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ACT Greens push for pill testing at festivals

by Brent Ford

image credit - Canberra Times

Ahead of the October ACT election the ACT Greens have announced plans to have pill testing at festivals in Canberra if they are successful.

It's on the eve on International Overdose Awreness Day, with the party believing there needs to be a re-think on illicit drugs

"The old ways of dealing with drugs just aren't working. People lives are being put at risk because they are not getting the help they need," ACT Greens alcohol and other drugs spokesperson Michael Mazengarb said.

"We need to put the community first and find new ways to deal with the drug crisis. Last year six young people died from misuse of party drugs at festivals. This is six too many.

“The Greens will allow people to have their drugs tested at festivals and have the option to dispose of drugs that may be laced with other substances, while learning about the impact of drugs."

The Canberra liberals have slammed the proposal following on from Monday night's ACTCOSS Forum, where Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson said they would not budge on decriminalising illicit drugs in the ACT. When asked this morning if he would support pill testing the answer was a resounding no, and said he'd like to see further support in the area.

"It's pretty outrageous it's not the way to go and we will not support it," Hanson said.

"I want to make it very clear that we want to help people who are affected by drugs, we want to have better health and rehab products on top of better education."

A spokesperson for the Chief Minister also stated that Labor would not support the approach.

“The ACT Government is committed to its harm-minimisation approach to illicit drugs, and is constantly looking at ways to better reduce harm, reduce supply and reduce demand.”

“There is currently no law prohibiting the creation, possession or supply of drug-testing kits. Permission to set up a stall at a music festival or event would require the corporation of the festival organisers, the venue owners, the relevant insurers and security providers.”

“However, it is not a government endorsed approach – and the possession of illicit drugs remains an offence within the context of a harm minimisation approach.”

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