After the deaths of two punters at music festivals over the new year, the debate for pill testing has been reignited, however a south-west MP says it gives drug-takers a “false sense of security”.
Some illegal drugs can be cut with poisonous substances and users can be uncertain about the strength and purity, which can lead to accidental overdoses. Pill testing can help to inform users what a tablet contains and how ‘pure’ it is.
Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell does not support the tests.
“Pill testing kits give a false – and potentially fatal – sense of security to drug takers,” she said.
“Kits have very limited accuracy and have been described by some experts as ‘best guesses’.”
Mrs Britnell, a former nurse, said it would not help to curb deaths or illness.
“We recognise there is a very real problem but pill testing doesn’t prevent overdoses or deal with the fact that what may be ‘safe’ for one person can be fatal for someone else,” she said.
“The State Government should be doing more to stop the manufacture of illegal drugs and to provide rehabilitation facilities to help people get off drugs.
“Sadly, Victoria’s mental health system is in crisis, and more people are self-medicating using illegal drugs because they can’t access the mental health services and support they need.”
In New Zealand, pill testing is offered at festivals by the volunteer group KnowYourStuffNZ, which is independent but supported by the New Zealand Drug Foundation.
Australia’s first professionally administered pill-testing outfit was in a mobile laboratory at Canberra’s Groovin’ the Moo festival in April.
The testers used an infrared spectrometer to identify substances in a sample of each pill.
The Australian Medical Association supports pill testing.
State Liberal and Labor parties do not support it, while the Victorian Greens have launched a plan to legalise tests.