Michael Balderston – Introduction
This year, the 1st and 2nd of May, primarily to educate people about cannabis, and so it will be the 30th year next year.
Twenty ninth Mardi Grass this year.
It’s like we haven’t made any bloody difference at all anyway.
Anyway, 27, 28, 29 years ago, David Heilpern, he was speaking at Mardi Grass.
Then this terrible thing happened.
Not terrible really…
They made him a Magistrate. He was no longer even allowed to come to Mardi Grass.
So this year he’ll be back for the first time in 27 years. And it’s just fantastic that you’re here to talk today
and you can do whatever.
David Heilpern – 21 years as a Magistrate
Greetings. It’s lovely to be back in Nimbin Hall. Everything Michael said is correct, except I did come to Mardi Grass for about the first eight years as a magistrate for 21 years.
And during that time, of course, I couldn’t come to Mardi Grass, which was very sad.
I also do want to pay tribute to Michael and to the Hemp Embassy and the whole crew next door.
What we are seeing there is in my opinion, is the biggest act of civil disobedience in Australian history.
I don’t say that lightly. These people are risking lengthy jail terms every day of the week to bring medicines to people who can’t get prescriptions or can’t afford prescriptions and have been doing so for years.
This is an act of bravery, of courage that, in my view, is without precedent in Australian history.
It’s akin to those people who were running abortion clinics in the 50s and 60s and risking their lives to give women choice.
These people are giving patients choice and day in, day out, they risk their liberty.
And that, to me, is extraordinary.
So let’s say thank you to the Hemp Embassy.
Not only was it the first Mardi Grass and was I speaking there about drug law reform, but about a year after that, and I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong, Harry was there.
We had the very first legal medical cannabis workshop down at the Bush factory.
And I remember Harry was on stage. I was on stage, John Seed, Ian Cohen, a bunch of Jewish blokes
talking about drugs.
And Michael was there.
Well, we had to bring in one Christian and but it was during the whole AIDS thing.
And really, that’s when and there was, again, very brave people driving up here and the panel vans filling up their cars to take to Darlinghurst and to King’s Cross to assist those suffering HIV AIDS and the terrible treatments that they were going through.
So it’s worth remembering that the medicinal cannabis thing is not new and its battles with the law are not new.
But I’m here to say that, regrettably, we may be winning the battle in terms of the brilliant talks that we heard today in terms of prescriptions, in terms of medicinal cannabis.
But we’re losing the war because the weapon that authorities have got in their back pocket is the drug-driving laws.
Laws are deliberately designed to thwart the medical cannabis industry
And these are, dare I say it, deliberately designed to thwart the medical cannabis industry.
I say deliberately because at first I just thought it was an accident of fate, but I’ve been raving on about this
now for about 18 months, non-stop.
Not just me, but in parliaments in Victoria, in South Australia, in New South Wales, proposals are being put up and are being actively opposed to at least allow those with a prescription to be immune from the drug detection.
Driving laws so far, universally unsuccessful, will come to Tasmania in a moment.
So the point that I wish to make and that I want to talk about and answer your questions about is the impact of drug driving laws on medicinal cannabis.
I am of the view that you cannot possibly have a successful medicinal cannabis industry if you have the drug
detection laws as they are.
It’s just not possible.
And the reason for that is because most people need to drive. Most people need their licences.
Most people don’t want to risk getting a criminal conviction, losing their licence, paying fines.
And for those in rural and regional New South Wales, most of us can’t afford or can’t imagine life
without a driver’s licence.
Now, of course, there’s some that that’s an exception for young people who aren’t old enough, those people who are fortunate enough to have people who can drive for people who run the gauntlet and are prepared to do that.
But in the absence of those sorts of characteristics, the method, I’m sure that and the doctors will correct me if I’m wrong, but the method of consumption of THC is daily.
Or more than daily.
So what that means is you have always got a level of THC unless you’re taking straight CBD and I’ll come to that soon, you will always have a level of THC in your system.
And generally speaking, that level will be detectable because you’re topping it up or taking more every single day.
So what this means is that the battle for medicinal cannabis is being thwarted by these utterly absurd drug driving laws.
And let’s see how they work.
How Drug Driving Laws Work in Australia
Unlike every other prescription medicine, cannabis is guided by a cut off level that has absolutely nothing
to do with affectation.
The level is five nanograms, that’s five thousand millionth of a gram, if that is detectable in your saliva,
then you have a positive test.
If it’s over 10 nanograms, that’s the Cut-Off at which above which they will prosecute. That means that unless you are using straight CBD, if you are using THC, then you are at risk of being detected.
Now, this doesn’t apply to Valium. It doesn’t apply to opioids. It doesn’t apply to barbiturates.
It doesn’t apply to any of those other drugs on prescription.
With those drugs sensibly, it’s if you are adversely affected, if you’re driving under the influence, of course, that makes sense.
We don’t want people falling half-asleep on opioids, waving down the roads, nor do we want to see people stoned completely out of their brains, waving down the roads.
But cannabis. .. it is a detectable level, yet it is prescribed.
Now, that makes no sense at all from any logical viewpoint.
That if you are going to allow people to have a prescription for cannabis and then prohibit them from having any cannabis in their system, then what that does is it’s a deterrent to using medicinal cannabis an un-overcomable, deterrent for many people.
So I wanted to run through in the next 25, 30 minutes or so before I answer questions:
#1, Firstly what the law is and how it works.
#2, Secondly, the sum of the available defences and their limitations.
#3, And thirdly, a little bit of a rave of why I think we are where we are and what we can do about it.
Some of the myths surrounding drug driving
So firstly, some of the myths surrounding drug driving.
Myth #1 – The testing’s random, so your chances of getting caught are very limited
The first myth that I want to deal with is while the testing’s random, so your chances of getting caught are very limited.
That is not quite true, that the testing is random.
You only have to come to Mardi Grass to know that they don’t bother policing the streets anymore, what they do is they put cannabis drug detection buses at every exit and entrance to Nimbin.
And that way that’s their method of thumbing their nose.
But it’s worse than that because the way numberplate recognition works is that as the police cars driving along the number plate is automatically photographed and recognised and computerised and ‘ping’ up comes
on their screen, any previous involvement with the police relating
to drugs postcodes…
And one can imagine that Nimbin would be somewhere high on their list and any other police intelligence
that relates to that motor vehicle or the owner of that motor vehicle all in an instant.
And that’s why so many people come before the courts charged twice with this.
And it’s because once they’ve been charged, once every time they drive past a police car, the police car stops them and seeks and forces them to have a test again.
It’s not random, it picks on specific classes of people, and it does so deliberately, that’s what that’s the police policy is to do that.
Of course, they still random testing, which you may well get caught at, but largely it’s not random.
When I was a Magistrate sitting in Lismore, there was a bust in Nimbin where I threw the evidence out because they got the wrong address on a search warrant.
That car was then targeted. The car, the owner of the house was then targeted by the police repeatedly for drug driving.
That’s the sort of lack of randomness that I saw and now see in practice.
Myth #2 – It’s a road safety measure
The second myth is that it’s a road safety measure.
You only need to look at the statistics for what happened when they brought in random breath testing,
I’m going to fake a graph.
Growth, growth, growth, growth, growth, road toll down.
Breath testing using the road toll, same with 50 km now in suburban areas, same with seatbelts, same with airbags, same with a whole range of road safety measures, the introduction of random drug testing, no change to the road toll whatsoever, not even a bump in the road.
If this is a road safety measure, as I keep saying, it is the most failed road safety measure ever.
And why do they continue with it?
The stats are there to show that this has had no impact on the rising road toll on road trauma.
And yet if you if you listen to the minister’s labor, liberal, whatever, they talk about it as a road safety measure, it’s not.
Myth #3 – It stops people from driving under the influence
The third myth is that it stops people from driving under the influence.
The truth is that there is apps.
If people are driving under the influence, there is a separate offence.
It has higher penalties as it should.
But this has nothing to do with driving under the influence and everything to do with a detectable minute level.
And of course, what that means is that for different, we heard the doctors today and I was very interested to hear them say that, cannabis reacts differently for different people and it’s a matter of getting the dosage right.
Similarly, of course, cannabis remains in the system for longer for different people and thus people who appeared before me.
In the case of Carroll, which is a reported decision of mine from Lismore nine days later, he was detected.
The prosecution didn’t dispute that.
It was nine days later he was detected with more than the 10 nanogram threshold.
So that’s Monju. He hadn’t taken.
I should emphasise this was not a prescribed dose. This was a smoking session at a party.
Myth #3 – It’s illegal anyway
Another myth is that it’s illegal to use cannabis anyway.
Well, it’s not in the ACT. It’s not for anyone with a prescription.
And it’s an extremely minor offence.
They don’t take away your driver’s licence if you’re convicted of sexual assault or murder or assault or breaching a domestic violence order.
But they take your licence away from you for having a detectable level of cannabis in your system.
Myth #4 – Cannabis the major cause of road trauma
The next myth I want to deal with is the death and injury stats show that illegal drugs, illicit drugs, cannabis in particular, is the major cause of road trauma.
Now, seriously, there are people who say this, they quote this mythical figure that in 15 percent of all fatalities,
cannabis is present.
That’s pretty interesting because they’re not just testing drivers. They’re also testing passengers
who are killed in car accidents.
They’re also testing at two nanograms that number.
