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Australia becomes first country to recognise psychedelics as medicines

Associate Professor David Caldicott, an emergency department doctor who appeared at the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide to advocate the drugs be used for returned soldiers suffering from psychological trauma, said he was pleasantly surprised by Friday’s decision. […]

The ACT’s bold pill-testing regime

Gino Vumbaca is president of Harm Reduction Australia. He and his team are behind the trial of the new facility which runs tests on drugs to make sure they’re safe for the user to take. He says trials at music festivals in recent years have undoubtedly saved lives.  […]

Australia needs drug testing and opioid blockers to reduce overdose deaths

If we want to reverse the growing trend of overdose deaths, naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of opioids, must be distributed to everyone who is interacting with those who are dying, including the police. As well, it is time that we follow Spanos’s recommendation and make pill and drug testing available. […]

‘A disgrace’: Ice inquiry commissioner accuses government of ignoring calls for reform

The commissioner who led the state’s ice inquiry has accused the NSW government of missing a once-in-a-generation opportunity for drug reform and ignoring his recommendations 15 months after handing down a landmark report. Professor Dan Howard SC said he was deeply disappointed with the government’s failure to respond to the 104 remaining recommendations after rejecting five almost outright, including pill testing and another supervised injecting centre. […]

Study finds pill testing at music festivals would not increase ecstasy use

Allowing pill testing at music festivals would not increase the use of ecstasy, research from Western Australia has suggested. The Edith Cowan University study surveyed 247 people and found pill testing at an event or in a fixed, permanent spot had no positive influence on the respondents’ intention to use MDMA. […]

Calls for pill testing at Bass in the Grass as thousands head to Darwin

Last week, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he was open to the idea of a pill testing trial but said for it to work, it would have to be based on the evidence. “We will look at what’s happening down south and make an informed decision off the back of that,” he said. […]

AIVL’s Melanie Walker on Coming Drug Decriminalisation and Treatment Access

The evidence is in. We know that pill testing saves lives. We know that it also leads to some people deciding not to take the drugs that they’ve had tested because they’ve found that they might be dangerous. It really is about allowing people to make informed choices around their drug use and to be sensible around it. […]

What has changed in the year since cannabis possession was legalised in the ACT?

The architect of the legislation, Labor MLA Michael Pettersson, has been pleased with the results so far. But he said the laws were not the end of the road for drug reform, but rather a step towards treating drug use as a public health problem, rather than a criminal one. “For the most part, I think things are pretty similar to what they were before, but I think we’re now heading in the right direction,” he said. […]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Election Day was a major rejection of the war on drugs

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

Is it time for a drug policy intervention?

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

Helen Clark appointed chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

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

There is a better approach to recreational drugs

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

Pollies push pill testing for Victorian music festivals

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

Growing support for pill testing at Aussie music festivals

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

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

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

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

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

Injecting room recognises what life is like in the real world

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

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

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

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

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

Patten calls for safe injecting room to prescribe powerful opioid

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

Opioid addiction treatment must change during pandemic, experts say

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

Feasibility study for safe injecting room to go ahead

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

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

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

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

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