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Australia’s second-ever pill testing centre opens

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A pill testing centre in Brisbane opened on Friday, becoming the second fixed drug checking site in Australia.
Brisbane pill testing centre

Queensland’s first fixed-pill testing centre has opened today, one year after the state government greenlit drug checking.

The centre will analyse drug samples (only a small fraction of the total drug) volunteered at the site.

It comes after pill testing was offered for the first time in the state at a music festival on the Easter long weekend.

Brisbane pill testing centre

The drug-checking centre, named CheQpoint, is in the Brisbane suburb of Bowen Hills.

It won’t test cannabis or mushrooms. Powders, crystals, crushed pills, blotter paper (for LSD) and liquids will be accepted.

There are no current limits on the number of samples that can be checked at once. Limits are expected to be added as providers gauge service demand.

What to expect at the centre

The centre has asked users to only bring a small sample for testing, and to leave the remainder of the drug at home.

Basic, de-identified data about those presenting for pill testing will be collected, such as age and gender.

Questions about drug use history, health, and the circumstances around the consumption of their substance will also be asked.

It’s not mandatory to answer these questions. Information collected will be confidential and anonymous.

Pill testing

Drug samples handed over for pill testing will be catalogued by health professionals at the site. The sample will be destroyed during testing.

Samples will undergo a 15-minute chemical analysis.

These results will generally relate to the strength and contents of the drug, and be accompanied by advice to limit harm associated with the substance.

What’s next?

A second fixed pill testing centre will open in Queensland in July. The location of this centre is yet to be confirmed.

Mobile pill testing will also be offered at Queensland music festivals and other public gatherings until at least next year.

Over 200 samples were tested at the Rabbit Eats Lettuce music festival on the Easter long weekend — the first-ever mobile pill testing in Queensland. No high-risk substances were detected.

Opposition

Concerns about pill testing have been consistently raised across Australia in recent years.

This includes NSW, Australia’s most populous state, where the government rejected a formal recommendation for a pill testing trial in 2019 amid concerns it would give users a misleading sense of safety when taking illicit drugs.

The Victorian State Coroner also recommended a pill testing trial in 2021. The state government hasn’t announced any plans to implement this proposal.

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