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NSW premier resists calls to introduce pill testing



The NSW premier is resisting calls for the urgent introduction of pill testing for this festival season, saying there's "no safe quantity" of illegal drugs.

A coalition of drug experts, lawyers and doctors have penned an open letter to Chris Minns, urging him to set up a pilot drug-checking program for this summer's music festivals.

Among the signatories is Professor Dan Howard, who conducted a special commission of inquiry into the drug "ice", and handed down 109 recommendations back in 2020.

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Pill testing

A recommendation to introduce pill testing was rejected outright by the then-Berejiklian Government.

The measure was also recommended by a 2019 Coronial Inquest into Festival Deaths

"My special commission of inquiry heard a great deal of evidence and concluded that there is a strong and compelling evidence base to support drug checking as an effective harm reduction measure," Howard said.

Extreme hot weather forecast for the summer is fuelling for this festival season.

Unharm CEO Will Tregoning says the delay could put lives "at risk".

"A summer festival season with scorching temperatures, and no way for people to test their drugs is a recipe for disaster," Tregoning said.

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Pill testing

But the premier has dismissed the calls, saying "I know they want me to change our policy today, but I'm not going to do that".

"The pill testing regime is only in place in one jurisdiction in the country and that's the ACT. No other state has adopted similar changes to policy," Minns said.

"The truth is, there's no safe quantity to take of these illegal substances."

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NSW Premier Chris Minns

Minns also said he couldn't be clear that "compromised drugs" are the reason for deaths at festivals.

"It might be over-consumption of that substance, rather than it being a dangerous element that's been added to the drug," he said.

"I don't want to be in a situation where people believe because there's the absence of compromised drugs, that they're safe to take when they're not."

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