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Pill Testing: Premier and Police Commissioner Have Their Heads in the Sand

Pill testing has been trialled in Europe successfully for many years. In particular the Drug Information and Monitoring System operation in the Netherlands has proven itself to be a system that can assist with not only harm minimisation through drug testing, but also by collecting valuable data that can better inform festival planning and more targeted education. […]

Matter of Public Importance – Pill Testing this Summer

What is so extraordinary about where we are in Tasmania and Australia is the support from the community for pill testing, amazing support. In Tasmania, as well as the Tasmanian branches of each of these bodies, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners, the Australian College of Emergency Medicine, Rural Doctors Association, Australian Medical Association and the ANMF – I hope the Deputy Premier will be able to explain to Tasmanians how he will be introducing pill testing this summer. […]

Is pill testing a green light to take drugs? Experts argue no

“Harm reduction or a health focused approach to drug law reform is not a single party issue; it’s public health. So it’s fantastic that two of the minor parties have joined together for this,” Stephanie Tzanetis, DanceWize Program Coordinator, told Neos Kosmos. Pill testing continues to be a controversial topic, but as a public health issue, Ms Tzanetis it shouldn’t be, and has been over politicised. […]

‘For three months I lived and breathed pill-testing research’

I am a scientist, a chemist and a toxicologist. I’ve read the data. I’ve looked at the evidence. Part of my job is disseminating scientific evidence to the general public. So, let me disseminate: pill testing is a viable option for harm reduction in Australia. No methodology is going to be a perfect fix. […]

NSW Government told to introduce pill testing, scrap sniffer dogs at festivals

Delivering her findings on Friday, deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame said there was “compelling” evidence to support pill testing, which could “prompt behavioural change”. “Drug checking is simply an evidence-based harm reduction strategy that should be trialled as soon as possible in NSW,” she said. Ms Grahame said high-visibility and punitive policing operations at festivals had “inherent dangers and few if any benefits” and drug detection dogs should be scrapped. […]

NSW coroner says punitive policing tactics increase risk of drug deaths and calls for reform

In landmark findings published on Friday, Harriet Grahame recommended pill-testing be introduced and said she was satisfied there was “significant evidence” that “intensive and punitive drug policing operations” were increasing “drug-related risks and harm”. Drug dogs had “the capacity to cause harm without strong evidence it is effective in reducing overall drug supply”. […]

‘I’m strong enough’: Jennie Ross-King’s journey from grieving mum to reformer

Ms Ross-King will on Friday stand beside drug law reform campaigners former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer and Matt Noffs, who are vocal backers of pill testing and decriminalisation of personal drug use. “I would expect to be sincerely urging the Premier to take the recommendations seriously, and to do everything necessary to reduce drug related harms and to keep people safe during the festival season,” Mr Palmer said. […]

In defense of humane drug policies

We need a functioning and cohesive international system. As is now the case for the environment, drug policy at the multilateral level requires a “Delivering as One” UN approach, incorporating issues related to development, public health, human rights, social justice and poverty eradication, order to effectively address the primary stated concern of the 1961 treaty for “the health and welfare of mankind”. […]

Missed opportunity: Pill testing saves lives, but politicians are against it

Dr Morgan and Professor Jones dismissed “common arguments” against pill testing including “complaints from policy makers about lack of proven efficacy of harm reduction from pill testing; an overall feeling that pill testing condones drug use; and the fear that dealers will use pill testing results to promote their brand”. “All of these arguments can be addressed by a well-designed system that focuses on incorporating accurate pill testing as a single component in a larger harm-reduction strategy,” they said. […]

‘Legalise, regulate, control and tax’: former DPP urges drug overhaul

The state’s former top prosecutor has urged the Berejiklian government to decriminalise the use and possession of illicit drugs in NSW as the “first step” towards full legalisation, as the Premier maintains her opposition to overhauling drug policy to allow a pill testing trial. Nicholas Cowdery, QC, who was Director of Public Prosecutions in NSW for 16 years, said “any coherent government drug and alcohol policy must be based on health and social foundations, not on the criminal law”. […]