And if you look at the cohort of people who die in motor vehicle accidents and their age range, in fact,
that is not an overrepresented number for having residual amounts of cannabis in their system.
But nobody by nobody in the academic research world will ever say that cannabis causes the accident.
So they’re very careful not to say that because of course, it doesn’t. Just because something is correlated.
That is, there’s cannabis in the system of those who suffer.
Road trauma does not equate to causation.
So that is just another fallacy along the road.
Myth #5 – It’s only a traffic offence
The next fallacy is that it’s only a traffic offence.
You don’t get a criminal record without going into the complications of it.
Going to court or getting a drug conviction or paying a fine and having a traffic record for a drug offence has really significant impacts on people’s lives.
Glazier, a friend of ours who’s a glazier, got a drunk driving matter, went to court, got a Section 10, which is a conviction, a sorry finding the offence proven no conviction.
He had to still declare it on his worker’s comp and his insurance, which then skyrocketed to the extent he could no longer work.
Similarly, a security guard, he’s been quite well publicised in Sydney, not security but the guy who owns a security company went to court for a drug driving offence.
And even though, again, he a conviction wasn’t recorded against him, his master licence was suspended.
He’s now spending 12 to 18 months in end fighting it.
Third, and a really serious consequence is insurance.
AAMI’s insurance policy says that if you are driving if the person who’s operating a motor vehicle has more than the legal amount in their saliva, blood, blah, blah, blah, of any drug, then the policy is void.
Now, what’s the legal limit for alcohol?
Point five, we’re all fine with that.
What’s the legal limit for cannabis?
Hence I got a phone call and I was so staggered I couldn’t believe this from a lawyer mate in Sydney who’s got a client who had a Mercedes write off incident, completely uninsured because he had point two of a gram of cannabis in his blood because he got to go to the hospital, because the airbags went off, blah, blah, had the blood test, no insurance policy …. void because he’s got more than the legal limit of THC in his blood.
I quickly went and checked my NRMA policy, and it’s fine. It just says as long as you’re not driving under the influence.
But this is the extent of the legal framework that we are living in.
Myth #6 – Roadside Drug Testing discourages drug use
Next myth is that it discourages drug use.
That is the drug driving laws. Well, it does discourage some drug use, but it doesn’t discourage other drug use.
It certainly doesn’t discourage alcohol. It doesn’t discourage opioids. It doesn’t discourage a whole range of prescription drugs, all of which have discernible impacts on driving when taken at prescribable levels.
And of course, it doesn’t discourage drugs that are not cannabis is special because it’s fat soluble, stays in your system for a lot longer.
Whereas if I’m a 19 year old and I want to go out on a Friday night and and get off my tree, I suppose I’ve got some options.
I could spend money on alcohol at a pub, which would cost me, I don’t know, probably 100 bucks.
And if I have about 100 dollars, even more, I could smoke some cannabis, but then I’d be concerned about driving when I have my next plumbing job on Monday.
Or of course, I could take ice, which is not fat-soluble is probably out of your system well and truly by the Monday morning and cost to you a minuscule percentage of that.
So what these drug driving laws do is discourage cannabis use, but they don’t discourage prescription drug use.
They don’t discourage water-soluble illicit drug use, and they certainly don’t discourage dangerous drug use.
There are some drugs that aren’t picked up by this at all, LSD, psilocybin, etcetera, etcetera, not for one moment suggesting that they’re necessarily dangerous drugs.
I heard the last talk.
Myth #7 – Nowhere else has these stupid drug laws
Next myth is that nowhere else has these stupid drug laws without having an excuse or a defence for those who are on prescription.
Well, they do. Tasmania is the living Australian example in Tasmania.
If you have a prescription for any illicit drug and of course, effectively, that really only means cannabis, then that is a defence to the drug driving detection lords.
Hallelujah. And that’s been in place for five years.
The sky has not fallen in yet.
Every person I speak to, the ministers, and all the rest of it.
It’s impossible. Well, guess what?
England, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Portugal all have defences of medicine, of prescription drug use of prescription cannabis as a defence.
Why don’t we have it here?
Well, Fiona Patten has a bill before Victorian Parliament right now that is being met with the most illogical
opposition from police and from parliamentarians and particularly conservative parliamentarians and Labor Party parliamentarians.
There is a bill being put up by the Greens in South Australia, massive opposition to it.
I spoke to parliamentarians there on this topic and they kept asking me questions like, well, how do we know that the cannabis that they’re using is actually the prescription stuff?
And I’m like, well, how do you know that the beer that someone’s drinking isn’t stolen?
You know, it doesn’t really make any difference.
The difference is whether people are driving in a way or under the influence that is dangerous.
They didn’t get that.
I got the feeling I was talking to myself, which is … usual.
Myth #8 – Other Prescription Drugs are Safer for Driving
Prescription drugs, the next myth I want to deal with relates to prescription drugs.
There are two really key studies on this which show that those people, and I’m sure the doctors would support me in this, that people when they are using medicinal cannabis, use less prescription medication.
And of course, that makes sense if I’m suffering from chronic pain and I am on a whole range of opioids to deal with that.
And I’m finding THC, CBD is easing my pain, I am going to reduce my level of opioids.
So in fact, I would argue that the use of prescription cannabis is far safer for road users.
Myth #9 – CBD over the counter will change everything
And finally, I just want to deal with the myth, well, isn’t it great that we’ve got the CBD over the counter?
Well, it is going to be great, but we’ve got CBD over the counter.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that that’s that that’s a terrific thing.
But and here’s the sting in the tail.
But the they are going to allow up to one percent THC.
That’s great. I’m totally in favour of that. I think it makes more sense from a whole drug perspective and all
of the things that we heard today.
Fantastic, but there have been no studies, so I asked Michael yesterday, I said, Michael, what is the level of THC if I went to despite some not skanky, you know, horrible fall asleep cannabis, but sort of giggly party cannabis off the street here in Nimbin, what would the THC level be?
And he said, you know, maybe 10 percent, if you’re lucky, probably more likely six percent.
So if they’re allowing one percent THC in CBD over the counter, you can’t drive.
And how long can’t you drive for?
Well, I don’t know, the experts don’t know.
The government doesn’t know, everybody’s different.
So if you buy CBD oil over the counter, then sorry, but you are going to be at risk of losing your licence, criminal record, all the rest of it if you drive.
That’s, of course, assuming I’m guessing you take it every day because probably after twenty-four hours
you may well be OK.
But as I understand it, the best medical use of these drugs is his daily or more often than that.
So I wrote to the Minister of Health and said, look, before you do this or while you do this, you should at least run some studies using the breath saliva testing and see what happens if people use one percent THC, CBD, oil over the counter, because that would be a good start so that people can at least know if they’re going to be committing a criminal offence with all the consequences.
Surprisingly, I haven’t heard back.
But the fact that they refused to fund these studies again leaves the whole CBD thing up in the air because with one per cent THC, who knows whether you’re going to be picked up by the testing or not?
Now, it is said that very few people who are using as low as one percent do get picked up drug driving
that might be, and this needs to be clarified.
Interestingly, even in Tasmania .. keep in mind that the defence in Tasmania is only if you have a prescription.
If you don’t need a prescription, the defence isn’t going to cover you, which is one of the great ironies of that silliness.
ACT effectively legalised cannabis but haven’t changed drug driving laws
I should say that in the ACT, of course, they’ve taken the big, brave step of effectively legalising cannabis.
Now, but they haven’t changed the drug-driving driving laws.
So what that means is that you can use it, but you can’t drive even if you’re not driving under the influence.
So they are my myths that I hope to explain to some extent why I’m so infuriated by this.
I was in Lismore the last 10 years (of being a Magistrate) and I would get about somewhere between
30 and 50 a week of these charges.
Mardi Grass was a different story altogether.
We had to set aside a whole separate court just to deal with Mardi Grass drug driving charges.
I kid you not.
Same with the festivals at Byron Bay.
After those, we need to have a separate whole day for possession charges.
So I got completely disheartened and disgusted with having to take people’s licences off them.
I mean, what the hell?
These are people who need desperately need their licences.
They have not done anything that harms anybody and they are being punished.
And let’s face it, you take the licence of a country person … they would beg me, fine me whatever you like, put me on a good behaviour bond, but don’t take my licence from me.
No choice. Mandatory minimum disqualification periods.
So what are …. the next section
What are some of the defences and what are not defences
I just want to deal with briefly is what are some of the defences and what are not defences now?
I have a medical cannabis prescription
Never a week goes by when I’m not stopped in the street by someone who says, but I’ve got a prescription,
I keep it in the glove box.
If I show the prescription, they have to let me go.
That is mistaking law for justice because that’s just not correct. There is no defence of having a prescription.
You can pull out your prescription all you like, and it’s not going to make any difference.
Now, because of soft magistrates like myself, they changed the law so that when you are apprehended, the police have a choice.
They can immediately suspend your licence and then you have to go to court to try and get it back, or they can give you a ticket, etcetera.
And the disqualification period kicks in later. That’s in New South Wales.
The impact of that is, that even if you have a prescription, you will be off the road at police discretion, not even by court discretion until you can get to a court, which may well be weeks or months.
So a prescription is not a defence.
I don’t smoke cannabis, I must have got it passively
And nor is it a defence to say it on its own, to say that.
Well, I don’t smoke cannabis, I must have got it passively.
I do have to tell your story.
