The Victorian Government has shown support for changing the drug-driving laws surrounding medical cannabis.
In what could be a revolutionary change to drug policy and drug testing, Victoria’s Reason Party MP Fiona Patten introduced an initiative to allow medicinal cannabis patients to be able to drive without fear of reprisal, which received parliamentary approval just yesterday.
Speaking on the effort to change Australia’s drug-driving laws, Patton said it was “simply unfair” that medicinal cannabis patients simply couldn’t drive if they wished to take their medication.
As we’ve discussed previously here at The Green Fund, there are several issues surrounding drug-testing medicinal cannabis patients.
Firstly, determining the precise level of intoxication of a cannabis user isn’t as easy to define as alcohol is. Testing for alcohol is done by measuring a person’s BAC — Blood Alcohol Concentration. As many will know first hand, this is measured simply by blowing into a breathalyzer. The higher your BAC, the more intoxicated you are.
Conversely, testing for cannabis intoxication is done via a saliva test, which doesn’t determine a specific level of intoxication, and can detect THC in a person’s system for potentially days after the last time they consumed cannabis.
This means that for medicinal cannabis patients, if they have to use a cannabinoid medication once or twice daily, they are at a very high risk of testing positive on roadside drug-tests and potentially losing their license.
And, as Freshleaf Analytics has previously mentioned, this serves as a huge bottleneck to medical cannabis prescriptions, as health professionals fear their patients may be arrested while driving.
“I am pleased that the government has seen sense and will move to change the laws around medicinal cannabis and driving — it’s about time,” Fiona Patten said.
Patten’s proposed bill seeks to have medical cannabis products treated equally to other medications on the market.
“The average medicinal cannabis patient is a 55-year-old woman. These patients gain great relief from their medication but should be able to drive their kids to school in the morning,” Ms. Patten said.
There have been previous attempts to create cannabis breathalyzers that sought to achieve a greater level of precision than current saliva tests, however, these have yet to reach a commercialization/mass-market.