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US policing strategies fuel drug trade increases

The so-called war on drugs in the United States has been a failure, with the added consequence that five decades of law enforcement efforts have forced drug traffickers to become more effective and efficient in distributing their wares. This frank assessment, by a group of researchers from several US universities, with additional input from Anthony Bebbington, from Australia’s University of Melbourne, is included in a new paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences […]

The War on Drugs is over. Long live the War on Drugs

If there was any sense to the logic that drugs busts lead to decreased drug use, we would not be in the middle of an overdose crisis, one of the most devastating public health crises in U.S. history. Despite literally tons of drug seizures over the last four decades, and millions of (mostly black and brown) people incarcerated for drug offenses, more than 70,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2017. […]

Just About Every Major Health Body In The Country Now Backs Pill Testing

Pill testing will not completely solve the problems associated with illicit drug consumption by young people at music festivals, but it does provide an avenue for opportunistic engagement with health professionals, drug and alcohol counsellors, and highly-trained peer educators. […]

Free pill testing offer for NT

Canberra doctor David Caldicott will fly up to Darwin and test pills for revellers at BASSINTHEGRASS free of charge, if the NT Government lets him. Dr Caldicott’s organisation, Pill Testing Australia, is offering its pilot pill testing program to any Australian jurisdiction keen to take up the offer. […]

AMA formally backs supervised pill testing

The AMA has reaffirmed its support for sanctioned, appropriately supervised, and monitored high-quality pill testing trials to minimise the risk to young people, and build an evidence base to determine the effectiveness of pill testing in Australia. At its meeting last week in Canberra, the AMA Federal Council formally and unanimously reinforced the AMA’s support for the trials. […]

‘Raft of solutions’ needed on drug deaths

The AMA Queensland has issued a statement calling for a controlled pill testing trial, following the worst season for drug-related deaths at music festivals to date. State president Dr Dilip Dhupelia said urgent action is required following the deaths of six young people from drugs consumed at music festivals this summer. […]

Tasmania’s Dark Mofo Festival May Have A Pill Testing Trial This Year

The organisers of Tasmania‘s Dark Mofo winter festival have indicated that they may offer a pill testing service at this year’s event, following on from a trial that was held last year in the Australian Capital Territory. ABC News report that representatives of the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), which runs the annual event, will be meeting with Pill Testing Australia on Monday for further discussions […]

Malaysia keeps death penalty

A decision in Malaysia to keep the death penalty could weigh on the futures of an Australian woman on death row there and a former policeman held in Australian immigration detention. Malaysia has rowed back on an earlier plan to repeal the death penalty, saying the government will abolish mandatory capital punishment but leave it for courts to decide whether a person convicted of a serious crime will hang. […]

‘It will take courage’: Coroner urges summit on drug decriminalisation

Among a list of 26 recommendations, Ms Grahame called for NSW Health to hold a drug summit hearing from experts in addiction, drug law reform and law enforcement, as well as current and former drug users, to develop policy that is “evidence-based and human rights based” and focusing on harm minimisation. […]

Drug Decriminalization in Portugal Learning from a Health and Human-Centered Approach

“Drug criminalization fuels the United States’ dual crises of mass criminalization & overdose deaths,” said Widney Brown, DPA’s Managing Director of Policy. “The Portuguese experience demonstrates that decriminalizing drugs – alongside a serious investment in treatment and harm reduction services – can significantly improve public safety and health.” […]

Pill testing trial for Groovin the Moo given go-ahead after spate of festival deaths

Pill testing trial for Groovin the Moo given go-ahead after spate of festival deaths – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Festival-goers will again be able to get their illicit drugs checked for dangerous substances at this year’s Groovin the Moo music festival in Canberra, after the ACT Government signed off on a trial being held inside the festival gates. […]

