Qld to allow Illicit drug testing to reduce harm

Wednesday, 01 March, 2023

Qld to allow Illicit drug testing to reduce harm

Pill testing services will be allowed in Queensland with the aim of reducing risk associated with illicit drug use as part of the Palaszczuk government’s Achieving Balance Plan.

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.

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

Rebecca Lang, CEO of the Queensland Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies, said, “The fixed site drug checking trial in Canberra has proven the value of this type of service in alerting the public to particularly dangerous substances in circulation, as well as connecting people who use drugs with credible harm reduction information.”

The government is working to finalise details of how services will operate in Queensland, but made it clear that drugs testing does not take away from police powers related to offences of illicit drug possession, supply and trafficking — which remain the same.

Yvette D'Ath, Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, said, “Pill testing is all about harm minimisation; we don’t want people ending up in our emergency departments or worse, losing their life.

“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.”

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.

Lang said, “Drug checking services have been proven to engage people who use drugs who may never have spoken with a health professional about their drug use before and provide an opportunity to provide a brief intervention that can protect the health and wellbeing of people who access the service.”

The RACGP has welcomed the initiative.

Image credit: iStock.com/scanrail

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