In news that will make thousands who use medicinal cannabis breathe easier, a NSW Upper House committee is beginning its examination of a bill that seeks to change the Road Transport Act 2013.
The change would see the exclusion of medicinal cannabis users from offences related to driving under the influence of certain drugs – and members of the community are being invited to have their say.
The Road Transport Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis – Exemptions from Offences) Bill 2021 would change legislation that currently provides that a person using any prescribed illicit drug cannot drive a motor vehicle, occupy a driver’s seat or accompany a learner driver in a vehicle. If passed, the bill would exclude users of medicinal cannabis from the application of these offences while a prescribed illicit drug is present in their oral fluid, blood or urine. The Act already provides a defence for people using morphine.
Research on medicinal cannabis has grown substantially
The Chair of the Law and Justice Committee conducting the inquiry, the Hon Chris Rath MLC, said that research on medicinal cannabis has grown substantially in recent years, as has the use of it among people with health conditions, including under a legal licencing scheme in New South Wales where doctors can prescribe it for pain relief in certain circumstances.
‘The committee anticipates hearing a broad range of expert evidence and community views on the exemptions proposed by this bill. We will examine whether the changes in the bill are necessary and beneficial – and would welcome all views on this issue.’
The committee invites interested organisations and community members to make a submission to the inquiry via the submissions portal at www.bit.ly/bill-inquiry-submissions. Submissions are due by 1 May 2022.
A public hearing for inquiry
There will also be a public hearing for this inquiry, to be held in May 2022. A full schedule will be published on the inquiry’s webpage at www.bit.ly/medicinal-cannabis-exemptions closer to the time and, as with all parliamentary hearings, it will be streamed live via the Parliament’s website at www.bit.ly/webcastnsw.
The committee’s reporting date is 11 August 2022.
For more information about the inquiry, including the committee membership and the terms of reference, see www.bit.ly/medicinal-cannabis-exemptions.