Pill-testing program in Victoria would save lives

Australian Greens

The Victorian Greens have said that young people will continue to be at risk of drug-related harms until the Andrews Labor Government backs a state-wide front-of-house pill-testing program.

The Coroner’s decision to call for a pill testing program in Victoria has echoed what the Greens and drug law reform experts have been saying for years: that pill testing saves lives.

It is clear that prohibition has failed and resulted in life-threatening behaviour from young people attempting to avoid police. It is a policy of rejection and it says that we don’t care about young people who experiment with drugs.

Pill testing shows that we take their health seriously.

Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said 20 years of evidence had shown pill testing to reduce drug overdoses and connect young people to harm reduction services.

She added that people who used drugs should be treated within the health system rather than punished.

In late 2019 the Greens had a two-year pill testing trial costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office. The trial would establish both a mobile pill testing facility for festivals and a fixed-site laboratory for more detailed analysis.

The costing found that it would amount to only $1.3 million per year, while the testing equipment and establishment of the sites would amount to $1.2 million dollars ($3.8 million in total).

If pill testing can save a life, it’s worth it.

As stated by Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:

“Our current war on drugs approach continues to put people’s lives at risk – we need to treat drug use in Australia as a health issue first.

“There is over 20 years of evidence that shows pill testing reduces overdoses and protects people from the harm of illicit drug use.

“It’s time for the government to finally acknowledge that its law and order approach isn’t working and instead choose policies that have worked elsewhere – like a front-of-house pill testing program.

“We’ve made it easy for them and already had it costed. Pill testing services stand ready to operate in Victoria, they just need the go-ahead from the Government.

“Everyone deserves to enjoy festivals safely but Victoria’s out-of-date and punitive drug laws continue to put those who enjoy festivals at risk.”

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