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Drug Law Reform Is Desperately Needed, Yet Berejiklian Refuses to See Reason

When we discuss drug use in society, let us first remember that most illicit drug use is not problematic and secondly, that if someone we know or love does experience problems, we would want the best help, support and treatment available for them and their family. Its time all our politicians realised, as many voting citizens in the USA have just done, that our current drug policies and laws are not fit for purpose and cause preventable harms and intolerable human rights violations for far too many people. […]

As a police commander, I used to ask myself: was drug use really a matter of crime?

Anything that reduces the antagonism between would-be offenders and the cops is worthwhile. The latter may well then be seen as a catalyst for getting help, therefore making it a far safer situation for all. Allowing police to focus on diversion instead of arresting and charging is going to make the job of police far safer than what it is today. […]

Two-thirds of Australians support pill testing at festivals: Survey

Dr Hester Wilson, Chair of the RACGP Addiction Medicine Specific Interests network, told newsGP she is not surprised by the finding that so many Australians support pill testing. ‘Because it makes sense,’ she said. ‘It’s sensible and we know that pill testing actually assists people to make safer choices.’ Dr Wilson says pill testing plays an important role in harm minimisation. […]

Pill testing support continues to rise but it remains illegal in most of Australia

The researchers call for more discussion surrounding further trials to gather evidence for the strategy’s effectiveness in harm reduction. Without pill testing trials being considered in most states apart from the ACT, let alone implemented, the researchers suggest it will remain a chicken and egg problem until then. “The objection of the states to pill testing is surprising, since the stated goal of both sides of the debate is to save lives,” the study read. […]

Nearly two-thirds of Australians support pill testing at music festivals: research

Nearly two-thirds of Australians support pill testing at music festivals, despite the majority of state and territory governments rejecting proposals to implement the practice. According to data from the 2019 Australian Election Study, a population-representative survey of 2000 Australians following last year’s federal election, 63.4 per cent of respondents said they supported the testing of illicit drugs at festivals. […]

US: Why 2020 Is a Banner Year for Drug Decriminalization—And What It Means for Public Health

These decriminalization measures also address another major roadblock for those seeking help: stigma. “The public-health-based approach of decriminalization centers human dignity and connection,” says Natalie Lyla Ginsberg, policy and advocacy director at MAPS, an organization focused on developing medical, legal, and cultural contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics, including cannabis. […]

NZ: Narrow cannabis result proves need for reform – Helen Clark

“The country is split down the middle on a particular concept of legalisation. And I think there’s every ground now for the government to be looking very carefully at this, beginning to discuss with other parties, including obviously the Green Party, on where to go from here. “What I found as one who got quite involved in the debate was a lot of people said: ‘oh we’d like to decriminalise but legalised as a step too far’. […]

Election Day was a major rejection of the war on drugs

We still don’t know with certainty who will be the next president of the United States. But this year’s election results have given us a lot more clarity on one thing: American voters, even conservative ones, are ready to reel back the US’s war on drugs. In every state where a ballot measure asked Americans to reconsider the drug war, voters sided with reformers. […]

Is it time for a drug policy intervention?

Currently, Australia criminalises people for having a health problem, addiction, but the country needs an alternative to this if there is to be any expectation that it can slow or reverse these trends. The need for change is upon Australians, and the three-pillar approach must become more responsive. Ultimately, the harm reduction leg of this wobbly policy-making stool must include more options, and if it does, all Australians, not just those directly affected by drugs, stand to benefit. […]

Helen Clark appointed chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has been appointed the chair of the 26-member Global Commission on Drug Policy. Clark succeeds the former President of the Swiss Confederation, Ruth Dreifuss, who has served as chair since 2016. Since its establishment in 2011, the Global Commission has advocated for evidence-informed drug policy. […]

There is a better approach to recreational drugs

Drug use is not a fringe activity and the current prohibition strategy is not a deterrent. Much like during the United States’ Prohibition Era from 1920 to 1933, an enormous black market responds to the high volume of demand. The current system places the police and courts in an endless and costly war against a profiting organised crime world and risks the health and lives of that one in six. […]

