Medical cannabis road safety laws scrutinised in drug driving review

Despite relying on medicinal cannabis to ease pain and suffering caused by chronic illness and disability, Imogen Kars fears the drug could get her in legal strife on the road. 

The 27-year-old from far north Queensland uses prescribed cannabis to manage rheumatoid arthritis and intracranial hypertension.

Without medicinal cannabis, Ms Kars said it would be impossible for her to keep her copywriting job due to pain, stiffness, and swelling in her joints and hands.

“I’m a disabled working professional,” she said.

“I’m not using it to party or to have a good time.

“I’m using just to be able to function and feel better.”

Imogen Kars supports an overhaul of medicinal cannabis road rules.()

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the major psychoactive component in cannabis.

THC can be detected in a roadside saliva test for more than 12 hours after cannabis use, even when people are no longer impaired by the drug.

Several Australian states, including Queensland and Victoria, are reviewing medicinal cannabis road laws.

Ms Kars has backed the law review.

She worries she could lose her licence or be “entered into the [criminal] system” if she fails a roadside drug test.

“I’m scared of getting in trouble for something that I legally and morally now have the right to do,” she said.

“Anyone who’s used cannabis could tell you that the effects wear off after a few hours.

“It’s not something that stops you from being able to function the next day or the day after — or even a week later.”

The idea of being pulled over by police and testing positive for cannabis in her system “scares” Ms Kars.

It makes her rethink her use of medicinal cannabis.

“I’m a good citizen. I’ve never even had detention in school. I’ve never been in trouble with the law,” she said.

“Even the night before, when I know that I’m not going to be affected by it the next day, I still think twice.

“It makes me think twice about using the pain relief that I’m legally allowed to.”

Medicinal cannabis is prescribed for chronic pain, anxiety, cancer-related symptoms, and insomnia.()

Road rules under scrutiny

Victoria is at the forefront of discussions with legislators, engaging in deliberations to revamp existing drug-driving laws through the Road Safety Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2023.

Authorities are examining the current regulations and evaluating potential revisions.

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