There was an expert sitting in court saying, turn to me and said, you know, but this is all assuming that you’re
in a glass box surrounded by people smoking cannabis and no windows open and breathing in.
I then might add who would who would do that?
And I’m thinking she obviously didn’t come to Byron Bay in a panel van in 1979 or she didn’t catch the train, the second class carriages from Lismore to Sydney.
I was stoned by Casino.
But passive smoking is not of itself a defence if you have a detectable level.
And I had people in this exact situation, people who are caring for somebody who was dying and people who are you know, we’re in close spaces with people who were bonging on and passively consumed cannabis.
That is not of itself a defence.
Doesn’t matter how it gets into your system, if it’s in your system, that’s the crime.
Honest and reasonable mistake
But what is a defence, if you is if you can show that you have an honest and reasonable mistake about the cannabis in your system, go back to Mr Carroll, who was nine days.
He gave evidence that he’d looked up the government website.
At that stage, it said 12 to 24 hours.
He believed he had waited over a week before he drove. Therefore, he honestly and reasonably believed that he had no cannabis left in his system.
Similarly, people who didn’t know that they could absorb it by being in an enclosed space.
I’ve got to tell you something else to the lead study about closed spaces is an American study where they get this glass box with a tiny little fan and they stand a person in there with five or six other people around them
smoking big joints.
And then they take them out of there and they saliva test the person who wasn’t smoking.
And obviously, there’s a period of hours whereby you can still have a detectable level of cannabis from passive smoking.
The lead author of that is someone called Gregory Cohn. Now, I just thought that that was just classic.
It’s like Dr Death, really.
So there is a defence available if you overcome the evidential burden of showing that you honestly and reasonably believed that you didn’t have any cannabis in your system.
Can you drive when using a cannabis cream?
I dealt with a case where a woman had rubbed balm.
She had asked her doctor she had a letter from her doctor saying that that could not absorb through the skin.
But there was an expert witness who said, well, you know, open mouth, etcetera.
So she was again, she could show that she honestly and reasonably believed she had no cannabis in her system and she was acquitted.
But that’s a hard defence.
It’s a defence that requires deep pockets, many thousands of dollars.
Legal aid won’t won’t fund anything in this in that traffic jurisdiction.
So you would need many thousands of dollars to run such a case like that and seek to prove at least start to prove that you had an honest and reasonable mistake effect.
So there are really the only defences available to this, there’s one other that I want to mention and that’s a necessity.
The leading necessity cases are where a person, for example, is driving their pregnant, giving birth in labor partner to hospital and drives through a red light.
That sort of necessity is able to be used as a defence.
I’ve been waiting for the right case to use that defence for, you know, people who live in rural areas, but yet to be tested.
The other defence, which has yet to be tried and won’t be, is what I call the ‘Katelaris’ defence, which is you go before a jury and you say, this law is so completely stupid, you should find me not guilty anyway, which is what Andrew Katelaris did.
And if you Google Andrew Katelaris, you’ll see that a jury acquitted him of a mass supply of cannabis to medical patients.
On that basis, these drug driving offences never get to a jury because they summary they only heard before a Magistrate.
And Magistrates are not as nice as juries when it comes to this.
Inconsistency in sentencing is a problem
So what is likely to happen to you if you go to court?
It is an absolute lottery. That is the truth. You know, I trained Magistrates
for decades, literally throughout Australia, and inconsistency in sentencing is a problem.
But in this area, it is a catastrophe.
There is about half the Magistrates in New South Wales that you go before.
If it’s a first offence, if you’ve got a prescription or even if you haven’t, if you’ve got a letter from your doctor saying this is medicinal use etc, first offence, you will leave court with your licence without a criminal conviction and without a fine.
But the other half you won’t.
And so it is essentially a lottery as to which magistrate you get and it’slocalised the problem so that in a particular town where two Magistrates, one will always deal with it by way of that, a good result and one will always deal with it by way of a heavy result.
That is absurd. But it is what it is.
Why does Australia have such discriminatory drug driving laws?
OK, so why are we here?
Why have we got at this completely crazy situation?
Factor #1 – Corruption via political donation
I think that you need to look firstly at who are the biggest donors to New South Wales political parties, pharmaceutical companies, and alcohol companies are up there with the top of the list, clubs, alcohol industry, pubs, pharmaceuticals.
And they win out of these drug out of these drug driving laws.
They are the winners because people go back to their prescription drugs.
They are the winners because people go back to alcohol.
The alcohol industry wants a monopoly.
The pharmaceutical industry wants a monopoly.
And they are threatened by this drug.
And therefore, they act against what I believe to be the interests of those who wish to use medicinal cannabis.
It’s a form of discrimination, as I said before, that doesn’t apply to any other prescription drug.
And the only reason is because once it was illicit.
The the second reason and on this I’ve been doing some research on the whole issue of why some countries and states have have have gone down the legalisation, decriminalisation, medical marijuana without these silly drunk driving laws.
What is what are the determinative features of those places over ours?
And what is crystal clear is that in terms of drug law reform, generally, I already talked about the political donation system.
Factor #2 – Murdoch Press Infulance
The second factor is the existence of the Murdoch press.
They are so, you know, we had this sort of pathetic little movement in New South Wales just recently towards the end of last year, where after the ICE enquiry and blah, blah that were just going to change drug
laws … Front page of The Daily Telegraph, bunch of dopes, all the liberal cabinet ministers who were going to support this minor change the Murdoch press.
And I’m not sure if it’s this symbiotic relationship they have with the alcohol industry.
I’m not sure whether it’s just Murdoch’s Christian conservatism.
I’m not even sure as to whether it has to do with the symbiotic relationship they have with the police.
But the fact is that they are stridently anti-drugs and drug law reform and those countries that lack a big Murdoch influence, other countries, go figure, who has moved forward on medicinal decriminalisation, legalisation of drugs, and in fact, you can map out state by state throughout America as to the influence of the Murdoch press.
Now, in Australia, we have the biggest concentration in the world of newspapers owned by the Murdoch press.
And when you add that to the pharmaceutical industry and alcohol industry’s influence, there are two factors.
And there’s a third factor.
Factor #3 – Police attitude
What is apparent in those countries where we’ve seen drug law reform is a police service that is onside with drug law reform.
We certainly don’t have that here.
In fact, the police commissioners around the country, with the perhaps exception of the federal police, which is maybe why we’ve seen movement in the ACT and Northern Territory, are absolutely anti any form of drug law reform.
And they’ve got the politicians spooked. So when you have those three factors, corruption via political donation, Murdoch press influence, plus the police attitude, I mean, in Canada, it’s really why they got such drug law reform through, same as Portugal, same as the Netherlands, same as some of those states in America, because the police were effectively on side.
Because they see far more important things like child sexual abuse, like domestic violence, like all of that, far more important.
We don’t see that as far more important in the police service is to see that.
What does that have to do with drug driving a lot, because this is, I think, the the battle that’s being waged for drug law reform, there is a fear in those three institutions that I just mentioned that medicinal cannabis will lead to a leg in the door for decriminalisation and an end to prohibition.
It might, it might, and, you know, I think we need to shy away from that as being a possibility.
But they are there for the drug driving laws, are there defence to the medicinal cannabis industry, to people who want to use cannabis as a drug because of their fear of it leading to an end to prohibition.
And I guess their fear is partly well-placed placed.
Many states in America started off with decriminalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes or legalisation for medicinal purposes and moved to full legalisation.
But the drug driving laws need to be viewed, at least in my view, from that perspective, that this is their last stand against changes to the drug laws, the last stand against following even
the mother of prohibition America down its path of legalisation and stopping jailing people for drugs.
So I am more than happy to take questions on drug driving and on cannabis law generally, if people have any questions.
Questions and Answers on Drug driving Laws in Australia
Can you be stopped at the side of the road by a policeman, and before he gives you the cannabis test, you can actually take some cannabis as per the legislation and then that would theoretically make that test null and void.
Have you, in your experience, ever had something like that?
What were the most interesting cases for defence of medical cannabis driving?
Only ask because I’m going to court on this so … good to know
Answer By David:
I have not heard before the idea of staffing some cannabis into your mouth.
Let’s try to do the test.
It’s in the Queensland law that the test is null and void, if you’ve had the test, might be null and void, but if you did that with alcohol in New South Wales, there’s a specific offence in New South Wales of interfering with a test by taking alcohol between the demand and the sample.
But more than that, of course, you could be charged with a whole … In New South Wales, at least you could be charged with a whole range of offences far more serious than the drunk driving one, which, after all,
doesn’t have a jail term.
Keep in mind, possession of cannabis carries a two-year maximum jail term in Australia.
So if you put cannabis into your mouth and prescribed, they’ve seised any of it or whatever.
Do mouthwash, Fisherman’s Friend work fooling the test?
Now, I’ve also been asked regularly, well, what about mouthwash and etc.
I don’t know the answer to that.
I would like I mean, why I know that the Hemp Embassy has run some little brilliant little studies using the test kits and people trying various mouthwashes.
And did they work?
The first test is not that reliable.
Lots of things work, but nothing’s guaranteed.
Yeah, so I’m disguising or covert trying to cover up your use.
Can you drive if you take cannabis oil capsule anally like a suppository?
There is, and I’m sure if the doctors are here, can correct me if I’m wrong, but an expert gave evidence to me that if you took the cannabis capsule, cannabis oil capsule anally like a suppository, then it could not get into your saliva.