Pollies push pill testing for Victorian music festivals

Pill testing could be introduced at Victorian music festivals under a join proposal by The Greens and the Reason Party. If passed by Victorian Parliament, the joint bill would see the establishment of a mobile pill testing service as well as a fixed-address laboratory likely located in Melbourne. The pill testing model, which has been in use in Europe since the 1990s, allows festival patrons to have illicit drugs tested on-site by health professionals. […]

Growing support for pill testing at Aussie music festivals

A new study found that almost three in five Aussies now support pill testing at festivals. The 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey was published last week (July 16) by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020 and found 57% support it and 27% oppose it. This approval is reflected in the study’s other findings including a call for legalising cannabis doubling from 21% in 2007 to 41%. […]

“Modern-day leper”: How drug policy is isolating Canberrans from help

If former Chief Minister Kate Carnell had been allowed to finish her proposed six-month trial of a safe-injecting room in Canberra, there would be no need for a second prison in the ACT, according to drug decriminalisation advocate Bill Bush. Mr Bush, a member of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform, gave evidence today (14 July) to an ACT Parliamentary inquiry into youth mental health. […]

The NSW police selling drugs is indicative of ‘unwinnable’ war

While the pandemic might have indeed disrupted where Australians socialise and therefore take drugs, drug use has not decreased according to early indications from Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s annual Wastewater survey. This might come as a surprise given there were initial reports earlier in the pandemic that sales of “party drugs” were down across the globe, with dealers in Australia telling Vice, “The customers in Melbourne have gone down though. […]

Injecting room recognises what life is like in the real world

People struggling with addiction to alcohol or other drugs often continue to use and endanger their lives, even when they have lost everything: their job, their health, their families, and their freedom. The MSIR is a service that recognises what life is like in the real world. And as long as the MSIR is saving lives, then St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne has a chance to turn them around. […]

VIC’s second safe injecting room to open opposite Queen Vic Market

Victoria is set to get its second safe injecting room, opposite the Queen Victoria Market, after the government was handed a report showing the North Richmond injecting room had been overwhelmed by demand. The Department of Health and Human Services has identified Cohealth Central City on Victoria Street as its preferred site for the state’s second safe injecting facility. […]

The Paradox of an “Evidence-Based” Anti-Drug Media Campaign

Even with a little tweaking, abstinence-only messaging is not among the evidence-based best practices prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for preventing overdoses. “Rather than finding new drug threats to scare people about, one drug at a time,” said Daniel Raymond, deputy policy director for the Harm Reduction Coalition, “effective media campaigns should aim to build on general resilience and protective factors that apply across a range of substances.” […]

Patten calls for safe injecting room to prescribe powerful opioid

One of the architects of the safe injecting room has called for it to prescribe a pharmaceutical opioid to drug users to reduce the illicit heroin trade in North Richmond. Reason Party leader Fiona Patten wants the state government to extend the two year trial of the medically supervised injecting room in its current location. […]

Opioid addiction treatment must change during pandemic, experts say

People being treated for opioid addiction risk relapsing without changes in their support and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Royal Australasian College of Physicians spokesman and president-elect of the Chapter of Addiction Medicine Professor Nicholas Lintzeris said the outbreak has had a huge impact on the 50,000 patients who use methadone or buprenorphine as treatment for their opioid dependence. […]

Feasibility study for safe injecting room to go ahead

Another step has been taken towards finally establishing a safe injecting facility for illicit drug users after ACT Health contracted the Melbourne-based Macfarlane Burnett Institute for Medical and Public health to conduct a feasibility study. ACT Health expects a draft report to be submitted by 30 June and a final report by 14 August. […]

‘On top of everything’: coronavirus is making Australia’s drug crisis a whole lot worse

Australia was already grappling with an escalating crisis with opioid-related disease and death rates before Covid-19, and Nielsen fears that unless authorities begin considering the risk of a rise in addiction rates the problem could get worse. While she says easing access to methadone was a good step, governments could do things like expanding the number of medically supervised injecting centres and increasing free access to naloxone. […]

UN Experts Agree – The Right to Health of People Who Use Drugs Must Be Prioritised in Global COVID-19 Response

