Medicinal Cannabis & Driving Legislation in Western Australia

In this article, we explore the laws and consequences around driving and medicinal cannabis in Western Australia.
Mar 18

Can you drive on medicinal cannabis in Western Australia?

It is illegal to drive while undergoing treatment for medicinal cannabis in Western Australia. Regardless of whether it’s prescribed, THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) is classified under “illicit drugs” for the purposes of Western Australia’s Road Traffic Act 1974.

This is clarified in official guidance from the Western Australia Department of Health. On its website, the Department states: “It is recommended that patients do not drive whilst being treated with medicinal cannabis. Drug driving offences, including those related to detection of THC in saliva, are applicable regardless of whether the person is under treatment with prescribed medicinal cannabis or has used illicit cannabis.”

Western Australia’s approach is similar to the rules on driving and medicinal cannabis in Victoria and New South Wales.

What are the laws regarding driving and medicinal cannabis in Western Australia?

The main law concerning driving and medicinal cannabis in Western Australia is the Road Traffic Act 1974. Under section 64AB: “A person who drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs commits an offence, and the offender may be arrested without warrant.”

In a factsheet, the Western Australia Department of Health confirms that the Road Traffic Act’s reference to drugs covers medicinal cannabis products containing THC. The Department categorically states: “In WA, it is an offence to drive with THC present in your system, regardless of whether the THC comes from prescribed legal medicinal cannabis or illicit recreational cannabis.”

What are the consequences if I’m caught driving under the influence of medicinal cannabis in Western Australia?

If you’re caught driving while undertaking medicinal cannabis treatment, the consequences depend on whether:

  • It was your first offence
  • You were found with THC present in your system but driving wasn’t impaired
  • Whether you were also found to meet the definition of “drug impaired driving”. 

Detailing consequences for those caught drug driving, the Western Australian Government’s road safety commission notes that: “Those found with specified drugs (Cannabis, Ecstasy or Meth) in their oral fluid can be charged with the offence of Driving with Specified Drugs in Oral Fluid.” 

For a first offence, those found guilty can receive a $1,250 fine and 3 demerits. This becomes more severe for second and subsequent offences.

The Road Safety Commission also details consequences for the more serious charge of drug impaired driving. According to the Commission, drug impaired driving “applies to drivers found to be so impaired by either prescription or illicit drugs that they are not capable of proper control of a vehicle. This applies where police have evidence of suspicious or erratic driving behaviour and where that suspicion is confirmed following a driver assessment and/or blood tests.” 

Consequences for drug impaired driving if it’s your first offence include up to a $3,750 fine and 10 months minimum disqualification. 

Is there roadside testing for medicinal cannabis in Western Australia?

Police use roadside testing to combat drug driving for a range of drugs, including medicinal cannabis. Speaking about the use of testing, the Road Safety Commission details: “In Western Australia, drivers can be subject to roadside alcohol and drug tests, with the aim to reduce the risk posed by drug or alcohol impaired drivers.”

As the Australian Journal of General Practice notes, this approach is standard across Australia. The journal states: “All Australian jurisdictions carry out random mobile drug testing (MDT), analogous to random breath testing for alcohol.”

Are the rules different for CBD Oil in Western Australia?

While some Australian states like New South Wales have published guidance saying that patients can safely drive if they use CBD-only products, the Western Australia Department of Health has yet to publish any guidance which clarifies this publicly. 

Therefore, if you’re using CBD only products like CBD oil, we recommend you speak to your doctor for guidance about whether you’re safe to drive.  

Does having a prescription exempt me from cannabis-related driving offences in Western Australia?

Guidance from the Western Australia Department of Health is clear: having a prescription does not exempt you from cannabis-related driving offences.

While ABC News reported on discussions in Parliament surrounding the possibility of adding a medicinal cannabis defence for those who have a prescription, these changes were never enshrined in law. So for the time being, there are no drug driving defences or exemptions for medicinal cannabis patients.

Does being a medicinal cannabis patient affect my car insurance?

Given the relatively recent emergence of medicinal cannabis in Australia and the fact that car insurance policies are dependent on your insurer, it’s hard to know whether being a medicinal cannabis patient affects your insurance. 

While few big insurers have released information about medicinal cannabis specifically, the fact that AAMI and Suncorp advise that being caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will invalidate your insurance, means medicinal cannabis use & driving may pose risks to your insurance policy.

For those thinking of undergoing medicinal cannabis treatment, it may be worth speaking to your car insurance provider to see if they have information or guidance related to medicinal cannabis and your specific policy.

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