GATHERING GREENS: Byron Shire Councillor Michael Lyon, the endorsed Green's candidate for the federal seat of Richmond, Ballina MP Tamara Smith, Federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale and Lismore Greens candidate Sue Higginson.
GATHERING GREENS: Byron Shire Councillor Michael Lyon, the endorsed Green's candidate for the federal seat of Richmond, Ballina MP Tamara Smith, Federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale and Lismore Greens candidate Sue Higginson. Christian Morrow

OPINION: Pill testing overdue

PILL testing is long overdue and the war on drugs has been a complete failure.

Criminalising drug use for the last 30 years has not deterred drug use. Far from it!

Graphs plotting per capita recreation and personal drug use over the last three decades in Australia have all steadily increased - despite harsher and harsher laws, billions of tax payers dollars funding the war and more deaths.

A by-product of the war has been the creation of an entire generation of criminals who revolve in and out of jail, honing their criminal skills and whose first offence was the possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use.

This has cost us exponentially as a society - drug users in prison have become hard core perpetrators of other crimes and their potential as human beings has been squandered through an ideological and moral war waged against them by the system.

We aren't talking about drug traffickers here. And every mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter and friend of a drug taker who has interfaced with the criminal justice system has been hurt along with them.

It's absolutely time to end the ideologically driven and failed war on drugs and re-frame personal drug use as a health and well-being issue approached through education and harm minimisation.

The Greens have announced their intention to set up a national drug testing agency with community pill testing centres available to run free testing of drugs for impurities and dangerous additives. The centres provide public warnings about tested drugs so that people and health professionals are aware of dangerous batches of drugs in circulation.

The proposed system is based on a successful scheme in the Netherlands that has dramatically lowered drug deaths.

Collectively turning a blind eye to the harm caused by dangerous chemicals in recreational drugs is forcing drug takers to take risks, rather than arming them with choice. By adding a step to the process through pill testing, a risk taker gets a 'chance' to manage that risk with greater knowledge of the substance they take.


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