I thought instead of passing the joint at parties, we could have.
We could have dropped your pants … but it would certainly make parties more interesting…
Yeah, I won’t go further, but can I say that?
Yes, what Gerald said is quite correct.
It doesn’t have the same impact in terms of getting stoned, but in terms of taking it medicinally, there’s probably research to be done and chance.
And according to Dr. Judith Perls who was a forensic expert in New South Wales, the forensic expert,
it cannot then show up in your saliva.
Of course, some people believe that taking capsules of oil avoids the problem of it being in your saliva, too.
Unfortunately, burping, vomiting, any sort of reflux can have an influence on this.
So I would not suggest that that is a safe way of avoiding the drug driving laws.
Never before I saw people coming to court and begging…
In terms of the most interesting cases on drug-driving.
I have to say that the number of people I really can’t talk to interest, but I can talk to human interest, and that is never before these drug driving laws came in did I have people coming to court and begging.
Never, never before.
I mean, it is absolutely heartbreaking, single mum lives in Drake needs to drive the kids needs to work
at the club, lives a bit out of town.
You know, her whole life is shattered by not having a driver’s licence and she was using as a result of a prescription.
You know, like people begging me in tears for their licences, which I couldn’t hear.
So, yes, human interest rather than any other.
So, I mean, first, you really touched on it with Judith Perles.
So generally we’re believing that.
Didn’t she say in court that if you smoke, they are after the residue of cannabis in your in your mouth.
I think when they test you, so it’s generally a thought that if you smoke, they’ll pick it up.
If you eat a cookie, they’ll probably pick it up.
But if you eat a capsule and don’t burp, you probably OK.
I mean, clearly the first test is not that reliable.
And the police then say, don’t worry, we’ll do a second test.
And they send the second test after a third test, which is guaranteed going to get you okay because it’s in the lab.
So I think that let’s say that we’re going to have a little joint session.
I might leave that for Dr. John, he might have a word on that.
Here is how the tests work, the first test, you only get to the second test if you fail the first test.
So the first test is really important.
She says, Dr Perls, that for the first test, it is impossible for cannabis to cross the blood to saliva threshold unless you have wounds, ulcers in your mouth, things like that, brushing your teeth could stimulate it, etc.
But the truth is looking for ways around.
This is never going to be a solution.
There’s not that much difference between recreational use and medicinal use
And I suppose the real reason comes down to this, and I think Dr. Teh and others spoke on this,
really there’s not that much difference between recreational use and medicinal use.
I mean, really, at the heart of it, a lot of people who are, you know, having a joint before they go to sleep every night are doing it for medicinal reasons.
People who suffer from PTSD and so have it wake up to a joint in the morning.
You know, they may not have a prescription, but if their driving is not affected, this law should not be in place.
That’s really my message.
And I would urge you and those looking online to go to your local member to complain and say, this is ridiculous, I’ve got a prescription, but my life is being ruined because I can’t drive.
That’s really the message.
Yeah, just a quick one in terms of impairment.
And there’s something I’d like to know from an expert.
Is there any method overseas in Canada where we can have a level of impairment tested like a blood alcohol test?
Sure, look, it’s a really good question.
I’m going to answer it in two ways. So I just want to remember Druid.
Don’t let me forget.
Why not use approximation with cannabis?
So with alcohol, we have a Cut-Off level.
Now, I don’t drink. I haven’t had a drink for 25 years. If I have a glass of wine, my reading will be probably 0.2 and I will be pissed and a danger on the road because I’m a naive user and I only have to smell alcohol and I need to have a nap.
Alcohol levels arean approximation of affectation.
That’s how they work, and as a society, we sort of accept that we know that a seasoned alcoholic at .05 is probably could probably pass cognitive tests as to road safety.
But we’ve got an approximation. And as a community, we say that’s OK.
It is possible to get an approximation with cannabis.
It is possible, like they do in the UK, to have a level of nanograms that equates to an average of affectation in driving.
And of course, it is exponentially greater than our five 10 nanograms, depending on what state you’re in.
Druid app to test imparement
Secondly, there is a brilliant app which is now being used throughout the United States and in one part of Canada, which is called Druid.
And you can get this app.
And it’s really brilliant because what you do is you have to the police show it to you by the side of the road and you have to like follow the the numbers and then you have to stand on one leg and it records whether you’re balancing or not.
Look at my yoga pose. Perfect. So I’d pass.
So, Druid, it is quite a good test for and has gone through a phase three studies of people who’ve smoked or drank or used drugs.
And it does test affectation quite well, of course.
If the police believe you are driving under the influence, if you’re showing any signs of that, they can force
you to go to the police station. Sorry, to the hospital and give a blood sample.
That’s how the whole system operated prior to this silliness.
And then an expert pathologist would give evidence as to the amount plus you’re driving or whatever else,
and you could be found guilty. And most people, of course, pleaded guilty to drive under the influence charges.
Ninety-seven per cent of people charged with that offence plead guilty.
So it’s not as though it’s difficult to prove people are driving under the influence to get to that level.
So to answer your question, first is Druid and second is: we can have levels that equate to affectation and they’re not it’s not going to be you know, they always say, oh, this is impossible because some people are affected more than others.
Well, gee whiz, that’s true with alcohol, too.
It’s also the case that and I was asked this question by South Australian parliamentarian.
How else can we tell if people are stoned or not, and I said, well, perhaps the same way that you tell if people have had too much Endone and or too many Valiums or too many of other drugs.
It’s exactly the same problem.
Why pick on cannabis just because it was once illegal?
So that’s the answer to your question, I hope.
Oh, hello, David. Thanks for the talk. It’s great.
And I’m intrigued when you mention these countries that have, uh, drug law reform like Holland, Canada, etc.
You mentioned England, but, they have a huge Murdoch influence.
Is it because the police are on side, is that the difference?
Yes, there are very few, I guess, to quote a figure that was totally wrong, but there are very few cannabis possession charges in England in comparison to two New South Wales in Australia, very few.
And yes, it remains illegal.
The point I was trying to make about the UK was that hey have an absolute complete defence to drug detection driving, which is if you have a prescription, you’re in the clear.
Drive change an organisation that I’m a member of, if you if you Google it, look it up.
You know, all we’re arguing for is a really narrow thing, which is those with prescriptions as a first step.
Those with prescriptions should have a defence.
Same as Tasmania, same as England, same as other places.
But you’re right about England. The police don’t care nearly as much about drug offences as here.
Roadside Drug Testing take resources form elsewhere
We are absolutely obsessed with with drug offences here.
You know, it’s just a policing choice, the police budget in New South Wales is one Number
I forget what the number is, let’s make it up six billion dollars, how they spend that money is up to them.
They could spend it all on sexual assault.
They could spend it all on child sex offences.
They could spend it all on domestic violence.
They could spend it all on whatever they like, environmental safety.
But they choose to spend such a huge bulk of it, on cannabis.
The whole time I was a Magistrate, I never once saw a search warrant for a domestic violence offence, never once … thousands upon thousands of drug search warrants.
Whose priorities are those?
If you get a chance to see Nearly Normal Nimbin, there’s an absolutely beautiful scene outside the police station here leading up to the first Mardi Grass where Bob Hopkins is of prohibition end, as his name was, then is trying to get into the police station with a joint and the camera flashes to a woman who says, “my daughter was sexually abused and I made a complaint to the police station six months ago and they still haven’t followed up on it”.
And there are all these helicopters out there busting plants and she makes that point.
The same point is true.
I feel like holding up a poster saying, how much longer do we have to keep fighting this shit for?
Yeah, hi, David.
First time I’ve been in front of you without being in the courtroom.
Actually, last time I was in front of you, you actually were very, very helpful.
And you extended the period of time that I was able to keep my licence to get medical treatment.
Now, basically, just very quickly, 2010, Byron Bay tested negative, first test tested, negative, second test,
lost my licence for six months and then tested positive once to a highway patrol car, um, between Lismore and Nimbin.
And I told him that I got sciatica and I didn’t want to use opioids and he let me go otherwise have all the other times I’ve actually been RDT to locations and including last year in February, where I lost my licence on Monday and unfortunately four weeks ago … five weeks ago, tested positive again.
Now I’ve got complex post-traumatic stress disorder and I don’t want to get into that too much.
But I’ve also got spinal injuries and I basically depend on cannabis to function as a human being and.
When I last was in front of you, I tried for a Section 32, and you entertained the idea of listening
to what I had to say, and I’m wondering if you can give me some advice about moving forward.
I will be able to do a successful defence and set a precedent.
I would like to answer it this way.
I talked before about the defence of necessity.
That is classically I gave the example of someone driving to the hospital, their birth partner giving birth.
They went through a red light. About 20 years ago, a woman called Georgina Ryner and I wrote an article about necessity and drug law.
And I think that your case is an example.
It is necessary for you to have this drug.
This is not your drug of choice, as it were.
This is what you need to survive on a day-to-day level.
And I think we’ve reached the point where there’s enough medical evidence to show that for some people that is true, that the alternatives are not as good, they’re not as effective or not effective at all.
Abortion was illegal in New South Wales until very recently, but the defence of necessity, a judge said, well, if it’s for the physical or mental well-being of the woman.
Then there is no crime.
And that worked, that defence worked in New South Wales, indeed all around Australia for decades.
Why can’t the same defence work for people charged with the heinous crime of possession or drug driving
where there’s no danger to the community?
