8 July 2024

Fitzroy Legal Service supports calls for the Allan Government to introduce a legal defence into drug driving offences for medical cannabis patients.

Everybody deserves to be able to take their prescribed medication without fear of unfair punishment. But under the current law someone is guilty of drug driving simply by having trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol chemicals in their system while driving, despite having a legal prescription and not being impaired. They face having their licence cancelled for a mandatory minimum of six months, fines, and a potential criminal record.

For all other prescribed medications and opioids, a legal defence exists so long as the driver was taking their medication in line with prescribed quantities and was not impaired at the time of driving.

A legal defence for drug driving offences for prescribed medical cannabis already exists in jurisdictions such as Tasmania, Canada, Germany and several states in the USA.

Amity Mara, Manager of Policy at Fitzroy Legal Service, said:

“This current law is a blunt instrument that leaves magistrates no discretion to look at the actual reality of the situation, they have to take your licence for a mandatory minimum of six months.”

“The test for drug driving shouldn’t be whether or not you’ve taken your legally prescribed medication; the test should be whether you’re driving while impaired.”

“As a community legal centre we see clients every day whose lives are destroyed by being dragged into the criminal justice system. People shouldn’t be criminalised for taking medication prescribed by their doctor.”

“Introducing a legal defence is a commonsense solution. In fact, it’s so common sense that we already do it for other prescribed medications and opioids.

Media enquiries: Emma Lang | media@fls.org.au

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