Medicinal cannabis products are legal, high quality pharmaceutical medicines.
In 2019, Fiona Patten a state senator in Victorian parliament introduced the Road Safety Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2019. The effect of this Bill is simple – to treat these medicines, prescribed by a doctor, in the same way as any other prescription medication under the Road Safety Act.
The Bill is safety focused, ensuring that it remains an offence for someone to drive if impaired by medicinal cannabis. The Bill only amends the offences of Driving with Drug Present in Blood or Oral Fluid – which are typically charged when THC is detected, but there is no allegation of dangerous driving behaviour.
The Bill strikes the same balance that already exists for the great many other prescription medications capable of intoxicating effects (opioid analgesics, benzodiazepines, antihistamines, etc.).
It is important to note that the average medicinal cannabis patient in Victoria is a 55yo woman.
Drug driving laws throughout Australian states and territories are constructed in such a way that medical cannabis patients consuming a dose of medication too low to cause impairment are still vulnerable to these unjust penalties.
These penalties have seen countless upstanding citizens branded as criminals and have destroyed the lives of many families trying to seek a better quality of life through natural medications.
The changes documented in this amendment bill are intended to restore the original purpose of this road safety legislation and discourage authorities from using “the war on drugs” as a thin edge of the wedge when dealing with minorities.
NSW Court magistrate David Heilpern resigned in 2020, citing that drug driving laws are so “grossly unfair” he can’t apply them.
Medicinal Cannabis is generally prescribed for:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatment (such as nausea, pain and loss of appetite)
- Symptom relief in palliative care
We stigmatise medicinal cannabis in Victoria unfairly.
No other country in the world criminalises driving for those prescribed this medication – it is time we caught up.
On 14 October 2020, the government committed to finding an outcome that will not disadvantage patients taking prescription medicine. This is proposed to be achieved via a working group overseen by the Minister for Road Safety, including Fiona and Victoria Police which will report on or before 18 December 2020. (Needs clarification – who’s Fiona, what does she do and why is she relevant to this story?)
The working group did not meet their December 2020 deadline and have resolved a new date for response in February 2021.
Submissions to the inquiry into the use of cannabis in Victoria are still open, have your say via https://parliament.vic.gov.au/lsic-lc/article/4261?fbclid=IwAR2AlzP2DbpRB8kDc2PnggrWYLjNdP04gJMtRFj6djkeNxX2UfESXJr40Hw