And I think it could.
But the real strategy has to be legal.
That’s one strategy, and I think it’s worth pursuing. But the real strategy has to be legal change.
Look, when I started in practise, I represented homosexuals. I represented abortionists.
I represented prostitutes.
I represented SP bookmaker’s, those of you who are old enough to know what that means, we’ll
know what that means.
All of those four crimes now which used to occupy 30, 40 per cent of the Magistrates Court are now gone and the sky has not fallen in yet.
There’s one more victimless crime to go, just one, and that is drug law reform and drug driving laws.
And it’s the last one of these victimless crimes that is still in place.
How did all those others go by the by?
Well, the answer is public agitation.
I mean, not only is homosexuality not illegal, we now have gay marriage.
Not only is SP bookmaking not illegal, you can gamble on everything and anything now.
Abortion hasn’t been effectively illegal for sorry, it’s been actually legal now for a few years, and before then was common law legal.
What was the last category that’ll do?
Suffice to say that we need legislative change on drug driving and drug law reform.
And that’s really the way.
You might win one case on necessity, your sound strong, but to change the whole thing, to change the whole pattern needs legislative change.
I just wanted to offer a little chink in the armour.
Victoria is looking at Portugal
The Victorian commissioner of police came out at the end of last year saying he totally agree with you more or less, they, in fact have been to Portugal to study how Portugal has decriminalised.
So I just thought I’d put that into there.
No, I’m well aware of that, and yet the police are the main barrier to Fiona Patterns change to make prescription, exception to the drug driving laws in Victoria.
In Victoria, that’s fine. The Reason Party is she coming up to Mardi Grass.
So he came out and said that, yeah, they were looking into it.
I find it the same when they start talking about their huge emphasis on domestic violence.
And I sit there and I would sit there in my court list and there’d be 30, 40, 50 possession
cannabis charges in a week.
And I’d think, well, you talk the talk It’s a matter of walking the walk.
And the Portugal argument is insurmountable.
I mean, I was just reading this morning that the rate of youth use of cannabis, young people’s use of cannabis
has decreased massively.
There’s no argument.
But, yes, I take the point.
Any more, questions?
How about if you take cannabis in other jurisdictions?
I know you’ve spoken about England on their laws, if you had a prescription from England and turned up in Australia the same apply?
And in both cases, the answer is no.
If you had a prescription from Tasmania or you had a prescription from England or you had a prescription from New South Wales, all three, it’s still not a defence.
Yes, you were saying that CBD can have one percent THC, will that be all CBD over the counter?
No, they are allowing CBD to have up to one percent THC.
Now, I know and please correct me if I’m wrong, but you can get from your doctor 100 percent pure
CBD without THC, is that correct?
So you can do that.
And if you do that, you’re going to do two things.
Firstly, you’re going to avoid a positive test, which is great.
But secondly, you may not be getting the best medical treatment for your condition because of all of that stuff that was so beautifully said by the doctors about, effectively what I call in nonmedical terms, ‘whole plant’.
Political Will for change in RDT in New South Wales
Thank you for this fascinating talk.
Can you talk a little bit more about political will you talk about the things that stacked up against it?
But are there people of New South Wales state government who are actively working for?
Yeah, some remediation of …?
Yes, there are people talking about it.
There are some backbench members of the Labor Party, Rose Jackson from the upper house of New South Wales, very big on drug law reform, the Greens have been leading the charge on this for some time.
Yes, Mike Baird was for quite a while connected to Lucy Haslem and her medicinal cannabis stuff, but he sort of dropped out of the picture, probably because he’s a banker, but he doesn’t seem to be speaking about it.
Of course, ex ministers and ex politicians who are speaking about it.
I notice Andrew Robb, liberal, is very much in favour of he’s an ambassador like I am, and like others here are
of Mind Medicine Australia.
And that’s all that’s all very good.
But I do think that we have no opposition here in terms of the Labor Party in New South Wales to our current drug laws.
They are the front bench, the leader, the shadow minister of health, the shadow minister of justice, the shadow Attorney-General, the shadow police minister, utterly and completely silent on worse than that when the government was about to make these minuscule changes as a result of the ICE enquiry.
The only labor person who spoke was Christine Kinealy, who’s a New South Wales senator who went on 2GB and said these changes are appalling drug.
All drugs are bad, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
I’m making I’m putting words in her mouth. But that’s effectively what she said.
Shouldn’t change it, how dare they, etc.
So I do think that if we’ve got a progressive left wing alternative government, if they would only be progressive left wing, an alternative, we might get a little bit further towards the victory.
We don’t expect the conservatives to be anything other than conservative.
I mean, that’s that’s what they are. It’s okay. But I sort of expect more of the progressive left if there is such a thing in the Labor Party.
What is the one thing you can do for changing cannabis driving laws?
So if you want to just go home today and do one thing that could help change reform laws, would you like us to?
I think if you could do one thing, it would be to go and visit, not write, but go and make an appointment to see your local member and tell them your story.
If you’re a medicinal cannabis user, I’m telling your story, that’s what I would say is the most important thing to do.
Also, if you are interested, the Drive Change campaign is bringing in a lot of people.
We’re speaking to parliament’s parliamentarians right around the country.
We’re speaking to politicians and trying to get movement on this in a very narrow sphere, which is those
who are on prescription.
So go to that website, but seriously, go see your local member.
They’re not heartless.
And I think it’s it’s an insurmountable argument in favour of that minor change.
I mean, how can anyone argue against it?
Yeah, every state. Right across the board, yeah.
So thank you very much.
I think you stay here….
Dr John Teh comes onstage
John will come back up. Jamie’s doing a Zoom call, but we’ll come back and we leave these guys up here and continue the conversation.
And you ask questions I had a couple of thoughts.
Now, I’m up here, I get a chance.
The police are clearly using some discretion in New South Wales on cannabis
I want everyone to be seated because I’m going to say something and I don’t want you to be shocked.
I want to say something a bit supportive of the police, which is most unusual for me.
The police are clearly using some discretion in New South Wales on cannabis.
And that did come from Mike Baird originally. I think he instructed them to.
And I was dreaming, but maybe … maybe the police are started to back off on saliva testing to Corona’s been an excuse for them.
They don’t want to go near any saliva. But I think that your your persistent talking and the nagging and they have local police knowing full well the damage it does, taking people’s licence away.
I think they’ve got a bit shy about doing it.
They certainly haven’t been testing here lately.
Some Old Hippie Tricks to Assist with Roadside Cannabis Testing
And I should slip you a couple of things.
All the hippies around here carry Fisherman’s friends on their dashboard and it’s no guarantee.
But if you pull up by the police and you quickly have a couple of them, the rumour is you won’t test positive.
And I think it’s the same for a milky coffee.
You should clean your teeth really well.
They are after residue in your mouth and you can mess up their first taste.
Now, there’s no guarantees, but, you know, people take precautions.
And I’m just going to leave you guys here and you keep asking questions.
Consequences of speaking out about RDT
You know, it’s the second time I’ve been asked that today and a really lovely question, because being outspoken does have really I can have really serious impacts, particularly if, like me, you’ve had your traumas with PTSD.
It triggers you, tend to be hyper-vigilant, and, yes, perhaps a bit paranoid.
When I was a Magistrate, the attacks on me were relentless, from death threats to police leaking to the media to picking on members of my family.
And if ever they got in trouble, making sure that they were big-time in the newspaper for that reason, I don’t
participate in any illicit drugs that could be tested.
I would love to one of one of my thoughts when I stopped being a Magistrate was, yeah here I come, back to Nimbin in every way possible.
No, when I realised that I was going to be speaking out on this cause I realised I just can’t afford to.
I’ve been tested now seven times in 18 months. And it may be random.
And I’m particularly cautious at Goolmangar I mean, what is it with Goolmangar? I even drive by the Shannon
just to keep away from Goolmangar.
So the question is in the speaker said that he’s heard that in Victoria they’re going to adopt changes to the drug driving legislation for the introduction of CBD and more medicinal use.
And secondly, New South Wales has agreed to adopt it.
David Shoebridge put up a very minor amendment towards the end of last year, which labor and liberals
And they said, a whole range of the Liberal Party in particular, spokesperson put up some spurious arguments against.
Victoria I think it’s touch and go as to whether Fiona Patten’s Bill is going to get up.
We will know in the next couple of months. I sincerely hope so. It would bring me nothing but joy, but I think it’s a bit like getting a parking spot out there in the main street today.
You know, I’m hopeful, but pessimistic.
Asking a Doctor about Medical Cannabis Method of Administration and RDT
I’d like to ask John a question, please about cannabis oil, that’s suppository.
Well, yes, it is true.
So they’ve done some studies down in Australia last year. There was a lot of work done on the impairment method of administration of cannabis and driving by the Lambert Initiative, which is a philanthropic pro-cannabis scientific organisation based in New South Wales.
The first thing was time from dose.
Five minutes later, you’re in trouble, 12 hours later, a lot less chance, and it’s not a straight curve.
It gets down quicker.
So time is the most important thing, method of administration than is probably the next most important thing.
So if you inhale cannabis either through vaporization or smoking, it’s essentially a gas in your mouth and that will more likely penetrate your tongue.
High probability of detection, especially shortly after smoking or vaporizing.
If you use oils only, but don’t smoke or vaporize, the chance of detection that was done from this study drop down significantly like 90 per cent less.
