Pill testing at festivals and events in Tasmania remains a hotly debated topic.
Ministers, stakeholders and advocates have all thrown their opinion into the discussion - let's look back on how the discussion has progressed.
I think we may have broken the iceDr David Caldicott when referring to Groovin' the Moo pill testing trial.
Pill Testing Australia conducted its first pill testing trial at the ACT festival Groovin' the Moo.
The trial tested 85 samples, half of which were identified as pure MDMA.
The other half, however, contained other substances which included Polish toothpaste and paint.
PTA spoke to 128 young people at their pill testing tent.
Pill Testing Australia member and emergency medical specialist Doctor David Caldicott said that the trial "may have broken the ice" when referring to the wider impact the trial would have on the pill testing conversation.
The Australian Medical Association Tasmania president Stuart Day came out in support of pill testing in Tasmania.
"Pill testing provides an opportunity for early intervention, an appropriately trained professional talking to festival goers and providing them with information about what they are taking," he said.
"The model that can be used overseas, and will likely be trialled in Australia, means that people have access to a doctor in a tent with other clinicians, chemist, counsellors and peer educators."
At the time, then-Police and Health Minister Michael Ferguson said that the state government "will not act as quality control agents for drug traffickers who destroy lives and families."
In November 2018, the proposed pill testing legislation by the Tasmanian Greens was voted down in Parliament.
The introduced legislation would have allowed those who had drugs to be tested at festivals without being charged.
Both the Labor and Liberal parties voted against the proposed legislation.
Greens leader Cassy O'Connor said the bill was intended to save lives and evidence indicated pill testing reduces drug consumption at festivals.
Ms O'Connor also called upon Labor to make clear their stance on the matter at the time.
We [the state government] do not support giving people a false sense of security in taking illegal and dangerous drugs. Neither will the Liberal government be helping out drug dealers gain more customers with a complimentary testing servicesMichael Ferguson
Dr Caldicott announced that pill testing could be set up in Tasmania "within a fortnight" and criticised Premier Will Hodgman's anti-pill testing stance.
The PTA and Dr Caldicott organised a pill testing trial at ACT's Groovin' The Moo in 2018.
Dr Caldicott said pill testing was not about promoting the use of illicit drugs, rather a way of giving users information about the risk of taking them.
"We demonstrate right in front of them - it works like a magic trick - showing them what's in their drugs, and many find the reality of the substances disconcerting," he said.
"It shakes their [drug user's] faith in the market.
"At no stage do we say if drugs are good or safe."
At the time, Mr Hodgman said the government would "look at the evidence" to inform their position on the matter.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation pushed for more pill testing trials to be held throughout Australia in the wake of a number of deaths in subsequent months from drug overdoses at NSW music festivals.
The foundation affirmed its standing that there is no safe level of illicit drug use, however, they admitted that drug use at music venues and festivals would continue.
Foundation spokeswoman Melinda Lucas said pill testing does not promote or condone drug use, rather it allows would-be users to test what the strength of key ingredients of a particular drug may be.
She added that evidence showed that people who attend a pill testing service are more likely to discard or change the way they use a drug.
"This can help reduce and prevent overdoses and deaths," Ms Lucas said.
"The Alcohol and Drug Foundation supports further pill testing trials across Australia, especially given the successes overseas and in Australia's first pill testing trial in Canberra last year."
Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer also voiced his support for more pill testing trials.
Former Commissioner Palmer said that he had seen too many lives ruined by drug use and abuse.
"Surely there is only one priority here and that is to try any initiative that may serve to reduce the likelihood of harm and save lives," he said.
Mr Ferguson said there is no safe use of any illicit drug and that it was reckless to suggest otherwise.
A Tasmanian Labor spokesman said at the time that the party supported a harm-minimisation approach to illicit drug use.
"The reality is, for as long as the ultra-conservative Michael Ferguson remains both Health and Police Minister there is no hope that drug use will be treated as a health issue rather than a law enforcement issue," the spokesman said.
- Two lethal samples at Canberra pill test
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- David Caldicott says pill testing could be set up in Tasmania 'within a fortnight', wants a debate about merits
- Party in the Paddock's goal for 2020 pill testing
- Major festivals to talk pill test trials for state
Party in the Paddock announced a plan to offer high-grade and professionally facilitated pill testing to festival-goers, acknowledging that the state government did not endorse the policy.
Festival director Jesse Higgs said that the festival would need support from the government in order to go through with the initiative.
"We sincerely hope that the laws around this will change soon as we have the belief that pill testing has a huge role to play in event harm minimisation tool," Mr Higgs said.
PITP had initially hoped to have pill testing at their 2019 festival, they had also consulted with Victorian-based harm minimisation agency Dance Wize on making informed decisions about pill testing.
Mr Higgs added that the festival does not condone drug taking at PITP and that police and security conduct extensive searches at entry points.
He added, however, that festival organisers were aware that drugs may still have a presence, regardless of searches.
Dr Caldicott said any government serious about harm minimisation of illicit drugs should take up the offer.
"Governments need to see first-hand how pill testing will help keep young people safer and reduce the death toll," he said.
Both Harm Reduction Australia president Gino Vumbaca and Take Control spokesman Matt Noffs came out in support of pill testing.
"It's [pill testing] an intervention, a final safety net when, despite every measure, despite the police gauntlet, these kids are about to take drugs," Mr Noffs said.
"Pill testing is not a silver bullet but it's a practical step we can take to get more control of the problem," Mr Vumbaca said.
"Neither will the Liberal government be helping out drug dealers gain more customers with a complimentary testing services," Mr Ferguson said.
Surely there is only one priority here and that is to try any initiative that may serve to reduce the likelihood of harm and save livesFormer Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer
Representatives from three of Tasmania's biggest festivals: Dark Mofo, Party in the Paddock and Falls Music and Arts Festival met with Pill Testing Australia in Hobart.
The meeting was coordinated by the Alcohol and other Drug Council of Tasmania.
Dr Caldicott said pill testing is primarily to ensure people get home to their mums and dads.
"We can talk to people about their life choices as long as we've kept them alive," Dr Caldicott said.
This call came after Dark Mofo organisers put the pressure on the state government to trial pill testing at the 2019 festival.
Mr Ferguson remained resolute on the government's stance that they would not support pill testing in any form.
The motion was intended to lessen the impacts of illicit drug use at events such as festivals and clubs.
Remaining firm on their anti-pill testing stance, Health Minister Sarah Courtney and the state government said it's very important that as a government they are not sending mixed messages to young people about whether illicit drugs are safe or not.
The motion was put forward by Hobart City Council councillor Holly Ewin, who said she was confident the supported motion would be passed at the council's July meeting.