Legalise Cannabis WA’s East Metropolitan MLC Brian Walker was one of three sitting members to support the motion.

Upper House rejects driving reform working group

The motion sought to investigate "sensible changes" to driving unimpaired despite the presence of THC in the drivers system.
October 19, 2023
Gera Kazakov

A MOTION calling on the state government to establish a working group by the next election to investigate law changes surrounding those driving with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their system has been rejected 3 to 29 in the Legislative Council.

The motion was put forward by Legalise Cannabis WA MLC Sophia Moermond and sought to establish “a working group to investigate sensible changes to our driving laws that would allow patients prescribed medicinal cannabis to drive if not impaired.”

Part one of the motion states defence should be established for drivers with THC in their system only if the driver has a valid prescription for a medicine containing THC, the offence does not involve dangerous or reckless driving, and that an officer has not established impairment by any other means.

Part two of the motion wanted a date set for the working group so changes to legislation can be debated ahead of the next election.

Speaking before the Council, Ms Moermond said that a medical defence for unimpaired drivers is already available in Tasmania, and one is currently before the Victorian parliament.

“Although it should be obvious, no one in the Legalise Cannabis Parties in Australia wants impaired drivers on the road. We want a system that ensures the safety of everyone, but we also want a system that is fair to those on medicinal cannabis,” she said.

Labor East Metropolitan MLC Lorna Harper stated early on in the debate that she would not be supporting the motion.

Ms Harper said she was part of the select committee into cannabis and hemp processes, and said that currently no one has an answer for the issue of someone driving with medicinal cannabis in their system.

“We need to take time to ensure that whatever we come up with is endorsed by medical professionals, the police force, the judiciary,” she said.

Upper House opposition leader and Liberal South West MLC Steve Thomas said while he was not fully behind the motion, he appreciated that it “simply calls for the investigation to be done in a timely manner.”

Mr Thomas moved an amendment to the motion which sought to only set a date for which the working group could be established, removing the timeframe for establishment before the next election, but was defeated 11 to 18.

Upper House leader and Labor South Metropolitan MLC Sue Ellery said the government would not support the motion as long as the clause to set a working date was included.

The three MLCs to support the motion in full were Ms Moermond, Mining and Pastoral Independent Wilson Tucker and Legalise Cannabis WA East Metropolitan member Dr Brian Walker.

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