NSW Coroner Recommends Pill Testing

A coroner has recommended pill testing be conducted in NSW, along with the decriminalisation of personal drug use and the scrapping of sniffer dogs at music festivals.

The NSW Police Commissioner has strongly opposed the suggestion.

In addition to the pro/anti pill testing debate it raised the question of whether the body that enforces the law should be so publicly involved in a civilian policy decision.

Thoughts on both topics.

Comments

      • +1

        Drug takers are knowingly taking a risk I do agree, but it's not quite so simple as a 'cold hard fact' when the existence of the risk in the first place is a product of the law!

        No one would be taking these unknown substances if they could get known substances of a known dose, safely and legally.

        So if we are going to create this risk for users, then the least we can do is mitigate it by allowing pill testing.

        • No one would be taking these unknown substances if they could get known substances of a known dose, safely and legally.

          So if we are going to create this risk for users, then the least we can do is mitigate it by allowing pill testing.

          Every bottle of alcohol sold are required to meet food safety standards.

          I guess alcoholism does not exist eh?

        • The issue I find here is that some of the current substances being taken probably shouldn't be legalised - I don't see a need for safe access to MDMA or ketamine (as two examples) - but something softer like marijuana I believe should be available legally for recreational use.

          I don't think pill testing is the answer - the government shouldn't be making allowances for people taking dangerous and illegal substances - but I think legalising marijuana might make a difference in how many people turn to illegal drugs for their high.

    • +1

      Umm lol..

  • +9

    ROFL! Line of the year.

    Well said. It's true that drug addiction is a social issue, but one has to realise that it is as much, if not more, a personal responsibility issue as well.

    Young people are dying because of the government sanctioned cops and their dogs

    The above quote should be revised to:

    Young people are dying because they ignored multiple warning signs and insisted on driving down a cliff.

    It is sad that this is happening but the government only has so much duty of care. When the individuals decides to give up on their own duty of care, they were doomed.

    • NSW Coroner:

      That, given the evidence of a link between the use of drug dogs and more harmful means of consumption (including panic ingestion, double dosing, pre-loading, and insertion in a vaginal or anal cavity) the model of policing at music festivals be changed to remove drug detection dogs.

    • Young people are dying because they ignored multiple warning signs and insisted on driving down a cliff

      Some kids are dumb enough to do drugs. The only warning sign they see is a sniffer dog sending them to gaol.

      And accidental poisonings are 10x higher in the 25-44 and 45-64 age groups than the 15-24 age group. This isn't really just a kids problem.

    • +1

      Thank you! How much does personal responsibility come into play? Looks like almost none! Some people want access to drugs, medical care and assistance knowing the dangers of taking possibly contaminated substances for a high.

      There is enough information at school, from family and friends, on the news, on the internet to make informed decisions. If you are stupid enough to take the pill, then let Darwin do its work.

  • +2

    Force drug users get a permit to use drugs, which would remove them from free Medicare.
    This way, stupid people can be stupid and continue using drugs but not at my tax dollar expense.
    Let nature take it's course, they will die off eventually.

    • +9

      You do realise that your tax dollar is more efficiently spent by pill testing.

      An example:

      Someone takes a harmful substance at a musical festival.
      They then get transferred to the medical tent possibly involving police and/or paramedics.
      They then get transferred to hospital via ambulance.
      Ambulance is then tied up for that transfer.
      The paramedics then get stuck at hospital waiting to offload the patient to hospital staff.
      They then also have downtime as they prepare their ambulance to go out again.
      This may also involve a mica paramedic unit to attend as well.
      Then in the hospital they'll be put into ER / ICU.
      This means they'll have both nurses and doctors taking care of them.
      Also means they'll be taking up a bed and medical equipment.
      They may stay in hospital for a number of hours if not longer.

      So what is the cost of an ambulance and 2 paramedics being taken up, mica paramedic, doctors, nurses, ER/ICU bed, medical equipment?

      What this also means is the resources / time are taking away from other people who might have had a car accident, heart attack or many other reasons for both hospital attendance or requirement of ambulance.

      This is possibly tens of thousands of tax funded dollars being used up.

      Another example:

      Someone tests their pill, finds a hazardous substance in it, and then throws it in the bin (like research says happens 80-90% of the time).

      • That's why he's suggesting to "remove them from free Medicare". They would have to pay out of pocket for their medical expenses.

        • +10

          Yeah I agree with you I think - actually who do you mean by "them"?

          Surely you mean smokers? Just think of all the medical costs associated with lung issues, lung cancer, oesophageal cancer amongst others, heart disease, diabetes, stroke.

