Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has begun a review of the state’s drug-driving laws – but it’s not due to be completed until the end of 2024.
Responding to an enquiry on behalf of TMR minister Mark Bailey, general manager (land transport safety and regulation) Andrew Mahon said the review will examine best practice approaches across the world as well as the latest research.
It will also undertake stakeholder consultation with experts in the field and those impacted by drug driving.
Mahon said: “Medicinal cannabis and the issues presented, such as impacts on enforcement through roadside drug testing and those wanting to continue to drive, will be investigated as part of this review.”
He acknowledged the use of medicinal cannabis and driving was “a growing area of concern for road safety”, but insisted it was a “very complex and difficult” issue to solve.
“The Government is acutely aware of the challenges faced by those wanting to use medicinal cannabis and continue driving,” he wrote, before outlining the state’s current position that it is only necessary to show the presence of THC for someone to fall foul of the law.
Mahon said he was aware some medicinal cannabis products contain THC, classed as a relevant drug under Queensland’s current laws, and acknowledged some international jurisdictions take a different approach.
However, he added: “All Australian jurisdictions apart from Tasmania consistently take a zero-tolerance approach through presence-based legislation as opposed to setting limits like alcohol.
“The approach in Queensland for medicinal cannabis is taken due to THC being a psychoactive substance that has shown to impair cognitive and motor function, increasing the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash.
“THC can also interact with other medications, impairing the metabolism of other drugs or causing cumulative effects such as sedation. There are also differences in the impairing effects of THC based on length of use, quantity and an individual’s own metabolism.
“It is for these reasons it is very challenging to set a safe limit for THC.”
A TMR spokesperson told Cannabiz: “A key action in the Queensland Road Safety Action Plan 2022-24 is to develop a package of drug-driving reforms based on best practice, contemporary research evidence and stakeholder consultation.
“The review is in response to the growing number of drug-driving offences being detected on Queensland’s roads and an increase in crashes resulting in serious injuries and lives lost.
“The review is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2024.
“Included in the scope of this program is a review of current approaches to deter offending through enforcement and offender management. The review will investigate both illegal drugs and medicinal cannabis.”