by Olivier on 04/06/2018 | Consumption

Cannabis and driving in the Netherlands – Part 1: The saliva test

Cannabis and driving For anything relating to driving, Dutch law is merciless. It is not just recreational users who are punished, but even those who use cannabis for medicinal reasons. Why this does not actually help road safety is explained in an exclusive multi-part series from the Cannabis News Network. In Part 1: The cannabis saliva test

Since 1 July 2017, police have been checking drivers not just for alcohol but also for other substances such as amphetamines, cocaine and cannabis. If there is any suspicion of drug use, the police is entitled to carry out a saliva test on the spot. On first sight this seems sensible, but if you look more closely it gets more confusing.

Recreational users and patients are treated alike

The law makes no distinction between recreational users and patients who may be using cannabis for medicinal purposes. Ka-Chun Cheung from the Dutch pharmacists’ association has raised the alarm with the relevant authorities. He estimates that around 1 million people have been unfairly criminalised by the new law.

One of them is Marjon Fisher. Since the age of 17, she has suffered from epilepsy. For her, cannabis is a godsend. Only because she regularly consumes CBD oil can she now do things that seem perfectly normal to other people, like reading or driving a car. But Marjon is worried: “What does the fact that I have cannabis in my bloodstream mean for my insurance? Am I insured? Am I breaking the law?

As in most other European countries , CBD is legal in the Netherlands. So Marjon is entitled to join the traffic on the roads. But things will become problematic if she causes an accident. In that case, she risks a fine of EUR 850 and the loss of her driving licence for up to 6 months. In addition, her insurance could refuse to pay out anything.

The law is not just unfair, it is dangerous

Marjon is adamant that she can drive her car safely despite consuming cannabinoids. She knows that CBD does not make her high. Even if the effect of medication on the ability to drive is not yet one hundred per cent clarified, many experts are giving it the all clear. Saskia de Craen, a scientist in the field of road safety, believes that banning the medication is the greater evil: “Medicinal cannabis, for example, for people who are well aware of the impact on their ability to drive, these people would probably drive less safely without the cannabis.”

Ka-Chung Cheung believes the same thing. He is demanding an urgent amendment to the law. The Ministry of Justice was not available for an interview with Cannabis News Network. In a written opinion, they stated that a new solution was being actively sought that could combine road safety and the needs of medical patients.

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