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A Spilt Milk Pill Tester Explains How Things Went So Wrong

Dr David Caldicott is an emergency room doctor in Canberra who has been campaigning for pill testing and harm reduction in Australia more than a decade. Here he gives his account of how the much-lauded pill testing pilot at Canberra’s Spilt Milk music festival got cancelled. […]

Feds’ festival intervention bitter pill for ACT Government

Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs, and Mental Health, Shane Rattenbury has accused the Canberra Liberals of undermining the ACT’s democratic processes and endangering public health by using their Federal counterparts to force the cancellation of the pioneering pill-testing trial at next month’s Spilt Milk music festival in Commonwealth Park. […]

Pill Testing At Spilt Milk Festival Reportedly Won’t Be Happening

While the trial was heralded as a win for harm reduction among festival patrons, Gino Vumbaca, the president and co-founder of Harm Reduction Australia — the parent body behind STA-SAFE — confirmed to HuffPost Australia that the advisory body had only been made aware by the NCA of additional documentation requirements on Wednesday, and then 24 hours later were told it had missed the deadline […]

Prohibition doesn’t work… what does “working” mean

We know that proponents of prohibition have asserted that its overall objective is to reduce drug use. And we know that this is why it is ultimately ineffective, because drug use has shown no signs of a decrease in the 40-plus years since the war on drugs was declared, and this is evidenced in expanding drug markets […]

Govt MP urges treatment-first drugs policy

A federal government MP, known for his conservative views, wants a rethink on how the justice system treats illicit drug users. Liberal MP Craig Kelly says Portugal has had “remarkable results” since it changed from treating minor drug use as a criminal issue to a health issue in 2001. […]

Duterte’s ‘drug war’ is fueling the spread of disease

President Rodrigo Duterte’s “drug war” has left thousands dead at the hands of police, but it is also threatening lives in a different way. Front-line advocates in this city in the central Philippines say the violent anti-drug campaign is pushing users ever further underground, fueling the spread of disease by stopping efforts to get them clean needles.  […]

New calls to change approach to drug abuse

David Grant, the Penington Institute’s acting CEO says the survey’s findings further highlight Australia’s existing “war on drugs” approach to addiction isn’t working. “We need to treat drug use and addiction for what it is – a serious community health issue with widespread implications for our society,” he said. […]

Philippines drug war alarms 39 countries in UN

In a joint statement delivered by Iceland through representative Högni Kristjánsson on Thursday, the countries noted that the human rights situation in the Philippines continues to be of serious concern, particularly in the light of killings associated with the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. The states called on the Philippines “to cooperate with the international community to pursue appropriate investigations into these incidents, in keeping with the universal principles of democratic accountability and the rule of law.” […]

Police support injecting room in Melbourne

‘Heroin overdoses are predominantly a health issue that commonly cause death and leave our members and other emergency service workers frequently picking up the pieces when lives are tragically lost,’ union secretary Wayne Gatt said on Monday. The union said a trial for safe injecting rooms – like the one at Sydney’s Kings Cross – would not affect police operations. […]

Drug-testing welfare recipients an ‘absolute disgrace’, Australian of the Year says

McGorry is the latest prominent Australian to voice his concern about the measure, which will see 5,000 welfare recipients drug tested at three trial locations. He has warned the policy fails to understand the intersection between mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction. The consequence will be to drive vulnerable Australians with a mental health issue away from the welfare system, and most likely into homelessness. […]

A medically supervised injection facility matters for Victoria – and for more inclusive mental health support

The many people who died from preventable heroin overdoses were members of a Melbourne community – and their lives mattered. We can choose to be the kind of community that supports each other when people are struggling and need help. Now we need to make sure that establishing a medically supervised injection centre in North Richmond remains a priority, and becomes an essential part of a more welcoming and inclusive Melbourne. […]

Drug testing welfare recipients is about money not love

The personal cost and harm of this policy is much more obvious than the love. We know that risky alcohol and drug use are closely linked to living in remote and disadvantaged areas. Being marginalised and disadvantaged leads to increased drug and alcohol use, not the other way around. Targeting already marginalised people in this blunt way will only increase disadvantage and social isolation. […]

