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NZ to hold vote on recreational cannabis

New Zealand is set to hold a binding referendum on the legislation of recreational cannabis, the government has announced. The plebiscite would be held alongside the country’s next general election, in 2020, Justice Minister Andrew Little told reporters on Tuesday morning. Pro-reform campaign group New Zealand Drug Foundation welcomed the vote, with its chief Ross Bell saying the current approach to regulating marijuana was outdated and it was time for a change.


UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Opioid Strategy Ignores What’s Most Proven to Work

Damon Barrett, director of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy, points out that the Integrated Strategy emphasizes policing, rather than public health, and doesn’t seem any different from the status quo approach to drugs in general. The strategy also seems to mirror President Donald Trump’s Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem, a document co-signed in September by 129 UN member states, that was seen as a call to revamp the global War on Drugs. […]

Harm Reduction: Shifting from a War on Drugs to a War on Drug-Related Deaths

Policymakers can reduce overdose deaths and other harms stemming from nonmedical use of opioids and other dangerous drugs by switching to a policy of “harm reduction” strategies. Harm reduction has a success record that prohibition cannot match. It involves a range of public health options. These strategies would include medication-assisted treatment, needle-exchange programs, safe injection sites, heroin-assisted treatment, deregulation of naloxone, and the decriminalization of marijuana. […]

ACT could face High Court challenge of cannabis legalisation

The people behind the ACT’s initial push to open a safe injecting room almost 20 years ago say the current proposal is well overdue. A drug strategy report released this week flagged the possibility of Canberra finally getting a supervised injecting room, almost decades after legislation was passed. […]

Campaigner achieved victory over safe injecting rooms trials

Ann Symonds saved lives and changed lives. She saved them by fighting, losing, then fighting again to provide safe injecting rooms for drug users at Kings Cross. She changed lives by her efforts to create homes for women escaping domestic violence or the curse of drugs, by finding legal ways to keep women out of jail and to care for the children of incarcerated women. […]

ACT: Pill testing, safe injecting room in new Drug Strategy Action Plan

An expansion of pill testing at events in the ACT and revisiting a safe injecting room for opioid users are two of 43 measures contained in the ACT Government’s new three-year Drug Strategy Action Plan released today. The Government says harm minimisation underpins the Action Plan 2018-2021, which outlines the priorities over the next three years to tackle the harms from alcohol, tobacco and other drug use in the ACT.


Hardline approach to pill testing ‘failing’ to save lives

Dr Caldicott also hopes to avoid further tragedy. ‘We’re at the start of a summer season, a season which we know is very dangerous in the global sense,’ he said. According to Dr Caldicott, the illicit drugs he sees now are also ‘far more dangerous than any we’ve ever had’. He believes pill testing is a vital strategy in reducing deaths and injuries at music festivals. […]

Why Australia needs pill testing

Paul Dillon said heavier policing is a common government response to public outrage over drug deaths, but it has not done much to solve the problem.  ‘Drug use has not reduced at festivals or night clubs – people just take their drugs in a different way, or choose things not easily identified by drug dogs,’ he said. […]

Teen Dies of Suspected Drug Overdose After Sydney Dance Festival

In a fiery retort, anti-lockouts group and new political party Keep Sydney Open have argued that police’s “message” clearly isn’t working. “To the NSW Government and Police: insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and thinking the outcome will change,” they write on Facebook. […]

The U.S. Needs to Decriminalize Drug Possession Now

It’s not just the idiocy and ill will of the Trump administration in this area as in so many others but the reluctance of even progressive state and local legislators to embrace what’s already working elsewhere. It’s not just the political weakness of those who favor drug treatment over incarceration but the persistent belief among many treatment supporters, and the public, that the only acceptable alternative to drug use, whether problematic or not, is abstinence — and that the criminal justice system is an essential partner in forcing people to abstain. […]

‘We’re not this crazy church’: Vatican audience for drug reformist

In selecting Dr Wodak to speak at the Vatican’s ‘Drugs and Addictions’ conference on December 1, Catholic Health Australia CEO Suzanne Greenwood said she was aware the Drug Law Reform Foundation president’s opinions might not be equally held by the global headquarters of the church. Dr Wodak used his platform to call for the regulation of drug markets, the scrapping of criminal penalties for the possession of currently illicit substances and to treat drug use as a health issue.


