Scared of getting done? Buy a 25 pack of drug testing kits covering cannabis, opiates, cocaine and amphetamines here for just $177.
Or, buy two bottles of high-voltage detox saliva cleanser mouthwash + four drug tests for $240 here.
In light of the recent introduction of the medicinal cannabis scheme by the NSW government, various concerns have surfaced about the hardline roadside drug testing laws that currently exist in the state. Dopamine speaks to Greens MP David Shoebridge about what this means for medicinal cannabis patients when it comes to RDTs and the law. The short answer: not much.
“The NSW government don’t care how you got cannabis in your system… [if] you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle they’re gonna take your licence and fine you severely.”
MORE: Medicinal cannabis in NSW – what does it mean?
NSW Gov to triple roadside drug testing
“The government has said, in the baldest possible terms, that they won’t be changing the RDT laws as a result of the legalisation of medicinal cannabis,” Shoebridge said. “Of course that creates a very incoherent policy package from the NSW government: on the one hand they’re recognising the benefits of medicinal cannabis, but on the other hand they’re threatening to take anybody’s licence off them if they use it.”
“…the magistrate had to say, ‘I’m sorry that’s not relevant, the offence is a presence of cannabis and I’m going to have to find you guilty.'”
Unfortunately for anybody suffering from a terminal illness who chooses to use cannabis as a treatment, the state will still throw the book at you if you’re picked up with cannabis in your system. “The NSW police and the NSW government don’t care how you got cannabis in your system, why you’ve used cannabis, or even the level of cannabis in your system. If you’re found with cannabis in your system by the NSW police and you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle they’re gonna take your licence off you and they’re gonna fine you severely.”
Although you might expect some leniency for somebody suffering from a terminal illness, there are no indications so far that this will be so. “There is absolutely zero proposed protection for medicinal cannabis users, which if you think about the reality of somebody who may have a terminal illness… clearly they would have a number of doctors’ appointments to get to, yet if they use medicinal cannabis to treat the pain they’re unable to even drive to the doctor and that’s an appalling outcome.”
“One of the obvious ways to improve it would be to ensure that someone who has consumed medicinal cannabis won’t automatically lose their licence if they’re found with the mere presence of it in their system.”
With the current model that tests only presence and not impairment, users of all sorts of cannabis products are at risk of losing their licences, even if they’re not smoking cannabis. “I’ve seen for myself at the Lismore local court a series of people dragged before the magistrate saying that they were taking a cannabis tincture in order to address chronic pain and the magistrate had to say, ‘I’m sorry that’s not relevant, the offence is a presence of cannabis and I’m going to have to find you guilty.'”
Although things look bleak for medicinal cannabis users in NSW, this recent change presents an opportunity to continue the conversation about RDTs. “Clearly we see this as a way of talking more broadly about the failings of the RDT system, about its brutal one-size-fits-all approach and about the unfairness of its application, especially to cannabis users.”
The Greens will continue to push for fairer treatment for medicinal cannabis users when it comes to road laws. “We will support a medicinal cannabis Bill and of course we’ll try to improve it as it passes through parliament. One of the obvious ways to improve it would be to ensure that someone who has consumed medicinal cannabis won’t automatically lose their licence if they’re found with the mere presence of it in their system when they’re driving.”