Pill-testing: governments drop ball on harm reduction

Dr Wodak said the question should not be “is pill-testing perfect?” but “is pill-testing better than no pill-testing? In public health and harm reduction it’s important to ‘never let the best be the enemy of the good’. In other words, we shouldn’t oppose pill-testing because it won’t stop every death, as long as it saves some lives,” he said. […]

Pill‐testing as a harm reduction strategy: time to have the conversation

Evidence suggests that zero tolerance policies do not work and pill‐testing provides a useful tool for both direct harm reduction through the identification of dangerous illicit drugs containing new psychoactive substances or unusual dosages, as well as indirect harm reduction through the increased education of a hard‐to‐reach group of drug users. […]

Ice inquiry lawyers back decriminalisation of drug use

The personal use of ice and other illicit drugs would be decriminalised in NSW under a public health-focused drug policy backed by lawyers assisting the special commission of inquiry into ice. Under the potential recommendations of the inquiry, pill testing would also be trialled and the use of medically supervised drug consumption rooms would be expanded in NSW. […]

“Gladys Berejiklian is clearly putting politics before lives”: Why I support pill testing

To refute the benefits of harm minimisation in terms of pill testing is not just dangerously irresponsible, it is quite frankly, embarrassing.  Premier Gladys Berejiklian is clearly putting politics before the lives of (mostly) young Australians by blocking pill testing.  Let alone ignoring the recommendations of the Deputy Coroner.  This is irrefutable.  Shame on her. […]

Mother calls for Australia to follow ACT’s lead with festival pill testing service

Ms Buccianti is imploring every state and territory to follow the ACT’s lead, with the firm belief that pill testing would have saved her son’s life. “I believe that if a pill testing service had been available, he would still be alive,” she said. “He was naive to think that the acid he took was the same stuff he had taken years ago. […]

Richmond’s safe-injecting room: Controversy overshadows positive community impact

It bears repeating in this context that MSIR alone safely managed 1232 overdoses in its first year. This gives us a sense of just one of the ways the service is making a vital contribution to the Australian community. Unfortunately, critical reactions such as those we have seen this past week can introduce new problems and risks, and may risk lives. […]

Opinion: ‘Kids don’t deserve to die for making a mistake’

I join the families of those young people who have lost their lives as a result of illegal drug use at music festivals in urging the premiere to allow pill testing sites to be set up at music festivals this summer to prevent further deaths, not in place of advising young people not to use illegal drugs, but in addition to it. […]

NSW police strip-search data shows lowest drug prosecution rate in seven years

More than two-thirds of strip searches carried out by NSW police fail to find any illicit drugs, according to data obtained by the ABC. The data also shows less than 0.5 per cent of drug searches undertaken following detection by a police dog result in drug prosecutions. MS Greens’ David Shoebridge said the numbers strengthened his call to ban the practice. […]

Drug laws not fit-for-purpose, world-leading drug experts warn

Professor Louisa Degenhardt, co-author and researcher at UNSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), said confronting false claims that drug users were undeserving of humane treatment was a “social and moral imperative”. She said drug dependency should be treated as a chronic disease and governments should adopt evidence-based policies and therapies only. […]

NSW police officer admits his 19 strip searches at music festival may have been illegal

A police officer who conducted 19 strip searches at a 2018 music festival has admitted to an inquiry that all of them may have been illegal. The commission heard only one of the searches conducted by the officer found any drugs: a single diazepam tablet, a drug used to treat anxiety and depression, prompting the commissioner, Michael Adams QC, to ask whether police were “just taking a punt” on who they subject to a strip search. […]

Violent threats against coroner over pill testing recommendations

Jennie Ross-King, who said she supported all of Ms Grahame’s recommendations, said there was a “level of contempt” for the inquiry: “If they [those who leaked the document] had any interest whatsoever in the process, then I would assume they would’ve been following the evidence and this wouldn’t have come as a surprise.” […]

