The Road Traffic (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill 2021

In February I introduced The Road Traffic (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill 2021. This bill intends to create drug driving law reform that’s fair, equal, and improves public health. At present, a non-impaired person taking prescribed medicinal cannabis products containing THC cannot legally drive without risking losing their license due to roadside drug testing regimes which test for the presence of illegally consumed (recreational) cannabis.

Our current drug driving laws have failed to improve road safety and unfairly discriminate against thousands of people by imposing a grossly disproportionate punishment regime against individuals and impeding broader public health outcomes for the growing number of South Australians who are seeking an alternative to addicting and impairing pharmaceutical medicines.

The Bill provides for a complete defence against the charge of driving with the detectable presence of THC in oral fluid or blood where a person has a valid doctor’s prescription for a medicinal cannabis product containing THC and that product has been administered as directed. The Bill also makes the defence available for persons participating in medicinal cannabis clinical trials, removing a major hurdle for the advancement of cannabinoid science. The defence is not available in any circumstances involving dangerous or reckless driving or in any matter where the police can establish driver impairment.

I am pleased to partner with the Drive Change campaign in tabling this Bill and working towards this desperately needed reform.

Fair. Just. Effective. Drug driving laws for cannabis patients. Drive Change

Breaking down the barriers to patient access to Medicinal Cannabis – CBD

On the 1st of February, as health consumers scrambled to their local pharmacy to purchase Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil, without the need for a doctor’s prescription, they were left bewildered and hugely disappointed to learn that all the hype, was in fact, just hype.

In March last year, the Australian Senate Community Affairs References Committee, handed down its final report into Current Barriers to Patient Access to Medicinal Cannabis in Australia

This Committee was headed up by former Green’s leader Senator Richard Di Natale.

Of the 20 recommendations,  recommendations 12 and 13 sought for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), to consult on the future scheduling of cannabidiol and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.   Specifically, that as soon as practicable, after a safety review and public consultation, that an application be made to the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling for either the down-scheduling or de-scheduling of cannabidiol and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.

 Examples of schedules include:

  • Schedule 2 (Pharmacy Only –  on the pharmacy shelf).
  • Schedule 3 (Pharmacist Only Medicine –  behind the counter)
  • Schedule 4 (Prescription Only Medicine)
  • Schedule 8 (Controlled Drug), or
  • Schedule 9 (Prohibited Substance).

Whilst a down-scheduling did come into effect, it was all ‘smoke and mirrors,’ as there are as yet no Australian manufacturers that meet the regulatory approvals necessary to produce this medicine.  The other issue is that the 150mg per day dosage limit approved by the TGA is very low and likely to be ineffective for the health issues consumers would access CBD for, for example chronic pain and insomnia.

I am flagging my concerns with unregulated CBD being purchased online putting health consumers’ health at risk and also their hip pockets as product substitution occurs and as in any illegal market, prices can often increase arbitrarily.

Our State is also missing out on both health and economic benefits the longer down-scheduled CBD is out of reach to health consumers.  There is an unprecedented public demand for immediate access to CBD products which requires an unprecedented response.

I am calling on the South Australian Government to lobby its Federal counterpart to seek to have all recommendations of the Senate Inquiry implemented.  Will this be another report that languish on a shelf?  South Australian and Australian Health Consumers deserve better.

What is your experience with CBD or accessing other Medicinal Cannabis products licitly or via the alternative market?  You are welcome to share your stories and experiences with us. Contact my office at franks.office@parliament.sa.gov.au or call 8237 9296

If you want to know more, at this link you can hear Dianah Walter, medicinal cannabis patient advocate based in regional South Australia and Iain McGregor, Professor of Psychopharmacology and Director of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at Sydney University talk about the ongoing issues with patient access.

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/medicinal-cannabidiol-now-available-over-the-counter,-but-only/13123254