In the Australian state of Victoria, a Government working group will be formed with view to making changes to road laws effectively forbidding patients who take legally prescribed medicines with THC from driving.
Currently, it is an offence in Victoria for a person to drive with any amount of THC in their system – and that includes THC that has been ingested in the form of legally prescribed medical cannabis. Penalties can be harsh, including large fines and/or suspension of a driver’s licence.
While patients taking cannabidiol-only medicines can lawfully drive as long as they are not impaired, this can also be risky as some CBD medicines may contain trace levels of THC.
The effects of THC may wear off in just a few hours or have no discernible effect at low enough levels, but it can remain in the body for weeks. In short, any Victorian patient taking a THC based medicine on a regular basis can’t drive and those taking CBD medicines need to be especially cautious.
There has been a push to have the state’s road laws amended and another step towards this was achieved on Wednesday.
During a debate concerning the Reason Party’s Fiona Patten MP’s Road Safety Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2019, the Victorian Government committed to undertaking discussions to improve the lives of medicinal cannabis patients.
As part of this, Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing MP announced the Government will create a working group to implement changes to Victoria’s road laws so that impairment can be understood and tested, rather than continuing to criminalise the presence of THC in a driver.
“I look forward to the working group getting underway and offering whatever support I can, so that people who take medicinal cannabis can look forward to leading a more normal life and not be treated like a criminal when they get behind the wheel,” said Ms. Patten.
The Road Safety Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2019 provides that certain offences under the Road Safety Act 1986 do not apply to a person whose blood or saliva contains THC from a cannabis product consumed legally, assuming the person has a prescription or other authority for it and it has been used in accordance with that prescription or authority. But importantly, it also stipulates persons incapable of having proper control of a motor vehicle or impaired by a drug – prescribed or otherwise – while driving a motor vehicle will still be prosecuted.
The full text of the Road Safety Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2019 can be found here.