Drug Policy Australia is a public health NGO primarily concerned with promoting new approaches to minimise the health risks and other harms caused by the use of both licit and illicit Drugs which affects the wellbeing of all Australians.
"We believe that legally enforced abstinence is unrealistic and counter-productive in modern Australia which has one of the highest per capita consumption rates of illicit drugs in the western world."
According to the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey published by the Australian Government's Institute of Health and Welfare, 3 million Australians aged over 14 used illicit drugs within the preceding 12-months. It is estimated that Australians spend over $7 billion a year on illicit recreational drugs.
Evidence is growing that pill testing encourages young people to reconsider their drug use — and new forms of testing can provide even more benefits.
In 2014, I wrote an article outlining six reasons why Australia should pilot pill testing. Those reasons included:
- strong public support for such measures, including among young people
- evidence of impact on the black market
- impact on consumption choices in a less harmful direction
- potential to be used for early warning systems
- opportunity to provide education, information and support to people who may be at risk of harm
- data opportunities for improved understanding of the drug market
Four years on, those six reasons still hold today. In fact, we now have stronger evidence regarding the positive impacts of pill testing on young people's drug consumption behaviour. In a study from the UK published just before Christmas, 20% of service users disposed of substances when the drug testing service revealed the substance to be other than what had been intended to be purchased. A further two-thirds of UK festival goers whose samples did not match their intended purchase disposed of further substances (Measham, 2018). This is the clearest evidence we have of behaviour change as a result of pill testing services at festivals. There is no reason to suspect that Australian festival goers are significantly different from UK festival goers.Read more >>
People can test their drugs at home
This has led to a flurry of calls for governments to introduce pill testing by specialists at festivals. What many people might not know is they can already legally purchase reagent test kits to test their drugs at home (although possession of the drugs is still illegal). So, do at-home test kits work?
What are reagents?
Read more >>
As another year ends, the Directors and I would like to thank you for your support in 2018 and wish you a happy Christmas.
It's been a huge year for drug policy reform in Australia and around the world.
Here are a few of the incremental but significant developments.
- Australia's second Safe Injecting facility opened in Melbourne;
- Australia's first pill testing trial went ahead in Canberra;
- 3 Australian Parliamentary Political parties now support Cannabis legalisation;
- Canada became the second country and first Commonwealth member to legalise adult use of Cannabis;
- NZ legalised the use of Medical Cannabis by creating a "Legal Defence" for using Herbal Cannabis for medical purposes. (compared to Australia where herbal medical cannabis users and suppliers are still prosecuted);
- Dr Andrew Katelaris was acquitted of drug supply charges for providing Cannabis oil on the grounds of "medical necessity";
- NZ government has agreed to a referendum on legalising Cannabis by 2020;
- Mexican and South African High courts have ruled that Cannabis prohibition is unconstitutional.
These are positive developments, but there is a lot of work to be done to reform Australia's counterproductive drug laws which is why we need your help.Read more >>
Five young Australians have died in the last 5 months taking illegal drugs at music festivals. In 2017 seven young Australians died of drug related causes at music events.
Would pill testing save lives or as politicians tell us, just encourage young people to use drugs?
What do you think?Read more >>
Is it time to call a truce in the war on drugs? Dr James Freeman looks at the evidence; and the evidence shows prohibition has failed, and decriminalising drugs ought to save lives and deliver both social and economic benefit.
The recent tragic drug related deaths of two young festival goers has seen calls for drug testing to be made available at these events. In a conversation on Facebook, I expressed my doubts that festival drug testing would have any meaningful impact for a number of reasons, but essentially because of this single statistic from the ABS:Read more >>
Pill testing, or drug checking as it’s known in Europe, provides feedback to users on the content of illegal drugs, allowing them to make informed choices.
Taking illicit drugs, especially ecstasy, is not particularly unusual. A 2010 survey found more than 11% of 20- to 29-year-olds and 7% of 18- to 19-year-olds had taken the drug in the previous 12 months. According to annual research among 1,000 ecstasy users, 70% of these pills are taken at clubs, festivals and dance parties.Read more >>