          Or do you mean drinkers? All that liver damage, heart disease, cancers, epilepsy. And not forgetting drink drivers smashing up cars and themselves, falling over, walking in front of cars. Those costs stack up.

          Or what about risk takers? Riding a skateboard is pretty risky, climbing trees, swimming in the ocean and almost drowning.

          Oh and those who play sports. Hospital is filled every weekend with footy and netball injuries amongst others. Knee replacements, ankles, concussions, soft tissue. They knew what they were in for before they started playing.

          Actually you probably mean fat people. Obesity is major cause of heart disease and stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis from carrying all that weight around. They really shouldn't eat so much.

          How about workers who take risky jobs? Working with dangerous machinery - those things can rip your hands and arm off. Lifting heavy things - back injuries, shoulders and heaps of other muscular issues with have to pay rehab for. They should do something less risky like an office job.

          Omg and old people. Every time I go to the doctors and hospital it's filled with the elderly. Having falls, taking all this medication, operations - we could save an absolute bundle. If they can't pay let natural selection take place.

          Let's not forget children under 16. None of them have paid any taxes yet, so every single thing wrong with them is a negative cost. Getting sick all the time - especially babies. There should be a limit of how much tax everyone's contributed before we start paying for their treatment.

          Don't get me started on pregnant women!

          Sorry I've confused myself.

          Who is "them" again and who should and shouldn't pay for their medical expenses instead of Medicare?

          • +1

            @lysp: Oh, and anyone who has a poor diet leading to cholesterol, diabetes etc. They should also be denied health care for their poor choices.

            Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it won’t kill you.

          • @lysp: We are talking about pill takers here.
            If you wish to talk about others you can start new thread.

            • +2

              @errorius: If pills were decriminalised then it's no different to any of these above reasons.

            • @errorius: everyone's prescribed drugs - some are physically forced to take them despite the fact that they will kill them eventually

            • @errorius: Then why are you talking about out of pocket medical expenses?

              errorius:
              That's why he's suggesting to "remove them from free Medicare". They would have to pay out of pocket for their medical expenses.

            • +1

              @errorius: Dear errorius,

              lysp was ridiculing your poor argument. lysp used examples of poor decisions that people make to show that we, as tax payers, pay to fix a lot of other people's poor decisions.

              The comment you originally replied to was lysp stating it is far cheaper for the government to pay for pill testing than it is to treat someone who took a bad pill.

              I hope I have helped you understand why lysp's replies were on topic. If their are any other comments on this topic you don't understand feel free to reply with "@This Guy - I don't understand this". If I don't see it, I hope other people will help.

              Have a lovely Friday!!!

              Merry Christmas,

              This Guy

      • +3

        People don't realize how costly the entire hospital system is. A small amount spent on prevention saves the authorities a lots of money in the long term (not just for drug testing, but health and dental care in general).

  • +5

    It's beyond me that they have safe injecting rooms but won't allow pill testing. Is that because the real junkies have no money to pay fines? Probably.

    • +1

      It shouldn't be a surprise that I oppose safe injecting rooms too, but at least in that case it's almost exclusively for people who are physiologically addicted to illicit substances, and not taking them purely for recreation.

      • +5

        That is a bizarre reply. So your real objection to legal drugs is that some people might ENJOY them? If they are taking them because they "have" to (a myth BTW - opioid withdrawal is physically easier than nicotine withdrawal) this is somehow a reason to help them, but not if they are choosing it for recreation?

        • +1

          An addiction would mean to a point it's involuntary, like someone stealing food because they're starving. Recreational use is wholly discretionary, like someone stealing 'just for kicks'. Which is worse?

          • @HighAndDry: wrong - compulsory drugs forcibly given are known to be both highly addictive and toxic

        • Sorry, did you say heroin is easier to kick than tobacco?

    • safe injecting rooms

      Safe injecting rooms exists so that we don’t have to step over dead junkies on the streets. Having clean streets is also better for tourism.

      • +1

        The MSIC is a success story. It has saved countless lives. It is also an opportunity to refer clients to services. From memory successful referral sits at 10 to 15%.

        Pill testing is not just about testing pills. It’s about engagement with the client. If you can encourage 10% to reconsider use, then you’re starting to get a message through.

        You know what doesn’t work? Messages such as ‘Stop it or Cop it’.

        • My view on with the whole decriminalisation - there are people who see the whole "illegal" label and want to try it more.

          With the pill testing, who knows what the pills are laced with to make it into an indigestible form? And who knows what your body is going to do once you do take them?

          Talking to someone else who has the medical knowledge often makes people reconsider the whole idea. Plus, if the person you're talking to has the mindset that they want to save you from dying and not hand you over to the authorities, you're even more likely to rethink.

