Top Menu

In the News RSS feed for this section

There’s No Rational Way to Justify America’s Drug LawsL

People assume a medical committee sat down to consider which recreational drugs were the safest and least addictive, and tyyhis wise group decided alcohol and tobacco should be legal, while marijuana and everything else shouldn’t. That’s not what happened. […]

Decriminalising drugs will save our kids’

Throwing drug addicts in jail costs a lot of money. That money would be better spent on funding services such as rehabilitation and re-education. Any parent that has been down the road of trying to secure a place for their kid in a state rehabilitation program will understand the dire need of that extra funding. […]

UK: Police commissioners urge Home Office to drop opposition to addicts’ ‘fix rooms’

There are renewed calls for the UK government to allow the opening of a drug consumption room in Glasgow after three police and crime commissioners backed the idea as a way of saving lives. The elected commissioners for Durham, North Wales and West Midlands said they were “deeply concerned” about the Home Office’s opposition to the use of drug consumption rooms (DCRs), which are sometimes referred to as “fix rooms”. […]

’12 lives saved’ in Richmond safe drug injecting room’s first week

Melbourne’s new safe injecting room has saved 12 drug users’ lives and received 400 visits since it opened on Saturday, its director says. Dr Nico Clarke said the Richmond North centre, which is having a two-year trial, had prevented between one and three potentially fatal overdoses every day. […]

Most Australians support decriminalising cannabis, but our laws lag behind

The latest NDSH survey from 2016 found 73.9% of Australians do not support the possession of cannabis being a criminal offence. When asked how cannabis possession should be dealt with by the courts, 46.6% of Australians reported they would prefer either “a caution, warning or no action”, while 27% said users should be referred “to treatment or an education program” over more punitive measures. […]

Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Introduced By Sen. Chuck Schumer

New York Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a new bill to regulate marijuana at the federal level. The bill isn’t aimed at legalizing the drug but the proposal would decriminalize it. “The time to decriminalize marijuana is now,” Sen. Schumer said in a press statement. “The new Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is about giving states the freedom to be the laboratories that they should be and giving Americans—especially women and minority business owners as well as those convicted of simple possession of marijuana intended for personal use—the opportunity to succeed in today’s economy.” […]

The Loop is saving lives at UK festivals with its innovative harm reduction initiative

After the recent tragic deaths of two people at Mutiny Festival in Portsmouth, the issue of drug safety testing has been thrust into the spotlight once again. DJ Mag talks to Fiona Measham, founder of The Loop harm reduction organisation, about the work that they do and why some pill manufacturers are making their ecstasy so strong… […]

Drugs found in fewer than 15 per cent of sniffer dog searches in South Australia

Drugs have been found on fewer than 15 per cent of South Australians searched after sniffer dogs or electronic tests indicated they were carrying drugs, prompting questions about the legality of the search dogs being used in public areas. RMIT criminologist Peta Malins said the low return on the positive indications from the drug detection dogs raised real questions about the legal grounds for police searches. […]

Policing illicit drugs—big hauls are easily replaced

While I personally support the decriminalisation of the use of drugs by addicts, and the possession of these drugs for personal use, that too will not resolve the organised crime challenge. It will, however, help relieve the pressure on criminal justice systems from prosecutions of minor drug possession offences. […]

Harsher Penalties Could Really Hurt SA Medical Cannabis Patients

The South Australian Government wants to quadruple penalties for marijuana possession, a move that could seriously impact users of medical cannabis. South Australia decriminalised possession of small amounts of marijuana decades ago. However, Attorney General Vickie Chapman says the government is seeking to bring cannabis penalties into line with other drugs. […]

South Australia’s cannabis crackdown based on ‘nonsense’, experts warn

Alex Wodak from the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation said Chapman’s attempts to link cannabis use to murder were “nonsense”. Wodak said the policy shift “goes against everything we know” about reducing drug use harm and warned that SA risked falling “completely out of step” with the rest of the world. […]

Melbourne injecting room to open within days

Victoria’s first supervised injecting room will open its doors within days, marking the start of a two-year trial in inner-Melbourne, with the public to be given a glimpse inside the controversial facility. The site has been approved by state parliament, local councils, and was set up in consultation with medical experts after a spike in the number of drug deaths in North Richmond, Mental Health Minister Martin Foley told ABC radio on Friday. […]