Last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health published a strong statement regarding the right to health of people who use drugs, which was endorsed by seven other UN appointed experts including the Special Rapporteurs on housing, privacy, and extra judicial killings, among many others. The statement not only acknowledges the unique impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs, but it calls on national governments to recognise people who use drugs as a vulnerable and high-risk population in the context of COVID-19.  […]

Drug use may increase the risk of coronavirus. Here’s how to reduce the harms

The coronavirus is too new to know the exact interaction with illicit drugs. There has been no peer reviewed research yet, and we don’t know how many people who have contracted the virus also use drugs. However, we can estimate some of the possible impacts from what we know generally about drugs, their effects on the body, and how people use them, including in times of increased stress. […]

In the time of COVID-19: Civil Society Statement on COVID-19 and People who use Drugs

COVID-19 infection does not discriminate, but magnifies existing social, economic and political inequities. People who use drugs are particularly vulnerable due to criminalisation and stigma and often experience underlying health conditions, higher rates of poverty, unemployment and homelessness, as well as a lack of access to vital resources – putting them at greater risk of infection. […]

It’s stockpiling, but not as you know it. Why coronavirus is making people hoard illegal drugs

Any disruption to the illicit drug supply will have the biggest effect on the most vulnerable populations. Heavy drug users are more likely to live with multiple people, have respiratory or other health issues or be homeless — and are therefore more at risk of contracting Covid-19. “They are in a double tier of vulnerability in that they’re more likely to get the virus and they’re more likely to be affected negatively by it,” said Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation. […]

Fighting Australian addiction

In considering Australia’s future path to manage addiction, policymakers need look no further. They must consider the policies in Portugal and Switzerland and implement them in Australia. These ideas, radical or not, are working. […]

How Harm Reduction Is Responding to the Pandemic

Harm reduction is used to adversity. Hopefully we can do a good enough job of conveying to people that social distancing is simply due to an extraordinary set of circumstances, which are serious but still temporary, and not because we don’t care. That, at least, should be something we know how to do. […]

Why releasing some prisoners is essential to stop the spread of coronavirus

The Australian government has been silent on prison policy in its coronavirus control measures. The well-documented history of the transmission of infectious diseases in prisons rings alarm bells for the threat of COVID-19 to prisoners and society at large. This blind spot could have a devastating effect on communities, especially Indigenous communities. […]

COVID19 Harm Reduction for People Who Use Drugs

The following tips were developed to inform the global community of drug users on important harm reduction tips to practice during the current COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) pandemic. Please share, disseminate, and alter as needed to fit the needs of your community. And above all else, please stay safe and look after each other.  […]

Australia, you have a drug problem

As a starting point, the Government should establish a new joint parliamentary committee to critically explore our current national illicit drug strategy, with a focus on identifying gaps between demand and supply reduction and harm minimisation policy commitments, actions and impact. This work needs to focus on shaping Australia’s long-term illicit drug strategy. […]

Ice Inquiry Makes Recommendations, But Government Has Its Head in the Sand

“The Berejiklian government has been consistently refractory to all expert advice regarding the failure and futility of its drug policy,” Dr Wodak made clear. “The short-term prospects of drug law reform and better outcomes in NSW are dismal, but the long-term prospects are excellent.” The reason being is that drug law reform is “accelerating internationally”. […]

Decriminalisation and supervised drug consumption: call for leadership in Tasmania on drug reform

Ms Alison Lai said making drug use a criminal issue had been a proven failure throughout the world, and decriminalisation was a key step in making it a health issue. “If police find someone on the street and they are in possession of a couple of caps of ecstasy, for example, they get a warning, the drugs are confiscated and, the second time, they’re diverted into a program,” she said. […]

Pressure for permanent pill-testing service in Canberra after successful festival trials

Greens leader and Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury acknowledged there were many in the community still uncomfortable with pill testing, but said the debate had to move on. “It’s been effective in potentially saving young lives. For me, that’s the bottom line,” he said. “I would hate to see a young person die because they wanted to experiment, they succumbed to the peer pressure, they took the tablet and it was a dodgy pill.” […]

