A Victorian minister has called for changes to their regressive drug-driving laws this week, as the number of Australians with medical cannabis prescriptions rises to 50,000.
While medical cannabis has been legalised since 2016, patients taking their prescription medication are still at risk of prosecution under Australia’s backwards drug-driving laws. Onya, Australia!
Australian Police currently use saliva tests to measure whether drivers have cannabis’s psychoactive component THC in their saliva. While a spaced-out smoker with a bong in the backseat will test positive, so will a cancer patient who takes daily doses of legal, doctor-prescribed medication.
Saliva tests are currently the least effective form of drug testing available, as they fail approximately 16% of the time.
While medical cannabis patients are advised not to drive within five days of starting the drug, there is little evidence that patients are actually impaired. Unlike alcohol, the concentration of THC in your body can’t indicate how impaired you are – as THC can remain in the body for up to 60 days after the consumption of cannabis products.
According to Victorian MP and leader of The Reason Party, Fiona Patten, Australia’s current drug-driving laws are discriminating against medical cannabis patients. Although the Victorian government has embraced the financial benefits of medical cannabis with open arms, that warmth doesn’t extend to actual patients.
You can’t encourage the manufacture of a medicine that brings relief to many patients then criminalise the very taking of that same medicine – it makes no sense whatsoever.
To resolve this issue, The Reason Party proposed changes to Victoria’s Road Safety Act. While both the Minister for Roads Ben Carroll and Victoria’s premier have acknowledged the discrepancy in drug-driving laws, no action has been taken to protect medical cannabis users from prosecution.
Under these laws, medical cannabis patients may also have their insurance voided if they’re involved in an accident.
If you’d like to read more about Australia’s A+ drug-driving laws, click here.