Time for a different approach to music festival deaths

The Herald still believes that the approach to fighting deaths at festivals based solely on education campaigns and tougher policing is not working. It has been in place for decades but the deaths continue. Ms Berejiklian is wary of trying something new. But the case for a highly regulated limited trial of pill-testing and changes to police tactics is building. […]

Calls to establish static pill testing trial in Canberra

The ACT Greens are calling for a static pill testing trial to be established in the ACT following the release of a draft recommendation by the NSW coroner stating that pill testing reduces harm from drug use.Greens spokesperson for Drug Law Reform Shane Rattenbury says the NSW coroner is an independent judicial body that has today, after exploring the evidence in relation to the deaths of six young people at music festivals between December 2017 and January 2019, come to the same conclusion of other medical bodies – that pill testing reduces harm from drug use. […]

ACT government warns feds against interfering in ‘will of the people’ over cannabis bill

ACT Chief Minister Barr on Monday replied to the letter from federal Health Minister Hunt, saying the government did not dispute that cannabis could have adverse health effects, but that harm minimisation principles had informed the reform. “It is the government’s view however that the outright prohibition of cannabis is of limited, and often negative, effect when seeking to reduce the harms caused by cannabis use,” Mr Barr said. […]

Rethinking drug policy key to helping people

Greens MP and Drug Law Reform and Harm Reduction spokesperson Cate Faehrmann says she is launching a new campaign for drug law reform in NSW. The campaign has four demands: allowing pill testing services at mobile and fixed sites; regulating and taxing cannabis; decriminalising the personal use/possession of all drugs, and; replacing the current Roadside Drug Testing Scheme to testing for impairment. […]

Queensland government urged to trial pill testing

“Pill Testing Australia, that conducted the trial, has released data in relation to the April 2019 festival. However, the independent evaluation by the Australian National University is not due until the end of this year. “The Queensland Government is awaiting the outcomes of this independent evaluation to inform any further policy decisions in relation to pill testing.” […]

Schoolies 2019: MP calls for pill testing at Schoolies

Bonney MP Sam O’Connor in a Question on Notice asked Health Minister Dr Steven Miles what current investigations the government was undertaking into pill testing and had it considered trialling the systems at music festivals and the end of Year 12 celebrations in Surfers Paradise. The rookie Coast MP has targeted Labor on drug testing after speaking with teens at parties and his own experience watching a drug testing trial at Splendour in the Grass. […]

Australia could be the first country to legalise ecstasy – are we going too far?

People need time to think about it. Despite the breakthroughs, the politics of this is still fiercely difficult. But, on the other hand, let’s remember what’s important about this: it’s human life, the sacredness of human life and also the difficulty that young people have in the world today. Drug reform makes a material difference to young people – it’s about their future health and safety. […]

Coalition’s welfare drug-testing trial ‘fatally flawed’, inquiry told

As the Coalition seeks the support of the Senate to drug test 5,000 people on Newstart and Youth Allowance in three trial sites, health and drug treatment experts lashed the proposal at a hearing in Canberra on Wednesday, arguing the government was proceeding in the face of all available evidence. “The organisations are unanimous in their opposition to this drug-testing trial,” said Adrian Reynolds of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. […]

Now that the ACT has given marijuana the green light, could (and should) MDMA be next?

Is regulating ecstasy the next logical step after pill testing and decriminalisation? Alex Wodak thinks it is. Dr Wodak, who is president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, has been advocating for drug law reform for decades. In collaboration with Gino Vumbaca and Kate Dolan, Dr Wodak introduced needle syringe programs in Australia in 1986 to stem the spread of HIV. […]

Wodak & Shoebridge on Scipione’s Talk of Drug Law Reform

Former AFP commissioner Mick Palmer is renowned for asserting that Australia can’t arrest its way out of the drug problem. And he’s not the only ex-top brass turned drug law reformist. There’s once NSW police commissioner Ken Moroney, as well as ex-Tasmania police commissioner Jack Johnston. And now, former NSW police commissioner Andrew Scipione has joined their ranks. […]

