Pill Testing FAQs

"If there's pill testing at a festival, can't police just wait on the other side and bust you for possession?"

No, not if pill testing is being done properly. Proper pill testing services should be accompanied with a police amnesty or ‘tolerance zone’ for drug possession within the service area and in nearby surroundings (Measham, 2018). This is possible under Australia’s ‘harm minimisation’ National Drug Strategy, which already allows for police amnesty at Melbourne and Sydney’s Medically Supervised Injecting Centres.

Doesn't pill testing make drug use more appealing and increase drug use?

Certainly not. There are 31 pill testing services operating worldwide, which have shown that drug use does not increase following the introduction of pill testing (Brunt, 2017). In April 2018, Australia’s first public pill testing service provided further evidence that pill testing reduces the consumption of deadly substances (Makkai, et al., 2018).

But pill testing won’t tell you the purity or exactly what’s in it?
Actually, it will! Cheap, reagent tests are only indicative, but gold standard pill testing involves the use of scientific methodology such as gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (Brunt, 2017). These methodologies are highly effective at determining the contents of unknown drugs.

Won’t people consume their drugs anyway, regardless of test results?

Of course not! Research has shown that pill testing changes the drug consumption behaviours of most people whose pill testing result did not match the description of the drug they were sold. Almost 70% of such people chose to dispose of drugs following their use of a pill testing service (Measham, 2018).

Is pill testing a silver bullet approach?

Pill testing is a powerful harm reduction measure that combats the increased availability of new and unknown psychoactive substances, drug misidentification and drug overdose. However, pill testing does not resolve all drug related harms. This requires the development and dissemination of diverse harm reduction resources, and the pursuit of further drug law reform.