Drug Foundation backs move to treat personal drug use as health issue

“The Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry has joined a chorus of other voices urging the Government to treat drugs as a health and social issue. Based on these recommendations the Government can be confident its plans to take a fresh approach to drugs is the right thing to do,” said Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell.


NZ: Mental health report recommends re-think on drug charges

The panel, led by the former health watchdog Ron Paterson, spent roughly 10 months consulting people around the country, holding more than 400 meetings and considering about 5000 submissions. The recommendations include taking strong action on drugs by enacting a stricter regulatory approach to the sale and supply of alcohol and replacing criminal sanctions for the possession for personal use of controlled drugs, with civil responses.


This Is How Coke, Ecstasy and Meth Would Be Legally Sold

Different drugs are associated with different risks, and the whole idea of regulation is to manage and reduce risk, so the regulatory tools you’d deploy are going to vary. Within stimulants there’s an enormous array of products and risks, so you’d have various models to regulate price, potency, packaging, vendors and marketing, but the principles and goals are the same.


Parliament lights up as Canberra gets baked

Dr David Caldicott, the clinical lead at the ANU’s Australian Medicinal Cannabis Observatory, told The RiotACT that a bill like Pettersson’s could limit the drug’s availability to underage consumers and undermine the illicit drug market in the ACT. “From a public health perspective, there are merits to an argument of a regulated market,” Caldicott said. […]

Community groups mount fight to stop mandatory drug detention laws

A coalition of community groups said there was no proof mandatory treatment worked and warned it would operate at an exorbitant cost. The SA Council of Social Services, Australian Medical Association, SA Network of Drug and Alcohol Services, Uniting Communities and Guardian for Children and Young People Penny Wright all called for the Bill to be withdrawn until a proposal about how the laws would operate was finalised.


Philippines police officers jailed for killing student in drugs war

Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros, who has railed against the drug killings, said the court decision proved that extrajudicial killings under Mr Duterte’s crackdown were really being committed by rogue members of the national police force. “This is a light in the darkness,” Ms Hontiveros said in a statement. “Despite the gruesome climate of killing and impunity in the country, this verdict sends the message that there is hope and justice.


‘Drug policies should be first of all concerned with preserving public health’

Usually, problems are photosensitive. Put them to the light and they disappear. Prohibition keeps us in the dark. There’s difficulty for research, for understanding the ramifications, of getting data, of understanding why people do it. The paradigm needs to change to move beyond the failure—and drug control is a failure as it is now. […]

Harm reduction is the right way to treat drug abuse

Some countries take things further. Many have safe injection rooms, supervised by medical professionals who check the drugs for safety. In Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, addicts who repeatedly fail methadone programmes may even receive free, government-prescribed heroin. “Heroin-assisted treatment” has been shown to reduce crime and deaths. And it appears not to recruit new users: shooting up at a government facility under a nurse’s gaze is hardly glamorous. […]

UK: We predicted banning legal highs wouldn’t work – and a new review shows it’s as bad as we feared


How ‘fixing rooms’ are saving the lives of drug addicts

“The only thing that stands in the way of the UK following the example of other European countries is the British government, who continuously state that they will not support drug consumption rooms despite the evidence and the fact they could save lives. It seems they are happy for the backstreets of our city and town centres to continue to provide such spaces.”


NZ: All angst and little action on drug policy

Despite plenty of posturing, hand-wringing and worthy words this year, little progress has been made on drug reform, as people continue to suffer and die, writes former Minister Peter Dunne. […]

The Crucial Role of Mothers in Reforming Drug Policy

Although these groups of mothers – and other family members – are not huge in their numbers, their stories are important for changing the narrative on drug use, and help change public attitudes towards drug policy. It is crucial for policymakers to hear their stories, and for fellow campaigners to elevate and amplify the voices of some of the people most devastated by the failures of the global drug war. […]

Greece Health Ministry Plans Drug Consumption Rooms

The Greek health ministry is preparing a legislative amendment to permit the opening of drug consumption rooms in Athens, after a university’s claim that it’s overwhelmed by widespread public drug use. The drug consumption rooms (DCRs) – if approved – will provide a hygienic environment and sterile equipment for people to consume drugs with under the supervision of trained medical staff, according to Greek newspaper, I Kathimerini. […]

Proposal for second pill-testing trial as Groovin the Moo moves to EPIC

One of the key players in last year’s trial, Dr David Caldicott, said the festival’s move to Exhibition Park gave the consortium more hope than if it had moved to Federal land, and it would now be assessing the specific needs of the new venue. He said the proposal for next year’s trial would build on this year’s success.