          Considering the age group who take drugs at a festival, it's easy to see why they do it.

          • @Carmen Sandiego: If it's decriminalised, people thinking of taking them might reconsider, but the easier access would also mean many who wouldn't have before might now consider taking them.

            • @HighAndDry: Your point being?

              People die from taking too much alcohol, they die taking prescription medication. Heck, they die when they take too much panadol.

              If it's decriminalised, then, there should be more awareness programs where people tell you what they can do and people are free to make their decisions from there.

              The current program of "Drugs are bad, you die" makes as much sense as abstinence for sex - if you don't have the knowledge of why people have that view, you're going to cause more harm than good.

          • @Carmen Sandiego: And long experience is that exaggerating the risks is totally counterproductive. Or do you think the old movie "Reefer Madness" stopped people using weed?

            People are not fools. They can see that the vast majority of recreational drug users are not addicts or psychotics, just as most people who like a glass of wine with their meals are not alcoholics. Of course some users are - the ratio of occasioanal recreational users to serious addicts varies for two reasons:

            • the particular drug's pharmacology (crack and alcohol are both bad from this perspective, and nicotine worse).
            • the social context of its use (the main reason most users are not addicts of alcohol or ecstasy).

            The war on drugs has made the second far worse than it need be. I reckon the model for most drugs should be like that of tobacco - legalsie and regulate it butuse economic and social measures to discourage it, provide help for the minority of addicts to quit.

        • Isn't it 90% with pill testing?

  • +1

    Pill testers? Where do I sign up?

    Willing to work minimum wage and on weekends, have my own car and enjoy long walks on the beach.

    • If the commenters on here are correct, if you take that job you won't be enjoying walks on the beach much more and someone else will soon be owning your unbelievable investment opportunity!

  • +2

    I've always believed that drug use is a medical issue. It's not a political or legal issue. Drug dealing is different though.

    The most caring approach is one of harm minimisation for users and if that includes pill testing I'm all for it.

  • +10

    Thoughts on topic 1: people don’t seem to realise the single greatest value in pill testing, is not even “pill testing”: it is the availability of and exposure to medical counselling which greatly decreases the number of persons who end up taking the drugs - irrespective of the actual test result. This is always overlooked, but it’s kind of a distraction to view the issue in any other light. Debating about whether testing is effective, whether it gives “false impressions” of safety (a view that is not supported by evidence) etc.. is all somewhat irrelevant when the simple fact is, with the availability of pill testing, consumption is decreased. That’s what we want. Decreased consumption.

    Thoughts on topic 2: the police should absolutely not be involved in policy making. They have a clear conflict of interest. Their policy opinion often revolves around creating work (or rather, if you’re so anarcho-inclined, control) for themselves, which is why you can have situations like this in which medical academia and literature say one thing, but the police say completely another. There are also numerous instances in which police-favoured policy does much to reduce crime in a manner which simultaneously curbs perfectly legal behaviour, eg: alcohol service restrictions which may “reduce crime” but only do so insofar as they “reduce patronage” altogether, or crowd control restrictions which “increase safety” but by nature curb political protest.

    Overall, policy needs to be more evidence based. Moralising is not evidence based. Appealing to the desires of police state authorities is not evidence based. Pill testing is.

    • -1

      eg: alcohol service restrictions which may “reduce crime” but only do so insofar as they “reduce patronage” altogether,

      I'm pretty sure the Australian Medical Association is on the record supporting alcohol service restrictions.

  • Legalize all drugs and let natural selection take its course.

    Keep harsh penalties for when people do stupid things on drugs. 'LOL! I can't remember officer!' and a good cry in court should not lead to a smaller penalty.

    • not sure what you mean by natural selection, but i think they decriminalized drugs in portugal and it worked.
      https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/05/portugals-radic...

    • -1

      Keep harsh penalties for when people do stupid things on drugs

      Unfortunately while I'm all for this, this doesn't help the victims of the drug users doing stupid things, and someone on drugs is unlikely to be deterred from doing stupid things because of the harsh penalties since they're not doing much thinking to begin with.

  • +4

    Seems like the coroner is proposing solutions to prevent the drug takers from dying (because that's what he's investigating).

    The police commissioner is more concerned about the drug takers impact on the public (drug effected drivers, violence etc. just copy the alcohol list).

    If there were no deaths then the coroner will be happy. If there is no impact on the public then the police commissioner will be happy.

    So how do we achieve that?

    (the answer is driverless cars, government manufactured pills and a device people wear around their necks that senses anger and then injects a tranquilizer).