A Rally Against the NSW Government’s Live Music Laws Is Happening Next Thursday

Organisers of the rally want the government to form a roundtable to review the new rules impacting live music and to work with festival organisers to develop a transparent standard for policing and medical services. “We are for a solution that is proactive in the minimisation of harm. Not in the introduction of a poorly thought through method of regulation, for the purposes of media hype, re-election campaigns and economic gain”. […]

NSW government’s “War on Festivals” blamed for Mountain Sounds’ cancellation

As Mountain Sounds becomes the second victim of these regulations in the last week, it seems increasingly suspicious that forcing festivals to close down due to unrealistic costs is the Government’s way of preventing drug deaths. People are now calling this “The War on Festivals” and Sydney’s lock out laws are an example of how well-intended but out of touch government action can destroy an industry. […]

‘It is time’: City of Sydney councillors back pill-testing ‘dry-run’

City of Sydney councillors have backed calls for an urgent NSW drug summit and supported a pill-testing demonstration in a bid to drive down the number of young people dying at music festivals. Five young people have died from suspected drug overdoses at music festivals in Australia since September, reigniting heated debate over whether pill-testing should be trialled at the events. […]

Current drug laws contribute to unnecessary death

Whether motivated by self-centred pragmatism or ideological purity, the price that the community, families and individuals are paying for the opposition to pill testing is too high. Politicians must understand that human lives are not something to be traded away for the sake of keeping party members happy (and donating) or to defend a narrow ideal of what is acceptable for people to experience. […]

NZ: Free drug testing in spotlight as festival season kicks off

Event organisers couldn’t publicly state drug-testing kits were available at their venues because the Misuse of Drugs Act made it illegal to knowingly permit drug use at any premises. “Until the law changes we have to be discreet about where we are going.” […]

Which ACT politicians have tried cannabis, MDMA and acid?

“We make our harm-minimisation policies based on evidence, not the personal experiences of ministers,” Ms Fitzharris said. “The ACT government supports trialling pill testing because the evidence and expert advice tells us that it can help young people make better and more informed decisions at music festivals.” […]

Shane Rattenbury admits to taking MDMA in calls for NSW pill testing

Mr Rattenbury said his experience made him aware of the reality for young people, and that everyone had done risky things at some point in their life. But Mr Rattenbury said he could “guarantee” that no one in pill testing tents would encourage young people to take drugs and that he wished there was more information available when he tried the drug. […]

UOW lecturer says pill testing could reduce harm


How can we take power away from criminal gangs? Legalise drugs

We have the opportunity to ensure reforms are implemented within a social justice model in collaboration with affected communities. At the same time, we can tackle those social and economic problems that drive people into the trade in the first place. Legally regulating drugs isn’t radical, it’s responsible. Drugs are too dangerous not to be regulated, and too profitable not to be taxed. […]

Protests & An Admission Of Drug Use From An MP – The Pill Testing Debate Rolls On

“All the evidence shows that ‘zero tolerance’ and ‘just say no’ policies simply don’t work and that harm reduction and treatment is the best way to minimise the dangers and reduce the broader impacts on crime and health. It’s 2019. It’s time for change. The majority of Australians support decriminalisation and 82% of young Australians support pill testing.” […]

Increasing pressure for pill testing trial

Port Phillip council, which includes the popular St Kilda entertainment district, is calling on the Victorian Labor government to allow and help fund drug testing at participating venues. “Two years ago the Port Phillip council said that we supported the use of a trial. Since then there’s been a bitter harvest of dead bodies around the country,” Mayor Dick Gross told the Nine Network on Monday. […]

Support for pill testing continues to grow

When the millions of Australians … who have used cannabis, ecstasy or cocaine over the past twelve months hear the Premier’s message that “there is no such thing as a safe illegal drug” and “just say no” they wonder what planet she is living on. Young people are not fools. They want us, as politicians, to “get real” about illegal drugs. […]

Pill testing supporters rally in Sydney

“The failed war on drugs has killed our friends, family and others in our community for decades while politicians and police have wilfully ignored the mounting evidence that zero-tolerance drug policing does not work,” organisers said in a statement. […]