Former NT Police Commissioner backs ACT on legal cannabis

Former NT Police Commissioner Mick Palmer AO has welcomed the “courageous decision” by the ACT parliament to pass a bill legalising cannabis possession for personal use. Mr Palmer, who also served as Australian Federal Police Commissioner until 2001, said the laws would “put control into a completely uncontrolled environment”. “It’s a decision that will improve safety for young Australians who are vulnerable to making decisions to buy things from an unregulated and totally uncontrolled marketplace,” he said. […]

Port Phillip Council renews pill testing trial call

With the music festival season about to start, the City of Port Phillip is renewing its call to be home to Victoria’s first pill testing trial. “In 2017, our Council asked the Victorian Government to immediately legislate to allow and fund pilot pill testing facilities at ‘consenting clubs, festivals and dance parties in Port Phillip to minimise the harms associated with illicit drugs’,” Mayor Dick Gross said today. […]

Enough evidence to support introduction of pill testing in NSW, inquiry told

A world expert on drug policy has told an inquiry into the drug ice and other amphetamines, including MDMA (ecstasy), that there is “sufficient evidence” overseas and in Australia to support the introduction of drug or pill testing in NSW. Professor Alison Ritter called for a trial of pill testing at festivals in evidence to the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ and other amphetamines on Monday. […]

Festivals fuel Vic pill testing appeal

Victorian upper house MP Fiona Patten has issued an appeal for pill testing on the cusp of the music festival season, with the Listen Out event running in St Kilda this weekend. “We are crying out and calling on the government to prevent any lives from being lost,” the Reason Party leader told reporters on Monday. […]

Pill testers working on plans for static drug-checking sites

Canberra emergency department physician, Dr David Caldicott revealed the group was developing a proposal for a testing service at a fixed location. “We’re already working on static sites. I can’t tell you where, it’s top secret. But needless to say there are people in this room who are involved,” Dr Caldicott said. […]

He was the top cop in NSW and couldn’t help a friend in a drug crisis

Former NSW police commissioner Andrew Scipione says the system of dealing with people using drugs isn’t working, and has supported measures that give police the discretion to issue cautions or infringement notices. He told a roundtable on decriminalisation of amphetamine-type substances that NSW had failed to stop people from experimenting with drugs and going on to have lives that are” significantly impacted by drug use over many years”. […]

Addiction specialists warn welfare drug testing will do more harm than good

Addiction expert Dr Stephen Bright told The New Daily “it’s absolutely probable” that Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients using any of the five targeted drugs would move on other substances that are undetectable by the test. “The drugs people move to as a way of evading drug testing are often significantly more harmful than the drugs they’re testing for,” Dr Bright, senior lecturer at Edith Cowan University, said. […]

The deeper problems with Government drug testing

Drug testing of welfare recipients has been on the LNP agenda for quite a while now. As an ex-drug user who has successfully become stable and clean for a few years now, I can see that this idea will be impossible to orchestrate and carry out successfully without chaos and sky-high expense. […]

Police fail to block strip-search reports

A coroner has rejected NSW police claims that reports on the force’s strip-search procedures are beyond the scope of an inquest into drug-related deaths at music festivals. Deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame on Thursday said she was satisfied the inquest could appropriately consider what police search practices had on the method of consumption of Ms Ross-King and young festival patrons in general. […]

Fresh warnings drug testing welfare recipients would ‘stigmatise’ most disadvantaged

The Australian Council of Social Service is among 40 welfare and medical groups who have previously warned against the plan, including the Australian Medical Association. “Many health experts have expressed concern that drug testing income support recipients is ineffective and could threaten the health and wellbeing of people affected,” Ms Phillip said. […]

