The Victorian government will back a push for medicinal cannabis patients to be able to drive in an Australian-first move.
Victorian Reason Party MP Fiona Patten – behind the push supported in parliament on Wednesday – said it was “simply unfair” Australia was “the only jurisdiction” that prevented medicinal cannabis patients from driving 24/7.
“I am pleased that the government has seen sense and will move to change the laws around medicinal cannabis and driving – it’s about time,” she said.
The bill aims to treat medicinal cannabis, prescribed by a doctor, in the same way as any other prescription medication under the Road Safety Act.
It would mean driving laws are changed, with the government to establish an implementation taskforce that will work with doctors, legal experts and MPs around those changes.
The taskforce will then report back to parliament by December 18.
“The average medicinal cannabis patient is a 55 year old woman. These patients gain great relief from their medication but should be able to drive their kids to school in the morning,” Ms Patten said.
But the move was met with stern opposition from the Liberal Party, with Member for Northern Metropolitan Region Craig Ondarchie likening the government’s approval of the bill to an episode of The Block.
“You get to vote on it before the job is complete – there is still a lot of work to be done on this bill before it should come to the house for approval,” he said.
Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said the bill was “somewhat risky”.
“It’s really about the inability to test that impairment level,” she said.
“We can do that with blood alcohol but the ability to detect the presence of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is very difficult … until there can be that specific test being undertaken then it is somewhat risky.”
Medicinal cannabis is generally prescribed for epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, symptom relief in palliative care and symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatment.