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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. […]

Injecting a Solution

On average, 115 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have said safe injection sites mitigate risky drug behavior, reduce the frequency of overdoses, curb the spread of HIV and viral hepatitis, do not increase drug use or local crime and have the potential to save millions of dollars in the U.S. […]

Ireland: UCC Students’ Union vote to introduce drug checking kits

The drug checking kits will allow students who have purchased drugs to ensure they have indeed bought what they believe and that the drug is ‘safe.’ The campaign, to bring drug checking kits which can detect potentially lethal contaminants, has been pushed by SSDP Ireland for the last two years. […]

ACT government, Groovin The Moo promoter in stalemate over pill testing

A letter between ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris and Groovin The Moo promoter Cattleyard obtained by Fairfax Media revealed the promoter’s support for the trial was “contingent” on a list of requirements being met. It’s understood some of the demands can’t be met under current ACT laws. […]

Drug reform report is timely, and necessary

Portugal decriminalised drugs 15 years ago. There’s been a decrease in drug use, crime, disease and overdoses. Other nations are taking the same prescription, and ending proscription. It’s an approach that should appeal to progressives, libertarians and conservatives alike – progressives and libertarians because of their support for freedom, and conservatives because of their appreciation for rational, evidence-based policy. […]

Former top cop calls on Groovin the Moo to allow pill testing at Canberra festival

A proposal to hold a trial at next month’s festival at the University of Canberra received the green light from the university. Late last week former Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Palmer wrote to promotors of Groovin the Moo, noting the university’s support was “very positive”. “I am delighted to see the progress being made towards improving the safety of attendees at the festivals and similar events through supporting drug pill testing in the ACT,” Mr Palmer wrote. […]

Call for pill testing at festivals to help emergency services treat overdose victims

Pill testing should be introduced at music festivals to help emergency workers treat patients suffering adverse reactions like overdoses, according to an inquiry into Victorian drug law reform. A state parliamentary committee investigating laws and regulation of illicit drugs released the mammoth 680-page report with 50 recommendations. It proposed authorities, but not festival goers, have access to “back-of-house” testing of substances so they can treat patients and issue alerts to the public to prevent other incidents. […]

Review cannabis laws for potential recreational use in Victoria, report says

President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Alex Wodak, is quoted in the report and was present in parliament when it was tabled. “Our efforts to date have been a miserable failure. We’ve relied almost exclusively on efforts to cut the supply of drugs, probably well intentioned, but the market force is very powerful,” Dr Wodak told AAP on Monday. […]

End of the war on drugs? Victorian government told to consider cannabis decriminalisation

Labor’s MP Geoff Howard, insisted a move away from the ‘war on drugs’ did not mean going soft on crime. “Rather, it emphasises that law enforcement responses to illicit drug use should focus on trafficking and criminal behaviour arising from use, while people apprehended solely for use and personal possession be directed to a range of treatment and support options, where necessary,” he said. […]

Study Finds Stiffer Prison Terms Don’t Deter Drug Use

A new, 50-state study finds that putting more people in jail for drug offenses doesn’t reduce drug use or overdose deaths. Jake Horowitz, director of research and policy at Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project, said they compared states’ drug imprisonment rates to rates of drug use, overdose death and drug arrests, and found no correlation at all. […]

Call to end jail time for drug addicts

A pre-eminent group of health and social service providers are calling for all Australian governments to decriminalise drug use and to treat it primarily as a health and social issue. The group, comprising doctors, academics, sociologists, criminologists and social service providers want to see drug laws reformed to remove penalties and jail time for people caught with drugs for personal use. […]

ACT must show leadership in pill testing debate

After a disappointing false start last year, the time has come for the ACT to break new ground by holding Australia’s first pill testing trial. It is an opportunity for the territory to earn its reputation as a forward-thinking jurisdiction while displaying leadership on a nationally-relevant issue. […]

War on drugs has failed – Helen Clark

At a conference on drugs at NZ Parliament today, Ms Clark, who is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, said the global war on drugs had failed, with devastating consequences for individuals. Ms Clark said the proposed synthetic cannabis law change was more of the same. “That is heading in the war on drugs direction which isn’t going to work (…). […]