    • We can call the collar the iSheep. Infact we should just clone perfect human beings so there's no more problems.

    • Between drug users who decide themselves to take drugs, and members of the public who're wholly innocent, which group should take priority seems obvious.

  • Is the free pill testing just a lazy solution? At the moment, I don’t think drug users have the numbers to make their recreational pills legal. So they want free pill testing of their illegal drugs instead. Shouldn’t they instead aim for the harder but better solution: campaign to make their drug of choice legal? If they win - good for them and they can enjoy their drugs with legal protections. If they lose, bad luck. We are talking about recreational drugs here that are popular with rich kids - it’s not like recreational drug taking is some sort of fundamental right.

    • In the meantime could we sell them pill testing kits?

      • +1

        Who is liable if those testing kits causes a death because of a false positive?

        • I imagine that the testing kits would come with a “use at your own risk” disclaimer.

          • -1

            @AddNinja: I'm going to make a killing selling plain cotton swabs for $20 ea.

            • @HighAndDry: But you can currently make more money selling aspirin or caffeine (No-Doz) pills as ecstacy - which is what a surprising number are. Placebo effects are very strong, plus of course you won't trouble the sniffer dogs.

              So maybe we could legalise eccy but have a random 50% of the government-approved and taxed tablets as placebos.

  • +4

    Instead of all this why not take school kids to hospitals to help with drug affected patients . Surely we could educate them

    • +2

      I think this is a great idea. But I worry that it wouldn’t work anyway. It’s not like these people don’t know the risks. They just think it’s worth it. That’s why the solution they support isn’t to change their behaviour, it is for others to lower the risks for them.
      Edit: removed mean comments

      • +1

        Why wouldn't it work we can't sit and say we need a 100 percent success rate even if it's one kid that wakes up from it that's a victory .
        Believe it or not the government wants illegal drug use as it keeps the justice system making dollars.
        Is it that hard to see look at the Asian countries with the harsh penalties for drug use .I'm sure they have a less of a problem then us . I smoke weed and love it but when I travel to Greece I don't even think about it cause you can do time in Greece over just a little bit of it .
        Harsh penalties is the only answer at this time .

    • +5

      You know why this approach has not worked?

      Demonise drugs, exaggerate the risks, make them scared, and yeah kids are probably going to believe this at first and "say no to drugs".

      But then sometime down the track one of their mates ends up taking a pill, has a great time, doesn't become a junky, does not end up in hospital, even makes it in to work on Monday… the charade is over.

      • +2

        This. Exaggerating the dangers of drug use - they are real enough, but for recreational users are far less than the authorities would have us believe - is a deeply stupid thing to do. Which is why our deeply stupid authorities do it.

  • +1

    I often see the argument made that illegal drugs are bad, because they are illegal, which if you think about it, is no argument at all. Laws can be wise, laws can be stupid. Laws can be good, laws can be bad. Laws can change. Something can be illegal today and legal tomorrow and vice versa.

    • +3

      Laws can be wise, laws can be stupid.

      Of course. But regardless, without laws we have anarchy and chaos. Laws provide the structure for a civilized modern society.

      Generally speaking, if a law needs to be changed and has the support of the people, it generally gets changed. That's how democracy works.

  • Why is it so hard to follow the law?
    These people make excuses not to follow it.
    Influence other people to not follow it as well.
    Influence even more people to go around it and twist it.
    Even though we have a democratic system.
    That means those laws are there, because the people who put it there (or kept it there) are voted by the majority of the population.

    • +3

      If we took that attitude, women would still not be allowed to vote. Democracy allows people to hold different beliefs and have discussion about change

      • +2

        A husband cannot be guilty of rape upon his wife for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind to her husband which she cannot retract.

        Sir Matthew Hale, 1736

        And the law in NSW until 1981.

      • I think you misunderstand me. I said we have a democratic system along with all the justice and flaws that comes with it. So why are we discussing pill checking when drug use is illegal? Why injecting centers when drugs are illegal? Its like having women vote for local goverment and banning them from voting on federal govenment. See, lukewarm.

        • +4

          You’ll find injecting centres are supported by the politicians we elected. The drug is still illegal. The MSIC has been a huge success. Why can’t pill testing do the same?

          • +2

            @Vote for Pedro: Keep fighting the good fight Pedro. Very good points you made throughout the thread, but people still think a "hard stance" and "war on drugs" works.

            It doesn't.

    • +1

      wrong - ruling governments rarely have a majority of the population vote for them, and investigation of tax evasion and money laundering is always underfunded, and rarely prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Its always the weakest and vulnerable members of society who are routinely prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  • +1

    Lets take a step back, why do people need 'recreational' drugs?
    What mental anguish/ problems are they trying to mask up that they feel the only way to have a good time is to be high on something.

