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Politicians & Health Experts Form Supergroup, Demand Pill Testing And Massive Overhaul Of Aussie Drug Laws

Written by Emmy Mack on March 3, 2016

A veritable justice league of politicians, doctors, public health and drug experts, criminologists, lawyers, policy writers, researchers and police have joined forces at a Parliamentary Drug Summit this week in an attempt to figure out how Australia can improve the way it tackles illegal drug use.

And their political think tank yielded one key realisation: that Australia’s drug laws are outdated, and need to be reformed.

The group have drafted up a manifesto dubbed The Canberra Declaration, which calls for a major paradigm shift in the way that Australia thinks about, and tackles, drug use.

At its heart is the notion that, to improve the problem, drug use needs to be treated as a health issue and not a crime.

It also calls for, among other things (via inthemix):

  • Pill-testing at Australian music festivals
  • A ban on random sniffer dogs searches at festivals and in public
  • The decriminalisation of personal drug use
  • Making the information that police hold about dodgy street drugs publicly available
  • And re-routing some of the $1 billion spent each year on drug law enforcement towards harm reduction and treatment services

The manifesto comes bearing the signatures of two doctors responsible for the forthcoming privately-funded trial of pill testing at music festivals – Dr David Caldicott and Dr Alex Wodak – along with pollies from all sides of the political fence, including Greens MPs Richard Di Natale, Dr Mehreen Faruqi and Jenny Leong, Liberal MP Sharman Stone, Nationals MP Fiona Nash and Labor MPs Melissa Parke, Stephen Jones and Jo Haylen, who all attended the summit.

However, members of Mike Baird’s NSW liberal party were conspicuously (but unsurprisingly) absent, after declaring their unconditional opposition to pill testingthreatening to arrest medical experts running the private trial and of course vowing to shut down music festivals if the drug use didn’t stop on its own.

Senator Di Natale says he’s written to #casinomike, as well as the Premiers of Victoria and Queensland, calling for pill-testing services to be rolled out immediately.

“I believe that in 10 years from now we will look back to this moment and liken it to the introduction of needle and syringe programs, and we will consider it a pragmatic and life saving measure,” the Greens senator wrote in the Guardian.

“The mood in Australia is changing and for good reason… A government’s responsibility is to keep our young people safe. That’s why we need a new approach to help save lives.”

If you agree, you can read the Canberra Declaration for yourself, and add your John Hancock to the signatory list, here.

 

 

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