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Coroners plead for a drug testing trial

In January, Ms Allan said she had sought that advice after at least 10 people were taken to hospital following suspected drug use at festivals. “There are no current plans to change the policy setting on drug checking,” she said at the time. Harm Reduction Australia and Pill Testing Australia in November announced they formally offered to host a public health based pill testing trial at a festival of the government’s choice at no cost to the state. […]

Joint Media Release – March 2024

In response to the Australian Crime Intelligence Commission (ACIC)’s recent National Waster Water Drug Monitoring Program 2024 Report, Family Drug Support (FDS), Keep Our City Alive (KOCA) and Harm Reduction Australia (HRA) call on the Premier, the Hon. Jacinta Allan to follow through the Victorian Governments’ 2020 commitment to establish an overdose prevention service in the CBD before further lives are lost. […]

Medicinal cannabis advocates call for WA driving law overhaul

A Swinburne University study is the first of its kind to test the driving performance of Australian cannabis users. In it, 40 subjects — all regular medicinal cannabis patients — were assessed for their driving ability using a simulator before and after taking medication. The subjects showed no sign of impairment in speed or their ability to stay on the road. […]

NSW Labor MP speaks out in support over pill testing

The trial would not require new legislation and could be achieved through “existing frameworks”, said Murphy, a former president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. He said NSW Health could issue licences to existing drug-checking services like Pill Testing Australia. […]

Pill testing service could return to Spilt Milk 2023 festival in Canberra

A deal’s not done until it’s done, of course, but Mr Vumbaca is hopeful after failing to get anywhere with hundreds of other insurers. If he is right, pill-testing at the festival on November 25 would be there just after possession of small amounts of drugs was decriminalized on October 28, so making penalties light. […]

Want a healthier, safer CBD? Open an overdose prevention centre

The journey to establish an overdose prevention service – also known as a supervised injecting room – in Melbourne’s CBD started 25 years ago. The first injecting room in the CBD was proposed in the mid-1990s attracting widespread support from the community, health sector and the then Kennett government, but failed to materialise. […]

Weak politics prevents drug reform

When I first left the bench, I was approached by a group of enthusiastic, committed young medicinal cannabis entrepreneurs and activists to lead DriveChange – a lobby group for the driving rights of patients. […]

SA: Push for local pill testing

As South Australia nears the summit of our summer calendar of sweltering music and arts festivals, one Greens politician is encouraging the State Government to consider setting up a trial clinic that would test drugs and ensure party peoples’ safety. […]

Drug busts like Ironside make no substantial impact

The ex-police officer turned drug law reformist further points out that Oregon has recently adopted the Portuguese model, while down in Canberra a bill is currently before ACT parliament, which aims to decriminalise the personal possession and use of illicit drugs in our nation’s capital. “It takes tremendous courage to admit that the war on drugs has failed and that unless new approaches are adopted the situation will get progressively worse,” Denham concluded. […]

Lawyers say time is now for drug law reform

International examples of success, growing public support and the clear failure of current laws to stop drug use means the time is right now for drug law reform, said the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA), today launching a new policy report into Australian drug laws. “We need to legalise and regulate drug use in Australia to save lives,” said Greg Barns SC, criminal justice spokesperson, ALA. […]

Australia’s approach to drug use and drug users is broken

Policies that focus on reducing harm and providing treatment, education, and prevention, not punishment, can prevent problematic drug use and heal those dependent on drugs, without involving the criminal justice system. Apart from its other benefits, developing a health-based approach to drug addiction might just allow the criminal justice system to focus its talents and resources on organised crime and illegal drug traffickers and manufacturers, rather than locking away users – often the people who are in most need of help […]

Drugs in body no reason to strip-search: police watchdog

A suspicion that someone is concealing drugs in their body cavities is not enough to justify a strip search, the state’s police watchdog has said in its final report on the invasive practice. The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission said the reason used by some officers during a recent inquiry had no “logical basis” as a strip search wouldn’t enable police to remove the drugs anyway. […]

My son died of a drug overdose. Our drug laws hold some of the blame

I fear I will never see humane drug laws that are based on research and evidence. I fear I will not live to see people who have problematic drug use treated with justice, understanding and compassion. I fear I am unlikely to see criminal sanctions for drug use replaced with a more appropriate, non-judgmental health response. […]