Getting My Club Drugs Tested Transformed My Partying Habits

Taking drugs is never completely safe. They all come with varying degrees of risk, which increase significantly if you ingest more than one substance at once. But if we want to curtail these overdoses, the government needs to fund pragmatic approaches like this, and sooner rather than later. Nobody needs to die when they go out dancing. […]

More Universities Should Follow Sheffield’s Harm Reduction Approach

Although neither Sheffield University nor the Student Union condones the use of drugs on campus, their approach acknowledges how students may use drugs during their time at university. The Student Union links to harm reduction guidance, including details about needle exchanges, while also providing external guidance from The Loop – a UK charity which provides drug safety testing, welfare support, and harm reduction services at nightclubs and festivals. […]

Pill-testing: budget office finds it would cost $16m to put services in major cities

The Greens have revealed a plan to open 18 pill-testing services across Australia at a cost of $16m, saying the policy would disrupt drug dealing networks and cut preventable deaths. The Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, a former drug and alcohol doctor, said the war on drugs had failed because 1 million Australians still used ecstasy and cocaine every year and a number of them were dying because they had no idea what they were consuming. […]

Hell Yeah: The Greens Are Calling For A Nationwide Pill Testing Program

“The war on drugs is a war on people — it has destroyed thousands of lives and wasted billions of dollars,” said Greens leader Richard Di Natale, a former drug and alcohol doctor. “Instead of protecting the community it is actually placing them at greater risk of harm. Pill testing has time and time again proven to reduce rates of harm both in Australia and overseas, whereas the Coalition and Labor Party’s approach of heavy handed policing with drug dogs only creates more misery,” he added. […]

Greens unveil plan for 18 pill-testing shopfronts across Australia

Recreational drug users would be able to pop in to a shop and test their pills under a plan by the Australian Greens. Party leader Richard Di Natale today paid a morning visit to a Melbourne nightclub to unveil plans for 18 pill-testing shopfronts, costing $16 million over four years. Six of the proposed shops would be in major cities and 12 in rural areas, with mobile facilities available for music festivals and special events. […]

The dollars and sense of drug law reform

As NZ Green MP Chloe Swarbrick points out, there is a certain hypocrisy in MPs who have used drugs presiding over archaic drug laws. But if the moral or health-based arguments fail to persuade them and us, perhaps the economic ones will. […]

NZ Drug Foundation calls for decriminalisation of use and possession of all illicit drugs

Ross Bell, executive director of the Drug Foundation launched a report on what it would look like if New Zealand moved to a “health-approach” to drugs, rather than a criminal. “We’ve proved ourselves ill-equipped to deal with public health emergencies when it comes to drugs. We’ve seen it most recently with the dreadful deaths from synthetic cannabinoids,” he said today.


International Commission on Drug Policy deserves attention

Yes, illegal drugs are dangerous. It would be irresponsible to simply legalise them. The International Commission on Drug Policy, which is chaired by Ruth Dreyfuss, the former Swiss president, recommends regulation instead. The Commission’s proposals deserve attention. We lack a better alternative. The experience Europe and North America have with alcohol shows that regulation is the best way to reduce harm because prohibition does not do the job. […]

Coroner compares drug prohibition laws to racism

A NSW coroner has likened the effects of drug prohibition to state sanctioned racism, saying future generations would look back at current laws on illicit substances with incredulity. […]

‘Disappointed’: Too late for off-site pill testing at Spilt Milk

STA-SAFE spokesman Dr David Caldicott said while it was a disappointing outcome, he understood the ACT government was still interested in future trials, and hoped it could also consider other off-site testing options, not necessarily linked to specific festivals. […]