Groovin the Moo pill-testing trial given the thumbs up by university

The University of Canberra has paved the way for a pill-testing trial to take place at next month’s Groovin the Moo festival. A spokeswoman for the university confirmed it was supportive of the trial. “The University of Canberra is open to supporting a pill-testing trial at a festival held on university grounds, providing the main stakeholders and relevant authorities are all in agreement,” she said in a statement. […]

US:The Misplaced Attacks on Legal Cannabis Continue

Legalization advocates have long speculated that the crackdown on pot is merely an attempt to squelch any competition, and that “Big Pharma” is working behind the scenes to maintain cannabis prohibition. Meanwhile, the classification of substances as conducted by the DEA has been based on a minimal understanding of chemistry or proper facts. […]

NZ: Homegrown festival warned of dangerous fake ecstasy drug

Testing was the best way to helps save lives, the Drug Foundation’s Samuel Andrews said. “We need the government to step up to enable this to happen and that’s where the ball lies for going forward.” He said the testing usually took between 10 to 15 minutes and during that time those testing their drugs were given harm reduction advice. […]

Exclusive: Trump finalizing opioid plan that includes death penalty for dealers

The Trump administration is finalizing a long-awaited plan that it says will solve the opioid crisis, but it also calls for law enforcement measures — like the death penalty for some drug dealers — that public health advocates and congressional Republicans warn will detract from efforts to reverse the epidemic. […]

NZ: Calls for early warning system over potentially harmful drugs

A drug harm reduction advocate says an “early warning system” needs to be set up to prevent drug harm in New Zealand. Wendy Allison is director of Know Your Stuff – a group that lets people test their drugs at music festivals. She put out an alert about N-Ethylpentylone three weeks before the mass hospitalisation. […]

Longer jail sentences will do nothing to solve the synthetic cannabis epidemic

We need to extend treatment services to effectively cover substances like synthetic cannabis, while implementing an early warning system to enable urgent action when particular drugs are becoming a problem. We need to make it easier for agencies at the coal face of dealing with the consequences of addiction to drugs to liaise with each other. […]

The Left Needs to Care About the Opioid Crisis

There will be a day when our demands for justice and our calls for compassion stretch to those whom movement politics have largely left out over the past half century. A day when we do not ask, “What did they do to themselves to end up here?” And instead ask, “How did we let this happen?” […]

Why it’s not ‘enabling’ to make drug use safer

When people feel valued rather than judged, regardless of whether they continue to take drugs, they begin to value themselves more. Once people feel safe and cared for, it’s much easier to make changes that otherwise frighten them. As with needle exchange and heroin prescribing, frequent safe infection facilities users are more likely to seek further help, not less. […]

EU Calls on Member States to Find Alternatives to Coercive Sanctions for Drug Users

This centralised decision to implement alternatives to the existing sanctions is a good omen for drug reformers. By encouraging the suspension of investigation and prosecution of drug users, and promoting the implementation of measures focusing on education, treatment and social reintegration, the European Union is alluding a decriminalisation of drug use in its member states. […]

Poke greed every day

While the question of cannabis reform has become a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, the focus now needs to be on accelerating the process and ensuring legalisation is done right. Securing that is, as Dr. Wodak suggests, “an issue for our generation.” Many of us will have to deal with the social costs that stem from drug use being painted as deviant. […]

People With Drug Offenses in Australia Face Housing Ban

Social workers and drug policy experts have expressed concern over the NSW government strategy to give criminal background checks to public housing applicants. Many say that housing is a key part of recovery, and that this won’t help those people get off drugs. […]

Trump Administration Looking into Death Penalty for Drug Dealers

Since President Trump has repeatedly expressed his desire to execute U.S. drug dealers, his administration is looking into a new policy allowing just that. The potential policy, which is being studied by the Department of Justice and the White House Domestic Policy Council, could include making the trafficking of large quantities of fentanyl a capital crime, as well as other ultra-severe penalties for drug offenders. […]

Crime Does Pay, The War On Drugs Doesn’t

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome. John Ryan from the Penington Institute weighs in on Australia’s never-ending, never-winning war on drugs. […]

