NSW police are unable to back their multi-million drug driving strategy with any evidence that shows how the levels they test for relate to impaired driving, according to the NSW Greens.
Greens MP David Shoebridge recently lodged a freedom of information request with NSW Police aimed at revealing the ‘science’ behind the drug-testing regime.
Along with medicinal cannabis campaigners in the region, he was less than impressed with the result.
‘Nobody would be satisfied with the partial and censored material produced by the NSW police in response to our FOI on drug testing,’ Mr Shoebridge said.
‘We are appealing their decision in order to get access to uncensored documents and a far more complete set of materials to understand what, if any, rational basis the NSW police have for their current drug testing regime.
The Echonetdaily reported this week that when asked about minimum threshold amounts being tested, NSW Police said ‘advice received from the Traffic Policy Section that the NSWPF holds no documents or other materials’ that would satisfy the request.
Police gave the same response to questions relating to whether the tests detected hemp products such as hemp oil and hemp seeds, and whether the tests detected prescription drugs such as methadone and benzodiazapines.
In response to questions about research or studies showing a relationship between a driver’s impairment and the presence of detectable illicit substances in saliva, police said research and studies relied upon by police were ‘drawn from published scientific journals that exist in the public domain’.
Police also admitted they held no documents or research regarding the length of time that cannabis would remain in saliva, and how long it could potentially impair driving.
Mr Shoebridge said drivers impaired by drugs should not be allowed behind the wheel of a car.
But he said the Greens supported evidence-based policies.
‘The Greens support evidenced-based policing that detects and punishes drug impaired drivers on the roads.
‘However that doesn’t seem to be what we have in NSW.
‘What is not right is an arbitrary policy that seems to be punishing drivers without any credible evidence that their driving is impaired.
‘Remarkably, the NSW Police are unable to back their multi-million dollar drug driving scheme with any evidence that shows how the levels they test for relates to impaired driving.
Critics of the testing regime have long argued that the tests are picking up minute traces of THC, while ignoring prescription drugs known to impair a driver’s abilty.
They also argue that the consumption of hemp seed, oil, or medical marijuana products could result in positive results, despite a changing of the political landscape which is increasingly recognising the benefits of medical marijuana.
The Echonetdaily reported last week that a third of drivers subjected to road-side drug testing in the northern rivers during a recent road safety campaign, who were found to be positive, then tested negative when taken to the testing bus.