Australia NSW: Greens Propose “Drug Law Reform Bills” inc Road Transport Amendment Bill (Medicinal Cannabis – Exemptions from Offences) Bill 2021  & Cannabis Industry Bill 2021

Cate Faehrmann A Member of the NSW Legislative Council representing the Greens has presented the following.

 I’m writing to update you on a couple of drug law reform bills that we’ll be progressing in the NSW Upper House over the next fortnight. 

Road Transport Amendment Bill (Medicinal Cannabis – Exemptions from Offences) Bill 2021 

This bill  was presented to the Legislative Council late last week

The bill 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 face the risk of being charged with a drug driving offence if THC is detected in their system during a roadside drug test. It has been demonstrated that users of medicinal cannabis can test positive for THC well after consuming or experiencing impairment from medicinal cannabis.

The bill seeks to address the injustice that is faced by the thousands of users of legally prescribed medicinal cannabis who are at risk of a drug-driving offence.

The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway, Germany, and Ireland all provide for a ‘medical defence’ for prescribed users of medicinal cannabis.

Tasmania is the only Australian state that currently provides a defence for medicinal cannabis users against a drug driving charge., Similar legislation is before the Victorian and South Australian parliaments.

The bill will not be debated until 2022. 

A link to the bill and 2nd reading speech can be found here. 

Then the

Pill Testing Bill 2019

Faehrmann  will be bringing her bill to establish a pill testing up for debate in the Legislative Council Thursday 18 November two years after introducing it in November 2019. 

Debate on the pill was postponed due to the pandemic. As covid restrictions ease in the lead up to summer and festivals returning, we believe it’s important to keep the pressure on the NSW Government to introduce a pill testing trial.

This bill will allow for:

  • Licensed pill testing services at fixed and mobile locations to test pills and other drugs
  • Information about pill testing licence holders, locations of services, and reports on substances tested will be made publicly available by NSW Health
  • Users of the service will be exempt from use and supply offences in the process of having their substances tested
  • Pill testing services will provide drug counselling to each user of the service based on the substance tested and each individual’s personal circumstances.
  • Employees and volunteers administering the pill testing service must be appropriately qualified to drug counselling and advice (i.e. a Cert IV in alcohol and other drugs.
  • A review of the review of the scheme’s effectiveness at reducing harms associated with drug use after two years

A link to the bill and 2nd reading speech can be found here.

The Big One

Cannabis Industry Bill 2021

Cate will be bringing the Greens bill to legalise personal cannabis use, which was introduced in February this year, up for debate on Thursday 25 November.

The bill will:

  • Legalise the recreational use and possession of cannabis;
  • Allow a household of 2 persons or less may grow up to 6 cannabis plants while a household of more than 2 people can grow up to 12 cannabis plants.
  • 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 with 200 metres of a school or childcare centre;
  • Establish a NSW Cannabis Authority which will regulate the cannabis market with the aim to reduce the harms caused by cannabis and prevent the dominance of the industry by large corporations;
  • Allow for cannabis social clubs of at least 5 people which can grow six plants per member up to 99 plants;
  • Begins the process of extinguishing past cannabis convictions.

A link to the bill and 2nd reading speech can be found here and a copy of the Greens discussion paper on the bill is attached.

Office of Cate Faehrmann
Greens Member of the NSW Legislative Council

NSW Greens spokesperson for Environment & Wildlife; Healthy Rivers & Water Sustainability; Health, Mental Health & Wellbeing; Drug Law Reform & Harm Reduction; Waste & the Circular Economy; Healthy Oceans & Marine Life; Arts, Music & Creative Industries; Hospitality & the Night-time Economy; Active Transport; and Gambling.

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