    It is very difficult to just say 'test all drugs', it does not really work that way. Different recreational drugs have different effects on different people, how do you even begin to modulate that and where exactly do we draw the line?

    • +1

      where exactly do we draw the line?

      And that's why they are illegal.

    • +4

      Why do people drink alcohol? There must be a lot of mentally anguished boozing Ozbargainers. Most people take recreational drugs cos they're fun.

      • +2

        And in the correct dose, quite safe.

    • If you have ever known any serious addicts (including alcoholics), you would understand that some people have s**t lives and drugs make them feel better. It really is that simple. Drug addiction has not ruined their lives so much as they get a drug addiction because their lives are ruined.

      I would much prefer we focus on building a society where as few people as possible have s**t lives rather than panicking about what is for the majority of users a pretty harmless pleasure.

    • Different recreational drugs have different effects on different people

      Say you get your pill tested and it comes back 100% pure MDMA. Part of the testing would have a medical professional on site, to say, "well for your bodyweight, you should take 1/4 of this pill every 2 hours, any more and you are risking your health"

    • What mental anguish/ problems are they trying to mask up that they feel the only way to have a good time is to be high on something.

      Your fellow human beings are never convinced of your reasons, of your sincerity, of the seriousness of your sufferings, except by your death. So long as you are alive, your case is doubtful; you have a right only to their skepticism.

    • I guess the same could be said for alcohol. Why do people need alcohol.

  • Pill testing I believe won't fix the issue. So what if the tests finalise it contains "xyz materiel"? I don't believe this will deter the groups and individuals who have bought, sold and provided.

    If the individual wants to go down the path of taking illicit drugs no matter how harmful, it's their choice. We have plenty of information that is accessible to educate people the consequences of taking these drugs.

    I don't believe this pill testing idea funded by taxpayers is the answer and will deter anyone.

    • +2

      Disagree, if a user is in a tent getting their pill tested, and the tester says, um yeah that's got rat poison in it, don't (profanity) take it, i think that will deter them.

      However, the whole situation is broad and the only real way to stop it is at a higher level than the user. Once a person has purchased pills to take, the law has already failed.

    • "If the individual wants to go down the path of taking illicit drugs no matter how harmful, it's their choice"

      Sure, but isn't it better for everyone if it's an informed choice so they know how harmful? As for the cost, pill testing at events is far cheaper than coppers and dogs. By all means hand the organisers the bill.

    • Pill testing I believe won't fix the issue. So what if the tests finalise it contains "xyz materiel"? I don't believe this will deter the groups and individuals who have bought, sold and provided.

      If the individual wants to go down the path of taking illicit drugs no matter how harmful, it's their choice. We have plenty of information that is accessible to educate people the consequences of taking these drugs.

      I don't believe this pill testing idea funded by taxpayers is the answer and will deter anyone.

      Pill testing has 2 parts.

      1) Test for potentially dangerous substances. Both overseas and in the ACT trial in this instance people have thrown their stuff in the bin. I think the stats for this is in the 80-90% of people dispose when finding out it's not what they thought it was.

      2) Gives people a chance to talk to a medical professional about their drug use. Most don't talk to their parents or their GP about it. Stats in this case show that a majority of people change their behaviour. This could be throwing it away, reducing their dosage, not mixing with other drugs or alcohol or even being more aware of adverse side effects.

  • I think that all drug takers should be put into rehab, fined or put in jail.

    • +2

      Gee, a bit harsh. 17 percent of Aussie adults still smoke. Well over 80 percent use alcohol (and the rest imbibe it unknowingly - its amazing how much ethanol is in commercial fruit juice). Pretty well all drink coffee or tea. And don't get me on to prescription medicine …

      This sort of attitude really gets my goat. Odds are the poster likes a glass of wine with his meal or a beer after work. They can't get themselves to work in the morning without their breakfast caffeine. But they're quite blind to their hypocrisy.

      • Yes quite right, I mean drugs which are currently illegal. I agree locking up someone for having a cup of coffee is a bit harsh, as there is a massive difference between having a cup of joe and a hit of smack when you wake up.

    • Full prohibition. Shall we include alcohol and cigarettes?

      Let me tell you something. If we rationed sugar consumption we’d have a massive improvement in the health of the population leading to massive savings in healthcare costs. But we don’t!

  • +13

    I don't think most people realise how safe the pure active ingredient in an ecstasy pill is. Taking pure MDMA in a standard dose is no more dangerous than horse riding according to David Nutt, the ex-chairman of the UK's Home Office Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (fired for giving his honest opinion on illegal drugs).

