Pill testing gets the green light

Published Saturday, 25 February, 2023 at 09:00 AM

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

  • Pill testing services to be allowed in Queensland for first time
  • Services can contribute to reducing risks and harms associated with illicit drug use
  • The government is working to finalise details of how services will operate in Queensland

The Palaszczuk Government will allow pill testing services for the first time as part of its commitment to reduce risks and harms associated with illicit drug use.

Pill testing services, at either fixed or mobile sites, will chemically test illicit drugs to check for the presence of potentially dangerous substances and chemical compounds, with the aim of changing the behaviour of users and reducing the risk of harm from drug use.

The government is developing protocols around the operation of testing, off the back of successful trials conducted at festivals and a fixed site in Canberra.

In addition to developing the protocols, we will go out to market and identify a provider to trial pill testing at fixed and mobile locations.

Drugs testing does not take away from police powers related to offences of illicit drug possession, supply and trafficking which remain the same.

The introduction of services in Queensland will support a key priority of the Queensland Government’s new Achieving Balance Plan to reduce alcohol and drug-related harm and consider additional intervention strategies.

The move is backed by evidence-based research and has the support of key stakeholders and government agencies.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D'Ath

“Pill testing is all about harm minimisation; we don’t want people ending up in our emergency departments or worse losing their life.

“It is important to note that pill testing services do not promote that drugs are safe, however they are among a suite of options that can positively affect outcomes regarding illicit drug use.

“Pill testing services will inform people what chemical substances are in their drugs.

“We know people make better decisions when they are equipped with unbiased information.

“Drug testers can also influence a drug taker’s behaviour, making them more likely to dispose of substances, decrease the amount they take, tell their peers and be more likely to seek help if they or others are experiencing adverse effects.

“The other benefit to pill testing is it provides critical information to law enforcement and health services about high-risk substances in the community or drug trends.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic

“The reality is people will encounter and experiment with drugs, including when they go to nightclubs or attend festivals – and these drugs can harm or kill.

“Queensland parents worried about their child potentially taking drugs should be reassured that drug checking can prevent serious harm and save lives.”

“We need more in our toolkit to address these harms than ‘just saying no’, because right or wrong, people will experiment regardless.

“The most important part of drug checking is connection with a specialist alcohol and other drug worker for someone who already possesses a drug and intends to take it.

“The intervention is intended to provide information, explain the risks of drug-taking, reduce serious harm, and facilitate access to treatment and support, where needed.”

Quotes attributable to the Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies, Rebecca Lang

“We commend the Minister and the Palaszczuk Government for trialling this evidence based public health intervention in Queensland.  Drug checking (also known as pill testing) is a pragmatic and effective way to reduce the potential for drug related harm.

“Drug checking services have been available in Europe for over 20 years and have contributed to significant reductions in drug related harms, particularly harms related to adulterated drug supply or high purity drugs.

“The fixed site drug checking trial in Canberra has proven the value of this type of service in alerting the public to particularly dangerous substances in circulation, as well as connecting people who use drugs with credible harm reduction information.  

“Drug checking services have been proven to engage people who use drugs who may never have spoken with a health professional about their drug use before and provide an opportunity to provide a brief intervention that can protect the health and wellbeing of people who access the service.”


Media Contact: Lucy Collier 0409 461 324