Victoria is pioneering a world-first, multi-million dollar medicinal cannabis driving trial

The state government is partnering with Swinburne University to conduct this trailblazing research

Liv Condous
Written by
Liv Condous
Lifestyle Writer
A bright green, mature cannabis plant.
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

Victoria is making huge strides into unknown medical territory, with a medicinal cannabis trial that has never been conducted anywhere else in the world. Our state was the first in the country to legalise the medicinal use of the drug, and now this new research will continue to aim to help people struggling with medical issues – which is a huge win. 

The exciting, world-first trial will delve into the use of medicinal cannabis and driving – determining whether users can drive safely when they have the psychoactive component of in cannabis called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their body's system. But we strongly doubt that the trial's participants will be ripping bongs and jumping straight onto the roads –  it's about assessing whether a user's driving abilities are impacted several hours after use when the high is long gone, but THC can still be detected in drug tests (which can be up to weeks after using the drug). 

The $4.9 million trial is a joint effort between the Victorian government and Swinburne University, who will test 70 participants behind the wheel, on factors like steering, braking and speed control on a dedicated, closed track. They'll be people who have already been prescribed the drug for at least six months, specifically for issues with mental health conditions, chronic pain and sleeping disorders – as these are the people who are most likely to use the drug regularly to help them get by. 

It's well-needed research that has been in the pipeline for some time, and it will still take at least a further 18 months before any findings can be determined. So there's still quite a wait for some answers, and in the meantime, Victorian users of medicinal cannabis are still unable to drive without risking a licence suspension or fine if they are drug tested by police. 

So while there's still a considerable amount of red tape to cut through before changes will be made, we're chuffed that Victoria is the first to get to the bottom of this medical issue. 

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