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18-Month Off-Road Trial Allows Victorian Medicinal Cannabis Users To Drive Legally

Victorians using medicinal cannabis will legally be able to get behind the wheel as part of an 18-month off-road trial next year.

The suggested trial, which could dictate changes to the law allowing Victorians with a prescription to drive when safe, does not remove the ban on driving under the influence of cannabis.

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In 2016, Victoria became the pioneer state to legalize medicinal cannabis.

The current testing focuses solely on the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), disregarding impairment, which leads to situations where patients are prohibited from driving even after they are no longer influenced by doctor-prescribed medication due to the prolonged presence of cannabis in their system.

THC, one of the 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis, serves as its psychoactive component, while Cannabidiol (CBD) does not have the same psychoactive impact. 

These compounds are employed in varying degrees to address conditions like cancer-related symptoms, chronic pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

Western Metropolitan Region Legalise Cannabis MP David Ettershank said Tasmania had already made it legal for unimpaired people taking medical cannabis to drive.

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Mr Ettershank told ABC Listen he is “quite happy” about a driving trail.

“We have put up a private members bill in February to basically have medicinal cannabis treated like any other prescription drug, and we have been working with the government for the past six months to push it forward,” Mr Ettershank said.

He said they expected to receive formal advice from the government in the next two weeks.

“There is clearly a lot of concern in the government about potential adverse effects in terms of road safety,” he said.

“The overseas literature is quite clear that there is no negative impact arising from medicinal cannabis on road safety.”

A Victorian government spokesperson told The Age that safety was the No.1 priority.

“Safety on our roads is our No.1 priority, and this closed track trial will help expand the evidence base on the impairment medicinal cannabis causes on driving while ensuring the safety of all road users.”

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