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Petition calls on police to end unfair drug testing

A protest outside the Lismore Court House last month. Another will be held outside Lismore MP Thomas George's office later this month. (Darren Coyne)

A protest outside the Lismore Court House last month. Another will be held outside Lismore MP Thomas George’s office later this month. (Darren Coyne)

More than 4000 people have signed a petition calling on the NSW Police to immediately end their flawed roadside drug testing operations.

The petition wants police to replace the regime with an evidence-based scheme that reliably tests for impairment and that covers all the drugs, legal and illegal, that pose the greatest risk for road safety.

Greens MP David Shoebridge.

Greens MP David Shoebridge.

The petition, started by Greens MLC David Shoebridge, is directed at the NSW Police Minister Troy Grant, and the NSW Police Force.

Mr Showbridge maintains that the current roadside drug-testing regime is arbitrary, invasive and has no relationship to the impairment of drivers.

‘The NSW Police openly admit they are testing drivers for the mere presence of drugs and that the levels they are testing for have no connection with impairment,’ he said.

‘These tests are then used to take people’s drivers licenses for up to 12 months and to impose additional heavy fines on them.’

Mr Shoebridge points out that the current testing regime fails to test for prescription drugs that are known to impair driving ability, while other opponents have pointed out that drugs such as cocaine are not tested for.

He said the government of the United Kingdom had undertaken a detailed review that identified the level of drugs, legal and illegal, that actually impair drivers.

‘This is the best evidence available and could allow police to undertake a credible drug testing program that delivered safer roads by removing drug impaired drivers from them.

‘However the NSW police and government are ignoring this evidence.’

He said the alcohol testing programs had been supported by the community because they tested for levels of alcohol that actually impair drivers.

The petition, which can be found at change.org, is aiming to reach 5000 signatures.

Meanwhile, north coast cannabis users will be protesting outside Lismore MP Thomas George’s office later this month as part of their continued opposition to roadside drug testing for cannabis.

The gathering is expected to ask Mr George to speak with National Party leader Troy Grant about the impacts the roadside testing regime is having in the region.

At a similar protest last month, about 50 people gathered outside the Lismore courthouse, while more than 50 people appeared before a magistrate inside the court, charged with drug driving.

Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said the peaceful protest outside Mr George’s office would be held on Monday, January 25, at 11am.

In a letter to Mr George, Mr Balderstone said he did not expect any trouble, but would rather be asking Mr George to take a letter and a book to Mr Grant, who is also the police minister.


6 responses to “Petition calls on police to end unfair drug testing”

  1. david ashton says:

    I am in favour of any test which keeps drug affected drivers off our roads. One fatality because of a drug affected driver is one too many.

  2. yi lu says:

    You obviously can’t read mate. They are catching people who are sober with this flawed test.

    Imagine if you got pulled over and charged for the 2 glasses of red you had the night before.

    The police tactics used here is a blatant breach of human rights because unimpaired people should not be prosecuted.

    Its a witch hunt that has nothing to do with road safety and everything to do with prohibition and Troy Grant securing an extra few million tax payer dollars for his department.

  3. Ross Allan says:

    Yi Lu; sorry but I’m with David.

    If you don’t have a medical reason (in writing, to be carried with you) for taking drugs, then you should cop the full force of the law. Full stop. And yes, if you drank 2 glasses of red and were over the limit (even the next day), then you also cop the full force of the law.

    I’m sick of the selfish attitude that’s developed in the world. How about people take responsibility for their actions and start thinking of others a bit more?

  4. Yi Lu says:

    Ross,

    You have missed my point entirely.

    No one is saying you should be off your face when driving or even impaired when driving, because that would be crazy. I have a small child of my own and would hate for him to be harmed due to someone else’s negligence.

    The article is arguing that a evidence based lower limits be placed on these tests, when there are none currently. Alcohol has a lower limit and it has been time and research tested. Guess what? so has drugs.

    further reading if interested:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167971/drug-driving-expert-panel-report.pdf

    This report was compiled in 2013 after extensive testing and covers a broad range of drugs and recommends thresholds accordingly. These thresholds are reflected by the American FDA (Foods and Drugs administration) approved Oratect III saliva test devices which were suspiciously overlooked in favor of the UNTESTED Securetec drugwipe devices that our police uses.

    The alcohol example I used is merely to illustrate the absurdity of this regime. I.E. That it doesn’t do what the police are actually claiming to accomplish.

    Maybe my point would have been better better made if I said have “2 glasses of wine and get busted a week later for them” would that ring an alarm bell for you?

    I am in support for methods to make our roads safer. This includes drug testing for ALL drugs, not just Meth, MDMA and Cannabis which is all the current test does.

    Your argument of having a prescription doesn’t apply here, because the 3 above drugs are all that’s been tested. Where as I am in favor of testing for Opiads, Cocaine as well as Benzodiazepines and even high doses of Ibuprofen.

    So in essence I think I am more in favor of road safety than any of you. But there is a clear difference between a tool for justice and a tool for tyranny.

    • Carolyn Bishop says:

      “But there is a clear difference between a tool for justice and a tool for tyranny.” Yes! I wish there was a like button for your comment, Yi Lu. I agree with your analysis. I also want to add that not only have these roadside drug tests failed to test for impairment as well as all drugs that can cause impairment, but they have produced many false positives. The random targeting of drivers with an inaccurate drug test is not only overly invasive but puts wrongly accused sober people in the position of having to prove their innocence. How does this resemble justice? Surely there is a better way to keep impaired drivers off the road without resorting to police state measures and sacrificing civil liberties.

  5. Blair Egarr says:

    Hi Yi Lu and Carolyn, I totally agree with you both. The current roadside drug testing (RDT) regime is a complete disgrace. It is quite right to get drug impaired drivers off the roads but not to net non-drug impaired drivers as a by-catch of RDT and then treat them as criminals because they are found to have non-psychoactive drugs in their systems. Some of these people had smoked marijuana over a week prior to being tested . This is a complete violation of our civil liberties and we allow laws like this to continue we will eventually have no liberties left at all. We are slowly sliding down a very slippery slope on the way to a police state. We all need to send Troy Grant and Mike Baird with emails and letters of disgust to them on Facebook and their electoral offices. These people are often zealots and are very think skinned and don’t listen to the general public but we must not be apathetic and give up the fight. We must win this battle.

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