Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (10:16:22):
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Road Safety Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2019 proposes a reasonable change to the Road Safety Act 1986, to allow people who have been prescribed medicinal cannabis to drive—so long as they can drive safely.
The bill provides that it is not an offence for a person’s blood or oral fluid to contain legal medicinal cannabis that is prescribed by a medical professional and taken in accordance with that prescription.
This exception does not apply to a driver of a motor vehicle who is either impaired, or incapable of having proper control of a motor vehicle—ensuring that these changes do not affect the safety of other road users.
People who have been prescribed a medicine and can drive safely should be allowed to drive. This is how we treat every single other prescription medicine.
Too often, Victorians who would benefit from medicinal cannabis are forced to choose a less effective or more dangerous medication, such as an opioid or a benzodiazepine, simply because driving with a residual amount of THC could mean the loss of a drivers licence or criminal penalties. This bill changes that.
In doing so it draws on the bipartisan recommendation of the drug law reform inquiry from 2018. Let me give you an example.
James is a young man with epilepsy. He has suffered from seizures almost all his life. Unlike others in his class, when he turned 18 he could not apply for a drivers licence as his seizures prohibited him from driving. James now has been on a medicinal cannabis medication for nearly 2 years and has not had one seizure in this time.
Normally this would mean that he could apply for a drivers licence and finally have the independence that that offers. Sadly, he cannot because of the trace amounts of THC that may be detected in his saliva or blood. My bill fixes this.
Turning to the bill, clause 1 sets out its purpose. Clause 2 provides for the bill’s commencement. Clause 3 provides that certain offences in section 49(1) of the Road Safety Act 1986 do not apply to a person whose blood or oral fluid contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol from a cannabis product that is consumed legally, having been prescribed by a medical practitioner and taken in accordance with that prescription. This clause does not apply to persons who are incapable of having proper control of a motor vehicle or impaired by a drug while driving a motor vehicle. Clause 4 provides for the automatic repeal of the amending act.
I commend this bill to the house.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Road Safety Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill – Second reading
Read the bill here.