Drug-driving laws in New South Wales have been slammed on social media after a 21-year-old woman was arrested outside Sydney for testing positive to a prescribed medicinal cannabis product.
The matter came to light when NSW Police posted details of the arrest on Facebook. They wrote: “The driver was questioned about her cannabis use and informed police she had been prescribed the drug for pain management ‘so it’s allowed’.”
After a random roadside test proved positive, and a second positive test at the police station, her driver’s licence was suspended for 24 hours prior to her release.
The police added a saliva sample has been sent to a laboratory for examination, with the driver expected to be charged with “driving with an illicit prescribed restricted substance in her system”.
They warned: “Medically prescribed drugs do not automatically give drivers the right to continue driving while taking the prescribed medication. All prescribed medications contain warnings relating to driving while using them.
“Please ensure that, when you are prescribed a restricted medication, you read the warning labels attached that relate to driving motor vehicles.”
“It is illegal for patients taking cannabis medicines which contain THC to drive. This is because THC can affect the cognitive and motor skills necessary for safe driving, such as attention, judgement, memory, vision and co-ordination.”
Last year, research by the Lambert Initiative found THC concentrations in blood and saliva are poor indicators of cannabis-induced impairment, raising questions about current drug-testing methods.
The police uploaded a photo of ANTG’s Rocky THC/CBD dried flower product to the post, although it is not clear whether that was the medication the woman was taking at the time.
Cannabiz has approached ANTG for comment.
The move was slammed in the comment threat, with Facebook users urging the woman to fight any charges and comparing the state’s policy with Tasmania’s more enlightened approach.
Tasmania is currently the only state in Australia that has a legislated defence protecting medicinal cannabis patients from drug-driving offences.
Some compared the harsh treatment of medicinal cannabis users with those taking other medications.
“Disgusting way to treat ‘select’ medicated patients! It’s time the government realised that having THC in your system does not mean you are impaired,” one wrote.
Another said: “Bit of a rough go when many other medications and non-illicit substances cause the same effects to cognitive and motor skills, but don’t make it illegal for the patient to drive. Laws need to be amended.”
Meanwhile, one commenter felt sympathy for the police in having to administer the rules as they stand: “This is a law that needs to be reconsidered… it’s medicine… hate to be a cop busting people for this,” they wrote.