Even the ACT Health Minister Wants to Legalise Drug Testing at Festivals

The ACT’s Justice and Mental Health Minister, Shane Rattenbury, agreed with STA-SAFE, telling the Guardian, “I’d certainly encourage [consultation between states]…It’s always hardest to do these things the first time, and we’d be very happy to share the knowledge we gleaned from [the trial].” […]

Government looks to expand pill testing in new drugs strategy

The ACT Government will look to expand pill testing at events in the ACT after the successful trial at this year’s Groovin’ the Moo Festival, and monitor safe injecting centres in other states to see if such a facility should be set up here. These are among a catalogue of harm-minimisation measures in a  new three-year Drug Strategy Action Plan developed with input from a range of stakeholders and released for consultation. […]

I lost both my sons to drugs – that’s why I want to legalise them

What Lakeman finds “impossible to get my head around” is the law’s refusal to apply the principle of harm reduction to drug use. “Every single other aspect of our lives is governed by trying to make things as safe as possible. The only thing we don’t do it with is drugs. […]

38 UN rights council members urge Philippines to stop drug war deaths

“We urge the government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to bring killings associated with the campaign against illegal drugs to an end and cooperate with the international community to investigate all related deaths and hold perpetrators accountable,” the UNHRC member-states said in a joint statement delivered by Iceland on June 19. […]

Five good reasons to decriminalise drugs

As an empathetic society, we need to separate out addiction from criminal behaviour. Yes, it’s true that addiction can be a driver of crime, but addiction itself is not – and should not be considered – criminal. By turning over resources currently used to prosecute addicts to health services who can treat addiction, as a society we are sending a message that we want these people to get better, and to become contributing members of our communities. […]

Report urges Federal government to implement national pill-testing at music festivals

The harm reduction test was deemed an “overwhelming success” in the report. It explained, “The pilot demonstrated that such an intervention is possible and that people are willing to use the service, despite the limitations arising from the tight timelines, inauspicious physical infrastructure and the lack of dissemination strategies on-site during the festival.” […]

Canada just legalized marijuana. That has big implications for US drug policy.

If Canada pulls this off, it could provide a model for other countries to relax their drug laws — and particularly their marijuana laws — without violating international treaty obligations or, at the very least, without getting punished for disobeying the treaties. It’s not just, then, that Canada is changing its own drug laws. […]

‘Overwhelming success’: Calls for expanding pill testing after Canberra trial

ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the success of the pill-testing trial had shown there was demand for the service at future events. “This will assist to better understand how pill testing may help reduce the harms of illicit drug use at festivals and will inform next steps and future drug policy,” she said. […]

WHO’s Review Of Cannabis May Be The Starting Point For Worldwide Reform

There is tremendous gap between policy-makers in Vienna and the reality on the ground. So far in eyes of many activists, the INCB have been the bad guys. However, now that the science is being put back into policy by the WHO – an actor external to the UNODC, it is quite possible this process could be the catalyst for the legwork of educating decision-makers about reality and stakes on the ground. […]

Festival-goers barred from entry to concert and banned from the area for six months after being stopped by sniffer dogs – despite having no drugs on them

Festival goers have been banned from Olympic Park in Sydney for six months by police despite not committing any offence in what has been labelled a ‘serious abuse of police powers.’ NSW police followed through on their threat earlier in the week that at the Above & Beyond festival on Saturday they would ban revellers if a dog reacted positively, even if no drugs were found. […]

Controversial sniffer dogs plan kicks in as festival-goers urged to report incidents

Festivalgoers are being urged to report instances of being turned away from ‘Above & Beyond’ festival via a social media campaign run by the Greens party. “If NSW police go ahead with their plan to deny entry to people at ‘Above and Beyond’ even after a false positive, we’ll be seeing them back in court next week,” according to the Sniff Off campaign posted on their Facebook page. […]

NSW drug dog saga set for court sequel

The plan also attracted criticism from the former commissioner of the Australian Border Force, Roman Quaedvlieg, who spent more than three decades in drug enforcement. Mr Quaedvlieg dubbed the police move “extraordinary”. “Festival drugs are risky granted but a person can have minute drug traces from handling cash, infused into garment fabric etc,” he posted on Twitter earlier this week. […]

Could the controversial ‘Portugal Method’ end our war on drugs?