    Should we ban horse riding?

    This information is coming from a neuropsychopharmacologist who studies illicit drugs effects on society for a living.

    Here is a chart of how harmful the most common legal and illegal drugs are to the user and society according to David Nutt. I think some people here might be surprised by what it shows.

    I want to reiterate this is coming from a professional in the field, not some armchair politician who has been raised on the "Just say no to drugs" shtick or any mum or dad who want to shield their children from reality; people take illicitly produced drugs.

    Yes, illicit drugs do cause deaths and health issues, purely because they are illicitly produced and have no regulation surrounding their production resulting in dangerous substitutes being used as the active drug to increase profits at the expense of the drug users health. This is why pill testing is a step in the right direction. If it saves even one life, how can it not be a good thing?

    People who take illicit drugs will take them with or without testing, this at least affords one small protection to preventing a possible fatality.

    I think a lot of people here commenting against pill testing are parents who obviously don't want their son/daughter taking illicitly produced drugs (I wouldn't either), who have made their opinion on illicit drugs known to their son/daughter and expect them to follow their wishes, but you can't be around 24/7 surveilling everything they do.

    To those who think illicit drug users deserve to die, I really don't understand that mindset, where is the empathy for your fellow human? If someone dies falling off a horse they were riding, would you have the same opinion?

    To those who argue against pill testing since they believe illicit drug users waste time and tax payer's money through the need for first responders and health care when they do fall ill from taking an untested illicit drug, pill testing would reduce that need since if a pill is shown to contain a harmful substance, a user would have more of a reason to not take the tainted pill.

    Our society's first priority should be preservation of life, it is as simple as that.

    • +1

      True but I would not recommend taking mdma if you intend on dancing for hours on end under a baking January sun in a crowd of a thousand sweaty strangers. That ain't smart.

      • +3

        Yep, just like you wouldn't get on the piss if you're going fishing in a boat. But perfectly respectable Scomo-voting people do; its not only young ravers who do stupid things.

        • rarely charged for rescue if they do…

    • +1

      Taking pure MDMA in a standard dose is no more dangerous than horse riding

      But people don't/won't just take the standard dose, just like some people don't avoid drinking to excess, kind of makes this point a bit misleading and sensationalistic.

      Here is a chart of how harmful the most common legal and illegal drugs are to the user and society according to David Nutt. I think some people here might be surprised by what it shows.

      Putting aside the fact that they appear to score the drugs across the categories they developed based upon perception as opposed to anything quantifiable, that to me if anything, shows legalising a recreational drug seems to increase its harm caused and if anything it's an argument to ban alcohol as opposed to further legalise recreational drugs.

      Yes, illicit drugs do cause deaths and health issues, purely because….

      Gonna call BS on this one, AKAIK overdosing seems to play a far bigger role than purity in illicit drug deaths, how many of the six died from popping just one pill?

      Our society's first priority should be preservation of life, it is as simple as that.

      Not going to argue against this one, but point out that people not wanting to allow pill testing, are generally doing so out of the same motivation, by not legitimising a clearly harmful (you graph above shows it) practice and therefore possibly encouraging others to take it up.

      • +3

        But people don't/won't just take the standard dose, just like some people don't avoid drinking to excess, kind of makes this point a bit misleading and sensationalistic.

        Who is being sensationalistic? Majority of alcohol users are responsible, it's the minority (addicts) that account for the most destruction to society.

        All drugs are subject to misuse and abuse. In my opinion the best way to rank recreational drugs by their relative safety is through the use of the therapeutic index(scroll to the bottom for the table data), alcohol has a ratio of 1:10 effective dose to it's LD50 (lethal for 50% of the population) dose. MDMA sits at 1:16. So while it is still a somewhat narrow window, one would have to take 16x the effective dose of MDMA to have a 50% chance of dying due to overdose, whereas with alcohol you would only need to take 10x the effective dose to reach the LD50.

        Putting aside the fact that they appear to score the drugs across the categories they developed based upon perception as opposed to anything quantifiable

        "Method: Members of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, including two invited specialists, met in a 1-day interactive workshop to score 20 drugs on 16 criteria: nine related to the harms that a drug produces in the individual and seven to the harms to others. Drugs were scored out of 100 points, and the criteria were weighted to indicate their relative importance." source

        What methods would you use to score a recreational drug's safety? Are you in a profession that relates to the study of recreational drugs?

        That to me if anything, shows legalising a recreational drug seems to increase its harm caused and if anything it's an argument to ban alcohol as opposed to further legalise recreational drugs.

