The Greens will move amendments to the Queensland Government’s Road Safety and Other Matters Bill today (Wednesday) to create a defence to drug-driving charges for medicinal cannabis patients testing positive for THC, but whose driving is not impaired.
Following recent reports that the Government will review drug-driving laws, the Greens said the law should be updated now to ensure patients are not unfairly punished while the review considers options to measure impairment levels from THC.
The amendments to be moved by Greens MP for Maiwar Michael Berkman are:
- Insert a defence provision in the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 to say that the offence of driving with the presence of a “relevant drug” (defined as MDMA, ice or THC) in one’s system does not apply if the only drug detected is THC from a cannabis product legally obtained and administered for medicinal purposes.
- Retain provisions making it an offence for a person to drive while under the influence of a drug (including THC from medicinal cannabis) or alcohol.
Berkman said: “We’ve had a medicinal cannabis framework since 2016 and Queensland has more than half of all Australian medicinal cannabis prescriptions, but our laws still haven’t been updated.
“Queensland law puts THC in the same category as MDMA and ice, despite the fact that it is legally prescribed, and patients can test positive for presence days or even weeks after use, when they’re not impaired.
“The only function of the law as it currently stands is to reinforce the total prohibition of cannabis – it’s out of date, discriminatory and provides no safety benefit.
“We’re moving these simple amendments to bring medicinal cannabis in line with other medicines. Under our amendments, it would still be illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or any drug, including cannabis, but patients would no longer be criminalised just for having THC in their system.
“Medicinal cannabis patients shouldn’t be subjected to these unfair and outdated laws any longer. Queenslanders undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from chronic pain should not lose their ability to drive just because they used their prescribed medication days or weeks ago.
“Parliament is updating the relevant act today, so we should fix this discrepancy with a medical defence like Tasmania has now, and get on with a review of options to measure impairment.”