Independent Victoria MP Fiona Patten was part of a delegation which visited Lisbon and studied what’s now known world wide as “The Portugal Model”. She insists – despite a tendency towards more conservative politics in Australia – this country is ready to take the same controversial step that Portugal did 17 years ago. […]

Drug policy reform: The Portuguese decriminalisation model

Since reforming its policy in 2001, Portugal’s annual overdose death rate has dropped to 0.35 per 100,000 people. In Australia our overdose death rate is more than twenty times higher than that, a figure that is rising every year. At the start of 2000 Portugal had 1600 annual cases of drug-related HIV. […]

NSW sniffer dog plan challenge fails

NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong brushed off the defeat, insisting the police plan was an overreach of powers and claiming drug dogs get it wrong up to 75 per cent of the time. “If the NSW Police wanted people to be safe at festivals they would be advocates of pill testing, they would be stopping the war on drugs and they would be supporting a harm-minimisation approach,” she said outside court. […]

Global expert calls for drug decriminalisation in Australia

Manuel Cardoso, who is credited for his role in reforming the Portuguese system in 2001, told Fairfax Media that Australia should decriminalise all drugs and treat drug use and abuse as a public health issue rather than one of criminal justice. “Decriminalising is considered by the United Nations as a good practice, the International Narcotic Control Board consider that the Portuguese experience is a good practice, it’s something to try to implement [here],” he said. […]

Sydney revellers to take NSW Police to court over concert sniffer dog plan

Three people are taking NSW Police to court over a controversial plan to deny entry to a Sydney concert anyone who is singled out by a sniffer dog – regardless of whether drugs are actually found. In conjunction with The Greens’ Sniff Off campaign, three of the festival’s patrons said on Thursday they plan to seek an urgent injunction in the Supreme Court on Friday in what they say is an overreach of police powers. […]

UK’s Bestival to provide drug testing in attempt to prevent deaths

“Bestival strongly advises festival goers to avoid taking any illegal substances,” says a Bestival spokesperson in a statement. “However, harm reduction and customer welfare are our priorities, so we have made the decision to bring The Loop onboard to offer drug safety testing onsite, giving people the opportunity to make informed choices.” […]

Busted for doing NOTHING: Revellers will be banned from a six-hour rave if a police sniffer dog sits next to them… even if they DON’T have any drugs or contraband

Fans may want to think twice before attending ‘Above and Beyond’ music gig as police warn fans will be kicked out if a drug sniffer dog just sits next to them. They will be refused entry regardless of whether drugs are even found on them. Fans are slamming the police for harsh warning: ‘So presumed guilty even after being proven innocent?’ a social media user said. […]

Festival goers stopped by sniffer dogs to be banned – even if no drugs are found

The decision has been slammed by politicians, drug safety advocates and civil libertarians who point to the questionable reliability of sniffer dogs and argue that police are abusing their powers. “Penalising people for the failure of the drug dog program is a clear abuse of police powers,” NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said. […]

New Police sniffer dog policy at music events may not be legal

A new police policy around drugs, sniffer dogs and music festivals may be illegal and ”a clear abuse of police powers,” lawyers say. It’s a fundamentally flawed approach. Sniffer dogs are notoriously ineffective, producing false positives up to 80 percent of the time. By this logic, 4 in 5 people approached by dogs at the Above and Beyond — many of whom will have paid over $100 for a ticket — will be denied entry on no grounds at all. […]

Festival testing shows a way to reduce harm

The evidence so far suggests that, far from encouraging drug-taking, testing services seem to make people think twice. The Loop reports that 10-15% of the drug users it deals with decide to ditch their stash on learning what is really in it (which has included everything from concrete to anti-malaria medicine). […]

Pill testing as harm minimisation

Even though legalisation for recreational use is so far limited to cannabis in Uruguay, Alaska, California, Washington and Colorado, Noffs thinks there will be a domino effect. “It’s inevitable, partly because big pharma and those behind the recreational cannabis push in the US are going for it, so there’s a market force there, but also, people are starting to see it comes down to control: how much control do we want over drugs, and how much control do we want the black market to have over us? […]

