Marijuana Media: Detection of THC does not predict driving performance; MPs pass laws for more drinking while ignoring cannabis; NZ needs a ‘grown-up conversation’ about drugs


Kia ora! A grown-up conversation about Codeinnabis, and the Government are extending drinking hours for the Rugby World Cup – but cannabis is still illegal!? This week on Marijuana Media on 95bFM with hosts Jonny and Corey from bFM Drive and Chris Fowlie from NORML – thanks to The Hempstore.

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Study finds detection of THC does not predict driving performance

Seen the new campaign highlighting the risks of mixing prescribed meds with recreational drugs? The series of digital and billboard ads include a “codeinnabis” bong (in need of a good clean).

- Sponsor Promotion -

Waka Kotahi says the campaign is to highlight the risks of mixing prescribed medication with alcohol or illicit drugs, which they say can increase the risk of being in a fatal crash by up to 23 times. But they repeat the dubious claim that in both 2019 and 2020 over 100 people were killed in crashes where a driver was found to have drugs in their system and fail to mention the main substance found was the inactive metabolite of cannabis, which may be detected for up to 3 months after last use.

According to a new study, neither the detection of THC nor its metabolites in participants’ blood, breath, or oral fluid is correlated with their psychomotor performance. The a state-funded study (Fitzgerald et al., 2023) was conducted by researchers affiliated with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). The authors concluded:

“In the largest trial to date involving experienced users smoking cannabis, there was no correlation between THC (and related metabolites/cannabinoids) in blood, OF, or breath and driving performance. … The complete lack of a relationship between the concentration of the centrally active component of cannabis in blood, OF, and breath is strong evidence against the use of per se laws for cannabis”.

NORML opposes per se thresholds for cannabinoids in traffic safety legislation, which is an unreliable indicator of psychomotor impairment, and which may be used to punish those who pose no traffic safety risk because arbitrary per se numerical limits may have little relation to impairment.

The study also found Field Sobriety Tests misidentified sober (placebo) drivers as impaired but were accurate when used in combination with oral fluid testing.

New Zealand uses Field Sobriety Tests and per se limits for THC (and 24 other drugs) in the blood or oral fluid of drivers. A ‘tolerance’ level of 1ng is punished with a fine while a ‘high risk’ level of 3ng is deemed high risk. The expert panel which recommended these levels admitted they did not reflect impairment.

RNZ: Rugby, Racing and Beer

Last week MPs passed legislation to ensure Kiwis can drink more alcohol at rugby and horse races – with RNZ calling Rugby, Racing and Beer “NZ’s holy trinity”, and noting this parliamentary term had featured quite a lot of legislation that fights for people’s right to access alcohol.

As usual, Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick was the only MP to question the hypocrisy: “Why is this only applying to that one section of our society, given that we tend to see criminalisation of substances occurring for other types of communities? … why can’t we apply that same logical consistency to other substances – for example, when we’re looking at cannabis legalisation and control?”

Meanwhile, Lex Luxon this week said our Bill of Rights should only apply to “nice people”.

1News: NZ needs to have ‘conversation’ about drugs

The NZ Drug Foundation wants New Zealanders to engage in a “mature conversation” about drug laws, with new figures showing an increase in meth seized at the borders as international Organised Criminal Groups target the lucrative market here. Sarah Helm told 1News our current war on drugs policies need to be rethought.

“In 1975, when we, globally under the leadership of Richard Nixon, decided to ban drugs, we handed them over to organised crime. Over those 50 years or so, we’ve been growing a Frankenstein of which we have very little control. As we get tougher on it, they get better,” Helm said, suggesting Aotearoa take a leaf from Switzerland which allows safe consumption sites and decriminalised availability by prescription.

“It completely disrupted the sales model, which was relying on people with addiction to sell it on to other people. As a result, it’s been hugely successful.”

In many European countries cannabis is either legal or decriminalised for precisely this reason: to separate consumers of cannabis from peddlers of other drugs. The most well-known example is the coffeeshops in the Netherlands, while Cannabis Social Clubs are tolerated in Spain, Belgium, Denmark, France and the UK.

Medical cannabis roll-up

At the inaugural Cannabiz awards held at Melbourne’s Showtime Event Centre last weekend, NZ grower Puro won the Environmental, Social and Governance Award and the Industry Collaboration award with Helius. Their CBD Full Spectrum Oral Solution oil drops are made from hemp grown by Puro (although Helius has said it was topped up with imported CBD isolate).

It comes as Te Whatu Ora figures show 75,508 total prescriptions over the three years to April. With 250,000 patients requiring monthly prescriptions, that suggests a legal rate of less than 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the Otago Daily Times reports “Burnt Ambitions” [paywalled] cataloguing the frustrations of investing, researching and hard graft setting up a medicinal cannabis venture, many of which find themselves still locked out of participating.

No word yet on the promised changes to the medicinal cannabis regulations.

Coming up

  • Fieldays® at Mystery Creek this weekend, with Tiger Drops at stall 66 at the Rural marquee, and the NZ Hemp Industries Association at stand F81 the OrganicAg tent, with hemp seed cake available to sample!
  • The NZ Hemp Industries Association presents the 2023 Hemp Summit in Christchurch, August 24-25.
  • The next Substance Testing @ The Hemp Store is Thursday 6 July, 3-7pm, thanks to the NZ Drug Foundation.
  • Auckland J Day has a new date! Postponed from May, J Day will now be on Saturday 2nd December, after the election & the beginning of summer. We’ll also organise some rallies and events prior to the election so stay tuned for more info about that.

Marijuana Media airs every Thursday at 4:20pm on 95bFM, with your hosts bFM Drive’s Jonny and Chris Fowlie from The Hempstore. Stream or download the pot-cast for this show here or hundreds of previous Marijuana Media shows at (or via iTunes / RSS feed). Thanks to The Hemp Store!



  1. While I see the point of your article & recognise the faults in the laws you only need to look at the explosion of vaping among young people to see what would happen if marijuana use was encouraged. It seems that some in our society do not believe in having things in moderation & would spend most of the day under the influence which is likely to create further problems. While criminalizing drug use is responsible for most of the issues around it letting people do whatever they want has been shown to be problematic even from old testament times. While making people get a prescription along with a note from their grandmother for any recreational drug use (including alcohol) is a bit extreme people need to be made aware of the health issues around drug use in a way that can limit their use if required.

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