Time for a truce in Asia’s war on drugs

Global attitudes on narcotic drugs are changing, but the shift has come too late for those caught up in Asia’s past decade of misguided and often lethal anti-drug campaigns. […]

A Victorian MP is throwing a pro-pill testing rave

A Victorian state MP is throwing a rave party to gather support for pill testing at music festivals and gigs. Fiona Patten’s Reason Party wants to install drug checking facilities at music festivals and other events as part of its drug policy it claims is “founded on early treatment and harm reduction”. […]

Opioid inquest told drug demand key issue

Dr Wodak, who was director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney for 30 years, discussed the effect of cracking down on the supply of only some drugs. “We’re dealing with a political problem, not a public health problem.” He called for heroin testing to be made available in clinics in “Dubbo, Wilcannia, Grafton” and around Australia so people from rural and remote areas didn’t have to travel hours to Sydney to see if their heroin was laced with fentanyl. […]

Music festivals ‘ignored’ with new drug laws

Significant questions have also been raised about the effectiveness of the new measures to reduce drug-related harm. ‘Given that most evidence suggests that heavy-handed policing doesn’t deter dealers or drug users, it’s unlikely it’ll have the impact they’re hoping,’ managing director of Music NSW Emily Collins said. ‘Experts in this field say that a health-focused approach has the best impact on the safety of festival-goers, and not just drug safety, but general safety. […]

Drug campaigners gather to remember victims in ACT

The president of the campaigning group, Bill Bush, said he welcomed the minister’s assertion that he had an open mind about reform. Mr Bush said one problem was that teenagers tried drugs as a matter of experimentation with forbidden fruit and then found themselves within the criminal system. Once in, it was hard to get out. […]

NSW festivals death law reform ‘does nothing to prevent harm’: ACT

An ACT government spokeswoman said while the territory would examine any available data from NSW about the effectiveness of these laws, its approach would be guided by evidence about how to minimise the harm from drugs. “We are disappointed that the response of the NSW government in no way seeks to minimise the harm of dangerous drugs. […]

NSW Gov Announces On-The-Spot Fines For Drug Possession At Music Festivals

Of the former law, Berejiklian speculated that the punishment for dealers who fall afoul of the new offence – on the off chance they’re proven guilty – would be punished with the same severity as manslaughter or grievous bodily harm; charges that currently carry prison terms of anywhere between 10 and 25 years’ jail in New South Wales. […]

Are WA’s ‘tough on drugs’ politicians about to drop their rhetoric?

Western Australia could be on the verge of abandoning its decades-old “tough on drugs” attitude to illicit substance addiction after both sides of parliament backed a plan to examine the decriminalisation of drugs. A high-powered parliamentary committee, to be chaired by Greens MP Alison Xamon with representatives from the Labor, Liberal and National parties, will look at “alternate approaches to reducing illicit drug use”. […]

Canada grew up and legalised cannabis. Over to you, Australia

Canada may stumble along the way, but there are potential upsides, among them more effective education about all substances; larger and faster clinical trials of its medicinal properties; and less use of alcohol. Legal cannabis may lose its rebellious cachet and experimental allure among kids. Bringing an underground economy to the surface starves criminals of a lucrative and untaxed black market. […]

HRA-IDPC Media Release on Global Drug Strategy 22nd October 2018

The lost decade in the global war on drugs – New report shows 10-year United Nations drug strategy set to conclude in colossal failure

Vienna, 22 October 2018 – A report released today by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) has exposed the United Nations 10-year global strategy aimed to eradicate the illegal drug market by 2019 as a spectacular failure of policy and urged a re-think of its new strategy for the next decade. […]

Drug testing legalisation at NZ festivals on the cards

Health Minister David Clark said the coalition Government was dealing with drug use as a health and harm reduction issue. “In light of this, I’ve had initial discussions with the Justice Minister about ‘drug checking’ services. “Through him, I’ve asked for advice on the legislative and criminal justice issues around such services.”