Support for pill testing grows with minister’s endorsement in Australia

Pill testing in Australia has taken another positive step forward, with a Northern Territory minister stating it should be made available at music festivals. NT Assistant Police Minister Jeff Collins said there had been a lot of measures “to try and reduce the number of pills taken, including sniffer dogs and the like.” […]

Why Pill Testing Was The Best Medicine For Australia

It’s time for a new perspective on drugs, on addiction and on how we manage drugs as a country. We know how to make Australia the safest place on the planet when it comes to drugs and young people. It’s time to leave the past behind and get on board with pill testing and evidence-based treatment. […]

Is the US opioid crisis contagious and could Australia be next?

Australia tends to think about drugs in a binary fashion. Do we prohibit this drug? Or is it widely available? The question should no longer be whether to ban drugs or not, perhaps the question on our every law makers lips should be “how much control do we want?” and “what plans are in place to avert the next major drug crisis?” […]

Another “Bad Batch”?

People want to know what is in their drugs, that is now clear, and they respond sensibly and appropriately when given the chance. Of course we can “just say no”, don’t take them but what if they persist? The answer is “just say know”. […]

Drugs policing: UK Police Federation spokesman calls for policy rethink

The Police Federation spokesman on drugs policing, Simon Kempton, has called for a rethink on drugs policy, saying prohibition has “never worked”. Sgt Kempton, who works for Dorset Police, said the government should consider the Portuguese approach, where the possession of drugs has been decriminalised since 2001. […]

Sniffer Dogs to be Sent to South Australia State Schools to Find Drugs

It appears that different parts of Australia are choosing considerably different approaches to drug policy. It remains to be seen if Premier Marshall’s approach will be successful at reducing methamphetamine use among schoolchildren, but existing evidence suggests that it will not. […]

Evidence supports more pill testing


Breaking Free From Prohibition: A Human Rights Approach to Successful Drug Reform

Drug education, addiction prevention and addiction treatment should be informed not by ideological belief or moral crusade but by evidence-based research. These services must promote harm reduction and human rights. We should not be in the business of preventing drug use, in the same way, that we shouldn’t seek to prevent people from having a cup of coffee, glass of wine, or cigar – instead we must be in the business of preventing drug policy harms caused by prohibition policies, and preventing and treating drug addiction. […]

Canada: Federal prisons to offer clean needles to injection-drug users

Federal penitentiaries in Canada will soon offer clean needles to inmates who are likely to inject drugs while behind bars, answering a decades-long call by harm-reduction advocates who say the overdue initiative prevents the transmission of blood-borne illnesses and to withhold it would be in violation of Charter rights. […]

BMJ: Drugs should be legalised, regulated, and taxed

When law enforcement officers call for drugs to be legalised, we have to listen. So too when doctors speak up. Last month the Royal College of Physicians took the important step of coming out in favour of decriminalisation, joining the BMA, the Faculty of Public Health, and the Royal Society of Public Health in supporting drug policy reform. […]

Canberra’s first pill testing trial shouldn’t be the last

If pill testing results in just one person thinking twice before making a poor decision that may end their life and devastate many others, surely this is a strategy we can all get behind. We will wait for the results of the trial, but the early indications are that it supported many more people to keep safer than they would have otherwise been. […]

Coroner speaks out over lack of injecting rooms in Sydney’s west

A NSW coroner has scolded the law’s treatment of illicit drug users, venting her frustration over the lack of supervised injecting rooms in western Sydney. Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame made the frank remarks on Tuesday during an inquest into the 2016 deaths of six opiate users, which also heard expert fears of illicit fentanyl being on the verge of infiltrating Australian shores. […]

Six opioid deaths in the spotlight in coronial inquest

A controversial pill-testing pilot at a recent Canberra music festival will be examined to see if it can be used to prevent opiate deaths in NSW, a coronial inquest has heard. Counsel assisting the coroner, Peggy Dwyer, said the results of pill testing at Groovin the Moo – an initiative condemned by NSW Police Minister Troy Grant – could prove useful in preventing deaths from fentanyl and other opioids.


