Western Australia’s Cook Government has responded to recommendations made resulting from an inquiry into cannabis in the state.
On 13 October 2021, WA’s Legislative Council established the Cannabis and Hemp Select Committee to delve into current legislation and regulations applying to cannabis and hemp* in Western Australia
In March this year, after gaining an extension, the Committee delivered its final report, which made sixteen recommendations.
Among them was a revision of daily tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) prescription limits, which are currently set to a maximum 40 mg. The recommendation was to raise this to at least 100 mg. The State Government has supported this recommendation – in principle.
One of the recommendations not supported was an analysis for a potential compassionate access scheme. The Cook Government notes a mechanism exists for the supply of financially supported critical medicines, and medicinal cannabis is not excluded from these programs.
On the very thorny issue of medical cannabis and driving, the recommendation was to amend the Road Traffic Act 1974 and Road Traffic (Drug Driving) 2007 to introduce a legal defence for medical cannabis patients who are not driving while impaired or under the influence of alcohol. This recommendation was noted and the government has said it will establish a Medicinal Cannabis and Safe Driving Working Group to consider “reasonable” amendments to the Acts.
Aside from the compassionate access scheme, most other recommendations were supported, supported in principle or partially supported. The other to not be supported was an ongoing anonymous survey of GPs with view to data captured informing future clinical studies on medical cannabis. Another that was “noted” was an amendment to the Rail Safety National Law Act 2015 to differentiate between legal and illicit use of cannabis. This will require consultation with state and territory Ministers, and other stakeholders.
The full Western Australian Government response can be viewed here.
*Cannabis actually incorporates hemp. Hemp is legally defined as cannabis below a certain THC threshold. In Western Australia; its Industrial Hemp Act 2004 defines hemp as cannabis with leaves and flowering heads not containing more than 1.0% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Above this level and it is considered marijuana – but it’s still cannabis.