Offering Hope For Those Affected By Drug Policy

On Friday, 12 October, Sir Richard Branson will officially launch a new Uniting Church campaign, calling on governments to reform Australia’s drug legislation to reflect a harm minimisation approach. The grassroots campaign calls for the decriminalisation of small amounts of currently illegal substances for personal use. The call has been spearheaded by the NSW and ACT Synod of the Uniting Church and Uniting. […]

Leyonhjelm leads the way on legal cannabis

Senator David Leyonhjelm attended the Uniting Church’s drug summit in Sydney today, reinforcing the Liberal Democrats’ longstanding policy of decriminalising recreational drug use in Australia. “I believe we have reached a level of maturity in this country where we can move beyond policies based on fear or disapproval and embrace an evidence-based medical and harm-minimisation strategy, as sophisticated societies have done elsewhere,” Senator Leyonhjelm said. […]

Time to wise up about drugs, says Sir Richard Branson

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson will today declare the war on drugs has failed, urging Australia to return to its pioneering role in drug treatment that began with the medically supervised injecting centre in Sydney’s Kings Cross. “We live in a drug-taking world. We cannot change that, and we need to be sensible and pragmatic about how we respond,” Sir Richard writes in The Australian today. […]

Time to wise up about drugs, says Sir Richard Branson

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson will today declare the war on drugs has failed, urging Australia to return to its pioneering role in drug treatment that began with the medically supervised injecting centre in Sydney’s Kings Cross. The billionaire who founded the Virgin Group will address the Uniting Fair Treatment campaign at Sydney’s Town Hall today as the federal government signals it will push harder on an illicit drug crackdown.  […]

Deep Systemic Change: My 10 Steps to Transform Addiction Treatment

In order to save lives, we need safer consumption spaces (or better yet, call them “overdose prevention sites”) in areas where drug use and sales are concentrated; syringe exchange programs scaled to meet demand; and increased access to supplies like fentanyl-checking test strips. […]

Lisbon shows drug decriminalisation policy beneficial, expert says

The sky “did not fall in” after a decision to decriminalise drugs for personal use in Portugal, according to the vice-president of the health commission that deals with the issue in Lisbon. On Monday, a report from the Ana Liffey drug project recommended that Ireland decriminalise drugs in quantities for personal use. […]

Pill testing won’t be used to lure events to Canberra, govt says

Mr Rattenbury said he was not trying to “capitalise on the misfortune” of the Defqon deaths “We should seek to embrace an event like this for the opportunities it would bring to Canberra but also be really conscious of the risks that are involved in it and work as earnestly and as diligently as we can to minimise those risks,” Mr Rattenbury said. […]

WALES: Decriminalise drugs, Plaid Cymru says

Illegal drugs should be decriminalised, delegates at the Plaid Cymru conference have said. Party members called the war on drugs an “unmitigated failure” and said criminalising those with an addiction does “nothing to help them turn their lives around”. Activists voted for decriminalisation to become party policy on Friday. […]

Garema Place rally to urge Commonwealth to reconsider pill testing

Hundreds of angry Canberrans are expected to turn out at a weekend rally to demand the federal government reconsider its opposition to pill testing, as organisers label off-site drug-checking a “half-measure”. Reason ACT and the Smashed Avocado Movement are coordinating the Garema Place rally, which will urge governments across Australia to roll out pill testing as a harm reduction measure. […]

Richard Branson backs church-led push to decriminalise drugs in NSW

The NSW and ACT synods of the Uniting Church and its service arm, Uniting, are spearheading the call to have illegal substances decriminalised for personal use in a movement backed by 60 organisations, including the Law Society of NSW, the NSW Bar Association, and the NSW branch of the Health Services Union. […]

Alex Greenwich MP talks pill testing and harm minimisation: ‘The government is having a very superficial look at the matter’

The upcoming NSW election will be a really important platform for people young and old who enjoy music festivals, who enjoy going out, who work in the industry or associated industries to make sure their voices are heard. And make sure every party and independents knows that they’re going to be held accountable for the policies they come up with the impact those policies have on the industry. […]

Campaign Pushes For Drug Policy Rethink

The Fair Treatment campaign, led by Uniting NSW and ACT, will be launched in part by entrepreneur and global drug reform advocate Richard Branson in Sydney on 12 October. “Meaningful drug policy reform, for the fair treatment of all people, will only come through a courageous movement of people intent on forging a new path for people affected by drug policy,” Taylor said. […]

Has New Zealand had a change of heart on pill testing at festivals?

