Lawyers Alliance calls on VIC Government to support drug checking services

8th Jan 2024

Following the news that several people are critically ill after drug use at the Hardmission Festival on the weekend, lawyers are urging the Victorian Government to introduce drug checking services to help keep people safe.

“The government has an obligation to ensure that young people are safe at festivals,” said Mr Greg Barns SC, criminal justice spokesperson, Australian Lawyers Alliance. “Year after year young people die or suffer serious harm at music festivals and drug checking will help to minimise this.  

“Fixed and festival-based services that check the content and purity of illicit drugs will help prevent these types of drug related health emergencies. As well as analysing the illicit drugs, these services provide valuable advice to help people make informed decisions about drug use.

“Human lives matter more than failed prohibitionist drug policies. Simply exhorting young people to ‘say no to drugs’ does not work and the government needs to listen to health experts on this issue.”

Pill-testing or drug checking facilities are supported by many health and medical organisations and are widely acknowledged as an effective tool for minimising harm.

Several coroners around the nation including Victorian State Coroner Judge John Cain have called for the introduction of drug checking services to prevent further deaths. In September 2023, Judge Cain recommended that the Victorian Government should implement a drug checking service to minimise the risks and the number of preventable deaths associated with the use of drugs obtained from unregulated drug markets.

“The reality is that young people will experiment with drugs and they are being needlessly exposed to death or physical and mental harm when we have the ability to prevent this through the introduction of drug checking services,” said Mr Barns.  “Our priority must be to avoid deaths and minimise harm.”

Tags: Victoria drugs