Nimbin cannabis campaigner Michael Balderstone and solicitor Steve Bolt outside Ballina Local Court.
Nimbin cannabis campaigner Michael Balderstone and solicitor Steve Bolt outside Ballina Local Court.

Medicinal cannabis user escapes drug driving charge

A LISMORE lawyer has responded to a landmark drug driving case, saying it could strengthen the case for law reform.

A driver with a prescription for medicinal cannabis oil has had a charge of drug driving dismissed by an Adelaide magistrate in a landmark finding.

Only weeks after receiving his prescription, Brenton Peters, 34, was pulled over by police and tested positive to THC, one of the compounds within the cannabis oil.

He lost his licence but, armed with the prescription from his doctor, took the matter to court.

Magistrate Susan O'Connor dismissed the case on the grounds the Mr Peters was not impaired by THC when he drove the car.

Mr Peters has multiple sclerosis and the cannabis oil changes his quality of life, allowing him to walk rather than rely on a wheelchair.

Lismore lawyer Steve Bolt, who regularly handles drug driving cases, hopes this case will encourage parliamentarians to change the law.

"I think it's a significant case, it draws attention to a real legal problem that should be addressed for medicinal cannabis users," Mr Bolt said.

"The problem is, the case was dismissed, but it doesn't stop it from happening again, he could be pulled over by police tomorrow, lose his licence and have to face the same charges.

"It's another case coming to the attention of parliamentarians about the legal use of driving with cannabis in your system.

"There should be a legal capacity for people to use their medicine and drive a car with the proviso that if it's affecting your driving, you shouldn't be allowed to drive."

Mr Bolt said the number of medicinal cannabis users was growing in Australia, however, the law is preventing many people who may benefit from the medication from using it.

"I believe there's a lot of people who choose not to use medicinal cannabis because of concerns about keeping their licence," he said.


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