National Summit in Canberra to Plan Improvements for Opioid Treatment

Harm Reduction Australia and ScriptWise are joining forces to host a national summit in Canberra on May 23 to re-think outdated policies and increase access to opioid treatment. The current system, the two organisations say, must be updated to ensure Australia avoids continuing on a trajectory towards the opioid crisis currently being seen in the US. […]

Not Everyone Was Thrilled About Pill Tests at Groovin’ the Moo

As you might know, Canberra’s edition of Groovin the Moo recently provided a free drug testing service, allowing punters to decide whether or not they’d like to eat drugs that could kill them. And unsurprisingly, two samples of potentially lethal drugs were identified. But saving lives isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. […]

Pill Testing Probably Won’t Happen In NSW Any Time Soon Because Of This Man

NSW Police Minister Troy Grant — who has long been fierce opponent of pill testing — told Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine yesterday that in “no way” would the service be implemented while his government is in power.“I’m a thousand percent against it — no way the NSW Government will be adopting pill-testing,” he told Devine. […]

Politicians, musicians, biz executives, drug advocates push for pill testing in ACT

The support letter is signed by three bands on the bill, Ocean Alley, Cosmo’s Midnight and Moaning Lisa, as well as Gavin Findlay, vice-president of Music ACT and Tim Hollo, CEO of Green Music Australia. Other signatories were from Families & Friends for Drug Law Reform, Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation & Advocacy and The Connection, Public Health Association of Australia, World Federation of Public Health Associations, ACT Council of Social Service Inc, Unharm, Noffs Foundation, Australia 21 and Social Research & Evaluation Pty Ltd. […]

War on drugs has failed: ex-top cop

Australia’s former top cop has slammed governments for waging a war on drugs insisting it’s failed “abysmally”. Former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer has backed a Greens proposal to legalise cannabis use by adults, saying the current policy “makes no sense at all”. […]

Fed govt rejects call to legalise cannabis

Asked why the government wouldn’t want the tax revenue, Mr Hunt said it didn’t want to put the mental health of Australians at risk. But Senator Di Natale argues governments around the world are realising that prohibition of cannabis causes more harm than it prevents. “It’s time Australia joined them,” he said. […]

Health stakeholders, musicians call for Groovin the Moo pill-testing

Musicians, health professionals and a Greens MLA have argued a pill-testing trial could “potentially save lives” in an open letter sent to Groovin the Moo promoters just a fortnight before the Canberra festival is held. Greens drug law reform spokesman Shane Rattenbury, three bands and 16 drug reform advocates and health stakeholders put their name to the letter urging Cattleyard Promotions chief executive Kathryn Holloway to support the pilot. […]

Pill testing consortium offers indemnity for trial at Groovin the Moo

The consortium behind plans to conduct Australia’s first legal pill-testing trial at Groovin the Moo in Canberra says it has offered the promoter legal indemnity if they are allowed to test drugs at the festival. Cattleyard Promotions are yet to agree to the drug-checking pilot despite the Canberra leg of the festival taking place on April 29. […]

How Portugal Is Winning The War On Drugs

Portugal has stepped up and set an example for the world. It has shown that the traditional solution to drug addiction, which was attempting to suppress through iron fist of government, is not the most moral nor efficient means of solving the problem. Hopefully, the world follows Portugal’s example and takes steps to end the 75-year-old worldwide tyranny of the war on drugs. […]

The case for decriminalizing drugs

No compassionate society should treat a health issue as a criminal one, promoting fear and isolation in the process. And no wise government would continue to expend resources on measures so plainly ineffective and counterproductive as enforcement and interdiction, when evidence-based treatment and prevention measures are at hand. […]

Ice inclusion in trial makes sense

This is not about condoning or encouraging the use of drugs. It is about harm minimisation, saving lives and helping people get well. It works. This is also about public safety. The government will provide security inside and outside the centre. We urge people to keep an open mind and to judge the trial on its results. […]

Death Sentences and Executions 2017

Amnesty recorded at least 993 executions in 23 countries in 2017, down by 4% from 2016 (1,032 executions) and 39% from 2015 (when the organization reported 1,634 executions, the highest number since 1989). At least 2,591 death sentences in 53 countries were recorded in 2017, a significant decrease from the record-high of 3,117 recorded in 2016. […]

