Victoria Could Have Pill Testing By 2020, If This Groundbreaking New Bill Is Successful
EXCLUSIVE: The Greens plan to introduce "Daniel's Bill" in memory of Daniel Buccianti, who died from a drug overdose at a festival in 2012.
Victoria could have a pill testing pilot in place as early as next year, if a groundbreaking new bill The Greens plan on introducing to Parliament is successful.
The bill would establish two different pill testing services aimed at drug harm reduction — one mobile pill testing lab that can attend music festivals and similar events, and one fixed-site facility capable of more detailed analysis of potentially dangerous drugs.
Under the bill, both sites would be created with a two year licence, with the potential to extend those licences for another four years if the pilot is successful. The services would be free for users, who would be protected from drug laws relating to possession and supply of drugs within the confines of the pill testing facilities.
The pilot program would operate similarly to previous pill testing trials conducted at Canberra’s Groovin The Moo festival, providing information to potential drug users about the substances they intend to consume. Both sites would be equipped to measure a sample of the substances users are intending to take, provide users with information and warnings about the components of the substance, and provide access to an amnesty bin where substances can be disposed of and immediately destroyed.
The facilities would also provide information about how to access drug treatment, rehabilitation and healthcare. Information about dangerous or unexpected substances detected during pill testing would be passed to Government and police bodies so that warnings can be issued to the public about lethal drugs that may be circulating.
There have been just two pill testing trials in Australia so far, despite top medical bodies urging governments to trial the potentially life-saving programs. A trial conducted at Groovin The Moo in April of this year was hailed as a massive success, with seven people opting to dump pills after discovering that they contained potentially deadly substances.
“We know that most people choose to throw out their drugs when informed that they contain harmful substances,” said drug law reform spokesperson for the Victorian Greens, Dr Tim Read.
“There is over 20 years of evidence that shows pill testing reduces overdoses and protects people from the harm of illicit drug use,” he added, pointing out that simply prohibiting drugs has resulted in life-threatening behaviour from young people attempting to avoid police.
“We need to change the culture of drug use in Australia, and the first step is treating drug use as a health issue,” he said. “We must acknowledge the current approach is resulting in unintended consequences and instead choose policies that have worked elsewhere. It’s time to get over the stigma and just test the pills.”
The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Pill Testing Pilot For Drug Harm Reduction) Bill 2019 will be known as Daniel’s Bill, in memory of Daniel Buccianti, who died from a drug overdose at Rainbow Serpent Festival in 2012. Daniel’s mother Adriana Buccianti has been campaigning for pill testing services since her son’s death, and is urging Victorian MPs to support the bill.
“No parent should have to endure what I went through,” she said. “But in the last 12 months, at least five other families have lost their child from drug overdoses. 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 Victorian Greens will introduce Daniel’s Bill to Parliament before the summer festival season, and it will be debated early next year. While Victoria’s Labor Government has repeatedly ruled out pill testing, there’s support for the initiative from the crossbench, and Tim Read plans to spend the coming months canvassing for support from other MPs.
If you live in Victoria and support pill testing, now’s a great time to get in touch with your MP and let them know how you feel. The Greens will release further details about Daniel’s Bill tomorrow.