Australia: Victoria prepares to launch medicinal cannabis driving trial

Bill introduced on Tuesday will allow medicinal cannabis users to take part in closed-circuit trial reports the Guardian newspaper.

Medicinal cannabis users will be able to get behind the wheel on closed roads as part of a trial to assess the impact the drug has on their driving ability, under new laws introduced to Victorian parliament.

While Victoria in 2016 became the first state to approve the use of medicinal cannabis, it remains an offence for a person to drive with any trace of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis, in their system.

THC can be present in a driver’s system for long periods of time, even after the initial effects have worn off. Tasmania is the only state that provides a medical defence for driving with THC in body fluids.

The transport legislation amendment bill 2023, introduced to parliament on Tuesday, would allow medicinal cannabis users to drive as part of a closed-circuit trial overseen by the state government.

The government said it would commission an independent research organisation – which has yet to be announced – to develop and implement the trial, supported by staff from the Department of Transport and Planning, road safety experts and health professionals.

The trial would be conducted in a controlled-driving environment physically separated from public roads, the government said.

Medicinal cannabis users have raised concerns for several years that Victoria’s current laws mean they risk losing their licence or being fined each time they drive to work or drop their children off at school.

In 2021, parliament’s medicinal cannabis and safe driving working group commissioned three universities to conduct additional research into the issue, but there have been delays due to Covid-19.

In February, the then-premier, Daniel Andrews, said reforming the law was a priority for the government.


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