A Majority Of Australians Surveyed Support Pill Testing, But Only A Minority Of Politicians Do

    “Nothing politicians say will stop people from using drugs and they should not have to pay for that decision with their lives."

    A report released on Tuesday shows that the majority of those polled support the implementation of pill testing services across Australia.

    It's a finding that comes after months of pressure from advocates, doctors and members of the public to legalise and then implement the harm reduction strategy.

    The poll, conducted by Essential Research, is based on 1,026 respondents and asked the following question:

    "Thinking about drug policy, do you support or oppose pill testing services (where trained counsellors provide risk reduction advice informed by on-site, laboratory analysis of people’s drugs)?"

    The report found 59% of people said pill testing had their total support, while 17% opposed. A quarter said they didn't know if they supported the method.

    Multiple people have died at music festivals this year after taking pills from a "bad batch," particularly in NSW.

    Despite calls for pill testing, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has remained steadfast in her opposition. Instead, she announced the formation of an "expert panel" on how to make music festivals safer, including police commissioner Mick Fuller, chief medical officer Dr Kerry Chant, and chair of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Philip Crawford.

    Previously, the premier had flirted with the idea of shutting music festivals down.

    Matt Noffs, CEO of the Ted Noffs Foundation, said in a statement that pill testing could reduce hospitalisations and make festivals safer for kids.

    "In responding to tragedy we must acknowledge the reality that young people take risks. Reducing the harms associated with these risks must be our first priority," he said.

    Leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, told BuzzFeed News the latest report made it clear that "the tide of public sentiment has changed" and that the party would push a Labor federal government to implement the approach.

    “There is no excuse for continuing to refuse the evidence of doctors and the will of the public," he said. "Pill testing works. It saves lives, is more effective than high-intensity policing efforts, and reflects the realities of drug usage in 2018.

    “Nothing politicians say will stop people from using drugs and they should not have to pay for that decision with their lives."

    In November Di Natale announced a Greens party policy to implement 18 shopfront pill testing services set up in major cities and rural areas across the country.

    Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

    Contact Brad Esposito at bradley.esposito@buzzfeed.com.

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