End discrimination against medicinal cannabis patients in Australian drug driving laws.

End discrimination against medicinal cannabis patients in Australian drug driving laws.

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Drive Change started this petition to Hon Greg Hunt MP and

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I’m Steve. I live with neuropathic pain, insomnia and have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression as a result. My day to day life used to be pretty unmanageable. The drugs I used to treat my conditions ended up making me feel so much worse - I was suicidal. But when I accessed legal medicinal cannabis, my life changed for the better

The problem is that now I am prohibited from using my car, even when I’m not impaired, because of my responsible use of medicinal cannabis. This is because our outdated laws treat legal medicinal cannabis use the same as “drug driving,” grouping this legal prescription together with illicit and impairing substances.

Like so many others who take this life-changing medication, Steve is legally prohibited from driving and is at risk of serious roadside trouble unless these laws change. And, many doctors shy away from prescribing this potentially life-changing medication even when it’s right for the patient because of the drug driving laws.

Medicinal cannabis is perfectly legal. But it is the only prescribed medication without a legal defence against positive roadside mouth swab tests for presence, making our current drug driving laws discriminatory against medicinal cannabis patients. 

Of the 65,000+ patients across Australia, the average age is 49 years old. The average medicinal cannabis patients in Victoria are women aged 55 years old. These people are our family, our friends, and our co-workers. They are parents who need to pick up the kids after school or get across town to do their jobs. While these discriminatory laws remain in place, they can’t

Let’s be clear: we want our roads to be safe. Any driver who is impaired is a safety risk to themselves and others. But the truth is, impairment from medicinal cannabis cannot be tested from a mouth swab. 

Research shows that the effects of cannabis last as little as two and up to eight hours from consumption, but it can still be detected in tests up to a week later. This is long beyond the time of impairment.

We already know that the presence of THC does not equate to driver impairment. 

The US Congress publicly presented research proving there is no correlation between the presence of cannabis and impairment. Still, the presence of THC remains the sole factor holding these patients back from driving. 

Our laws avoid the truth that impairment can come from an excess or misuse of many legal drugs. This includes conventional medications like opiates, benzodiazepines, amphetamines and alcohol. In fact, research shows that cannabis has a lower crash risk than benzodiazepines and opiates

However, Australian patients who test positive for the presence of these other potentially impairing drugs, who can provide evidence of a prescription, are free to drive because they have a legal medical defence. It should be no different for medicinal cannabis patients.

We can keep our roads safe by relying on scientific evidence, not outdated laws based on misinformation. 

We are calling for a legal defence for drivers who test positive for the presence of legally prescribed medicinal cannabis when:

  1. The driver has a valid doctor’s prescription for a medicine containing THC;
  2. The offence does not involve dangerous or reckless driving; and
  3. An officer cannot establish driver impairment.


We need to give people prescribed medicinal cannabis the assurance that they won’t be treated as criminals for taking a legal prescription medicine under the care of a medical practitioner.

Please sign and share this petition to create drug driving laws that are fair, equal, and improve public health.

 

References:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763421000178

US Congress. (2019). Marijuana Use and Highway Safety. Retrieved from Washington: Vandrey, R., Herrmann, E. S., Mitchell, J. M., Bigelow, G. E., Flegel, R., LoDico, C., & Cone, E. J. (2017). Pharmacokinetic Profile of Oral Cannabis in Humans: Blood and Oral Fluid Disposition and Relation to Pharmacodynamic Outcomes. J Anal Toxicol, 41(2), 83–99. 10.1093/jat/bkx012.

https://www.drivechangemc.org.au/the-truth-roadside-drug-testing-does-not-impact-road-trauma/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0955395921002127

https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2021/june/medical-cannabis-and-driving

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