New Zealand has legalised pill testing at festivals after the services made a positive impact. Paul Gregoire compares Australia's head-in-the-sand response to an important health issue.
The state government and police have ruled out implementing recommendations made by a coronial inquest into drug-related deaths at music festivals. The inquest recommended introducing pill testing at festivals and an end to sniffer dogs and strip searches.
It seems the whole country is discussing pill testing. A simple harm reduction measure, pill testing enables someone to learn what is in drugs they intend to take, which may have been contaminated with potentially deadly substances, and gives them an opportunity to learn how to reduce the chance of any adverse effects of drug use.
The intention of zero tolerance is to reduce harm by reducing drug taking. But the reality is that zero tolerance does not work and that people will continue to use drugs.
From your morning coffee to your afternoon alcoholic drink with friends, drugs play a significant role in society. However, the war against drugs that has plagued society has resulted in a differentiation between the legal drugs we consume and the drugs that are criminalised by the government.
According to 2016 government data, 8.5 million people — 43% of Australians — have used recreational drugs and illegally obtained pharmaceuticals for recreational or self-medication uses.
The recent pill testing trial at the Groovin’ the Moo music festival, demonstrated why pill testing is an effective harm minimisation activity but also why we need to end drug prohibition in Australia and to effectively regulate the quality and supply of drugs here.
Days after 21 people were hospitalised for drug overdoses at Melbourne’s Electric Parades Music Festival, and just over a month after three people were killed in Melbourne by a toxic batch of MDMA (ecstasy), a February 21 poll found most Australians support pill testing to allow consumers to know what is in the drugs they buy.