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Limit case instead of limit value: Hemp association criticises that consumers lost driving licences

Limit case instead of limit value : Hemp association criticises that consumers lost driving licences

The city of Bonn sends a drug user to an MPU after a police check. However, the man does not pass the test and therefore has to hand in his driver's licence. The hemp association criticises the decision.

The city of Bonn has become the scene of a precedent-setting case that could raise eyebrows, at least among cannabis users. For the city council has now revoked the driver's licence of a man whom police officers caught with 0.7 nanograms (ng) of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short, per millilitre of blood serum. The fact that the city has to justify the measure is due to the value of 0.7. This is because the limit value applicable throughout Germany - analogous to the per mille limit for alcohol - is 1.0 ng THC. Nevertheless, according to the administration, there were reasons for the withdrawal of the driver's licence.

The man was "demonstrably sober", the German Hemp Association (DHV) is convinced. This is the first case of its kind. In any case, the German limit is extraordinarily strict by international comparison. "A traffic-endangering effect below 1 ng THC is practically impossible," says DHV spokesman Georg Wurth. He assumes that the city of Bonn will lose the looming legal dispute.

Hemp federation: Physician certified no failure symptoms

Although the association also admits that the police officers had "reported various moments of unusual behavior in the usual tests in the stress situation at the roadside"; a doctor had certified afterwards, however, that the person concerned had no failure symptoms. Nevertheless, the driver's licence office then assumed "driving under the influence of cannabis" and ordered a medical-psychological examination (MPU). The aim was to clarify "whether he had the necessary ability to distinguish between consumption and driving".

The city of Bonn considers itself to be in the right: according to the case law, an immediate withdrawal of the driving licence in the case of cannabis driving is actually not permissible, according to Markus Schmitz from the city's press office. However, this was not the issue in the case: unlike the withdrawal of a driver's licence, the ordering of an MPU can be considered if the driver occasionally consumes cannabis and other facts leave doubts about the driving ability. "Such facts exist in particular if a motor vehicle was driven under the influence of the cannabis active ingredient THC," said the municipal press officer. Thus, the limit value is not decisive, since the city had "only" sent the man to the MPU.

The problem: the man did not pass the MPU, and that was now his undoing. Because, according to Schmitz: "Only when the report on the MPU is not submitted is the conclusion of a lack of driving ability permissible. However, lawsuits are only possible after the driver's licence has been revoked, not already against the MPU order.“

The Hemp Association stands by its criticism. On the one hand, it is precisely the traffic control that is an indication that the person concerned with a residual amount of less than 1.0 ng THC in the blood serum actually separates consumption and traffic participation. "If the driver's licence office gets its way with this, it will soon no longer be worthwhile for Bonn cannabis users to abstain from consumption before driving. The Bonn administration is endangering traffic safety instead of protecting it," says DHV spokesman Georg Wurth. In his estimation, ordering the MPU on the basis of a "sober drive" was unlawful.

Association disappointed by Katja Dörner

The hemp association is disappointed above all by Lord Mayor Katja Dörner. After all, she had displayed a relaxed attitude towards cannabis for years as a member of the Bundestag. So she had, among other things, advocated with the Green faction in a bill of 2015 for a limit of 5 ng THC per ml of blood serum in road traffic. However, even an extensive exchange of correspondence between the association and the mayor ultimately did not change the suspension of the driver's licence: "In her current function as head of administration, Ms. Dörner is of course bound by applicable law - regardless of her political or personal opinion on a matter," the press office said.

Original text: Rüdiger Franz and Alexander Barth
Translation: Mareike Graepel