Culture

Apr 26, 2017

Pill-testing works. Not using it is killing our young people.

Pill-testing is a drug policy no-brainer that helps drug users, police and health professionals. The entrenched opposition to it is killing people.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The deaths of three people after overdosing on MDMA at a Melbourne nightclub in January -- and the hospitalisation of 20 at a dance party in February -- focused attention over summer on the wilful refusal of Australian governments to consider allowing pill-testing of recreational drugs, and the death toll it is inflicting on young people. The ACT government has just knocked back a proposal for pill testing at the Groovin The Moo music festival, but it should reconsider. It will save lives. 

Victorian Police Commissioner Graham Ashton responded to February's bout of overdoses by insisting pill-testing couldn't work because it took too long. The debate back then wasn't helped by a bizarre contribution in the Fairfax press by a toxicologist Andrew Leibie, who attacked pill-testing as inaccurate and potentially harmful.

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2 comments

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2 thoughts on “Pill-testing works. Not using it is killing our young people.

  1. Dog's Breakfast

    Yet another example of the war on the young, by old white male superannuation-change victims.

    The Labor government under Hawke undertook harm reduction policies to reduce the spread of Aids in the 80’s by allowing needle exchanges. This is no different in the sense that it is about providing a service to save people who will be inadvertently harmed, and will have to bear the risk because we are too busy moralising. The denial of this service is just brain-dead public policy.

    That’s how far we have come since our apparently enlightened state in the mid 80’s.

  2. AR

    Prohibition is the problem – if the drugs were available legally people would know what they are ingesting, criminality would disappear and the police could do something useful with the resources currently wasted.
    As Wodak points out $1.6B is a lot of jobs and careers and mortgages and empire building.
    Pill testing is not analogous to the provision of needles to counteract the spread of HIV – it was primarily to protect the general community not the drug users per se who ran a very poor fourth in a 2 horse race.
    It would also not help when someone inevitably comes to grief and the gutter press then runs stories “Told it was Safe – parents grieve! End this scourge!”.

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