‘It’s not effective as a deterrent’: Why sniffer dogs can do more harm than good

RMIT University legal studies lecturer Dr Peta Malins said sniffer dogs ultimately failed to fulfil their purpose of striking the heart of the underground drug trade. Instead of catching dealers, they catch low-level users who might bring a single joint or a pill to a yearly festival. “The key thing I found is drug dogs are not deterring people from using drugs,” she told news.com.au. […]

Renewed push to drug test ‘vulnerable’ welfare recipients criticised

GP and addiction medicine specialist Dr Paul Grinzi told newsGP the new bill may still worsen outcomes in the longer term. ‘The Minister fails to understand that living with an addiction brings about issues of blame, stigma and shame,’ he said. ‘Drug testing these vulnerable members of our community is only going to perpetuating these issues, not “assist” in any sort of long-term recovery. […]

Rebuilding from the rubble of the failed war on drugs

There is hope. Both academia and the legal profession have long declared that the war on drugs was lost. In 2011 a Law Commission review recommended the government repeal the Misuse of Drugs Act and create a new act under the ministry of health. The commission argued in favour of a health-based approach, particularly in cases with a strong element of addiction. […]

Legalisation key to ending war on drugs, says author Antony Loewenstein

Mr Loewenstein said there was growing worldwide evidence of the benefits an end to the prohibition of illicit drugs would bring. One example was a 2018 Harvard University study that found legalising drugs and instead taxing and regulating their sales would save governments in the United States alone US$106.7 billion each year. […]

Pill testing in Tasmania

“Pill testing services never condones drug use, and it reduces the potential for tragic outcomes and harms for the people taking risks,” Vumbaca said. “It is a health and medical service, and as members of the community and parents we should always be seeking to make sure that young people are kept safe and return home after a night out, and that is our simple goal at Pill Testing Australia.” […]

‘Abuse of power needs to stop’: Why drug dogs and strip searches just don’t work

Experts say the practice is legally questionable due to restrictions on anyone but a medical practitioner conducting a body cavity search. Research suggests the overwhelming majority of drug dog searches are also fruitless; more often than not, no drugs are found, yet those stopped are still made to endure procedures such as strip searches and “squat and cough” tests many have described as “traumatic” and “dehumanising”. […]

Pill Testing Australia to meet with Tasmanian Government

Pill Testing Australia co-founder Gino Vumbaca said he would provide an explanation on how pill-testing services operated and provide evidence to support a trial in Tasmania. “For many, using pill testing services will be the first opportunity for them to talk to a health professional about their drug use and in some cases will lead to them deciding not to consume the drug or moderate their behavior to reduce the likelihood of harm,” he said. […]

Harm Reduction Australia & Pill Testing Australia: A Message to All Parliamentarians

To be clear, the message we always give to every person using our service is simple – if you do not want to encounter drug-related harm the safest way to ensure that is not to use drugs – if they still choose to use the drug after the comprehensive consultation with our analytical, medical and brief intervention teams, then we ensure they are provided with the best knowledge and information of how to reduce the risk of harms and encourage them to seek help in the event of an adverse reaction. […]

Report confirms what we thought – pill testing saves lives so let’s make it routine

While other jurisdictions struggle to get the elements in place to even run a trial, here in the ACT we must contemplate how we make this regular and routine. The report unsurprisingly makes calls for regular pill testing to be part of other music festivals, as well as delivering pill testing in other settings including the idea of a permanent pill testing facility. […]

New pill testing report released

Dr David Caldicott, an emergency physician with a special interest in toxicology who co-authored the PTA report, told newsGP he was extremely pleased with the findings. He believes a key value of pill testing lies in the opportunity it provides for face-to-face education. ‘I think it provides more evidence that the process of pill testing does what it claims to do, in that we can identify new drugs and persuade young people not to take them at music festivals,’ Dr Caldicott said. […]

New ad shines light on pill testing at Australian festivals

The ad was released alongside Pill Testing Australia’s (PTA) second report from Groovin The Moo in Canberra on April 28. The advocacy group explained it will no longer be footing the hefty bill to provide the services but stated how it believed the machine had potentially saved lives. PTA tested 170 substances for 234 revellers, finding seven of the samples contained N-Ethylpentylone, a highly toxic chemical blamed for festival drug deaths. […]