And if you only use capsule’s and you don’t burp, I should mention there’s a few factors, but if you only use encapsulated cannabis, even high THC cannabis, the chances of detection were basically zero on the mouth swab.
You will test positive on a blood test. You will test positive on a urine screen and probably on a hair screen as well.
And that would go for suppositories as well.
So if it doesn’t touch your mouth, the doctor you’re referring to was correct.
I believe as well that it’s unlikely that if you have a high dose of THC in your blood, it’s going to backflow to your mouth.
That’s unlikely. Very unlikely.
The studies indicated that even with high THC in those encapsulated situations, it was basically zero percent detection on the swab.
Do sores in your mouth effect teh results of Roadside Drug Testing?
The question is whether if you’ve got sores in your mouth,they’re actually detecting saliva or they detecting blood.
It doesn’t matter, unfortunately. So it probably could be more likely to take that, I suppose if there was blood coming in there.
Does testing pick up Delta 8 tetrahydrocannabinol as well?
Delta eight and mouth swabs.
Delta 8 is a different molecular variation of THC, so Delta nine THC is the standard THC, Delta eight THC is still a form of THC.
I’m not sure and I couldn’t say whether they actually test for Delta 8 THC.
I’m not sure the exact molecule that is tested for. The legislation just says THC.
So the molecular shape is very, very similar.
So I would say probably, yes, it will be detected, but I’m not 100 percent certain.
Medical cannabis and cancer patients
So the question is when you treat a cancer patient for their symptoms, are there any positives in terms of life
expectancy and cancer progression?
I would say anecdotally, yes.
It depends on how you apply for approval, but you can definitely get up to what would be considered from real-world experience, a therapeutic dose for treating cancer, as it were.
There’s a caveat.
There’s no cure for cancer.
But anecdotally around the world, a lot of people do use high dose THC and CBD and reportedly get benefit or
remission from that cancer in my clinic.
I’ve definitely seen patients that have had had remission of their cancer, whether that was from the THC or the combination of dietary regime plus cannabinoids, that’s impossible to tell.
But anecdotally, my answer would be yes to that.
I have seen positive results for cancer out of the patients in Australia that I’ve treated for sure.
So the question is, in Australia, do people take up to a thousand milligrams a day for cancer?
I have patients that have come to me self medicated and definitely doing that 100 percent, that thousand
milligrams a day is referring to the Rick Simpson methods,
Rick Simpson is not a doctor, he’s a person in North America who started advocating for cannabis and cancer use, essentially said make up your own alcohol extraction using your rice cooker and take a gram of that a day for 30 days.
See how you’re going and repeat as necessary.
That’s the Rick Simpson’s method.
From my experience from my colleagues in the States who have been doing this in a more open area for a lot longer, up to two decades in some situations, that does seem to be a bit of an overkill, excessive more than you need to, on average, help with cancer.
So that’s also talking about mixed cannabinoids.
A balance of CBD and THC. so generally, if people are wanting to do that, I will get their approval for symptomatic relief.
But you can get up to adequate dosing ranges within the allowable amount the government approved.
So I would have an aim somewhere about 250 milligrams of mixed cannabinoids.
Three hundred and fifty milligrams.
If anyone in this room, except maybe the most seasoned, seasoned, seasoned people had that amount of cannabis in one go, you’d be asleep for a few days.
But if you build up slowly to that amount, you can actually function very well.
And that’s the that’s the secret to that.
So generally, it’s too expensive to do a thousand milligrams a day unless you are growing your own cannabis
and growing your own cannabis.
It’s like tomatoes. That’s not always that easy to get a nice big fat tomato.
So in this environment in Australia, a thousand milligrams a day, you’d be looking at probably 30 to 35 thousand dollars a year on medicine expenses.
So that’s a lot more than most people can afford.
So my aim is that’s a bit lower. It’s still high.
Is THCa of medical benefit?
The question was, is THC of medical benefit?
THCa, so I don’t know if everyone was here earlier, but when you heat up cannabis, you take off the ‘a’ and it becomes activated or decarboxilated.
So THC is essentially raw cannabis, the raw THC.
You also have CBDa and all the other cannabinoids with an ‘a’ on them.
And that essentially means that’s how the plants grow them without any heat.
Medically, generally, all the medicines that I’ve got available are activated or decarboxilated, so you will get
a high effect from them.
If you have enough, they can fit into the receptors and directly connect with your cannabinoid receptors.
The THCa, it doesn’t matter how much you have, you’re not going to get a high effect.
The shape of the ‘a’ sort of precludes it from bonding directly to the cannabis receptors.
In saying that there’s definitely health benefits to be had from THCa, raw cannabinoids, and the data and evidence is a little lacking, I suppose. But a lot of people do use raw THCa.
There’s talk of children with epilepsy and ASD getting benefit from THCa in the legal market is not readily available.
It’s just not I don’t know why. It is available here in Nimbin.
And I know a lot of patients do use it to good effect.
So I would say, yes, it’s just good.
Generalised health benefits from THCa you could get through juicing cannabis leaves of any sort.
It doesn’t even have to be really high quality.
You’d still be getting thousands of milligrams of of THC, great health benefits.
Morgan, she’s a bit of an advocate and she has Crohn’s disease, which is a gut issue and she’s talked at Nimbin Medcan before and at Mardi Grass, she’s a bit of an advocate for cannabis.
Her father got in trouble with the law for growing her cannabis plants, which she would juice and drink.
So she wasn’t smoking it.
She wasn’t getting high.
It was helping her.
He got in trouble and had to stop growing those plants.
Her disease flared very badly to the point where she was looking down the barrel of having a portion of her bowel chopped out, a large section of her intestines removed … of course she didn’t want that to happen.
And then she’s lucky enough to stumble onto this community where she went and stayed with someone who was had a legalised hemp growing and simply juiced cannabis for a few months, stayed there on the property and juice that cannabis daily and.
I’ve talked to her, she’s fit and healthy young lady, she still uses CBD oils and THC oils, which she’s getting legally now, but definitely that had a massive result for her.
I think there’s a lot to be said for raw cannabis and THC, and they’re definitely beneficial for your body.
They’re good to ingest and maybe put them more in a really good health supplement area.
So generally as medicines, we use dexacrboxilated and activated medications.
But if you got the option to do that, it’s a good thing to do for your body.
I just I wanted to add to that that if you leave THCa, i.e., in the glove box, when you’re a fly in fly out worker
at Ballina Airport and it gets hot, that’s dexarboxilation, then you get busted by the drug driving.
But the THCa doesn’t trigger the test, but don’t leave it in the glove box.
Yeah, this poor fly in, fly out guy, comes back and says this is impossible.
You know, like I’ve been told, it’s THCa.
All I did was juice plants.
And yes, that’s how the story came.
Well, it did have an honest and reasonable defence.
Yes, he did, and I should say in that case, the police actually withdrew the charges.
What is a drug testing swab?
The swab is, as far as I know, it’s just like a cotton bud and they’re looking .. they just scrape it in your mouth, they’re getting the little cells, your tongue and cheeks will give off cells and saliva, and the testing for any trace of THC in those cells or saliva.
I think it’s just like a little blue line, like a pregnancy test, actually, so they swirl it around your mouth, and they
set it set it aside for ten minutes and then it diffuses up through the chemicals.
And if the THC is present, a little blue line comes out like a baby.
So you got to be careful not to confuse those two.
Can you refuse to be drug tested?
And can you refuse it, was the other part of that question?
I mean, of course, you can, but it is highly inadvisable.
The maximum penalty effective penalty for a first offence, drug driving is three months disqualification and a fine.
The effective penalty for refusing a swab is up to three years.
So it is highly inadvisable to refuse the swab, somebody near and dear to me, back in the early days of swabbing, the police, used to put it in in the mouth themselves and switched around.
And this person sitting next to me said, you are not putting that in my mouth.
And they gave it to her to do herself.
And now they always do that, I think, in Queensland as well, you do it yourself,
The short answer is don’t refuse, is the legal advice.
I mean, unless you unless you’re prepared for the consequences,
Is there any CBD oil that you can drive with without being risk of RDT?
The question was, are there some CBD oils with no THC?
The answer is yes.
Generally, they have been purified or isolated when the cannabis plant grows some are high in CBD genetically
and low in THC.
Others are high in THC and low in CBD.
Some are balanced.
That’s mainly because with prohibition, people have wanted the highest possible THC because I wanted to feel high, stoned, so the breeding has gone that way.
The breeding has come back the other way now because of the medical industry and medicinal cannabis,
so there are lots of high CBD strains.
But if generally if you have a whole plant medicine, there’ll be a small amount at least of THC in that medication.
I haven’t heard of a CBD oil that has zero percent THC naturally.
So they’ll have been extracted essentially.
And it’s true that whole-plant medicines, full-spectrum medicines are more effective.
That small amount of THC and the other cannabinoids, minor cannabinoids and terpenes are going to be beneficial as well, but that you can get zero percent THC, CBD and they’re called isolates.
So they’ve been isolated in the lab.
They’ll get a standard plant and take out the THC and hopefully leave everything else.
But sometimes you can just extract pure CBD molecules and you can get pure CBD powder, which is called an isolate.
Don’t these drug laws tempt people to drive without a licence?
And the question was, don’t these drug laws tempt people to drive without a licence or at least take the risk?