Inquiry denies proposal for safe injection room in North Richmond

Harm Reduction Australia executive officer Greg Denham said a safe injecting room would not only save lives but would also improve the amenity of the area around North Richmond. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Cameron Loy said injecting drugs was a health issue. He said North Richmond Community Health Centre dealt with one fifth of drug overdoses in the state. […]

Staying in The Loop: the organisation testing drugs, one festival at a time

Critics of The Loop and other similar services often lobby the accusation that drug testing facilitates drug use. But the results speak for themselves – around 20 per cent of the people who choose to get their drugs tested turn the rest in, and many who do are in possession of the most dangerous samples. […]

Drug testing welfare recipients a ‘tick a box’ exercise that can never work

Already treatment services are full and clinicians are fully occupied. There is the idea that one might be able to purchase a treatment place for someone out of the schedules in this welfare reform bill. All that will mean is that someone else will miss out on a treatment place, someone who perhaps is motivated to seek treatment. […]

Drug testing welfare recipients will only result in more drug dealing

This is an attack on poor areas by the rich. It is lopsided. Oh, and speaking of rich people — did I mention that while ice is on the decrease, cocaine is on the up? Where, among other places? Canberra. You heard correctly. Canberrans use more cocaine than most Australians. So if we’re going to drug test people, let’s drug test everyone on the taxpayer purse. […]

Plan to drug test welfare recipients will ‘increase crime and drive social division’, say medical

Nearly 1000 doctors, nurses, addiction specialists and allied health professionals are pressuring the Senate crossbench to reject the Turnbull government’s plan to drug-test welfare recipients. The medical professionals – who have more than 20,000 years combined practical experience – have signed an open letter saying there is no evidence to suggest the policy will work and will not help people with drug addictions […]

Rally urges government to back safe injection rooms for Richmond

Hundreds of Richmond residents have called on the Andrews government to reconsider its opposition to safe injecting rooms following the deaths of 34 drug addicts in the laneways of North Richmond last year. But Premier Daniel Andrews again refused to budge on the issue, which could play a key role in the battle with the Greens for the seat of Richmond at next year’s election. […]

Why safe drug-consumption rooms make more sense than testing welfare recipients

Given the huge amount of taxpayers money spent on drug law enforcement – with few results – and the manifest benefits of such safe and effective facilities, it is high time that Australian governments show a capacity for nimbleness and innovation by opening a network of drug-consumption rooms where they are most needed. […]

Coalition warned drug dealing will rise if testing of welfare recipients goes ahead

The head of Australia’s largest youth drug and alcohol rehabilitation service has warned the government’s plan to test welfare recipients will force more people into drug dealing. “That’s why this is a stupid, stupid idea that is not based on evidence but is based on someone not looking at the literature and pretending they have the answers,” the chief executive of the Ted Noffs Foundation, Matt Noffs, told Guardian Australia. […]

How to help young people minimise drug harm

This is entirely about harm minimisation, not hypocrisy or wowserism. The Age has long argued the “war on drugs” has failed dismally and that regulation and education, rather than prohibition, would, as it has elsewhere, save lives, reduce drug use and cut crime. […]

Vic drug inquiry considers injecting rooms

Supervised injection rooms, legalising cannabis, and whether or not illicit drugs should be decriminalised will be up for discussion at a Victorian inquiry into drug law reform. Students for Sensible Drug Policy Australia have recommended the decriminalisation of drug use and possession. The group wants the state government to legalise recreational cannabis and say it should be regulated like alcohol, according to their written submission. […]

Human rights campaigners fear returning to the Philippines after Duterte’s threats

Amnesty International Campaign Manager Michael Hayworth said pressure needs to be put on the United Nations to mount an independent investigation into human rights abuses in the Philippines. “The Australia government along with other governments in the region can send a loud and clear message to President Duterte that this sort of behaviour, these killings are completely unacceptable” he said. […]

How to help people do drugs safely: let them know what they’re really taking

One in five of the people who had their drugs tested chose to voluntarily hand over more drugs for disposal because they weren’t comfortable taking them after the consultation. And it has provided Measham – who researches trends in recreational drug taking – valuable data about the changing way Brits are getting intoxicated to help them do it more safely. […]