Australian state parliament due to table report on drug law reform

The state parliament of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, is due to table a report on drug law reform this month. Victorian Upper House MP Fiona Patten, who lobbied for the inquiry in 2015, said the criminalisation of drug use prevented detailed information on health effects from being distributed, according to the news outlet. […]

Duterte to skip ASEAN summit in Australia

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is skipping a regional summit in Australia this month, his spokesman said Monday, as he faces international censure for Manila’s deadly drug war. Duterte’s decision to snub the meeting comes after he said he would not cooperate with United Nations investigators looking into alleged extrajudicial killings during the narcotics crackdown, which has left thousands dead. […]

Controversial plan to drug test for welfare back on agenda

Controversial plans to drug test welfare recipients are back on the agenda after the coalition party room endorsed new proposed laws. The Turnbull government had originally hoped to drug test 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients across three trial sites in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia from January


Finland Health Experts Call for Decriminalisation of All Drug Use, Igniting Public Debate

Experts from the Finnish government’s leading health agency have called for the decriminalisation of all drug use, igniting a debate that has drawn in top politicians and police authorities. The call was made by two senior members of Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare which operates under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. […]

Media madness about methadone

On February 27th, A Current Affair launched an extraordinary attack on people who are prescribed methadone. The program deliberately used stigmatising language to describe people utilising a prescribed, evidence-based medical treatment. Methadone use was described as “deadly epidemic” that is “putting everyone at risk”, without presenting the plethora of evidence of the benefits of methadone treatment. […]

More than 100 killed since Philippine police returned to Duterte’s drug war

More than 100 drug suspects have been killed since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the police to rejoin his “war on drugs”, an official said Saturday (Mar 3). Duterte was elected in 2016 on a promise to eradicate drugs, and launched an unprecedented campaign in which – rights activists allege – as many as 12,000 people have been killed. […]

Trump Suggests Executing Drug Dealers to Solve Opioid Crisis

“Some countries have a very, very tough penalty — the ultimate penalty,” Trump said at a White House summit on the opioid crisis. “And, by the way, they have much less of a problem. If you shoot one person, you get life in prison,” he added. “These people kill 1,000, 2,000 people and nothing happens to them.” […]

Putting Pressure on the Philippines, Activists Call Out Drug War Human Rights Abuses at D.C. Embassy Demo

Protesters gathered at the Philippine embassy in D.C. Wednesday to call for an end to the drug war and freedom for a leading Duterte critic. Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016, police and mysterious “vigilantes” have killed more than 16,000 alleged drug users and sellers in a massive wave of extrajudicial killings condemned by human rights organizations, the Catholic Church, and political figures around the globe. […]

The ‘Methadone madness’ story run by a current affairs program was highly irresponsible, writes Anthony Tassone

This disgraceful piece ignores official guidance, veers away from interviewing any health or medical expert and alarmingly and possibly deliberately uses the term ‘meth’ for convenience and further shock effect. The potential consequences of such a story could be patients reluctant to seek treatment and further misinformation being peddled in the community for what has been proven to be an effective treatment for drug addiction and harm minimisation. […]

The International Criminal Court challenges Duterte’s drug war

Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), announced that there would be a preliminary examination on extrajudicial killings in the context of police anti-drug operations. This is an important step forward for the many victims, advocates and international supporters who argue that justice is not possible within the Philippines when the highest levels of government have promised to protect the police from repercussions. […]

Let Cities Open Safe Injection Sites

Critics of such sites raise legitimate concerns about normalizing drug use that could be fatal. But so far, the wealth of available evidence shows two things: Most of America’s past policies have failed catastrophically, and the regions that have tried these sites have saved people. States and other cities should follow the lead of Seattle and Philadelphia to open safe injection sites. […]

‘Game Changing’ Medicinal Cannabis Laws: An interview with MLC Adam Searle

An Australian politician has finally drafted a law which seeks to provide access to medicinal cannabis and is broad enough to get real product into the hands of patients who desperately need it. Leader of the NSW Opposition in the Legislative Council Adam Searle introduced the Medicinal Cannabis (Compassionate Access) Bill 2018 into the state’s upper house on February 15. […]