Buying ASX cannabis stocks? Here's what the Victorian government is considering right now

Victoria became the first state to legalise medicinal cannabis in 2016. Now the government is playing catch-up with other laws.

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Key points

  • ASX cannabis shares have broadly sold off over the past year
  • Victoria’s government is considering amending the state’s drug-driving laws to reflect the legality of medicinal marijuana
  • Around 65,000 people currently have medicinal cannabis prescriptions in Victoria, but they can run afoul of the law when they get behind the wheel

ASX cannabis stocks provide a valuable service to the many thousands of Australians who benefit from the legal, medicinal benefits of their product.

All told, the cannabis shares have grown, cured, and prepared medicinal marijuana products for more than 250,000 Australians. That's how many patients have received prescriptions over the past five years, according to data from the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics.

In Victoria alone, some 65,000 people currently have medicinal cannabis prescriptions.

And it's ASX cannabis stocks like Incannex Healthcare Ltd (ASX: IHL), Creso Pharma Ltd (ASX: CPH), and Cann Group Ltd (ASX: CAN) that make it all possible.

But using medicinal cannabis comes with an unexpected legal risk. One that Victoria's lawmakers are working on rectifying.

Victoria's road rules up for an overhaul

In what's likely to be welcome news to shareholders in ASX cannabis stocks, and more welcome still to patients taking medicinal marijuana, Victoria is looking to amend its drug-driving laws to reflect the legality of medicinal cannabis.

As The Guardian reports, the Road Safety Amendment Bill was introduced by newly elected Legalise Cannabis MPs. The bill was said to have support from both major parties. Yesterday, Victoria's government announced it would take up the issue within the next few months.

As it stands, it's a crime for a driver to have any trace of THC (the active component in marijuana) in their system. The problem here stems from the fact that THC can often be detected for many weeks after use. This means drivers with a legal prescription can find themselves guilty of drugged driving even if they're in no way impaired.

Under the Road Safety Amendment, the law would treat medicinal cannabis like other prescription medicines.

Labor MP Harriet Shing is a member of the medicinal cannabis and safe driving working group. She said it was a "significant priority" for the law to distinguish between the presence of THC in a person's system "and impairment".

According to Shing (quoted by The Guardian):

This work has been going on for a number of years now. The working group has actually discussed at length the complexities of this matter and the options and opportunities that might be available.

We need … to find a way through all of this so that all drivers are able to be safe on our roads and so that we can provide those medical supports that Victorians need and indeed deserve.

Legalise Cannabis MP Rachel Payne said, "We are hopeful a solution can be found fast, considering the negative impact the law currently has on Victorian patients every day."

How have these ASX cannabis stocks been tracking?

The ASX cannabis stocks we listed above have all seen big falls in their share prices over the last year.

Over the past 12 months:

  • Creso Pharma shares are down 76%
  • Cann Group shares are down 31%
  • Incannex Healthcare shares are down 70%

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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