CanTEST drug checking service extended


The ACT Government will continue to fund CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service until June 2027, extending its current funding commitment by $1.8 million.

Since the service opened its doors in July 2022 under a 6-month pilot, the ACT Government has continued to extend its funding due to the beneficial results in harm minimisation that the service achieves.

In its first 22 months of operation, CanTEST tested more than 2,600 samples, with more than 10 per cent of samples being voluntarily discarded by clients following testing.

The service delivered more than 3,600 health and alcohol and drug interventions to individuals and groups in its first year, with some clients receiving multiple interventions in one visit.

CanTEST provides chemical analysis of drugs and pills to help users better understand the unknown and potentially dangerous substances in illicit drugs. It also provides access to drop-in nurse consultations offering general health, sexual health and mental health advice.

A range of drugs have been brought into the service for testing, including highly dangerous synthetic opioids, MDMA, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, ketamine and psychedelics. In many cases the substances tested were not what people expected them to be.

The service has also contributed to information about the drugs circulating in the Canberra community, which allows health services and the wider community to learn about and respond to dangerous substances earlier.

The ACT Government is committed to harm minimisation, in line with the National Drug Strategy 2016-2026 and the ACT Drug Strategy Action Plan 2022-2026.

CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service is run by Directions Health Services in partnership with Pill Testing Australia and Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy.

Located on the ground floor of the City Community Health Centre at 1 Moore Street Civic, the free and confidential service is open every Thursday from 3pm – 6pm and Friday from 6pm – 9pm.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Population Health, Emma Davidson:

“Drug testing literally saves lives. People take drugs and that’s why we continue to invest in harm reduction measures such as pill testing, so they have better health outcomes.

“CanTEST is proven to drive healthier choices across our community. One in ten substances have been discarded once tested, people have a better understanding of what they are using and many being less likely to take the substance if it does not contain what they expected.

“Testing also provides an opportunity for people to have a destigmatised conversation about their health needs. CanTEST do a fantastic job providing a safe space for people to talk about what’s going on in their lives and refer them to services that may help them. They take a holistic approach that looks at the person as a whole to give them the best possible health outcomes.

“This funding is a commitment from ACT Government to treat substance use as a health issue, not a criminal one.”