Lawyers call on TAS Government to support pill-testing: current policies are failing

6th Feb 2019

Politicians need to take advice from health professionals, not police, on the question of pill testing, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today following reservations expressed by Health Minister Michael Ferguson.

“Criminal and law enforcement responses to the use of illicit drugs at music festivals are failing and the government needs to listen to health experts on this issue,” said Mr Greg Barns, spokesperson for the ALA.

“Our priority must be to avoid deaths and minimise harm.  This is a health problem not a legal problem, and the main focus of legal strategies should be to encourage positive health outcomes.

“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 decrease this risk through pill testing.

“At every festival police use sniffer dogs and make arrests.  Young people are then shunted through the court system. This approach does not reduce demand for drugs and does not recognise the reality of drug use at music festivals.”

The ALA supports the Royal Australian College of Physician’s (RACP) position that pill testing within these trials should be conducted in purpose-designed facilities by appropriately qualified technical specialists and should be accompanied by advice and information to allow festival goers to make informed choices.

“These facilities also offer an opportunity for medical professionals to provide advice to young people about the risks of drug taking,” said Mr Barns.

Tags: Tasmania drugs