Pill Testing Saves Lives.
The law and order approach to drug use hasn’t worked, and we’ve seen too many young people dying tragically at music festivals nationwide.
We have to accept that despite all the efforts on enforcement and education, some young people still take illicit drugs. The right thing to do is to try to minimise the tragic harm and deaths that can result.
Clearly, we cannot encourage people to make safer choices unless we actually engage with them. This means realising a new approach.
Led by the Greens, Canberra was the first Australian jurisdiction to realise a pill testing trial. Canberra is proof positive that pill testing works—and can potentially save lives.
The Greens were the first to advocate for a pill testing trial in the ACT. At the Groovin the Moo festival in Canberra in April 2018, the nation’s first pill testing trial went ahead.
What’s next for pill testing?
The Greens will continue to advocate for pill testing at all Canberra music festivals: with our Federal Greens colleagues making the case for pill testing at festivals across the country.
We also know that people consume illicit ‘party drugs’ outside of music festivals.
The ACT Greens believe we should also consider pill testing outside of music festivals, furthering reduce the potential harm from drug use.
In countries like the Netherlands, pill testing is already the norm, with testing available at health centres available on a regular basis.
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did you know?
Dr David Caldicott –Toxicologist, ANU College of Medicine
“By presenting consumers with simple facts about what’s in their substances, we can engage in a discussion that is based on the science of the hazards, rather than the morality of the hazards.”
Mick Palmer – Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner
“It makes absolute sense to try to test the quality of the drugs people are taking.”
Nicholas Cowdery – Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions
“Australia should introduce drug checking, as I would call it, at all public events where it is highly likely that people are going to be bringing drugs.”
PILLS CAN KILL
Australian ecstasy pills have the highest levels of unknown ingredients in the world, and are highest in the toxic substance para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA), also known as “Dr Death”. Across Australia, hundreds of people die as a result of drug overdoses from a range of drugs every year.
PILL TESTING SAVED LIVES IN CANBERRA.
A variety of substances were identified in pills at the Canberra trial, including high purity MDMA, cocaine and ketamine. One dangerous substance that has led to hospitalisations in New Zealand and deaths in the US, was confirmed amongst samples tested on-site.
PILL TESTING WORKS
Pill testing is successfully taking place in many European countries already. In Austria, two-thirds of drug users who were informed by a government-funded pill testing service of potential toxic harms decided not to consume their drugs, and told their friends not to either.
dispelling the myths
DOESN’T PILL TESTING JUST ENCOURAGE DRUG USE?
No. At the Canberra trial, 18% of those who had their pills tested said they would either discard the drugs in the amnesty bins provided or were uncertain as to what they would do as a result of the information provided by the service.
IS PILL TESTING ILLEGAL?
No, and a change of law is not even required. The ACT Government already has the power to authorise bodies to do pill testing. Police exercise discretion by not targeting people attending drug and alcohol services, because they understand the benefits they provide.
DON’T PEOPLE ALREADY KNOW THE RISKS?
At the first Canberra pill testing trial, 4 in 10 of those who had their pills tested said they were surprised by the results of testing. 4 in 10 of those who had their pills tested said that they would change their behaviour after finding out what was really in their pills.
ISN’T PILL TESTING INACCURATE?
While the kits you can by online provide limited information, a proper pill testing program involves trained chemists using laboratory grade equipment. This process is very accurate and provides a complete analysis of all the substances in a pill or powder.
WON’T PILL TESTING BE TOO EXPENSIVE?
The cost of laboratory grade pill testing is negligible at just a few hundred thousand for a year-round program. This investment would create huge savings in our healthcare system, as party drugs cause countless overdoses each year, as well as numerous fatalities.