NSW commission recommends more injecting clinics to stem tide of ice

A NSW special commission of inquiry into crystal methamphetamine has recommended the decriminalisation of illicit drugs, the statewide expansion of injecting clinics, and drug testing facilities for users at fixed sites, under a dramatic overhaul of existing policies criticised for failing to stem addiction around Australia. As a fundamental first step, Commissioner Dan Howard SC also emphasised what a chorus of global experts have repeatedly recommended: that illicit drug use be recognised as a health and social problem, rather than a matter of criminal justice. […]

Hand-picked commissioner slams government’s ‘tired, unimaginative’ drug policies

The state government has been left embarrassed after the professor hand-picked to solve the ice crisis landed ministers with a raft of suggestions they have already rejected. Opening up more injecting rooms, ditching drug detection dogs at music festivals, limiting strip searches, making ice pipes legal, and decriminalising the personal use of ice were among the controversial recommendations handed down on Thursday by ice inquiry head Professor Dan Howard. […]

Australia’s war on drugs is a failure

When policymakers consider how ongoing drug use trends combine with this new threat, it is clear that current and previous drug strategies will not be an effective tool, and lack the necessary ability to truly tackle this issue. A strong policy response to these problems will require innovative approaches that shift Australia from where it currently is to where it needs to go. […]

Growing push for Sydney’s second medically supervised injecting room

The Berejiklian government is facing a growing push to set up a safe injecting room in western Sydney as data on overdose deaths show the opioid crisis has spread to the outer suburbs. Criminologists are the latest to call for a second injecting room after a recommendation from Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame, who said politics should not stop “sound health policy”. […]

‘No excuse’: Doctors urge immediate release of ice inquiry report

Doctors and drug law reform advocates are calling on the NSW government to urgently release the findings of a special commission of inquiry into the drug ice. The four-volume report was delivered to the Berejiklian government by commissioner Professor Dan Howard on January 28, but the government has not publicly shared its findings or committed to a release date. […]

NZ: Universities called on to make drug testing kits available during Orientation Week

Wendy Allison said it was “about time universities stepped up” and used their own spectrometers to give students better access to testing services. Five student associations said they welcomed the prospect of  drug testing at upcoming orientation weeks, but only one – the Otago University Students’ Association – was able to do so.  […]

Will pill testing be on the Groovin’ lineup this year?

“The ACT Government does not condone the use of illicit drugs, we know the safest option is to not take drugs,” Health Minister Stephen-Smith said. “However, we also believe governments have a responsibility to not only try to prevent drug use but also to support initiatives that reduce the harms associated with drug use. […]

Loved ones unite in Family Drug Support group

Since 1997 Family Drug Support has built and developed a model for supporting families impacted by a family member’s alcohol or other drug issues by listening and talking to thousands of families and undertaking focus testing of their programs. “We advocate for harm minimisation as a oppose to zero tolerance, we believe that families do the best they can and if they are supported they can build resilience and survive their journey intact,” Family Project Officer Angela Tolley said. […]

Destroying amnesty bin drugs a wasted opportunity: Health experts

Health experts warn destroying drugs ditched in amnesty bins is a wasted opportunity. The bins give festival-goers a chance to ditch their illegal drugs – and have been used at eight events in New South Wales. Currently, the substances collected are destroyed by a waste management company. The Deputy State Coroner says testing the bins could provide information to health providers. […]

North Wales Police boss says UK should regulate cannabis and allow home grows

Police and Crime Commissioner Jones believes that the UK’s approach to drugs needs to change. He said: “In my policing career I have never met anyone who has caused violence through cannabis, as opposed to the hundreds of violence cases I have seen related to alcohol, which is a legal substance. […]

Does the future of music festivals rely on pill testing?

Few are better placed to comment on the impact of pill testing at the coal face than Dr David Caldicott from the ANU College of Health & Medicine and Pill Testing Australia. Twice, he has been part of a team that provided government-sanctioned on-site facilities at Groovin the Moo festival. “We knew it would work because it’s worked everywhere else it’s been tried and we’ve been campaigning for it for over 20 years,” he says.  […]

Time to put politics aside and implement pill testing

The upfront cost of drug safety testing is relatively minor; indeed, a simple reallocation of public money currently spent on drug detection dogs would more than fully fund it. It would also save costs of emergency services and hospitalisations.  Drug safety testing is a proven harm reduction measure. Drug detection dogs increase drug-related harm. […]