Understanding Medicinal Cannabis and Driving Laws in Australia

A patient behind the wheel in a car representing the drug driving laws in Australia

Astrid’s ongoing support and advocacy for our patients. In the evolving landscape of medicinal cannabis, one of the most pressing concerns for patients is how its use intersects with driving laws.

At Astrid, we understand the complexity of these legal and healthcare issues. We are committed to advocating for a fair and informed approach to drug driving regulations.

Since 2020 under the leadership of pharmacist Lisa Nguyen, Astrid has been at the forefront of advocating for the rights and recognition of medicinal cannabis patients. Our mission extends beyond care to championing change, ensuring patients’ who are eligible for treatment are both respected and understood. We aim to address misconceptions and advocate for policies that reflect the reality of this treatment option which is not a cause for discrimination.

Here’s what you need to know about the current Australian drug driving laws, the challenges they pose, and how Astrid is working to support patients and influence change.

Astrid’s Commitment to Our Patients’s Livelihoods 

Our patients are everyday Australians – parents, employees, business owners and leading members of their community. By sharing patient stories and the latest research, we aim to highlight the discrimination and challenges faced under the current drug driving laws and push for necessary changes.

Astrid’s team is at the forefront of both individual and systemic advocacy for patients navigating the challenges of drug driving laws. 

On an individual level, we offer support to patients facing drug driving charges by connecting them with specialised solicitors. When appropriate, we also help share their stories with the media to raise awareness about the impact of current laws.

Systemically, we’re actively engaging with State Governments and key stakeholders to advocate for reform. 

The Challenge of Inconsistent Drug Driving Laws Across Australian States 

Drug driving laws differ significantly across Australian states, creating a patchwork of regulations that can be confusing and challenging for patients. 

Currently, driving with detectable levels of THC is illegal in all states – except Tasmania. 

This inconsistency not only complicates the legal landscape for medicinal cannabis patients but also underscores the need for a more unified and fair approach to drug driving laws nationwide.

The Impact of Research on Future Legislation

Significant research efforts, including those by the Lambert Institute and Dr. Thomas Arkell from Swinburne University, have been focused on understanding the impact of medicinal cannabis on driving abilities. This body of research supports the argument that medicinal cannabis, when used as prescribed, should be considered differently from recreational use in the context of driving laws. 

Decision-makers must recognise medicinal cannabis as a legitimate treatment. Patients deserve the basic human rights to access medicine that improves their quality of life without the fear of legal repercussions.

Learning from International Approaches to Impairment  

Australia approaches drug driving with the goal of detecting THC rather than the impairment of driving abilities. This approach to road-side testing in Australia results in punishments for those with cannabis detected but with the goal of deterring drug driving.

Across the Netherlands, Belgium and France, there are legal limits for THC in oral fluid but typically only request samples when there is evidence of impaired driving. 

In Canada, where cannabis use was fully legalised in 2018, they’ve introduced prohibited THC levels similar to those of alcohol levels. Oral fluid tests such as those used in Australia can be used to confirm a suspected case of drug-impaired driving, but only when a Canadian officer can first demonstrate impaired driving.

These international examples offer valuable lessons for Australia, suggesting that a shift towards impairment-based testing could better balance road safety with the rights of medicinal cannabis patients.

Astrid’s Ongoing Commitment to Advocacy 

As we continue to navigate the complexities of medicinal cannabis regulation and driving laws, Astrid remains dedicated to advocating for our patients’ rights and well-being. 

Our goal is to work towards a legal framework that recognises the needs of medicinal cannabis users, ensuring they can access their treatment without undue fear or discrimination.

For more information on how to navigate the intersection of medicinal cannabis and driving laws, or to learn more about Astrid’s advocacy efforts, contact the expert team at Astrid Dispensary & Clinic.

Together, we can drive change for a more inclusive and understanding approach to medicinal cannabis in Australia.