Furore erupts over killing of teenager as Philippines drugs war escalates

The Philippines police came under pressure on Friday to explain the killing of a high-school student after the 17-year-old became one of at least 80 people shot dead this week in an escalation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s ruthless war on drugs. Witnesses told the ABS-CBN channel that the teenager did not have a firearm and police officers at the scene handed him a gun, asked him to fire the weapon and run. […]

32 killed in Phil drug war’s bloodiest day

The intensity of the crackdown has alarmed the international community, and activists and human rights groups say police have been executing suspects and planting drugs and guns at crime scenes. “There were 32 killed in Bulacan in a massive raid, that’s good,” Duterte said in a speech. […]

HelpNotHarm: but what about rights?

Wodak, president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, said he was “stunned” by the decision to “strip people with alcohol and drug problems of income support payments”. For many people who use drugs, or are aware of the reality outside of the dominant narrative, this policy proposal is hardly shocking. […]

Just say ‘know’ to drugs: can testing facilities make festivals safer?

A growing number of festivals are now openly discussing a new approach to drugs, based on information and harm reduction rather than criminal justice. This shift in attitudes is coming at a very welcome time. Recent developments in the European drug market have seen an unprecedented rise in the strength of ecstasy tablets, with a number of recent reports of adverse health effects, including emergency medical treatment and fatalities, attributed to MDMA toxicity. […]

NZ’s Ross Bell: Police are not telling us enough about this killer drug

The people taking these cheap, poisonous products are largely young, poor and marginalised, and they’re not being protected. Wealthy, middle-aged people take plenty of drugs too, it’s just that they can afford better ones. We can’t keep relying on “just say no” as a model, it’s irresponsible. Our job as a caring society is to seek to mitigate and reduce harms by developing emergency response systems, getting mature legislation in place and addressing the underlying causes of drug use. […]

Prescription opioid epidemic coming to Australia

Much of American policy is designed to stop the flow of illicit drugs, which Dr Wodak said was close to useless in countries such as the United States and Australia, which have large borders. To address the growing problem, Dr Wodak made six recommendations, including increasing the availability of medical cannabis in Australia. […]

Tasmania: Time for a new tack on drug fight

Tasmania needs to listen to the experts — retired judges, magistrates, police commissioners, health experts and ex-premiers — and reorient resources towards preventing addiction. We need to intervene early, educate, fund more drug treatment programs and court mandated diversions, and decriminalise the personal use of drugs. […]

The real story of how ice is killing Australians isn’t found in scary headlines

Speaking of crime, what impact has ice had on rates of violent crime? A big one, according to the media. However, the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reports a recent downward trend in crimes such as robbery — down by 63 per cent since 2000 — which wasn’t the case during the heroin crisis of the 1990s, arguably the last time we were this concerned about an illicit drug. […]

Tas drug legalisation backed by ex-judge

A report calling on the Tasmanian government to decriminalise illegal drugs and invest more money in treatment services has the backing of a former chief magistrate. Community Legal Centres Tasmania on Monday released a study advocating a health-based approach to tackle the state’s “failing” war on drugs. […]

More executions reported in Philippines: UN experts

Reports of summary executions, including of children, are multiplying in the Philippines, three United Nations experts said Monday, urging the government to investigate and curb “spiralling rights violations”. “The Government of the Philippines must urgently address growing reports of human rights violations, including murder, threats against indigenous peoples and the summary execution of children,” the panel of three experts said in a statement. […]

ABC needs to report news not promote for-profit rehabs

A rehabilitation centre should be a sanctuary. Given that this facility is a private, unregulated clinic, there is little the government can do to regulate its actions. However, journalists can be more critical in colluding with such services by considering what the motives are for a story when it is being pitched, and questioning whether using and fully identifying vulnerable people as case studies is ethical. […]

Heroin deaths on track to pass statewide road toll in three years

Alcohol and Drug Foundation national policy manager Geoff Munro says the heroin toll will continue to rise. “We are disappointed that Victoria cannot follow the example of New South Wales of a supervised injecting room where people can get the medical assistance they need in case of an overdose,” he said. […]

