This week news broke that Preston, a city in Lancashire, England will start offering free drug testing in a variety of nightclubs so that party-goers can check if their Class A goodies are pure and safe.
The idea here is that people bring in a small sample of drugs to test (which will be destroyed after testing to ensure the legality of the operation) and then carry on their merry way with a gurning jaw and pupils bigger than your Grandma’s favourite Christmas serving plate.
Users of the system will not be required to give their names or any identifying details and won’t face any repercussions for possessing an illegal substance. Moreover, police are apparently being super chill about the whole operation and have agreed not to target anyone using the booths.
Seems like a very level-headed and logical response to an increasingly dangerous problem right? So why can’t we in Australia receive the same respect from our Government that our ol’ colonial friends do?
It’s no secret that drug-related deaths are an unnecessary problem in Australia. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2015 World Drug Report showed that Australian’s are overdosing at an alarming rate. Approximately 2115 people per year or 5.8 people every day lose their lives to a drug overdose.
On top of that, the 2015 Global Drugs Survey- the biggest drug survey in the world – shows just how much Australian’s love to chomp on some disco biccies. With an average consumption of 2.1 ecstasy pills per session, Australians consume more in a single session than any other nation in the world. Essentially if munching pingas were an Olympic sport, Australia would take home the gold.
In a culture where drugs are used frequently and furiously, it would make sense to extrapolate systems like drug testing and apply them to our own nightclubs, concerts and musical festivals… right?
Criticisms of drug testing stem from the idea that by allowing the public to test their drugs for safety, the government and emergency services are pretty much condoning the use of drugs in general.
When NSW Police Minister Troy Grant was asked about the possibility of pill-testing at Australian events following two deaths at Stereosonic, he took a predictably conservative approach.
“What you’re proposing there is a government regime that is asking for taxpayers’ money to support a drug dealer’s business enterprise,” he said.
However, Professor Alison Ritter, a leading drug policy researcher at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre disagrees.
“Of course, critics will argue the measure will ‘send the wrong message’. But the messages we’re currently sending are that we don’t want informed consumers and we don’t want to reduce harm from illicit drug use.”
Drug testing could do a lot of good, not just for the health and safety of everyday Aussies but for the Australian drugs marketplace in general. Research shows that drug testing leads consumers to expect a higher quality substance, meaning that sub par drugs either leave the marketplace or start to correspond with what’s actually supposed to be in them.
Additionally, drug testing allows for drug agencies to reach out to a culture that typically doesn’t like being reached out to. I think millennials as a generation don’t like being preached to, it tends to go over our heads as we’re usually thinking of smashed avo and how best to piss off baby boomers on Facebook.
If anything, recent overdoses from the “zombie drug” flakka demonstrates just how little Australian’s know about what drugs their taking. People are dying from a problem that CAN be rectified; so how’s about we do something about it? In a world where users are educated and can take drugs in a safe manner, everyone’s a winner.
C’mon Australia, it’s not that bloody hard.