With Tripartisan Approval, Drug Decriminalisation Looks Likely for Canberra

ACT MLA Michael Pettersson is yet again championing the harm reduction approach to illicit substances. This time the Labor backbencher has initiated an investigation into the feasibility of decriminalising the use and personal possession of “drugs of dependence” in the capital territory. And what makes this development so significant is that when Pettersson moved his successful motion to launch a parliamentary inquiry into decriminalisation, Labor, Greens and Liberal MPs all spoke in favour of the approach. […]

Australian first as ACT Greens secure commitment to regular pill-testing

“The ACT Greens are pleased today to have secured a commitment from our Government colleagues to extend pill-testing from only music festivals to a more regular weekend service in the city, this Summer, informed by expert health advice,” ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said today. […]

Letting Australians get drugs from a doctor rather than a dealer will save lives

Regulation is not utopia in Australia. Instead, it’s a pragmatic approach to taking control of a situation that’s taking too many young lives. The NSW premier has an opportunity to change the state for the better. To create a healthier and safer society where harms to our children are reduced and lives are saved. […]

NSW government rejects pill testing, more injecting rooms

On Thursday the government released the four-volume report and its interim response a month after the inquiry’s findings were delivered by Commissioner Professor Dan Howard. Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the government would not support the inquiry’s recommendations to open more medically supervised injecting centres, run needle and syringe programs in prisons, allow consumer substance testing (more commonly known as pill testing) and stop using drug detection dogs. […]

Pill testing necessary to save lives

Rather than treating drug use as a health issue, many in the major parties are still clinging to their failed criminalisation approach. We can’t wait for them to see the light. Lives are at risk. We need to work now to force change onto the political agenda. A bold community campaign that included trade unions, student unions and health organisations could have a big impact if – rather than the just lobbying of politicians – it organised people on the streets. […]

US Finally Condemns and Sanctions Philippines Drug Warriors

On January 8, the US Senate agreed to a resolution that condemns, among other things, the state-sanctioned killings and the detention of Philippines Senator Leila De Lima, a prominent critic of the drug war. The resolution also called on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on implicated security forces and government officials. […]

A Bitter Pill: Why The Future Of Festivals Relies On Pill Testing

“I have a theory why our opponents are so against what we do. It’s not about the pill testing itself – it runs far deeper than that,” says Caldicott. “It represents a far scarier prospect for those so committed to an approach to drugs that globally has passed its sell-by date. […]

As a former top cop, I feel a duty to speak out

The Coroner did not suggest, and I certainly do not suggest, that pill testing is the answer to illicit drug use. It is simply one of a matrix of reforms which we must be prepared to consider and trial if we are to make a positive difference. But to suggest that pill testing gives the green light to drug use denies or ignores the evidence in the Deputy State Coroner’s report. […]

Why pill testing does not condone drug use: Ruth Forrest explains

“In my mind (pill testing) is a health issue, it’s not a law enforcement issue,” she said. “We need to target suppliers and dealers. The more we can disrupt the supply, the better. “I live in the real world, and as a nurse and a midwife you come across people who have made poor or odd decisions … and no one deserves to die for that.” […]

Undying love fuels grieving parents’ push for pill-testing

And they want drug checking. Would it have saved Josh? The Tams can’t be sure. But it might have. “The first thing the (counsellors) would have said to him was, ‘Mate, you’re struggling with the heat, do you realise what MDMA will do to your body?’” says Julie. They would have talked him through the dangers. […]

Australia’s drug laws are preventing people from seeking help for addiction

Mr Gough said when people are stigmatised and discriminated against it becomes internalised – resulting in people thinking they don’t deserve any services. “So what I see is people who are disengaging with society because their problematic drug use is causing social isolation,” he said. “Really everyone has a different situation and a different set of problems but people who are deeply withdrawn and who need us to build some trust so that they can then engage with health care services.” […]

Pill testing trial to only cost $3.8 million, say Victorian Greens

“Everyone deserves to enjoy music festivals safely, but Victoria’s out-of-date and punitive drug laws are putting those who enjoy festivals at risk,” said Victorian Greens’ health spokesperson Dr Tim Read. “Pill testing reduces harmful drug use and connects young people to harm reduction services.” Dr Read says that savings will also flow on, by also preventing hospital admissions caused by drug consumption. […]