ACT Labor conference forces caucus to consider pill testing at Spilt Milk

The ACT Labor caucus will be forced to consider pill testing at Spilt Milk 2017 after a motion was unanimously passed at its conference on Saturday. Pressure has been mounting on the government to allow harm minimisation groups to help people test their illicit drugs for dangerous substances. […]

Feds approve Ottawa’s first supervised injection site

The federal government signed off on the health centre’s application Wednesday after receiving the request for an injection site last January. Once a follow-up inspection is done, clients will enter one of five injection stations on the first floor of the health centre’s facility and shoot his or her drugs under the supervision of health experts. […]

Why Jokowi’s war on drugs is doing more harm than good

Far from having a deterrent effect, the number of drug-related crimes in Indonesia increased in the months after the executions were carried out in January and April 2015. During the subsequent crackdown, researchers and advocates also documented an increase in the use of coercive measures, prison overcrowding, including raids by law enforcement, forced drug testing, and compulsory detention. […]

Philippine leader says drugs war ‘trivialised’ by human rights concerns

Duterte wasted little time in his annual state of the nation address to defend a crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos. He said that though he valued human life, he needed to tackle “beasts and vultures” that were preying on helpless people and stopping foreign investment from pouring in. […]

Singapore hangs Malaysian drug trafficker

“(Srivijayan) was executed despite a pending appeal to have his case taken to the International Court of Justice, which would look into allegations that he was not given a fair trial,” the UN human rights body said in a statement. James Gomez, Amnesty International’s director for South East Asia and the Pacific, said: “That this cruel punishment has been administered after a trial filled with flaws makes this flouting of international law all the more disturbing.” […]

Why is Australia’s most progressive Premier blocking an injection room trial?

The paramedics who treat overdosed heroin addicts want a safe injecting room trial. The Richmond traders and locals who deal with users want a trial. The local government backs it. Health experts across the fields demand it. And Victoria’s coroner has twice recommended the state trial a medically supervised injecting room. […]

Uruguay, First Country in the World to Legally Regulate Marijuana, Begins Retail Sales Next Week

Next week, Uruguay will begin sales of legal marijuana for adult residents. The legalization proposal was put forward by former President José Mujica in 2012 as part of a comprehensive package aimed at improving public safety. Uruguay’s parliament gave final approval to the measure in December 2013, making theirs the first country in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults. […]

Heroin use in Melbourne hits 20-year high

Fiona Patton, a member of the Upper House of Victoria parliament, said there was no serious organization that opposed safe injecting rooms. “Anyone with any common sense who has been there on the streets will see it is not working and people are dying,” Patton said. […]

Drug addiction researcher says new injecting room would save lives

After four years researching the dark world of drug addiction in the inner west, Jeremy Aitken believes having a place in the community where users could safely inject drugs would save lives. Having seen users accessing needle exchange programs, only to overdose through misadventure outside clinic doors, the academic and author is weighing in on the debate over the need for a second supervised injecting room in Sydney. […]

New Richmond alliance pushes for safe injecting room

“Visit a facility, talk to a real addict; to obtain some real facts before dismissing the proposal,” former AFP commissioner Mick Palmer said. “The reality is the facts speak for themselves and the huge success of Sydney’s [injecting centre] cannot be ignored, with major benefits and minimal negatives identified in a dozen independent evaluations and reviews.” […]

Why music festivals need to get smarter about drugs

The hardline approach does not work. That has been proven by now. You cannot stop the drug problem by waging war on it, just as you cannot stop something as ephemeral as “terror” by pledging to fight it with guns, and with arrests, and with the restrictions of civil liberties. Turning drug users and drug dealers into the enemy is like cutting off your toe to avoid the worst of tinea; like murdering your children to make sure someone else doesn’t first. […]

NZ Drug Foundation calls for decriminalisation of all drugs, regulated cannabis market

Criminal penalties for the possession, use and social supply of all drugs – not just cannabis – should be scrapped, the Drug Foundation has proposed. It announced the policy on Wednesday at its Parliamentary symposium, also calling for a strictly regulated cannabis market and more resources for prevention, education and treatment. […]

