An analysis of the Cannabis as Medicine Survey 2020 (CAMS-20) has found patients accessing their medicine via prescription are far less likely to drive under the influence than illicit users.
Researchers analysed the section of CAMS-20 which surveyed driving-related behaviours, attitudes, and perceptions among medicinal cannabis users in Australia.
Of the 1,063 medicinal cannabis users who reported driving a motor vehicle in the past 12 months, 124 identified as prescription-only patients, and only 9% of those (n=11) admitted to doing so while “high”.
Among those accessing medicinal cannabis via the illicit market, the figure soared to 30%, while for dual users the number was 31%.
Meanwhile, although more than half of those surveyed said roadside drug testing would deter them from driving after consuming medicinal cannabis, prescription-only patients were less worried about it at 52% than illicit users (56%) and dual users (57%).
The vast majority of prescription-only patients believed their medicinal cannabis use did not impair their driving (85%), but they were more likely to agree that recreational use does so (70%) than illicit users (48%) and dual users (49%).
Research fellow at Swinburne University of Technology and study co-author Dr Thomas Arkell said although the sample size of prescription-only patients was small, it was far bigger than in previous CAMS surveys.
He said further analysis of the data revealed “illicit users are more than twice as likely to drive under the influence of cannabis relative to prescribed users”.
Drug-driving campaigners have long argued cannabis should be treated like other prescription drugs, with legitimate patients granted immunity from prosecution if THC is detected in their system, assuming driving is not impaired. Currently, only Tasmania has such an exemption in place.
Medicinal Cannabis Industry Association chair Peter Crock recently told the Sydney Morning Herald moving users away from illegal products towards medicinal cannabis was a valuable piece of harm-minimisation.
To read the full study, click here.