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Canberra Today 3°/6° | Wednesday, June 29, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Calls to establish static pill testing trial in Canberra

THE ACT Greens are calling for a static pill testing trial to be established in the ACT following the release of a draft recommendation by the NSW coroner stating that pill testing reduces harm from drug use. 

Minister Shane Rattenbury

Greens spokesperson for Drug Law Reform Shane Rattenbury says the NSW coroner is an independent judicial body that has today (October 15), after exploring the evidence in relation to the deaths of six young people at music festivals between December 2017 and January 2019, come to the same conclusion of other medical bodies – that pill testing reduces harm from drug use.

“We know that the war on drugs hasn’t worked,” Mr Rattenbury says.

“We must accept that despite all the efforts on enforcement and education, some young people still take illicit drugs. The right thing to do is to try to minimise the tragic harm and deaths that can result.

“We also know that people also consume illicit ‘party drugs’ outside of music festivals. We believe a fixed pill testing site is not only possible here in Canberra but highly appropriate to deal with the realities of regular recreational drug use in the ACT.

“A static pill testing model should be developed in close consultation with medical and community groups to ensure that regular access to pill-testing is feasible and appropriate to the ACT community’s needs.

“So far, ACT pill testing trials have been run entirely on volunteer time, to ensure that fewer young people come to harm as a result of their illicit drug use. The ACT government has contributed in-kind support through approval processes and partnerships. We now need a funding model that makes this sustainable, whether through government funding, philanthropic support or contributions from festival organisers, given how important pill-testing is as a public health measure.

“In countries like the Netherlands, regular pill-testing is already the norm, with testing available at health centres on a regular basis.

“In potentially saving young lives, the Greens believe this is money well spent.”

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Ian Meikle, editor

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