Legislative Council: Thursday, March 21, 2024


Drug-Driving Laws

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:05): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the minister representing the Minister for Police—or in fact the minister representing every single minister in this place today—on the impact of cannabis and its effects on driving.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: A study published by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries in December 2022, entitled 'Assessing the impact of marijuana decriminalization on vehicle accident experience', reviewed the impacts of cannabis legalisation on road accidents. That study concluded that cannabis legalisation is not connected to an increase in road accidents or the severity of crashes. This is further supported by a 2016 American study involving 25 participants who smoked cannabis and then drove in a simulator. This research found that there was no correlation between blood THC levels and impairment.

Currently in South Australia, we have some of the strictest drug-driving laws in the nation, in the world. Earlier this year, the government announced that SAPOL can issue an immediate loss of licence for drivers who test positive for prescribed drugs. Greg Barns SC, spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, said of that:

The current laws are simply unfair because they make it illegal to have any trace of cannabis in your system even if you have taken cannabis legally with a prescription and your driving is not impaired.

Our current laws criminalise patients simply for taking their prescription medication, even if they aren't at all impaired when getting into their cars. The use of THC as a marker of driving impairment is scientifically unsupportable. My questions to the minister therefore are:

1. Is SAPOL and the minister aware of these important studies?

2. Will the minister follow the science and commit to feeding the data from this report into any discussions around the establishment of a valid impairment test for drivers in South Australia, as opposed to the current highly inaccurate presence, not impairment, model?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:07): I thank the member for her question. I will be happy to refer that to the minister responsible and bring back a reply. As the member pointed out, I am not Scott Morrison, so I haven't taken on all the ministries of everyone else. I will have to ask the minister themself.