Pill Testing Australia reveal findings from their second pilot at Groovin the Moo 2019

“Pill testing services offer a unique and efficacious opportunity to engage with young people and effect positive behavioural change to reduce the risk of drug-related harm,” said Dr David Caldicott, an Emergency Medicine Consultant who oversaw the clinical team at both pill testing pilots in Canberra. “This cohort is unlikely to have ever had contact with health services in relation to their drug use.” […]

Drug Research Ignores Stable or Pleasurable Use—And That’s a Problem

Understanding self-regulating drug use as an everyday experience for many people allows us to envision an end to the drug war that doesn’t require an end to drug use. Instead, with a deeper understanding of self-regulation, we can move to end the criminalization of drug use—whether the use is “problematic” or not—and focus on expanding care and support for everyone who uses drugs. […]

The Elephant on Stage

Drug users should not be treated as the enemies of festivals, they account for a large proportion of festival-goers and bring in vast amounts of money for organisers. If a festival attracts a certain crowd and pattern of behaviour due to its choice of music, it should go out of its way to protect this group. […]

High School Student Hits Back At Gladys Berejiklian’s Pill Testing BS On ‘Q&A

Berejiklian’s appearance on the panel comes a day after Pill Testing Australia released its report on the April Groovin The Moo trial, which identified seven samples containing the potentially deadly substance n-ethyl pentylone before they could be consumed. Among its other findings: in addition to the professional analysis offered to everyone who had their pill tested, nearly 20% of people who attended the pill testing tent for a brief intervention with peer support workers left with harm-reduction literature […]

A new study supports pill testing, but politicians still refuse to take action

I’d like to think we’ve moved past the point where abstinence is a practical end goal for everyone. Pill Testing Australia says it succinctly in the report: “No matter how strong our desire for people not to use drugs or our efforts at education and prevention, people will continue to use drugs.” […]

Groovin’ the Moo pill-testing trial unveils seven ‘toxic’ tablets

The ACT government is being urged to introduce Australia’s first ever fixed-site community drug testing facility after the discovery of a number of potentially fatal substances during a pill-testing trial held in Canberra. Pill Testing Australia held its second trial at the Groovin’ the Moo festival in Canberra in April and found seven pills containing the highly toxic chemical N-Ethylpentylone, a drug associated with deaths and mass casualty events in the US and New Zealand […]

The Full And “Somewhat Unexpected” Results of Australia’s Second Pill-Testing Trial Are In

In their official report, PTA have further outlined the trial’s effects. Noticeably, PTA announced an “unintended benefit”: punters who had their pills tested and found unexpected substances would spread word to friends with pills (assumedly from the same batch), who would return with those friends to also get tested. According to the report, this happened “on several occasions […]

New Report Shows Just How Successful Groovin The Moo’s Pill Testing Trial Was

“Prohibition is a policy of rejection and of saying we don’t care about drug users. Pill testing shows we take their health seriously. We must acknowledge the current approach is resulting in unintended consequences and instead choose policies that have worked elsewhere. It’s time to get over the stigma and just test the pills.” […]

To arrest drug use harm, we can’t just rely on arrests

Dr David Caldicott, an emergency medicine specialist, said the increase in arrests and seizures related to drugs like heroin and hallucinogens did not mirror trends seen in hospitals. He said drugs policy in Australia had three key pillars – reducing supply, reducing demand and reducing harm. While it was important to reduce supply, two-thirds of the money spent on drugs policy in Australia was dedicated to policing. […]

Unlawful strip searches are on the rise in NSW and police aren’t being held accountable

Strip searches are meant to only be used by officers if they suspect, on reasonable grounds, that it’s necessary “for the purpose of the search” and there are “serious and urgent” circumstances that make it necessary. But the law provides no other criteria to guide police. In a non-policing context, having to perform such non-consensual acts would constitute a serious assault. […]