Respectfully, Premier, you’ve made a big mistake

This is not a matter of giving a green light to drugs. It is doing what we do with safe injecting rooms – saying: “We wish you wouldn’t take these drugs, but if you are going to do it, at least do it while minimising the risks, and let us talk to you about the dangers while we have your complete attention.” […]

Pill testing at festivals ‘may be backed by NSW coroner’

Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek has hinted she could remain open to the possibility of pill testing at music festivals amid reports the NSW Coroner is also considering recommendations police drug operations be scaled back at events.Ms Pilbersek told Today initiatives such as the medically supervised injecting centre in Sydney’s King Cross, where addicts can inject and get medical help away from the eyes of police, helped keep people alive. […]

Former police commissioner calls for the depenalisation of drug charges

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. […]

‘Young people will die without pill testing’: Victorian MP’s festival plea

Ms Patten held a press conference on Monday, alongside young people who had experienced near-death incidents as a result of taking drugs, arguing lives lost from drug overdoses could have been saved with pill testing. “The government still hasn’t agreed to a pill testing trial, an initiative that we know can contribute to keeping young people safe and informed,” Ms Patten said. […]

Festival goers ditch pills after testing, inquest hears

Pill testing expert Dr David Caldicott has called for on-the-spot checks at NSW festivals after Canberra trials proved highly successful, with revellers ditching identified lethal substances. This year 234 revellers at Canberra’s Groovin The Moo participated in the testing resulting in the discovery of 170 substances. Seven were found with the potentially lethal drug n-ethylpentylone, a low dose but dangerous MDMA substitute, with many queuing 45 minutes in the rain to check their party drugs. […]

Calls for needle exchange program in NSW jails amid rising illicit drug use

The counsel assisting the commission, Sally Dowling SC said the inquiry would hear evidence that the Justice Health department “actively seeks” a needle exchange program in prisons in NSW to address hepatitis C transmission and “broader health problems” associated with non-sterile drug injecting. However, she said, the state’s corrective services department is “steadfastly opposed to such a program”. […]

The ACT won’t commit to funding festival pill-testing this year

The minister emphasised: “The ACT government does not condone the use of illicit drugs, we know the safest option remains not to take drugs and this will always be our advice to the community. “However, we also believe governments have a responsibility to not only try and prevent drug use but also to support initiatives that reduce the harms associated with drug use. […]

Luxembourg to be first European country to legalise cannabis

Luxembourg has called on its EU neighbours to relax their drug laws as its health minister confirmed plans to become the first European country to legalise cannabis production and consumption. “This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work,” Etienne Schneider told Politico. “Forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people … I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs.” […]

Pill testing community divided over best approach

The president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Dr Alex Wodak, said the division between pill testing and BOH supporters is about which approach is more likely to succeed. ”Both groups are unhappy that young people are dying from drugs at festivals, and both groups are frustrated by the often-vacuous criticisms of pill testing. […]

Federal Government Again Rejects Pill Testing Despite Expert Advice

Canberra academic and physician Dr David Caldicott told 10 daily there was “no evidence” that pill testing encourages or condones drug use — “quite the opposite”, he countered, citing research from long-running programs operating in Europe. “Either a person making these type of comments doesn’t really understand the process, or they do and they’re happy to misrepresent it to the public,” he claimed. […]

Supporting pill testing trials is not condoning drug use

Testing drugs to see if they have been cut with poisonous substances does not equate to condoning drug use. Rather, it means the safety of the person taking what they believe to be a particular drug has been considered. Experimenting with drugs is a reality, but shouldn’t we try to reduce the harm associated with drug use if we can? […]

Toxicologists throw support behind pill testing ahead of major festival weekend

President of the Forensic and Clinical Toxicology Association (FACTA), Dr Dimitri Gerostamoulos, told newsGP his organisation supports pill testing. ‘We support the notion of pill testing, and that’s true for most forensic toxicologists. We are not advocating that illicit drug use is OK, but we support the notion that pill testing is effective, not only here but overseas. […]

Coroner to watch Splendour pill test demo

Ms Grahame is expected to receive a private police briefing at 9am before meeting with harm minimisation group Red Frogs. She will later have a front-row seat as David Caldicott – an emergency medicine specialist and the leader of Australia’s only sanctioned pill testing trials – demonstrates how drug checking works. […]

