In what could prove a flash point for the push to introduce pill-testing and discard sniffer dogs at music festivals and dance parties, viewers watching Channel Nine’s long running current affairs program 60 Minutes last night were presented with the case for drug-checking.
Following on from a similar report on the ABC’s 7.30 Report program back in February, reporter Tara Brown visited Austria and The Netherlands, where drug-checking is mandatory, to speak with drug experts and people running successful drug-checking services.
According to studies performed by Austrian researchers, one third of people who discover what’s actually inside the pills they’ve bought decide not to take them, proving that drug-checking services reduce drug use, rather than increase it.
Meanwhile, Canberra toxicologist and emergency room physician Dr David Caldicott said that for most ecstasy users, their drug use is a brief phase lasting a few years and medical experts and governments should be doing all they can to keep young people alive during that time.
“If the Australian public thinks it’s a minority [of young people], they’re deluding themselves,” Dr Caldicott explains in the clip embedded below, via FasterLouder. “This is the equivalent of priests telling young people not to have sex.”
“It represents a stunning misunderstanding of adolescent psychology… If a law doesn’t work, it’s not a very good law, is it? This message of ‘just say no’, it’s terrible, and it’s killing people, and it needs to stop now.”
Dutch drug-checking expert Ninette Van Hasselt believes the habits of Australian ecstasy users are particularly dangerous, because “They’re not very much concerned with what they take [in Australia]. They don’t have an idea of the real contents of what they’re taking.”
But despite the seemingly overwhelming evidence in favour of drug-testing as a safer option, NSW Drugs Squad Commander Tony Cooke told 60 Minutes he doesn’t believe drug-checking will ever be allowed in Australia as it would constitute “tacit support” of drug use.
“How can they say [drug-checking is] not a good thing?” said Peta Davies, mother of Perth teenager Gemma Thoms, who died after ingesting three pills of high-strength ecstasy after seeing sniffer dogs at the Big Day Out in 2013.
“It’s not just my daughter, it’s other people’s daughters and sons. It’s a life.” Readers can watch the 60 Minutes interview with Dr David Caldicott below or view the full report via the 60 Minutes website.
“We should be making sure people don’t die.” WATCH the Extra Minutes with pill-testing lobbyist, Dr. David Caldicott:
Posted by 60 Minutes Australia on Sunday, August 2, 2015