‘Evidence backs pill testing trials’: physicians tell Berejiklian

Australia’s peak body for physicians have called on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to introduce pill testing trials at NSW festivals, telling her there is sufficient evidence to support the intervention. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians have written to Ms Berejiklian – and her state and territory counterparts – imploring her to reconsider her hardline stance against pill testing. […]

NSW Coroner to investigate spate of music festival deaths

The NSW coroner will hold an inquest into the recent deaths of five people of suspected drug overdoses at music festivals across the state, with a public hearing to kick off next week. The announcement follows the death of a 19-year-old Central Coast woman on Saturday after she attended FOMO festival at Parramatta Park.


Parents’ plea after daughter’s tragic drug death at FOMO festival in Sydney

“We encourage government to courageously take all active measures possible to reduce the risk, in particular, festival goers, through intensifying current initiatives as well as implementing other harm reduction strategies. Pill testing is only one measure. There is no safe level of drug consumption BUT, it is an opportunity for intervention.”


‘We’re dealing with a black market’: is taking pills becoming more dangerous?

Caldicott sayd Australia has entered “an evidence-free zone” on drug policy. “This issue of pill-testing is climate change for drugs,” he said. “Young people understand climate change and they understand the consequences. So when politicians wave coal in parliament, young people think they’re knobs. Similarly when young people hear politicians talk about drugs in a way they don’t think is reasonable, they’re less likely to listen.


7,000 set to march for pill-testing in Australia

If the government didn’t listen after multiple campaigns begged for a fresh approach to the complex problem of drugs at music festivals, maybe a large-scale demonstration at Sydney’s Town Hall will get their attention. This Saturday over 7000 people will descend on Sydney’s Town Hall to demand the Government support pill testing at raves and music festivals. […]

Six claims about pill testing — and whether or not they’re true

Harm Reduction Australia president Gino Vumbaca said the evidence for pill testing is “being ignored”. “I think it’s a bit disingenuous of the Premier to now say, ‘give me the evidence’, when she set up a taskforce that specifically excluded evidence being presented or discussed,” Mr Vumbaca said. “To not even have the ability to sit down and discuss this with ministers is a fairly sad indictment of public discourse and policy.”


Family of Alex Ross-King will seek sit-down with the Premier to discuss drug reform

In a statement on Tuesday, the Ross-King family said it hoped the government would use the teenager’s death to improve “harm reduction” initiatives. “We encourage the government to courageously take all the active measures possible to reduce the risk, in particular festival goers, through intensifying current initiatives as well as implementing other harm reduction strategies,” the statement said. […]

Pill testing saves lives, it doesn’t create addicts

The fact is the “war against drugs” has long been lost, young people are dying due to deadly fillers in their drugs and the current “zero tolerance” approach is not working. And pill testing offers a valuable opportunity for professionals to engage with and educate drug users, and steer them towards help where appropriate. […]

RACGP President backs calls for pill testing following another death

The most recent death has seen RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon add his voice to a growing chorus of calls to implement further pill testing trials at music festivals. Dr Nespolon believes it is an issue of health and safety, rather than one of law enforcement. ‘At the end of the day, pill testing is nothing to do with legalising and condoning drug use, but reducing harm – and ultimately saving lives,’ he told newsGP. […]

Rainbow Serpent video calls for “evidence-based” approach

In a video released on Monday, organisers called on state governments across Australia to introduce pill testing. “If we are to stop these horrific tragedies from happening, we all need to acknowledge the failure of zero-tolerance (approaches), and demand our governments consider proven, evidence-based strategies we know will reduce harm and save lives,” festival spokesperson Tim Harvey says in the video.


