Honest MP’s confession: ‘Politicians do drugs too’
A NSW Greens MP has publicly admitted to using illicit drugs in her past in a bid to have a more honest debate about pill-testing in Australia.
Writing in The Sydney Morning Herald this morning, Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, 48, said it was "time to get real about pill testing" after admitting she has used MDMA into her 40s.
"I remember vividly the first time I took MDMA … We danced all night to house music, talked nonsense with strangers, deep and meaningfully with each other. A month or so later we did it again. And again," Ms Faehrmann wrote in the Herald.
"I know journalists, tradies, lawyers, public servants, doctors, police and yes, politicians (most well into their forties), who have done the same."
She did not answer whether she has used MDMA since being employed as a NSW MP.
"I have been prepared to admit I took drugs in my 20s and that continued into my adult life. I'm not willing to go down a line of inquiry into who, what, when, where, how for obvious reasons. I'm not going to go there," she said.
Ms Faehrmann's piece comes after hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Sydney over the weekend, calling for changes to the Premier's hard stance on drugs and pill testing.
Protesters of the current drug policy danced and marched their way from Town Hall to Hyde Park on Saturday, with placards reading "Just test the dam (sic) pills!" and "Pill testing saves lives".
A coalition of groups, including Keep Sydney Open and Unharm, organised the event, which took place a week after Alex Ross-King, 19, died in hospital after a suspected overdose while attending the FOMO festival at Parramatta Park.
"The failed war on drugs has killed our friends, family and others in our community for decades while politicians and police have wilfully ignored the mounting evidence that zero-tolerance drug policing does not work," organisers said in a statement.
Five people have died after taking drugs at music festivals in NSW alone since September.
A number of politicians, including Greens leader Richard Di Natale, joined the campaign for a harm minimisation approach.
"How many more young people need to pay with their lives before we put in place pill testing, which we know saves lives?" Senator Di Natale said on Saturday.
Independent MP Kerryn Phelps, who is a GP and former president of the Australian Medical Association, also addressed the crowd to promote a policy change - a day after a prominent group of doctors came out in support of pill testing trials.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, which represents more than 17,000 physicians and paediatricians, has sent an open letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her counterparts urging them to follow the lead of the ACT. "Ideally, we would all like young people and the wider public not to use drugs illicitly, however, the reality is that they do in large numbers and the moral message to abstain from taking drugs is not getting through," Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones said on Friday.
They now join the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, who are also urging governments to adopt pill testing.
Pill testing involves users anonymously submitting samples for forensic analysis and feedback on the purity and composition of their drugs so they can make an informed decision on whether or not to take them.
"It's beyond time for an honest discussion about drugs if we are to keep young people safe who choose to take them. I know from experience just how many of them will," Ms Faehrmann said.
- with AP