Seattle Has Figured Out How to End the War on Drugs

Seattle is undertaking what feels like the beginning of a historic course correction, with other cities discussing how to follow. This could be far more consequential than the legalization of pot: By some estimates, nearly half of Americans have a family member or close friend enmeshed in addiction, and if the experiment in Seattle succeeds, we’ll have a chance to rescue America from our own failed policies. […]

New data reveals over 20 per cent of pill testing participants were underage

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said the news that majority of the people attending the pill testing tent were teenagers underlines the positive effect of pill testing. “These are people who don’t necessarily have a lot of information and pill testing does provide that opportunity to access that information,” Mr Rattenbury said. “It is a concern that they are taking these drugs but I hope that the educative process fully explains to them the dangers involved.” […]

NSW Police’s use of strip searches skyrocketing, report finds

The research, commissioned by Redfern Legal Centre, has revealed there has been an almost 20-fold increase in the number of searches in the past 12 years. The study found between 2014-2015, and 2017-2018, searches in the field found nothing between 62.6 and 65.6 per cent of the time. […]

Rethinking Strip Searches by NSW Police

A strip search is the most invasive form of personal search available to police without a court order,” Dr Sentas says. “Yet over the past decade we have seen the number of strip searches continue to rise. Our findings reveal such searches are doing little to tackle serious drug crime.” […]

‘Extraordinary rise’ in strip-searches by NSW police fuelled by use of sniffer dog

“Saturation policing with sniffer dogs at music festivals and railway stations or forcing teenagers to remove their clothes in the back of police vans does not make the community safer,” said one of the report’s co-authors, the UNSW lecturer Vicki Sentas. “We need a serious discussion about how best to reform the law so that the police cannot abuse their powers.” […]

Pill testing – harm minimisation saves lives

We can’t possibly prevent all risk-taking harms but we can act to reduce the risk and minimise the harm. Just ‘saying no’ and believing that your kids, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and kids of your friends wouldn’t or don’t take drugs is nave and denies the reality of youth culture. […]

‘Zero tolerance approach denies the reality’: pill testing debated in Legislative Council

Independent MLC Ruth Forrest introduced the motion which, in an effort to minimise harm related to drug use at Tasmanian festivals and events, asked the government commit to looking into the steps that would need to be taken to conduct a trial in 2019-20 festival season. “Pill testing provides targeted opportunities to educate and counsel a group of people that it can be difficult to engage in education related to drug use at a moment in time when a young person has an opportunity to act. It may be the only opportunity a person in that situation has to reconsider their decisions.” […]

TAS Labor will not support Ruth Forrest’s pill testing motion

Labor will not support a move to have the Tasmanian government consider pill testing. Independent member for Murchison has accused Labor of “rolling over” and “playing politics” for refusing to support her motion which will be debated in the Legislative Council on Tuesday. […]

NZ: The ‘most significant drug reform in 40 years’ is about to become law

Director of the NZ Drug Foundation Ross Bell praised the government for passing the amendment, but said it was only the first step to wholesale drug reform. “It’s not the reform that we need. It’s not reform that the law commission recommended. Everyone knows that the Misuse of Drugs Act needs more than a few sentences changed. […]

‘The message is not getting through’: The war on drugs is not being won

Greg Chipp, Director of Drug policy Australia argues that “criminalising, persecuting, prosecuting and vilifying” drug users only makes the problems worse. “We need to take control of what is ultimately a health issue not a drug issue,” said Mr Chipp. “Criminalising is not helping, it doesn’t stop people using and it creates a black market with enormous costs.” […]

Break addiction to failed ideology of prohibition

And can politicians please stop listening to Tasmania Police on pill testing? They are not health experts. They live in cloud cuckoo land when it comes to drugs although privately every police officer you speak with thinks the current “just say no” approach to drugs is a huge failure. […]

