New South Wales Greens MP Cate Faehrmann is bringing two cannabis reform bills to the state’s Upper House in the next two weeks.
Today (Wednesday November 17), Faehrmann introduced the Road Transport Amendment Bill (Medicinal Cannabis — Exemptions from Offences) Bill 2021 to the Legislative Council.
The bill, due for debate in 2022, provides an exemption from a drug-driving offence if an individual has been prescribed and used a medicinal cannabis product in accordance with the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 or a corresponding act of another state or territory.
Users of prescribed medicinal cannabis currently risk being charged with a drug-driving offence if THC is detected in their system during a roadside drug test.
Research by the Lambert Initiative has demonstrated drivers can test positive for THC well after consuming or experiencing impairment from medicinal cannabis.
A spokesperson for Faehrmann said the bill “seeks to address the injustice faced by the thousands of users of legally prescribed medicinal cannabis who are at risk of a drug-driving offence”.
Tasmania is the only Australian state that currently provides a defence for medicinal cannabis users against a drug-driving charge, although similar legislation to Faehrmann’s bill is before the Victorian and South Australian parliaments. The UK, New Zealand, Norway, Germany and Ireland all provide for a medical defence.
Meanwhile, Faehrmann will bring the Cannabis Industry Bill 2021 to legalise personal use — introduced in February — up for debate on Thursday November 25.
The bill aims to:
- legalise the recreational use and possession of cannabis;
- allow a household of two or less to grow up to six cannabis plants and a household of more than two to grow up to 12;
- require cannabis products to be labelled with health warnings and information about the strain and THC/CBD contents;
- prohibit retailers from promoting or advertising cannabis;
- prohibit cannabis stores from operating within 200 metres of a school or childcare centre;
- establish a NSW Cannabis Authority to regulate the cannabis market with the aim of reducing harm and preventing the dominance of the industry by large corporations;
- allow for cannabis social clubs of at least five people which can grow six plants per member up to 99 plants;
- begin the process of extinguishing past cannabis convictions.
Similar proposals were due to be tabled by the South Australia Greens in the state’s Upper House today.