Pill Testing Saves Lives

Together, we made pill testing happen!

In an Australian first, a pill testing trial was held at Groovin The Moo festival in Canberra on 29 April 2018.

The pill testing service was a success and helped keep young people safe from drug harm.

Here’s a snapshot of the numbers:

  • 128 participants (including people who asked for health advice regarding drug use without getting a sample tested)
  • 85 samples were tested
  • 50% were found to be pure MDMA
  • 50% were found to contain ‘other’ substances, including lactose, sweetener and paint
  • 2 of the samples were deadly

As well as helping festival-goers to avoid unnecessary risks, data from the testing means that health experts and police will have a better understanding of what drugs are on the market. With this information they will be able to warn the community of any potential safety risks.

The ACT Greens have been advocating for pill testing for a long time, but getting this first trial over the line has been a collective effort—and we couldn’t have done it without the support of community members like you. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Huge congratulations also to the STA-SAFE consortium, which has been pushing for pill testing for many years and successfully ran the testing service yesterday.

We hope that the success of this first trial will encourage festival organisers and governments around the country to adopt pill testing as a better way to reduce drug harm.

The work of #KeepCanberraSafe does not stop here—we will continue to advocate for better, health-focused ways to deal with drug use and help to keep our community safe.

Stay up to date by following the Keep Canberra Safe Facebook page.

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.

N

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.”