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Queenslanders will be able to access pill testing for the first time from next week

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Queenslanders will be able to legally access pill testing for the first time at ‘Rabbits Eat Lettuce' festival over the Easter long weekend.
Queensland's pill testing service will start next week at the ‘Rabbits Eat Lettuce Festival', the state government has announced.

Queenslanders will be able to legally access pill testing for the first time at ‘Rabbits Eat Lettuce’ festival over the Easter long weekend.

It comes after the Queensland Government announced it would support the rollout of pill testing services across the state, backed by almost $1 million in funding, over the next two years.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is pill testing?

Pill testing is a service that allows people to understand what’s in a substance before they take it.

Currently, it can only be legally accessed at the country’s single fixed testing centre in Canberra, which will run until December this year.

The Queensland Government has agreed to run pill testing on an ongoing basis at both fixed and event sites. This month’s music festival will be the first event site, while fixed sites will be announced later in the year.

Queensland Government view

In a statement today, Queensland’s Minister for Health Shannon Fentiman said: “These services are all about harm minimisation; we don’t want people ending up in our emergency departments — or worse, losing their life.

I look forward to working with the successful providers who I know bring extensive experience and expertise in delivering harm reduction services and working with people who use alcohol and other drugs.”

Opposition

When the Government first announced it would be legalising pill testing in the state last year, the Liberal-National Opposition said it would not support the rollout.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Jarrod Bleijie said at the time: “There is no safe way to take drugs and the Opposition does not support pill testing in Queensland. Pill testing sends the wrong message and it hasn’t worked in other jurisdictions.”

Rest of Australia

The ACT is the only Australian other state or territory with pill testing.

In NSW, a pill testing trial was formally recommended to the NSW Government in November 2019. However, it was rejected by the NSW Government, led by then-Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

In Victoria, the Coroners Court recently recommended that Victoria trial a pill-testing service after the deaths of two men who died as a result of mixed, high-dose drugs. The state government has not responded to the recommendation.

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