I will push for an MOU to allow pill testing at festivals, venues and events.
In 2019, I successfully put up a motion up that HCC supports pill testing at events and venues across our local government area, and supports a trial run at a major event, and that we lobby the State Government for policy change.
Pill testing is first and foremost a health issue. A significant number of people attending festivals and venues in Tasmania take unlawful drugs contained in pills, powders and liquids. These substances can contain contaminants and uncertain strengths, which can lead to preventable harm and mortality. This harm can be easily avoided by implementing pill testing.
Pill testing is supported by the Australian Medical Association, The Royal Australiasian College of Physicians, the Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, and The Royal Australian College of Medical Practitioners, among many others; is considered best practice, and a key harm minimisation strategy for our community.
Pill Testing Australia is the provider for these services. The process for service provision is that of enabling policy, rather than legislative changes (such as decriminalisation or legalisation). Police, Government and Pill Testing Australia work together to deliver the service to ensure safety and transparency at all times.
People considering using an illicit substance come to a collection point to have the substance tested in order to discover what they really may be taking. Their phones are confiscated to ensure privacy, and they are taken through the process with a qualified chemist and a doctor who explain the makeup and effects of the substance. This enables people to make informed choices about what they are about to do, to understand the risks better, and what to do in the event of an adverse outcome. Throughout the process, people are never advised that it is safe to take drugs, consumption of drugs is never promoted, and people are not judged for the decisions they make in regard to drug use.
At a recent Groovin the Moo festival, the lives of seven young people were potentially saved by a pill testing trial- patrons discarded their drugs after testing alerted them that their pills contained a substance (n-ethylpentylone) which recently caused the deaths of several people in New Zealand.
tl/dr: We don't even need to change our drug laws to allow pill testing at festivals, events and venues in Tasmania; all we need is an MOU between the Government, Police and Pill Testing Australia to roll it out. So what are we waiting for? More young people to die needlessly? Just test the damned pills already!