and legal driving with their doctor.”

Take the test and discover if you're eligible. We do the rest.

Take the next step
No items found.
No items found.