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‘A measure of courage’: The first state to roll out pill testing


The ACT was the first state or territory to introduce a state-approved fixed pill testing site when it began its trial last year.

Victoria and NSW have resisted efforts to roll out approved testing sites, despite multiple corona investigations into drug-related festival deaths recommending the measure.

The pill testing setup used in the successful ACT trial.Credit:Christopher Pearce

David Caldicott, clinical head of the PTA and emergency room doctor, said there was a certain amount of courage in Queensland’s decision.

“Any shift to science and medicine is something that should be greatly applauded and appreciated,” he said.


“There’s a certain amount of courage – opponents (of drug control) will have an anaphylaxis about moving away from 1950s drug policies.”

The move reflected the community’s desire to shift from a hard-on-drug approach to medical-based solutions, he said.

“The evidence has always been there — we couldn’t have started it in the ACT without it,” Caldicott said.

“This is no longer a proof or a medical question; this is almost exclusively an ideological or political decision to be made.

“It is trying to switch to something more popular, but also the only thing supported by the evidence.

“Australia has been a bit of a conspicuous Luddite on drug policy, and this brings Australia in line with global standards.”

The Queensland government said it was developing protocols around the operation of the testing sites and would go to market to find a provider that could test pills at fixed and mobile sites.

Drug testing would not prevent police from acting against illegal drug possession, supply and trafficking.

The introduction of services in Queensland will support a key priority of the government’s new plan to reduce alcohol and drug-related harm and consider additional intervention strategies, it said.

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