At least four countries executed people for drug-related crimes in 2017, study finds

The countries known to have executed people for drug-related crimes are China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. Amnesty’s report states it is also possible that Vietnam and Malaysia executed people for drugs offenses, but it was unable to confirm that. Because of secrecy about how laws are enforced in a number of countries, the exact number of people executed for drug-related crimes globally remains unclear […]

Psychedelic drugs could be the answer to mental illness: study

Misinformation and prejudice towards these types of drugs has halted psychedelic research in Australia, and other countries, meaning drug companies are hesitant to develop psychedelic treatments. The study’s lead author Stephen Bright told Starts at 60 that Australia is falling behind when it comes to research on psychedelic treatments, noting a number of prestigious institutions including UCLA, John Hopkins School of Medicine and New York University have conducted a series of clinical trials. […]

NZ: Denying elderly stroke patients medical cannabis a form of elder abuse, Grey Power branch says

A group representing the elderly has appealed to Parliament to be able to grow its own cannabis. Grey Power’s Otamatea branch, from Northland, said older people with “unbearable” conditions should not have to deal with illegal gangs to get cannabis for medical use. Denying people alternative means of pain relief when traditional medicines did not work was a form of elder abuse, the group’s representative Beverley Aldridge told MPs today. […]

Melbourne injecting room to allow ice users to shoot-up

Ice users will be permitted to inject the drug in Melbourne’s new supervised injecting room despite the State Government previously saying crystal methamphetamine would be banned from the centre. The North Richmond injecting centre’s regulations say any drug of dependence can be injected at the medically supervised facility but users must have less than a trafficable amount. […]

The UN internal struggle with drug policy

The former INCB head, Werner Sipp, said on a special event at the 58th session of the CND that: “ […] the Portuguese approach can be considered as a model of best practices.”. You’d think as a “model of best practices” the Portuguese model would be promoted by the INCB. You’d be wrong. […]

Pill testing as harm reduction – a return to pragmatism in Australian drug policy

By no means is pill testing intended to be a stand-alone “solution”, nor does it condone the use of illicit drugs. Instead, the argument is that we need to change the language of drug use from deviance and criminal justice labels to pragmatic notions of harm and public health, where any policies or programs implemented seek to reduce the harms associated with drug use. […]

Review by researcher calls for pill testing to be part of Australia’s Drug Strategy

“We are calling for further collaboration between law enforcement and healthcare providers to ensure that they take appropriate action to reduce the harm caused by drugs. It is important to focus on prevention, public awareness campaigns and education to shift cultural attitudes, so that use of party drugs is identified as a public health issue rather than a criminal one.” […]

Scotland gathers evidence from Australia on safe drug rooms

The Scottish Government has turned to Australia for help as it builds its case to create the UK’s first safe drug injecting space – an innovation that could save hundreds of lives. Public health minister Aileen Campbell has held discussions with officials in the Victorian state government about their decision to open a “fix room” in Melbourne later this year. […]

UK: Policing minister backs PCC’s radical drug addiction treatment plans

The government has supported a police and crime commissioner’s proposals to tackle drugs. Responding to a question in Parliament Policing Minister Nick Hurd said he welcomed West Midlands PCC David Jamieson’s focus on the issue. Mr Jamieson has championed the benefits of Heroin Assisted Treatment and wants the benefits of Drug Consumption Rooms to be considered. […]

Successful drug regulation: an interview with Dr Julian Buchanan

The call for drug law reform is getting stronger, both globally and domestically. There is a growing acknowledgement amongst communities and former holders of positions of authority that the century-old drug prohibition model has failed. But the subject of illegal drugs is polarising, which makes drug law reform is a slow-moving process. […]

Drug users invited to apply for jobs at Victoria’s first supervised injecting room

Drug using nurses and harm reduction workers could be hired at Victoria’s first supervised injecting room for their “lived experience of substance use”. North Richmond Community Health wants registered nurses and harm reduction practitioners with “lived experience of substance use” to apply for roles at the centre, listing it under the heading of essential skills and experience in the position descriptions. […]