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Roadside Drug Tests Do Not Make Our Roads Safer

By Nick Wallis

Roadside drug testing does not distinguish detection from impairment. As a result the millions spent on policing the current RDT program do not make our roads safer instead they are used as a tool to conduct a proxy drug war, using invasive technology to pry into people’s private lives. 

The 2018 Victorian Inquiry into Drug Law Reform took note of the unscientific basis of the RDT program compared to the successful RBT program for alcohol. It recommended that “alternative drug driving regimes that use impairment limits/thresholds” be explored. The more recent Inquiry into Cannabis Use received many submissions critiquing the current RDT program and its deviation from the intentions of the Road Safety Act. 

There is strong support from the community for a review of these laws, with the recent inquiry recommending, “That the Victorian Government reviews existing drug driving offences relating to cannabis. This should include a consideration of alternative methods that could be used for detection and measuring impairment, noting that current tests do not adequately measure impairment and that THC can be detected in a person’s system long after they are no longer affected by the drug.”

Wherever an unjust law exists there will be a vulnerable community even more negatively affected.

Over 65,000 Australians have now been prescribed some form of medicinal cannabis. For patients of other potentially psychoactive medications, exemptions exist if a detection is made during an RDT, yet no such exemptions exist for patients on medicinal cannabis. This means that those using medical cannabis legally are not allowed to drive, regardless of impairment or lack thereof. 

The RDT program needs to be brought in line with Road Safety expectations and cease its wasteful use as a proxy war on weed.

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