Pill Testing Saves Lives

PILL TESTING SAVES LIVES

Dear Chief Minister Barr,

The law and order approach to drug use is not working, and across Australia people are getting sick, and dying, because of it.

It’s time for a health focused and evidence-based approach to drug use, which will Keep Canberra Safe for the young people in our community. That’s why Canberrans are calling on the Labor Party to join with them and commit to a government supported pill testing trial here in the ACT.

Already this year, three young people have died in Melbourne from drug overdoses and 20 have been hospitalised. Two young men from the Hunter region of NSW also died horrific deaths after overdosing on synthetic drugs. Ongoing political inaction on this issue is allowing this harm to continue and failing to meet community expectations to keep our young people safe.

Pill testing has been happening in several European countries for years and has proved to lower the level of drug use and keep people alive. It involves a simple, on-site test by medical experts, using portable laboratory grade equipment, that allows festival-goers to have a pill or pill scraping tested for toxic impurities that will harm or potentially kill them.

Locally, medical, scientific and legal experts agree that pill testing should be implemented in the ACT immediately.

I urge you, Chief Minister, to Keep Canberra Safe by committing to a pill testing before we see more victims this festival season.

did you know?

PILLS CAN KILL

Australian ecstasy pills have the highest levels of unknown ingredients in the world, and are highest in the toxic substance para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA), also known as “Dr Death”. Across Australia, hundreds of people die as a result of drug overdoses from a range of drugs every year.

DRUG SNIFFER DOGS DON'T WORK

Drug sniffer dogs are incorrect 75% of the time, and can cause more harm than good. Panic upon seeing dogs can lead people to consume all their drugs at once, increasing the risk of overdose. This is exactly how 23-year-old James Munro died in 2013 at a Sydney music festival.

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PILL TESTING WORKS

Pill testing is successfully taking place in many European countries already. In Austria, two-thirds of drug users who were informed by a government-funded pill testing service of potential toxic harms decided not to consume their drugs, and told their friends not to either.

dispelling the myths

WON’T PILL TESTING JUST ENCOURAGE DRUG USE?

No. Pill testing programs in Europe have reduced consumption of potentially harmful drugs. Users overwhelmingly choose not to consume a drug when alerted to the risks related to its strength or contents.

WON’T IT BE TOO HARD TO CHANGE THE LAW?

Actually, a change of law is not even required. The ACT Government already has the power to authorise bodies to do pill testing. Police already exercise discretion by not targeting people attending drug and alcohol services, because they understand the benefits they provide.

DON’T PEOPLE ALREADY KNOW THE RISKS?

Our current system puts such a huge focus on the morality of drug taking, that there is little room for discussion of the science. With new illicit substances constantly appearing on the market, people often have no idea what they’re taking. Pill testing provides a legitimate space for people to learn about the health risks they face and get support if needed.

ISN’T PILL TESTING INACCURATE?

While the kits you can by online provide limited information, a proper pill testing program involves trained chemists using laboratory grade equipment. This process is very accurate and provides a complete analysis of all the substances in a pill or powder.

WON’T PILL TESTING BE TOO EXPENSIVE?

The cost of laboratory grade pill testing is negligible at just a few hundred thousand for a year-round program. This investment would create huge savings in our healthcare system, as party drugs cause countless overdoses each year, as well as numerous fatalities.

what do the experts think?

Dr David Caldicott –Toxicologist, ANU College of Medicine

“By presenting consumers with simple facts about what’s in their substances, we can engage in a discussion that is based on the science of the hazards, rather than the morality of the hazards.”

Mick Palmer – Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner  

“It makes absolute sense to try to test the quality of the drugs people are taking.”

Nicholas Cowdery – Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions

“Australia should introduce drug checking, as I would call it, at all public events where it is highly likely that people are going to be bringing drugs.”