Decriminalisation Is The Only Way To Arrest Australia’s Drug Problem

The answer is not to give away the game of trying to control an uncontrollable market, but rather to learn from history and approach the problem with a clear headed focus on evidence. The answer lies in decriminalisation of personal use of drugs, regulation of the market and reducing the demand for drugs, not a focus on stopping what is a tidal wave of supply. […]

Covert drug testing reveals many Kiwi festival-goers consuming dodgy drugs

Undercover testing of illicit drugs at Kiwi music festivals has revealed that a third of substance-taking festivalgoers are consuming dodgy drugs. The findings have sparked a call from Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne to introduce legal testing of party drugs at festivals to reduce harm, labelling it logical and “common sense”. […]

United Nations and World Health Organization Call for Drug Decriminalization

In a joint statement, the United Nations and World Health Organization expressed their support for countries in the review and repeal of laws that criminalize drug use and possession of drugs for personal use. This joint statement, which addresses discrimination in health care settings, comes in light of the Sustainable Development Goals which aim to “ensure that no one is left behind”. […]

Drug-Taking is Inevitable at Festivals, So We Must Focus On Keeping People Safe

For too long, the debate around regulating recreational drug culture has been driven by those removed from its epicentre, albeit with clear concern for those at risk – politicians, law enforcement, parents of drug users, or even services seeking to minimise associated harm. As it becomes increasingly critical to explore new approaches focusing on harm reduction, we need to stop judging other people’s choices if we are to help them stay safe. […]

Why We Shouldn’t Drug Test Poor People

The results are resoundingly clear: Drug testing is costly, invasive and ineffective. In recent years, seven US states with drug-testing programs have spent over $1 million, only to find that in six of them, fewer than 1 percent of beneficiaries tested positive, compared with about 10 percent of the general population. […]

Why opioid deaths are this generation’s Aids crisis

Drug users have long been one of the most demonised and marginalised groups in society – and a low priority for policymakers. This simply can’t continue. A public health crisis and loss of life on the scale currently being witnessed warrants an immediate, and unapologetically progressive response. […]

Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol and it’s failing for marijuana

The abolition of anti-pot laws wouldn’t induct us into the Age of Aquarius. As we’ve seen in America, it’s actually a pretty small step – but it might spare a few kids from the brutality of the prison system, while freeing up resources that could be put to better use elsewhere.  […]

Medical cannabis workshop: ‘incredibly cumbersome’ to get drugs to patients

David Caldicott, a senior medical lecturer at Australian National University told Guardian Australia there was a lack of clarity among both doctors and patients due to confusing government frameworks. “If you go to different states in Australia you see very different responses. It is still incredibly cumbersome to get drugs to patients. […]

Drug Addicts, Alcoholics To Be Denied Disability Pension Under New Government Rules

Federal parliament will debate whether people with a disability caused by drug or alcohol use should receive government pensions, in the latest controversial welfare clampdown to attract outrage from social agencies. Numerous welfare and social groups have voiced their outrage over the measure, saying it unfairly targets and marginalises people who struggle with addiction and serious substance abuse issues. […]

Mexico Legalizes Medical Marijuana

A decree issued by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto today confirmed that Mexico has legalized cannabis for medicinal use after overwhelming support from Mexico’s Lower House of Congress. […]

Tough response to ice ‘failing’: Palmer

Mick Palmer, who served as AFP commissioner from 1994 to 2001, says approaching ice use as social and health problem rather than a law enforcement issue would be more effective in curbing use and supply. “The whole aim of our illicit drug policy at the moment is harm minimisation. We’ve done nothing to minimise harm over 40 or 50 years, in fact in many ways we aggravate it,” he said ahead of a public forum in Brisbane on Wednesday. […]

Queensland’s prison policy is ‘stupid’, says former chief as he calls for drugs rethink

Queensland’s “stupid” rate of incarceration should push the state government towards legalising recreational drug supply, a former state jails boss has said. Keith Hamburger also hopes the Palaszczuk government will embrace proposals for Aboriginal-owned “rehabilitation healing” centres for Indigenous offenders, of whom there are “probably 1,000” now in jail who “don’t need to be in there”. […]