        I disagree that legalising a currently illicit drug would increase harm caused to society.

        It's a hypocritical situation to have alcohol legal and these other currently illegal substances kept illegal despite evidence suggesting they cause less harm on society.

        Gonna call BS on this one, AKAIK overdosing seems to play a far bigger role than purity in illicit drug deaths, how many of the six died from popping just one pill?
        Overdosing resulting in death and purity go hand in hand. The more pure a pill is, the more active ingredient is within it so one would have to consume less to reach overdose levels.

        I am not arguing that abusing MDMA will not cause an overdose, abusing alcohol can result in exactly the same outcome but with an even lower relative dosage.

        Not going to argue against this one, but point out that people not wanting to allow pill testing, are generally doing so out of the same motivation, by not legitimising a clearly harmful (you graph above shows it) practice and therefore possibly encouraging others to take it up.

        I completely understand this viewpoint, in an ideal world people would not take drugs at all. Unfortunately in reality illicit drug use exists, people from all walks of life consume illicit drugs. A blanket ban does not prevent this, as we can currently observe.

        Harm reduction is the best we can hope to achieve if we want to reduce the deaths and health issues associated with illicit drugs. People will still overdo it, but education goes a long way to minimising that behaviour.

        At the end of the day it comes down to personal responsibility just as that applies to the current legal drugs of tobacco and alcohol. Drugs can kill, but if you are given the accurate facts allowing you to make an informed decision, it will result in a net decrease in harm to society caused by drugs.

        • I do get your point, it is widely known that many legal drugs have a much narrower safe window than illegal options.

          Yet it is of concern that the 'therapeutic index' table you linked to has apparently been published without proof reading it. Effective and lethal dose for ethanol should be measured in 'g' not in 'mg'.

          Perhaps try to find another source of the same information?

    • -2

      This is an excellent point; it is well known that ongoing horse riding destroys rural communities, breaks apart families and ruins lives.

      As for the (single) study you quote and the chart from Dr Nutt - from what I can see this was based on a minuscule 29 registered doctors (not the people affected), across 9 equally weighted dimensions. This is roughly the equivalent of an online poll with more fancy words. Even the study notes in the discussion "In view of the small numbers of independent scores, we did not think that estimation of correlations between the nine parameters was legitimate.", among other things which can be summarised as "it's too broad and too tiny data set to be conclusive".

      But people can draw their own conclusions - here is the study.
      http://www.antoniocasella.eu/archila/NUTT_2007.pdf

      Also, are you seriously proposing that "licit drugs do cause deaths and health issues, purely because they are illicitly produced"? So legally produced, highly addictive drugs that ruin people's bodies are… ok?

      • This is an excellent point; it is well known that ongoing horse riding destroys rural communities, breaks apart families and ruins lives.

        Not sure if you are being sarcastic here or not?

        This is roughly the equivalent of an online poll with more fancy words.

        I could not disagree with this more, these are researchers and professionals who are actively involved in studying drugs both legal and illegal at the highest level. These are the people that have the education to make these evidence based recommendations.

        Even the study notes in the discussion "In view of the small numbers of independent scores, we did not think that estimation of correlations between the nine parameters was legitimate."

        This is a good point I did not see in reading the study, a more thorough study is needed to assess the outcomes of this study more accurately.

        So legally produced, highly addictive drugs that ruin people's bodies are… ok?

        Well if alcohol is able to be legally produced despite it being a highly addictive drug that ruins people's bodies, then yes.

        • Hello again, yes, obviously the horse thing was a joke.

          I don't know how to use the quote functionality. So! You've stated that you disagree becauee the people were professionals (in summary). Well there are lots of professionals, some of which may have different opinions. This is why a sample needs to be statistically significant. Which this study isn't. Which you would know because you're a professional, right?

          Regarding your point on alcohol, again, are you seriously comparing alcohol to heroine? As a professional this seems ignorant.

          • @meowbert:

            obviously the horse thing was a joke.

            It was not obvious based on the rest of your comment.

            Which you would know because you're a professional, right?

            Don't know where I said I am a professional in researching drug harm? I said I trust the findings of a group of professionals who dedicate their lives to this area of research because they have the knowledge from their extensive education to be able to make these kinds of statements.

            I don't know how to use the quote functionality.
            As a professional

            But you are a "professional", it doesn't help your cause if you cannot utilise basic formatting tools to formulate a response.

            How about I pose this to you meowbert, show me some statistically significant studies you have found that back your views, I'd like to read them, you might even change my views.

            Regarding your point on alcohol, again, are you seriously comparing alcohol to heroine? As a professional this seems ignorant.

