The Medicinal Cannabis Patients and Driving Working Group report has been in government hands for a few months. I am continuing to try and find the solution that will enable medicinal cannabis patients to drive when they are not impaired.
Currently, medicinal cannabis patients are effectively prohibited from driving due to the medication that they take, not because they are impaired. This is patently unfair and discriminatory.
For many patients, medicinal cannabis has enabled them to stop or reduce their use of opioids and benzodiazepines, which can be far more impairing. Sadly, we hear about patients who have gone back to these addictive and impairing medicines. They do this because they can continue to drive while taking them, despite getting better results and pain relief from medicinal cannabis.
Doctors advise patients about the risks of all medicines that may impair their ability to drive safely. But for patients taking medicinal cannabis, doctors are required to inform them that they cannot drive at all regardless of whether they are impaired or not. This is just a travesty when many of them are feeling alert and well because of this medicine.
I believe that we can provide a simple exemption for medicinal cannabis patients who have a valid prescription and sound doctor advice. As far as I am aware there is not a single case of a medicinal cannabis patient being in a car accident in Victoria in the five years that this medicine has been available.
I also made a note of the following commitment from Minister Leane recorded in Hansard:
“I want to restate our government’s commitment to Ms Patten that we are really keen to work with her on this particular issue. We are going to work with Ms Patten on the outcome to ensure people are not disadvantaged by taking their medication.”
I can assure you of my ongoing commitment to Victorian doctors, medicinal cannabis providers and, most importantly patients, that we are addressing this discriminatory and unfair situation.Fiona Patten MP
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Parliament of Victoria
An Ambassador for Drive Change