The Victorian Government will launch a closed track circuit trial in Victoria to investigate road safety risks associated with the use of medicinal cannabis and we urge the Government complete this whole process no later than the end of 2024. Legalise Cannabis Victoria calls on the government to avoid any further delay in meeting the trial’s outcomes, including the adoption of a Medicinal Cannabis Clinical Decision Support Tool for prescribing practitioners. 

This trial will bring medicinal cannabis patients one step closer to getting on the road in Victoria, however, Legalise Cannabis Victoria recognises the tens of thousands of these patients who now must wait until the end of 2024 before they may legally drive themselves to work or their kids to school. Legalise Cannabis Victoria understands how bitterly disappointed patients will be by yet another delay in getting back to the normal life that medicinal cannabis should enable them to have. 

Medicinal cannabis is prescribed for so many complex conditions and Legalise Cannabis Victoria values the need to balance good health with harm minimisation. The Victorian government’s commitment to developing the Medicinal Cannabis Clinical Decision Support Tool in this trial comes off the back of a 2021 Victorian State Government Medicinal Cannabis and Safe Driving working group, which found a support tool at the point-of-prescription for medical practitioner and patient “offers an opportunity to assist medicinal cannabis patients to drive safely.” 

We know similar support tools are used everyday by doctors helping millions of patients drive safely while prescribed impairing medication such as opioids and benzodiazepines, and Legalise Cannabis Victoria want to see its adoption made a focal point in this trial. justice.vic.gov.au/medicinal-cannabis 

Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP Rachel Payne said, “ We strongly encourage the government to put the medical cannabis toolkit at the centre of this trial to support GPs and specialists providing clinical expertise and advice to their patients. This invaluable support  tool helps patients understand the safe consumption of their medication, a step which ensures the roads are safe in this instance. 

Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP David Ettershank said, “Victoria was the first state to legalise medicinal cannabis in 2016 and the debate about driving started then. In the meantime there have been dozens of studies that have been replicated many times to show that medicinal cannabis patients can drive safely. There is nothing about this driving trial that is uniquely Victorian or Australian. However, we draw some comfort from Government assurances that Legalise Cannabis Victoria will be involved in co-designing all elements of the process which will have multiple patient focused priorities, in addition to the closed circuit driving trial.” 

Medicinal cannabis patient and advocate Alice Davey said, “The law needs to change because the alternative to people not taking this medication is having opioids as treatment and they affect you far worse, on the road. That’s a legal product and the doctor trusts you will only take it as prescribed, but you can still get in the car and drive without any tests for impairment”, said Ms Davey.

It will be Legalise Cannabis Victoria’s objective to have this trial finalised as quickly as possible so that authorised medicinal cannabis prescribing doctors and pharmacists will have the tools they need to ensure their patients are safe. Once the trial is complete there should not be barriers to medicinal cannabis patients getting safely on the road and Legalise Cannabis Victoria will work very hard to speed up the process that the government has outlined.

Ms Payne and Mr Ettershank are available for comment. 


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