Dear Premier Andrews,

Thousands of Victorians this festival season will be taking party drugs and putting themselves at greater risk of overdose or death as they don’t know what’s in each pill or powder. Each year we see multiple cases of people dying needlessly, despite huge resources being funnelled into law enforcement, such as drug sniffer dogs at festivals.

The war on drugs is not working! We know that despite our tough law and order approach to drug taking, Australia has one of the highest drug taking rates in the world.

We need to focus on keeping people who do take drugs safe from deadly harm. Pill testing has been happening in Europe for years and has been proven to lower the amount of drug use and keep people alive.

Medical, scientific and legal experts agree that pill testing should be implemented immediately.

I urge you, Premier, bring in 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”. In Victoria, hundreds of people die from 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 harm. Panic upon seeing the dogs can lead to people consuming all their drugs at once, increasing 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 already takes place in many European countries, to much success. In Austria, two-thirds of drug users who were informed by a government-funded pill testing service of the 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 shown to reduce consumption of potentially harmful drugs. Users overwhelmingly choose not to consume a drug if they are 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 Victorian Government already has the power to authorise bodies to do pill testing and police already exercise discretion in not targeting people attending drug and alcohol services because they understand the need and 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. Pill testing would provide 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 and utility, a proper pill testing program would involve trained chemists using laboratory grade equipment, which 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 (just a few hundred thousand for a year-round program) and would be completely outweighed by the 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 Alex Wodak – President, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation 

“When you look at the arguments authorities trot out for why they can’t allow pill testing in Australia, they are so weak.”

Greg Denham – Former Officer, Drugs Strategy Unit, Victoria Police

“Is the amount of money that we’re putting into law enforcement to deal with the drug issue working? In my opinion: no, I don’t think it is.”

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.”