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March 25, 2023

Queensland begins pill testing for illicit drugs

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The Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, The Honourable Yvette D’Ath, announced on Saturday that pill testing for illicit drugs has the green light.

Pill testing services will go ahead for the first time with the aim to reduce risks and harms associated with illicit drug use.

The Minister said it is important to note that pill testing services do not promote that drugs are safe, however they are among a suite of options that can positively affect outcomes regarding illicit drug use. ‘Pill testing is all about harm minimisation; we don’t want people ending up in our emergency departments or worse losing their life.

Better decisions

‘Pill testing services will inform people what chemical substances are in their drugs. We know people make better decisions when they are equipped with unbiased information.’

Pill testing services, at either fixed or mobile sites, will chemically test illicit drugs to check for the presence of potentially dangerous substances and chemical compounds, with the aim of changing the behaviour of users and reducing the risk of harm from drug use.

Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic said the reality is people will encounter and experiment with drugs, including when they go to nightclubs or attend festivals – and these drugs can harm or kill. ‘Queensland parents worried about their child potentially taking drugs should be reassured that drug checking can prevent serious harm and save lives.

Just saying no

‘We need more in our toolkit to address these harms than ‘just saying no’, because right or wrong, people will experiment regardless.’

The Queensland government is developing protocols around the operation of testing, off the back of successful trials conducted at festivals and a fixed site in Canberra.

The introduction of services in Queensland will support a key priority of the Queensland Government’s new Achieving Balance Plan to reduce alcohol and drug-related harm and consider additional intervention strategies.

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