After a strong stance against pill testing at music festivals, the New Zealand government might have softened up in time for this summer’s events. Health minister David Clark revealed to the weekend’s Herald on Sunday, “This government is dealing with drug use as a health and harm reduction issue. “In light of this, I’ve had initial discussions with the Justice minister about drug checking services. […]

Why doctors should support regulated markets in illicit drugs

There is still a long road ahead before drugs, starting with the less harmful ones, are legally regulated. Implementation will have to be incremental, careful, and continuously and independently evaluated. Yet it is time to begin the journey towards new policies that will bring together in a coherent manner, responsible management of drug related risks by governments and better individual and public health. […]

Regulation – the responsible control of drugs

This new report provides a practical roadmap that tackles the real implications and recognizes the difficulties of transitioning from illegal to legally regulated drug markets. It offers concrete answers regarding the organizational capacity of state institutions to regulate and control a legal market of potentially dangerous products. It highlights the challenges facing impoverished populations that constitute the “working class” of the illegal drug markets. […]

Trump’s Terrible, No Good Plan to Gin Up a Worldwide Drug War

The world need not leave global drug policy to the tender mercies of Donald Trump. In fact, it would be better off listening to one of the men who will address the Monday meeting: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. As president of Portugal, Guterres oversaw that country’s groundbreaking decriminalization of drug use and possession in 2001. […]

NCA’s decision on pill testing betrays public trust

The NCA’s willingness to potentially endanger the health and well-being of the community it supposedly serves is a betrayal of trust. The federal government’s complicity in allowing such a decision to stand, without evening engaging the medical and health professionals providing the pill-testing service, speaks to the lack of due diligence, perhaps even cowardice, in the decision-making process. […]

Plan for tackling Australian drug woes

Telling young people not to take drugs isn’t working. That’s according to the head of a national drug services organisation and a former Australian Federal Police commissioner. Instead, the nation should focus on reducing the harm caused by drugs, including offering pill testing at music festivals, the duo say. […]

It’s time to try a different approach to drug use

Will a strategic approach of harm minimisation absolutely stop the number of deaths from drug consumption? No. Might it reduce the number of deaths? Yes. Isn’t that enough of a reason to try a different approach to drug use? No doubt the Canberra pill-trial wasn’t perfect. But it demonstrated a willingness to admit prohibition is a failure. […]

Imagine if the media covered alcohol like other drugs

What if the media covered alcohol like it does other drugs? This was a question that came up in my coverage of flakka, a synthetic drug that made headlines after law enforcement blamed it for people running in the streets naked in delusional paranoia. What follows is a satirical attempt at capturing that same type of alarmist reporting, but for a substance that really causes widespread and severe problems. […]

Adelaide music festival to go ahead as police warn of ‘significant risk’ to party goers using illicit drugs

Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president Dr Alex Wodak said additional police resources at music festival were doing more harm than good. “There were 120 police and 20 detectives at Defqon.1,” Dr Wodak said. “We have to recognise that relying heavily on law enforcement has been incredibly unsuccessful. “It is irresponsible of governments not to consider pill testing. […]

A Zero Tolerance Drug Policy Doesn’t Mean Zero Deaths

Two people died at Defqon.1 festival in Sydney over the weekend. Three others are in critical condition, and another 700 had to seek medical assistance during the festival. This has to stop, and it won’t stop through zero tolerance. […]

Richard Branson to launch Uniting-led campaign on drug reform

“A decriminalisation approach coupled with investment in harm reduction and treatment services can have a positive impact on both individual drug users and society as a whole. The Uniting Church in NSW and ACT is taking a leadership role in this important campaign, we are encouraging everyone to show their support for the need for a major change to national drug policy.” […]

How Pill Testing Would Work In Australia

The test, despite claims from politicians, does not give a rating on how safe the drug is. It simply allows people, who are already planning to consume a drug anyway, to know what they are about to put in their mouth. Caldicott said this information often led to people discarding their drugs, as evidenced by long-running programs in Europe and his own Canberra trial. […]