Better drug driving laws for medicinal cannabis patients

Across NSW patients are increasingly being prescribed medicinal cannabis by their GP for effective treatment of conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, chronic pain or cancer and yet our state’s Mobile Drug Testing regime has not kept up with the changes in the law regarding medicinal cannabis.  

Patients using medicinal cannabis risk losing their licence if they test positive for THC even though there is no evidence that they are impaired or pose a danger on the road.  

Often, I hear stories of patients who have tested positive days after they have used medicinal cannabis long after its effects have worn off. Such patients are forced to make a choice between going about their day-to-day activities with extreme pain or taking the medicinal cannabis and staying home or relying on others for lifts. 

The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway, Germany, and Ireland all provide a medicinal defence for testing positive for THC to protect medicinal cannabis patients if they were not impaired and were using the medicine as directed. In NSW, section 111 (5) of the Road Transport Act 2013 already provides a legal defence for people who use opiates for medicinal purposes. It is unfair and discriminatory that this defence exists for opiates, which can pose a greater risk to driver safety, but not for medicinal cannabis. 

Right now, the New South Wales drug driving laws that facilitate police roadside drug testing are unjust and discriminatory. With a new Labor minority government and seven Greens MPs now in the NSW Parliament we have a real opportunity to finally reform this state’s unfair roadside drug testing laws. Fixing this is simple and long overdue.   

We need laws that support fair driving for patients using medicinal cannabis!  

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