Newcastle University Students’ Association to reintroduce pill testing kits


Evidence clearly shows the benefits of pill testing

Australia is lagging behind other nations. There has been an exponential increase in the number of pill testing services across developed nations in the last five years. The opportunity to provide accurate information, including the message that ‘no drug is safe’ has been a feature of all the pill testing services. […]

Festival overdoses spark calls for pill testing

Dr Caldicott said Pill Testing Australia has plans to implement testing at more festivals this year, but they will only work in jurisdictions where police allow it. “It’s not our job to undermine law enforcement,” Dr Caldicott said. “We won’t provide this service unless we have a statement in writing from law enforcement that this will be tolerated for the purpose of a music festival and that’s one of the things that we are quite strict about. […]

The benefits of pill testing

Education is the key. Let’s face it, people are going to do drugs despite all the crackdowns and tut-tutting. It is a fact, whether we like it or not. Each day we spend arguing against pill testing or spend time “exploring” it instead of implementing it is another day that we may lose more lives. […]

Why pill testing should be considered as a means to reduce illicit drug use at festivals

Education and harm minimisation strategies such as pill testing should be considered as a means to reduce the risky behaviour of illicit drug use at large festivals. We need to be talking about it instead of driving discussions about illicit drug use underground. Harm minimisation strategies can create an avenue to start a conversation with young people about what they are taking and why.


‘Young people deserve better’: festivals push governments on pill testing

A protest calling for the introduction of pill testing in NSW is set to be staged in front of the Sydney Town Hall on January 19. The event has  been organised by Reclaim The Streets, political party Keep Sydney Open, harm minimisation group Unharm and anti-drug detection dog campaigners Sniff Off. […]

Australian Festival Association: drug policy ‘endangering lives’

We do not believe that pill-testing is the only answer. But it is a crucial part of a broader harm reduction strategy that prioritises people’s health and safety, over criminality or laws. Encouraging drug abstinence instead of education is out-of-touch, proven to be ineffective and unnecessarily risking lives. Young people deserve better. […]

Festival drug testing a bitter pill for some

The issue of evidence, as Dr Wodak and others have been at some pains to point out, can easily be addressed by asking the relevant authorities to review the outcomes of pill testing trials in countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain, as well as in the ACT. This could be followed by a tightly controlled trial of pill-testing at public events involving young people in NSW. […]

‘It would save lives’: Raver presents the case for pill-testing

Tony Trimingham’s son Damien also fell victim to a fatal overdose – but his view on pill-testing could not be more opposed to Mr Wood’s. He said he believed anything to make people think twice had to be worth trying. “We’ve got to introduce it, it’s a way of saving lives,” he said. […]

Concerns over pill testing ‘misinformed’

A leading Queensland civil libertarian has poured cold water on a warning that pill testing could be a legal liability minefield. Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers has entered the pill testing debate saying pill testers could be charged if a person dies from a drug that had been given the OK by a tester. […]

Consortium asked to test pills by festival promoters Australia-wide

“We’ve been getting calls from promoters all around the country wanting us to do pill testing, there’s been a change in momentum,” Mr Vumbaca said. “They do a hell of a lot of work in maintaining patron safety and protecting the health of patrons. While program like ours is not a silver bullet, it’s part of a suite of measures they’d like to have available.


I know all the risks but I’m still going to take drugs at festivals

In the absence of a better system, most of us just turn to past experiences and word of mouth as a safety net, which is exactly why we need pill-testing. Pill-testing isn’t going to save the man chewing his face off taking eight caps on a 35 degree day. But it will save the guy just having one because all of his friends are, assured by the knowledge it’s come from a reliable dealer but unaware of the true nature of the substance they are consuming. […]

Harm reduction is the key to pill testing debate

This week on The Drum on ABC TV, I asked advocate for drug reform, Alex Wodak, if he thought the political will would ever come for pill testing at music festivals. He replied: “Harm reduction debates almost always end up with harm reduction winning in the end, but it’s often a big struggle to get there.” […]

The young deserve protection, whether they’re taking risks or not

Working in healthcare I know the tragic consequences recreational drugs can have. We have a collective moral responsibility to protect people from this, but we are failing. Our young people are being killed with increasing frequency, but we refuse to change policy. They say stupidity is doing the same thing and expecting different results – are we displaying our stupidity, or do we simply not care? […]

Substances a ‘health issue’

“The benefits of pill testing go beyond being able to determine what the chemical make-up of a drug is and providing this level of information,” Ms Lucas said. “When a person has their drug tested at a pill testing tent, they are actively engaged with a health professional to talk about their drug use.”


