The Queensland walk-in service will be confidential and available to people of any age, including those under 18.
In a significant move, attendees of Queensland's music festival scene will now have the liberty to test illegal substances without the police getting involved.
As per SMH, the state government this week “issued an invitation to offer tender calling for a provider to operate two fixed drug-checking sites and a mobile service for events such as music festivals and sporting events.”
It would mean that the state would become the first in Australia to offer drug users a free service to test illegal substances such as ecstasy, heroin, and cocaine, with the development coming as part of a new policy from the Queensland government that seeks to prioritise public safety over punitive measures.
The Queensland walk-in service will also be confidential and available to people of any age — including those who are under 18 — with users now able to approach these drug-checking services at music and sporting events, without the fear of police getting involved.
The policy marks a major deviation from the previous approach where possessing or consuming illicit drugs attracted severe consequences from law enforcement.
The move was first flagged back in February this year, following the success of trials in Groovin The Moo Festival in Canberra in 2018 and 2019 by Pill Testing Australia. The ACT then introduced a government-approved fixed pill testing site in a trial last year.
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Health Minister Shannon Fentiman explained that the trials in the ACT indicated that when individuals were not worried about prosecution, drug-checking services effectively mitigated the negative consequences linked to the use of illicit substances.
It also saw punters ditching drugs that contained different ingredients to what they had believed to have bought.
“We need to be clear – this is a harm minimisation measure, not a law-and-order campaign,” the Health Minister said, as per SMH.
“We are doing this to try to protect all Queenslanders from the dangerous effects of illicit drugs.”
When first announced earlier this year, clinical lead and emergency medicine physician David Cladicott applauded the bravery in Queensland’s decision.
“Any shift towards science and medicine is something to be vastly applauded and appreciated,” he told The Guardian.
He continued, “The evidence has always been there – we wouldn’t have been able to start it in the ACT without it. This is no longer an evidence or medical question. This is almost exclusively an ideological or political decision that has to be made.”
“Australia has been a bit of a standout Luddite on drugs policy and this brings Australia into line with global standards.”