Pill testing could be trialled in Victoria as early as next year if a new joint bill being introduced into parliament passes.
This comes one day after the state government announced it was open to discussing the potential decriminalisation of personal use of cannabis.
The Pill Testing Pilot for Drug Harm Reduction Bill will have a goal of building a fixed site for a mobile pill-testing service at music festivals over a two-year trial, with a potential extension of four years.
This is the first time the Greens, the Animal Justice Party and the Legalise Cannabis Party have co-sponsored a bill in the Victorian Parliament. The parties said they hoped the move would show that protecting of young people from drug-related deaths or overdoses is more important that ideology or politics.
“Every summer festival season we know people take drugs. Yet Labor continues to ignore the experts who say pill testing is the best way to keep them safe,” Aiv Puglielli of the Victorian Greens said.
“The evidence is clear that when young people have access to pill testing services they’re much less likely to take drugs, or be at risk of overdose.”
Pill testing is currently being trialled in Queensland and the ACT, but will fail to pass in Victoria if not backed by Labor or the Opposition.
Almost 80 organisations including unions, health and legal bodies wrote an open letter last month in support of pill testing and offered to pay for the trial themselves.
Animal Justice Party MP Georgie Purcell said experimenting should not be a death sentence.
“The evidence is clear: pill testing saves lives. It doesn’t encourage drug use, it just simply makes it safer for those who do. And it’s time for the Victorian Government to commit to it.”
Rachel Payne of Legalise Cannabis Victoria also said “It is astounding to me that we have the technology here to provide analysis and drug-checking, evidence of success and harm-minimisation in other jurisdictions as well as the Coroners Court calling for drug-checking in Victoria, and yet zero commitment from the government.”
This comes after the state’s Mental Health Minister Ingrid Stitt said on Wednesday the government was “amenable” to discussing with Legalise Cannabis, experts and the community on whether adults should be allowed to carry small amounts of weed on them, as an effort to reform drug laws.
Payne also said she wanted the Victorian premier to be “brave” and argued the state wastes valuable resources on enforcing the law, when they could be investing into health and education instead, simultaneously increasing revenue by taxing the drug if it was sold in a legal market.
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