And the answer is the penalty, of course. Yes.
And worse still, what they tend to do it just for example, a recent study was done of you know, if you’re charged with possession of cannabis, if you’re caught with cannabis, there is a cautioning system.
A recent study from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research showed that Mosman, Bellevue Hill, et cetera, really high rates of cautioning, Moree, Burke, Tabulam Casino, really low rates of cautioning.
So what you get is a targeting of drug driving in low socio-economic areas and then people lose their licence and then they drive while disqualified.
Driving while disqualified carries a jail time.
So what you then get is this is this catastrophic escalation of offending conduct, which leads to a whole range of things, drive while disqualified imprisonment.
We all know that if you go to jail once, your chances of going back in the next five years is well over 50 percent.
Not only that, but if young men characterising this are driving without a licence because they’ve lost it, that’s where you get the bad police chases.
That’s where you get deaths. That’s where you get all of that.
So all of that harm, all as a result of some ‘pissy’ no harm, offence … pardon me.
If you’re buying something over the counter in Lismore,
I don’t think it will be…. as far as I know, there’s no legally available CBD over the counter yet, although
the laws have changed, so it may not be legal.
But if that CBD does have any THC in it, then you’re at risk of testing positive.
The risk is low if you don’t smoke cannabis, which I don’t know if you do or not, and if it’s only a very small amount of THC, your risk is lower again.
And if it’s oils, your risk is lower again, then vaporising so…
The answer is yes, you are putting yourself at a little bit of risk because we don’t know what’s in that CBD, if that CBT is no THC, CBD.
There’s no risk and there’s definitely no risk of impairment.
RDT and ‘contamination’
I’ve had very few because my experience is, and this is really going to shock you, a lot of hemp farmers also smoke.
It reminds me very much, in the 1980s, I went down to Tasmania.
Tasmania is the biggest grower of opium poppies in the southern hemisphere.
They have a massive poppy industry there.
And I met a farmer there and I was looking around his poppy farm and I said, do you ever get, you know, sort of tempted?
And he goes, oh, no, don’t be stupid, except see that bottle of whisky there?
And he had a bottle of whisky that was a one third poppy seeds.
And he said, if anyone in the family gets sick, we find this really effective.
And I’m thinking go hard.
That is the same as hemp farmers in my experience.
So, yes, people have been have come before me with two kinds of contamination.
One is if they’re in a small enclosed space and the other is was a particular woman, several of them.
But one particular woman stands out who is a carer and who was cleaning the implements, cleaning the bongs, doing all of that stuff for someone who was dying.
And there was probably oral contamination.
But there are also people who would come before the court, particularly amphetamines, some of them were smokers.
And it occurred to me that, you know, there was some spicing up going on that would then lead to amphetamine contamination.
But also, I can’t remember the stat I’m probably wrong, but something like 10 percent of all hundred dollar notes in America will test positive for cocaine.
The testing is getting really, really good and really fine.
So, you know, it’s a problem area.
It may be a defence if you can show that you had no honest or reasonable view that you had any THC in your system, which is a bit harder if you’re a grower and a smoker.
Gerald. Yes, yes, that is a study of one.
I don’t know, but the law says that any species of the genus cannabis is unlawful.
So if it is of that plant family, I’m not a biologist, then you’re buggered.
Am I at risk of RDT when taking CBD oil, which have a small amount of THC?
So the comment there is if I take CBD regularly, you know, it does actually THC can be detected.
The question was a comment really that, this man was taking CBD oil, which had a small amount of THC
in there, less than a percent by weight.
But consistently taking that medication over time resulted in a positive blood test positive saliva test.
So there’s the answer to that.
Yes, there is a risk there.
THC is a fat-soluble molecule, which means that when you take it, it can get into your body, it can get into your brain and your nerves and work as a medicine.
But it also means that after eight hours, when you’re not going to have any impairment or effect or high feeling from that THC, it will remain in your body.
And if you take it steadily every day, which is the best way to take cannabis medicines, your body will eventually reach a balance point and have a lot of THC stored in it, although it’s not active.
And if you have someone that’s been using cannabis, medicinally or recreationally for 10 or 20 or 30 years.
The time for that cannabis to completely exit your body can be two weeks, it can be four weeks, it could be three months, it could be six months down the track.
If you lose a bit of weight because you go on a diet, you’ll have a spike of THC in your blood.
So it takes a long time to get out of your body and it doesn’t get out if you consistently taking it every day.
Does body weight make any difference with drug testing?
I don’t think it would make much difference.
The question was, does weight make any difference to the detection of THC in your body if you’re taking a CBD oil that contains some THC?
I don’t think so. I don’t think it does make any difference.
I think it’s such a low level, as Dave was saying that.
It’s minuscule and THC, unlike alcohol, I think, well, alcohol is similar, but unlike a lot of drugs, is not directly related to size.
So you can have a big man that is very sensitive to THC and you can have a tiny old lady that soaks it up like a sponge.
So it’s very personal in that sense.
Is there any difference in the effectiveness of cannabis as a medicine between isolates and whole-plant extracts?
The question was if there is any difference in efficacy of cannabis as a medicine between isolates, which is just the CBD or the THC molecule, and the whole plant, which is all those other entourage molecules?
My opinion and science confirm each other in that sense.
So there have been some studies done on this. I know mainly about CBD comparing a CBD isolette to a full spectrum CBD and the dosing required to get the same clinical response was four to five times the required amount.
So generally isolates, they are less effective. You need to dose more heavily.
And the funny thing is isolates are more expensive because they have more work done to them to get them isolated.
So that’s the same as encapsulated medicines, the amount of work that the company has to do reflected in the cost.
So isolates cost more than full spectrum products.
Do Tumeric and pepper need to be hated to be activated?
Yeah, look, I’ve got a question on terpenes.
You’re talking about those earlier on about, the different chemicals in plant products, molecules, excuse me, Tumeric is often talked about a lot and pepper…
Do they need to be heated when they put together synergistically or they just as beneficial when you put them together, you know, without heating?
It’s a very good question.
And the question was, does Tumeric and pepper need to be hated to be effective?
And that’s funny you should say that, because I got a big interest in tumeric myself.
The answer is hating is detrimental to the medical effects of tumeric.
So when you heate up tumeric, the active ingredient, curcumin, and like cannabis, there’s multiple curcumins and multiple other things in tumeric as well.
So if you’re buying a generic, the same rules as cannabis apply, don’t get an isolated curcumin, get a concentrated or a whole plant extract.
So if you heat up curcumin or tumeric, which you do say in the powdering process or if you boil it for tea, you’ll actually break down the active ingredient, which is curcumin.
And black pepper does contain β-Caryophyllene.
But that’s not the main reason it’s used in tumeric. Studies on tumeric initially that promote that black pepper, we’re done on isolates.
So when they isolated the curcumin, they found that you could take really big doses and you weren’t getting
very good plasma levels.
Then it was found out that if you added black pepper, you would get better plasma levels from that tumeric.
The thing is, with tumeric, if you actually don’t extract the curcumin, it’s actually got really good absorptive potential.
It absorbs really well in your body because if you have reduced tumeric, you’ll know that its oily and you get a sticky, oily orange colour everywhere and your kitchen.
But that oil makes the curcumin fat-soluble, so when they isolated that curcumin, it became not fat-soluble.
So that’s the reason that people always say black pepper is so important.
I don’t think it’s a hundred percent necessary if you’ve got fresh juice tumeric, for instance, but often it’s put in I put it in my particular tumeric product for completeness.
It’s also got your β-Caryophyllene it’s got your Piperine in there as well, which are all excellent things for your body and pepper on its own .. it’s the reason we take it.
It’s very good for us.
So to answer that question is, no, you shouldn’t heat your train wreck to get the best absorptive results
and black pepper is useful.
If it’s an isolette, it’s not going to harm you and you might as well put it in.
But I don’t think it makes a large amount of difference to your blood plasma levels of curcumin.
Member of the Audience: Can I say something on that?
Because I’ve I’ve been making herbal medicine.
With tumeric and peppercorn and CBD dominant hemp for quite a few years now.
And when I got into it, I started looking into all the cannabinoids that are out there, not just ones that I’ve heard
of peppercorn with tumeric.
And basically what I learnt was that the β-Caryophyllene, which is BCP for short from the black peppercorn, which is ideal, has to be freshly ground to get it reaches well, it’s still got its acids in it.
And with that, you don’t want to get it cooked to too extreme heats, but you do want to heat it because that actually infuses it and gets it to that ability to be up to 1000 times more effective, which is what they believe.
It can be up to two thousand if done in laboratory conditions with exact ratios.
And basically they stumbled on it because they weren’t selling any colon cancer medications to India in the Middle East, where tumeric and pepper corns are greatly consumed.
I actually basically when I talk to people, I basically tell them that I add tumeric, Ginger and Peppercorn for all the values that they have and that I always use freshly ground, black pepper corn but I don’t use anything out of pocket or anything because it evaporates and basically it becomes oxalate at such a fast rate.
You’ve got to capture it really quickly for it to be effective.
That’s my experience.
And also when you’re talking about isolates, I’ve got CBG isolate at home and I’ve actually consume it and it basically knocks me out, which is kind of strange because I get about twenty-five minutes of really nice euphoric feeling, and then I just basically Zonk and it can be very handy.
So I was for emergency occasions, but I find that for me to have that if I had my honey prior to having it, it has a greater effect because it opens up the receptors because it’s got all the other phyto cannabinoids in there.
