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Mass Drug Overdose Demands Response - Pill Testing Saves Lives

Rosalie Woodruff MP

Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Tags: Pill Testing, Drug Policy, Health

Ms Woodruff to move—That the House:—

(1) Understands that on 22 and 23 October 2016, Australia experienced its worst mass drug overdose in decades with doctors expecting it will happen again in the next few months.

(2) Notes with sadness the passing of Victorian footballer Riki Stephens, aged 27, who was one of 16 people hospitalised on the Gold Coast after overdosing on a new drug, N-BOMe, which toxicology results showed was a cocktail of 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine and a synthetic version of LSD.

(3) Recognises this same drug was linked to the death of Tasmanian tourist, Rye Hunt, in Rio de Janeiro in May 2016, and to the 2013 death of teenager Henry Kwan.

(4) Acknowledges the warning of doctors and the police that the drug market is out of control, with many new substances manufactured in backyard laboratories using concocted recipes.

(5) Understands that Riki Stephens was described by his footy friends as “not a regular drug taker” and that he and many other young Australians experiment with illegal drugs despite all the health and police safety warnings against doing so.

(6) Further understands pill testing is a proven form of harm minimisation now regularly used at particular public events in North America and Europe, which provides feedback to users on the content of illegal drugs and allows them to make informed choices.

(7) Recognises the many proven benefits of pill testing, including:—

(a) reduced consumption of illegal drugs, when people realise what they contain and warn their friends not to use them too; and

(b) providing early warning to police about the actual drugs that are circulating in the community.

(8) Further understands Tasmania’s summer music festival season is fast approaching, that some young people won’t stop taking drugs no matter what we say, and that we must do everything we can to stop those kids dying.

(9) Calls on the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management, Hon. Rene Hidding MP, to forgo his outdated war on drugs mentality, focus on his job of community safety, and allow a privately-funded pill testing trial to occur at a Tasmanian music festival this summer.