New Zealand unveils plans to have pill testing at ALL music festivals – as Australia refuses to discuss the idea despite five overdose deaths since September

‘The war on drugs hasn’t worked in the past 20 years, so it’s time to change to a more compassionate and restorative approach,’ Mr Nash told Stuff. ‘If someone is dealing they will be taken through the justice system. But if it was someone who has one or two pills, you don’t want them to get a criminal record for a bad decision.’ […]

There’s merit in a pill-testing trial

The Age believes, cautiously, that a trial of pill testing at public events involving chiefly young people has merit. We have argued that the debate should be led by evidence rather than simple ideology. On this basis, a well-regulated trial makes sense. […]

Doctor-turned MP Kerryn Phelps floats pill-testing trial

The doctor-turned federal MP who once argued the controversial case for Australia’s first heroin injecting room has intervened in the debate over pill-testing, warning political resistance to government-sanctioned drug taking at music festivals was costing young lives. […]

Time to call a truce in the war on drugs

Is it time to call a truce in the war on drugs? Dr James Freeman looks at the evidence; and the evidence shows prohibition has failed, and decriminalising drugs ought to save lives and deliver both social and economic benefit. […]

New Zealand embraces pill testing as Australian politicians resist

As Australian politicians continue to rule out pill testing at music festivals, New Zealand appears to be embracing the controversial practice. The country’s Police Minister Stuart Nash said on Tuesday the idea of independent pill testing tents was “a fantastic idea and should be installed at all our festivals”. “The war on drugs hasn’t worked in the past 20 years, so it’s time to change to a more compassionate and restorative approach,” Mr Nash told New Zealand outlet […]

Former Police Commissioner: We Need Pill Testing Not More Arrests

I have become a spokesperson for the national campaign for safer, saner drug laws ‘Take Control’ because all the available evidence points to pill testing being a proven and genuine means of reducing harm and danger and saving young lives — not just talking about it. How can governments look parents in the eye and say they are doing everything they can – when they refuse to consider or even listen to the evidence around harm minimisation? […]

Pill Testing Debate Erupts After Two Deaths at Australian Festivals

Speaking to the ABC, Harm Reduction Australia president Gino Vumbaca called for a rethink on drug testing. “The continual reliance on law enforcement, extra policing, extra (sniffer) dogs, severe penalties, that all happens, but we see what happened at the music festival in New South Wales and festivals around the country,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. […]

How pill testing could change Australian music festivals

Pill testing could help warn others about dangerous batches of pills at Australian music festivals and deter drug suppliers from selling “contaminated drugs,” according to Dr Alex Wodak, president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation. […]

Here Are Just Some Of The Experts Who Back Pill Testing

Caldicott is just one of numerous experts in fields from harm minimisation and drug reform to police and medicine who have said pill testing should be considered to reduce drug problems at music festivals. “There’s not really that many experts you can find anywhere in the world who thinks that this is a bad idea,” Caldicott said. […]

Man dies after suspected drug overdose at Beyond the Valley festiva

Reason Party leader and upper house MP Fiona Patten urged the government to look at the decades of evidence from overseas that showed pill testing reduced deaths and ambulance calls-outs. Dr Alex Wodak, president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, said families were suffering unnecessary pain and politicians weren’t taking responsibility for it. […]

Parents call for pill testing as man dies from suspected drug overdose at Beyond The Valley music festival

The recent deaths have sparked a national debate around pill testing, with advocates renewing calls for the technology to be introduced in order to minimise risks. Since her son died, Ms Buccianti has been a fierce advocate of the measure, which she believes could have saved Daniel’s life. “My son would have never, ever wanted to come out of that festival in a body bag,” she said. […]