            Where did this talk of heroin come from? We are discussing MDMA here. Regardless I will indulge you, all the studies I have come across that research harms caused by licit and illicit drugs come to the same conclusion again and again; alcohol causes more harm to both the user and others than heroin does.

            Am I advocating for people to use heroin? Of course not it is an incredibly addictive and destructive drug also, but when you specifically ask if I am comparing alcohol to heroin, yes I am because this is what the data shows.

            Regardless of this point you have cherry picked, the focus of this discussion was on MDMA yet for some reason you've glossed over that and decided to focus on the next most destructive drug to society behind alcohol according to the data.

            This is why a sample needs to be statistically significant.

            I agreed with this point in my previous reply, I was not aware of that statement in the study prior to you pointing it out and I acknowledged that this is a solid point. Please show me a study that is statistically significant that supports your views.

      • +1

        What I find so amazing in these debates is how successfully the language used to frame the war on drugs has worked to turn this whole discussion into a black and white scenario.

        To illustrate that, let's have a look at your last paragraph. You use the term 'illicit drugs'. And you are right, there are some that are highly addictive and ruin people's brains and bodies. No matter how they are produced. Ice, heroin, etc.

        The issue at hand though, when it comes to pill testing at festivals, is that those kind of drugs are not the drugs of choice of that crowd. The drugs used at festivals have very low addiction potentials and physical harm from the pure forms is rare. For these substances the lack of purity of black market samples is indeed the most common cause of harm.

        Before any rational debate on this topic can take place it is necessary to stop the indiscriminate use of the word 'drugs' that lumps together very different substances and instead to start talking about specific classes of drugs separately.

        What I urge you meowbert and others here is to think for a moment about why that is so hard.

        Do you usually believe that governments always get things right? That every speed limit sign is there for a very good reason and you would never ever dare go even 1km/h faster, no matter what the circumstances?

        If you haven't been brain washed into thinking that, then why would you allow yourself to be brain washed in this context?

        In my view the line that was drawn delineating legal from illegal substances was drawn in a big rush, based on political objectives, not based on evidence about what will result in the best overall outcome for this society.

        • Hello,

          I agree that there are distinctions between low addiction/harm drugs and ones that are on the other end of the spectrum. Unfortunately the discussion wasn't framed with nuance, and our apprent professional on this thread doesn't understand statistical significance.

          I also agree that policy needs nuance, and should be created accordingly.

          You may be right about the rushed policy also, however as someone who doesn't take drugs, I'm happy to tale the governments word that the balance has been struck. The term brainwashed seems a bit silly.

          • @meowbert: Thanks for your nuanced reply. I wish such a rational discussion would be possible with our politicians. Unfortunately for them it appears to be all about ideology.

            As a result I am a bit more pessimistic than you when it comes to balance. From what I can see, the lists of illicit vs legal substances have not changed substantially since they were first created in the 1960/70s (obviously new substances with similar effects have been added to the list of banned items).

            The black and white view of the world continues unabated. I don't know about you, but most people who proudly proclaim they don't take drugs do in fact drink alcohol. Quite a few others use mood-altering prescription drugs. Very few people will never use any drugs at all.

            Seeing that some drugs are legal and considered acceptable (in the case of alcohol) or even necessary (in case of medications) it should be allowed to ask whether that list contains the drugs that do the least harm and offer the greatest benefits to consumers.

            The available evidence allows the conclusion that that is not the case. To be blunt and specific: the health risks to the user of taking MDMA are lower than the health risks from drinking several alcoholic drinks. The societal risks are a lot lower: I'd much rather get an unexpected hug than a unexpected fist in the face.

            Yet, I've never taken MDMA in my life, solely because of the legal status. Even if I was willing to break the law I would not want to take the risk of taking a pill that may or may not contain what it claims to be. I'm sure my liver would be in a healthier state if MDMA was legal.

            Yes, people can overdose on MDMA. Just as they can on alcohol. People should not drive on MDMA, just as they should not drive on alcohol. The risks from excessive and irresponsible use are similar. The risks from moderate use are a lot lower. Why is MDMA banned and alcohol is legally available?

  • +1

    This whole argument wouldn't exist if currently illegal drugs were legalised, taxed and sold retail as per any other product. Reduces the criminal element, saves enforcement costs and actually brings in money for the govt which it could then spend on education/health, if the had any interest in doing so. Lawmakers could then mandate an impairment level beyond which the couldn't drive as per alcohol. Lets face it some drugs are only illegal because some politician thought he/she knew better.

  • -2

    I think we should follow the Philippines approach of "shoot on sight". It seems to be working for them.

    • does that include the police chiefs involved with the drugs trade?

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