Lobby group Drive Change has called on the industry’s two main bodies – the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Association (AMCA) and Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia (MCIA) – to unite behind its campaign to reform drug-driving laws.
Under current Australia-wide laws, drivers with any amount of THC in their system – however small – can be prosecuted even if there is no evidence to suggest their driving is impaired.
Former magistrate David Heilpern and cannabis education website Honahlee co-founder Tom Brown presented to the AMCA board last night, while a meeting with MCIA is scheduled for tonight (Wednesday).
Writing on the Drive Change website, campaign coordinator Bee Mohamed said: “Drive Change is an opportunity for the industry to unite with one message and to join others in being a voice for patients, Australia-wide.
“[It] is an excellent opportunity for a coordinated and collaborative campaign that brings industry bodies such as AMCA, MCIA, patients and political figures together.”
Drive Change is a non-profit organisation that has so far raised around A$11,500 to fund the campaign to change the current laws for patients. Harm Reduction Australia provided a startup fund of $5,000, with patients contributing around $1500.
However, Mohamed noted: “In an industry of more than 100 companies, only five have donated for a total of approximately $5,000. It is our hope that all companies will support and donate to this important campaign for patients.”
The campaigners have asked the AMCA board to help raise $35,000 from its members to fund the campaign. It will ask for the same contribution from MCIA.
“If we can raise $35,000 from AMCA members and $35,000 from MCIA members, we should have enough funds to run Drive Change for a long enough period to make a real difference,” Mohamed said.
“The industry must do better. The industry and these organisations have the ear of the government – that’s what big dollars do.
“Patients need the entire industry to start financially supporting advocacy efforts or, to put it bluntly, start putting their money where their mouths are.”
AMCA chair Lucy Haslam told Cannabiz: “As an organisation that holds patient interests front and centre, AMCA is very much in support of the Drive Change Campaign, and has been so since its inception.
“AMCA recognises that the issues that are core to the campaign disadvantage and discriminate against patients who are legally prescribed medicinal cannabis by their physicians.
“Although our membership includes some very large industry players, we are mindful that many of our other members are individuals and small-to-medium start-ups who may not have as deep pockets.
“However, we are confident that the breadth of the sector will support the campaign.”
MCIA chair Peter Crock said: “MCIA recognises the importance of this issue for patients and applauds Drive Change for championing this cause and highlighting the discrimination for patients who are accessing medicinal cannabis through legally prescribed pathways.”
“MCIA will continue dialogue with Drive Change about how MCIA, its members and the industry can support initiatives to address this challenge”