MEDIA RELEASE | For immediate release
30 August 2023

Today the Legislative Council will debate Legalise Cannabis Victoria’s motion for a parliamentary inquiry into workplace drug testing for medicinal cannabis patients.  

Medicinal cannabis has been legal in Victoria since 2016. Yet simply for taking a lawfully prescribed medication, patients are being caught up by workplace illicit drug testing regimes, and then treated as if they have tested positive for illicit drugs, when they haven’t. It is unfair, it is discriminatory, and it is costing people their jobs and their livelihoods.  

Legalise Cannabis Victoria believes that the Legal and Social Issues Committee is well placed to find a solution to this issue affecting everyday Victorians already battling illness.  

Since launching this campaign, Legalise Cannabis has received a wave of responses from Victorians asking for drug testing laws to catch up. 

As Zhia Zariko a mother, academic and medicinal cannabis patient told us last week, “I would be worse at my job if I lost my medicinal cannabis.” 

Or *Peter, a contractor who said, “During the medical, I passed everything to get the job, but Cannabis was a grey area, and the doctor was uncertain, so he let the decision be made by the council. The decision was made to NOT employ me due to Medical Cannabis. That was it.”  

Some industries like mining or transport have legislative requirements to test for illicit drugs, other sectors require illicit drug testing as part of Occupational Health and Safety programs, or because of Enterprise Agreements. But a positive test for medicinal cannabis is not a positive test to an illicit drug and that distinction must be made in the workplace.  

Montu, a plant-based medicine Telehealth provider recently conducted a national study of 6,000 medicinal cannabis patients. Montu Vice President Rhys Staley said, “We hear of patient stories where people are losing their livelihood, so it’s something we need to change – especially when 88% of our patients tell us that medical cannabis otherwise improves their overall quality of life.”

Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP David Ettershank said, “Workplace drug testing is important, but it unfairly discriminates against medicinal cannabis patients. If you’re taking any other prescription medicine at work, you won’t face this prejudice.”  

“No one should be impaired at work, but with so many Victorians now prescribed medicinal cannabis for a range of complex health conditions, we need to see this medicine treated no differently to other prescription medications”, said Mr Ettershank. 

Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP Rachel Payne said, “Trace amounts of THC can be detected for up to 30 days after consumption. It is not fair to treat medicinal cannabis patients who trigger a positive test, as if they have taken an illicit substance. This is medicine. For many, it is the very medicine which has allowed them to get back to work in the face of serious health issues.”    

Mr Ettershank is available for comment.  

Zhia Zariko, medicinal cannabis patient and Kelly King, Public Relations at Montu will join Rachel Payne MP and David Ettershank MP at Parliament House (doors) at 9am.


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