So the entourage effect of those cannabinoids, I do really play a role.
We can tap into terpenes and flavonoids, but they all just basically in principle cannabinoids and they all have an active role to play.
And I was just talking about terpenes again there and isolates versus the whole plant.
And yet they’re all very important.
And that is the entourage effect. That is what Whole Plant medicine is.
So it is very important, I believe, to have that whole plant medicine.
Thanks for that comment.
There was just a brief comment from Facebook saying how to use tumeric, but, how to use tumeric.
Tumeric has been shown to increase endocannabinoid production in our bodies, increases our own natural levels of cannabinoids.
Tumeric should be used in a small amount regularly so.
We have a sort of a straight cold pressed, turmeric, ginger, honey, cinnamon, black pepper mixture,
and we say take 20, 25 mils twice a day.
So it’s regularity with these with all these things.
Cannabinoid medicines, plant medicines, having a bigger amount in one go is not necessarily going to benefit you, but it’s at regular support of your system.
And that regular endpoint of any plant medicine, I think, which is very important in getting a great clinical result.
If you take things intermittently, you don’t get those results.
Tumeric, Honey, Ginger, cinnamon and black peppers.
That would be lovely.
What should I do for an inflamatory autoimmune condition?
I have, autoimmune, iatrogenic auto immune conditions, including nephrotic syndrome and inflammatory kind of things like permanent brain inflammation, shingles and so on.
What do you recommend that I should do?
Because in most of the conditions that I have, there is no orthodox treatment, that’s safe.
Said the question was what I do for a medicinal caused inflammatory autoimmune condition.
With anything that causes an autoimmune condition, there’s some sort of triggering initial episode or compound that is going to cause an overt inflammatory response.
OK, so this was a new medicine that was being trialled, and it obviously did cause an inflammatory response and a big one.
And when your body does that, there’s a lot of it at the moment talking about Covid with what they
call the cytokine storm.
So your body senses there’s something wrong and it makes antibodies to everything that’s there at the moment.
And that might be your muscles or your tendon tissues or your brain and your nervous tissues.
And from then on, your body sees them as ‘other’, sees them as something that needs to be fixed up and needs to be gotten rid of.
But obviously, if you’re trying to get rid of your nerves, it’s going to cause a big problem.
In the conventional medical landscape, they would have given you … I’m sure they still try to give you lots
and lots of steroids, prednisone and that sort of thing, to dampen the immune response.
The next step will be to give you some sort of chemotherapeutic agents, which essentially immunosuppressed.
You say things like methotrexate would be another thing that may have been offered to you.
And those things are essentially suppressing your own immune system so that you don’t get that excess
inflammation to yourself.
So whatever the cause of that that initial trigger, you get these immune attacks upon yourself.
CBD, it would be the first place to start in in fairly high dosing, a little bit more than you would use,
let’s just say, to balance your THC use.
CBD got that excellent antiinflammatory effect and it’s going to promote the strengthening of the particularly inflammatory and immune response receptors on your body, and then your body will be able to down regulate that that better.
You probably also be using THC for associated pain, for instance, or sleep issues or anything else that’s going along.
But that wouldn’t be a mainstay.
You’d be looking at a fair bit of CBD, a moderate amount of THC.
Oral would be fine for a longer duration to help reduce that inflammatory response.
Then I would also add in other anti inflammatories, natural ones.
So tumeric, curcumin, Copaiba oil, β-Caryophyllene, the terpene.
You can get that as an essential oil and use them as well.
Anything that’s going to lower inflammation in your body but not give you a detrimental effect.
I have a lot of patients, what you’re describing can be caused by many, many things and people call it fibromyalgia.
Some people call it MS.
There’s a lot of different diseases, as it were, that are basically the same sort of thing and over inflammatory
response against some part of yourself.
The cannabinoid system wants to bring everything back into balance, your body knows you’re inflamed but it’s
accidentally doing it to itself.
So supporting that system to help bring that balance back is a very, very wise thing to do.
So in short, CBD, oil, THC, oil, Tumeric, other inflammatories such as Copaiba, cut out any inflammatory agents from your body, so you’re looking at what you eat, cutting out any herbicide and pesticide
contaminated foods, which is all standard wheat, cereals, sugar, potatoes, getting a clean diet free of chemicals because you’ve already got a lot of information to deal with and maximising that endocannabinoid system as well.
So that will be a brief synopsis of how I deal with that.
RDT causes unnecessary stress that worsens patients condtions
So the comment there was stress seems to worsen this man’s condition, and that’s 100 percent true.
You know, stress from whatever… be it physical or mental or emotional stress will release adrenaline and cortisol in your body.
Those things will heighten your inflammatory response, which will promote extracting blood sugars from your body so that you’ve got the energy to run and fight.
So stress is inducing inflammation in your body.
So initially it will help reduce it.
But then in the long term, if you’ve got chronic stress, it’s going to deplete, deplete you and worsen that inflammatory response.
I think the comment was also the drug driving testing is causing stress.
And it really it’s a spiral.
And one of the most criminal things about this stupidity is that it causes stress to people who can least afford it.
I don’t just mean financially, I mean stress wise, and hence the begging, you know, the begging in court.
You know, people cannot live without their licence and struggle to live with every time they’re driving, looking over their shoulder.
It’s just it’s it’s appalling.
And that stress thing is so relevant.
Plenty of my patients have commented to me that.
Before they’ve taken their oils, their anxiety is reduced and it’s purely because of that reason, they’ve spent their whole life feeling criminalised, being worried about getting tested when they go to the shops or drop off their kids if they’re taking a CBD oil.
And that’s actually, you know, causing them more stress.
And just by you know, that’s one of the reasons I think just entering the legal system, you get that little bit of paperwork, which in itself, although it won’t cover driving, helps alleviate a lot of stress from people’s lives because you can’t get in trouble for possession.
You can’t get in trouble for travelling or moving around.
You can for driving, but for everything else, there’s a lot of stress lifted from that person.
And also what strong you linked to the stresses that fear cascade, which was spoken about earlier on by the speaker, the which we don’t realise how often how powerful it is.
Copaiba oil for inflamation
And it wasn’t what my original question as I was going to ask you about.
You mentioned Copaiba oil, which I found just amazing.
We’re dealing with inflamation, when someone suggested this to me a while ago, I thought, oh, it’s going to be horribly bitter and this can be really unpleasant.
But actually, it’s very mild.
And I would really, um, really put my hand up personally for the use of Copaiba oil.
Well, I think it’s very powerful and very useful that you can speak to that a little bit, John.
Definitely. So I’ll repeat the question.
The question is this gentleman’s found Copaiba oil, very beneficial for inflammation in his body,
and that’s that’s my favourite terpene the β-Caryophyllene, the Copaiba plant is a plant which is grown in South America.
And it’s used as a herbal medicine over there and has been for many, many years.
So the essential oil of that plant, the particular one we have is 48 percent pure β-Caryophyllene.
So Copaiba is just a plant, an essential oil extract.
It’s available, yeah, across the road and the apothecary, it’s C-o-p-a-i-b-a, so Copaiba is high in β-Caryophyllene.
Yes, it is good for inflammation.
Do you have the right to deny the road side swab test?
The question is, it’s a good question, do you have the right to deny the swab test and go straight to the secondary test?
The short … you know, with blood samples, they actually give you a sample.
You know, if you have a blood test, they give you a sample so you can get it tested, but they don’t with the swabs and it’s not part of the procedure.
Secondly, can you refuse the first part of the test and then go straight to the second the first test by the roadside?
Not complying with that?
It’s an offence in itself as but it’s less penalty than the second one. But again, inadvisable.
And the reason is because the Dreager test probably catches more than the first test, even though the first test is unreliable.
So it’s a little bit of damned if you do and damned if you don’t, but you will get charged with failing to comply with the first test.
If you happen to have a medical reason for not complying with the first test, then maybe you can run a defence to that.
But I’ve yet to see one.
The question is asked the questioner,who suffers from a range of medical conditions that makes it
impossible or difficult for her to remove her mask without having an adverse medical reaction to that.
Yes, that could provide a defence. I’ve yet to see it run.
And, it would be risky, but it’s possible.
And I’d be happy to help you if that occurs.
No, that’s that’s.
That is a compound which helps absorption of other drugs into your body, it’s an adjuvant,
they call it an addition to a lot of medications that facilitate better absorption through the membranes of your body,
Is there a testing device that people can use to self-assess levels of THC in their system?
The question is, is there any simple method that a person can use themselves like that alkaliser at the club or the pub where you can blow into and get a rating of alcohol? Is there any similar test for people to use to assess whether they’re going to test positive to THC?
No, there is no simple test that you can use.
Well, if you have access to a dreagar machine, then you could use that.
But you need a machine, and I think they’re about 18,000 dollars each, so I would think that it’s … to even the Nimbin Bollo might not put one in quickly.
But short answer is no, there is none.
It’s a great idea. I mean, wouldn’t it be good if you could take a swab and do your own pregnancy type test and see whether you going to test positive or not?
The problem is, of course, that with cannabis as alcohol has variable.
So there’s a time period.
But my understanding is it’s an even more extreme, time sensitive period with the swab testing.
So if you get in your car and you drive, you test negative when you leave Lismore and you get to Nimbin and you test it again, then there are risks because of the variability of the levels.