Australian Medical Cannabis Driving Law Reform

A crowdfunding campaign seeking to achieve fair and equal drug-driving laws for patients using medicinal cannabis has been launched in Australia.

In most Australian jurisdictions, patients using legally prescribed cannabis products containing THC can lose their driver’s license for testing positive to its presence, even if their driving has not been impaired in any way.

In South Australia, the situation is even more dire with police recently granted new powers to issue an Immediate Loss of Licence notice to drivers testing positive for prescribed drugs.

Australian states and territories have been slow in addressing the issue, even though medicinal cannabis has been legal nationally since 2016. In Victoria, a state government report released in 2021 considered how a medicinal cannabis patient’s fitness to drive can be assessed – but there doesn’t appear to have been any progress since.

The Cannabis Law Reform Alliance is a team of educators and advocates pushing for reform Australia-wide, and its first campaign is Drive Change; which has been active for some time. The campaign seeks to end discrimination against medicinal cannabis patients in Australian drug driving laws. A petition calling for reforms has so far received more than 27,000 signatures.

Looking to ramp up activity, the campaign is now aiming to raise $70,000 for the next phase of Drive Change, and to fund resources to help educate law enforcement and lobby relevant State Governments. The Drive Change crowdfunder launched on Tuesday has been kicked off with $5,000 in seed funding from MedReleaf Australia.

Campaign lead, David Heilpern AM – who was a Magistrate for 21 years – is now free to speak out about issues he was previously unable to due to judicial office ethics. And one of those issues is drug driving detection laws.

‘With our volunteers at Drive Change partnering with the community, we now have the exciting opportunity to make meaningful change around drug driving law reform and change lives for the better,” he says.

According to Drive Change, around 70% of medical cannabis patients in Australia have some THC in their medication – and therefore cannot legally drive.

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