Prosecution should be paused while medicinal cannabis driving trial is underway

17th Oct 2023

While the impact of medicinal cannabis on motorists is being trialled in Victoria, police should not prosecute people who drive after taking prescribed cannabis if there is no evidence their driving is impaired, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“Cases are coming before the courts every week where people are losing their licence and their livelihood because they are taking prescribed medicinal cannabis and driving,” said Mr Greg Barns SC, criminal justice spokesperson, Australian Lawyers Alliance. “The prosecution of these drivers, if there is no evidence of impaired driving, should be stopped while this trial is underway.

“Drivers who take opioids or other prescription medication do not find themselves in court or risk losing their license, and neither should drivers who have taken a prescribed and legal dose of cannabis.

“We are pleased to see progress on this issue in Victoria but there is no need for a trial. This will just delay making a change to these outdated and unfair laws that severely penalise medicinal cannabis patients.

“Laws in Tasmania allow drivers to present a medical defence for driving with detectable levels of THC. If you can show you have a medical script and have taken the drug in accordance with the script, you are allowed to drive. This works well and could be adopted in Victoria without the need for this trial.

“People lose their license, and sometimes their job, not because of impaired driving, but because of flawed laws. Current drug driving laws were developed before cannabis became a legally recognised prescribed medication and the law needs to change to stay relevant.”

Tags: Health, medicine and law Law reform