Victoria could have pill-testing by 2020

A draft of the legislation was revealed today, which sets out what the service would look like. The Bill calls for two pill-testing services to be trialed for two years: a free mobile pill-testing facility to be used at festivals and a fixed-site lab for drug analysis. Both sites would be reviewed after one year and have the potential for a four-year license extension. […]

New pill-testing push as mother of drug victim urges premier to act for ‘greater good’

On Monday the Greens will unveil plans to introduce legislation for a two-year trial, including a mobile pill-testing facility to attend music festivals and a fixed-site laboratory that could test drugs all through the year. The legislation will be known as “Daniel’s Bill” after Daniel Buccianti, who died of a drug overdose at the Rainbow Serpent festival in 2012. […]

‘Abject nonsense’: Former AFP boss slams zero tolerance approach to drugs

Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer has slammed the country’s “zero tolerance” approach to drugs and has once again thrown his support behind pill testing. Mr Palmer told SBS News on Tuesday it’s time to find a “new way of doing business. If we continue to do what we’re doing, it’s abject nonsense, we’re failing with the best intentions in the world,” Mr Palmer said.” […]

The Guardian view on the case for legalising drugs: time to be reasonable

Drug laws should be designed to minimise damage. This might sound obvious. But the UK’s drug laws – along with those of most other countries – arguably do not have this effect. Indeed there is a strong argument that in many respects the blanket prohibition, under criminal statutes, of substances from cannabis to heroin along with the myriad synthetic substances now widely used to mimic their effects, does more harm than good. […]

Former AFP boss pushes for pill testing

Dr Wodak said the country was a global “laggard” in terms of drug policy reform. He said the arguments for pill testing had already been won but young people were dying at music festivals due to political inaction. “But we’re not seeing the political change,” Dr Wodak said. “The problem is we talk and they die.” […]

Tasmanian Labor to consider motion or bill supporting pill testing on its merit

A motion calling on the state government to explore a pill testing trial this summer will be considered by the Labor party. Murchison Independent MLC Ruth Forrest will move the motion to be debated in the upper house when Parliament resumes this week.  Labor Franklin MHA Alison Standen said Labor would consider the detail and merit of any motion or bill regarding pill testing introduced in Parliament. […]

The secret our politicians are keen to keep hidden

If politicians are going to preach and actively support policies that are “tough on drugs”, as our political leaders continue to do, Australians deserve the respect of an honest conversation with the (statistically) 37 Federal MPs who may have used illicit drugs last year, and the 98 who have used them in their lifetime. […]

Health Minister Greg Hunt rejects pill testing

“I think the social attitudes are changing towards pill testing and the harm minimisation approach,” acting Hobart Lord Mayor Helen Burnet said. “Hobart City Council is not condoning illicit drug use, nor the wrongful use of any drug or alcohol,” she said. “(But) this kind of risk-taking behaviour does occur, and there have been too many deaths at festivals over the last season on the mainland. […]

Pill testing won’t ‘green light’ drug use

Legalising pill testing won’t green light illicit drugs or normalise their use, a drug addiction academic has told a NSW inquest. Ahead of her attendance at the annual north coast Splendour in the Grass music festival, Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame on Friday heard from three expert witnesses on the impacts of legalising such services. […]

Family Of Overdose Victim “Wanted To See” Pill Testing At Splendour, Says Doc

Dr David Caldicott told PEDESTRIAN.TV that punters were distressed by the number of uniformed police officers and sniffer dogs attending to the event’s main thoroughfare over the weekend. There was “clear fear in the faces of people not involved” with the sniffer dogs, Dr Caldicott said, adding he was “very attuned” to the discomfort of punters entering the festival grounds. […]

‘I don’t want another child to die’: Shattered mother of girl, 19, killed by festival drug overdose holds back tears as she campaigns for pill testing at Splendour In The Grass

Ms Ross-King fought off tears as she watched the demonstration and said the testing measure should be implemented immediately.’I guess the disappointing part is that this has been 20 years in the making,’ she told reporters afterwards. ‘Enough is enough. You know, like … enough. It’s getting beyond a joke now.’ […]