The story behind the pill testing win in Queensland

The government has given the go-ahead for pill testing services (drug checking) to start in Queensland. This is a moment to celebrate! It’s going to help thousands of people stay safe and it builds momentum for more advances.

How it happened

Did you know Unharm supporters like you helped make it happen? Back in 2015 we teamed up with Melbourne mum Adriana Buccianti on a 100,000+ person petition and generated huge amounts of media coverage to get pill testing on the political agenda.

But governments around the country were still sitting on their hands, scared of being seen as ‘soft on crime’.

It became clear that we not only had to show them that pill testing was the right thing to do, but also, to do the actual pill testing.

So we ran a crowdfunder to set up an organisation that was able to conduct pill testing and started a registered charity: The Loop Australia. Hundreds of people like you chipped in to get it off the ground.

For years now, an incredible team of volunteers has been working hard to get The Loop Australia ready to test. They’ve purchased lab equipment and set up all the complex systems that you need to run this sort of service.

So when the Queensland government cracked open the door to pill testing, The Loop team was ready to jump at the opportunity. The team did demonstrations for government stakeholders, built alliances with other organisations and lobbied the government to act.

Many, many times it seemed like the breakthrough would never come. But the government finally listened, and now people in Queensland will be able to access life-saving drug checking services.

How it will work

Curious about how pill testing works? Check out these steps from bringing in a substance to getting your results!

When you bring in a substance to a drug checking service, a chemist will ask you to place a sample of it into a bag along with some info about what you think it might contain.

Pill testing - drug checking - in a festival

The sample is then put into a locked box and taken to the lab by a chemist. The chemist uses a range of analytic techniques to test the substance.

Chemists do pill testing - drug checking

The chemist will then share the results with a trained health worker, who will consult with you about the results and discuss risk reduction strategies.

If you need other health services, you’ll be referred to those as well. Finally, the test results will be shared with relevant agencies and the public via media and social media.

Pill testing - drug checking - results may lead to media social media alerts to keep people safe

Dr Will Tregoning is the CEO of Unharm.