Pill Testing Saves Lives, Heavy Policing Takes Them

It’s an old harm reduction adage that new strategies to combat drug war casualties always face harsh resistance. This seems to be especially so in NSW, which was once a pioneer in establishing needle exchanges and a safe injecting room, both of which Dr Wodak brought across the line. “If this premier doesn’t support pill testing, then the next one will, or the one after the next one,” Dr Wodak concluded. […]

Politicians need some compassion on the festival drugs issue

For the sake of thousands of festival-goers who will take MDMA at festivals over summer irrespective of what politicians say, let’s hope the Premier shows the same compassion as the deputy coroner and her team when the recommendations land. […]

Berejiklian noncommittal on action as NSW festival inquest continues

SMH reports that emergency Dr David Caldicott wants to conduct the demonstration this coming weekend at the festival. Coroner Grahame, as well as the mother of Alex Ross-King who died at FOMO Festival earlier this year, have both expressed interest in attending the demonstration. Dr Caldicott has been part of two pill testing trials at Groovin The Moo in Canberra, both of which have been hailed success. […]

I hate drugs, but teenagers are dying while we maintain a supposed moral veneer

In the present debate about harm minimisation, it’s the NSW deputy coroner, Harriet Grahame, who’s willing to identify what so many – least of all the NSW premier – just will not. In March, releasing findings from a previous inquest into deaths related to opioid drugs, Grahame recommended “decriminalising personal use of drugs, as a mechanism to reduce the harm caused by drug use”. […]

Hobart culture, events and community committee vote to trial pill testing

A Hobart culture and events committee has unanimously voted in favour of supporting a pill testing trial at the city’s major events. The trial would require the state government’s support, but its stance against pill testing had remained firm, with newly appointed Health Minister Sarah Courtney saying pill testing was not supported by the government. […]

Drug Death Parent Says Teens Need to Be ‘Saved from Themselves’

Emergency doctor David Caldicott, a senior lecturer at Australian National University, told 10 daily he has “faith” in the coroner’s court to produce well-informed and useful suggestions — but was not confident about how well they would be implemented. “I suspect the coronial report will be full of useful suggestions, many of which will be ignored by our elected representatives for political and moral reasons,” he said. […]

Parents of young man who died at a music festival hope coronial inquest will lead to pill testing

Josh’s parents have now started a foundation called Just Mossin to raise awareness of safety at music festivals. They’re hoping the music festival coronial inquest will lead to more harm minimisation strategies like pill testing. “Change is what’s needed. We don’t believe we have all the answers to it, we hope that the coronial inquest will establish what those changes need to be,” Julie said. […]

There’s only one way to deal with drugs to make Australia safer

The only way to ensure a safer Australian society is to legalise and regulate all drugs. This could save lives, earn huge revenue for the state and diminish the power of criminal gangs that make billions of dollars annually from the production and sale of illicit substances. This doesn’t mean a free-for-all where heroin, cocaine, opioids, ice or methamphetamines will be easily available at the local supermarket but a considered way to tackle both soft and riskier drugs that doesn’t infantilise users. […]

Push to decriminalise ice use as bar backs public health approach’

The personal use and possession of ice and other illicit drugs would be decriminalised in NSW under a public health-driven plan backed by the Bar Association and other top lawyers. In a submission to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice the association says that criminalising personal drug use “may result in greater harm to the individual, and to society more broadly”, than the harm caused by the use of illicit drugs. […]

Liberal Party Pride group pushes for pill-testing in Victoria

A new push for pill-testing has emerged within the conservative side of politics with a Liberal group fighting for a controversial trial to prevent drug-related deaths at music festivals in Victoria. The Liberal Pride branch has proposed a year-long pill-testing trial in a motion to be debated by party members this month. […]

Law enforcement are not drugs experts

If we learn about drugs and drug policy from people who don’t understand them, whose careers and ideologies literally depend on misunderstanding them, we will likely see drug use and drug harms continue to increase alongside the spread of misinformation. Please consult with relevant experts before making material concerning drugs and drug policy public. […]

Time to legalise pill testing

Pill testing is advocated by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Even more significantly the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation – representing 275,000 nurses and other health sector workers – is also calling for pill testing trials. […]