The Victorian Greens Party are set to introduce a bill to parliament that would see a pill testing pilot program launch in the state from the start of 2020, urging Victorian premier Daniel Andrews to reconsider his stance on a testing trial.
If successful, the program will establish a two year trial which will offer free pill testing services for users, introducing both a mobile facility that could be set up for Victorian festivals, along with a fixed site for “more detailed analysis”.
The push is being fronted by Greens MP and drug law reform spokesman Dr Tim Read, who says that prohibition has been a failure, with young people engaging in life-threatening behaviour in attempts to avoid police. For instance, last month an inquest heard that teenager Alex Ross, who died at Sydney festival FOMO back in January, swallowed three MDMA caps in panic when she saw police sniffer dogs – leading to her tragically avoidable death.
“There is over 20 years of evidence that shows pill testing reduces overdoses and protects people from the harm of illicit drug use,” says Read.
Read has pointed out that problems stem largely from the punitive culture surrounding drug use in Australia, acknowledging that a vital first step is to treat drug use as a public health issue and approach it from a harm reduction framework.
The bill will be called ‘Daniel’s Bill’, in honour of Daniel Buccianti, who died as a result of a drug overdose at Rainbow Serpent festival back in 2012.
“No parent should have to endure what I went through. But in the last 12 months, at least five other families have lost their child from drug overdoses,” says Daniel’s mother, Adriana Buccianti.
“When Daniel died I made a commitment that I would fight for pill testing and for the legislation to be called ‘Daniel’s Bill’. I’m thankful that is now a reality and I plead with Daniel Andrews to support it so it becomes law.”
The push comes after years of mounting support for pill testing programs. In June, a report by Eventbrite found that 77% of Aussie gig-goers supported pill testing, and there have now been two successful pill testing trials at Canberra’s Groovin’ The Moo festival.
Last month, Hobart City Council threw its support behind pill testing measures, giving the green light to introducing testing at festivals and other major events in the Tasmanian capital.
You can find out more about the Greens’ pill testing campaign here, where you can add your signature to their call for testing to be introduced.