An ACT Government Website

Drug checking

Access drug checking, also known as pill testing, services in Canberra.

Illegal drugs can be highly unpredictable in terms of the substances they contain and their purity.

Drug checking, also known as pill testing, is a process that checks the chemical content of drugs. Drug checking is a harm reduction service which aims to reduce the risk of harm from illegal drugs.

Drug checking does not make drugs safe and using drugs may still harm your health even if you have had them checked.

CanTest - Canberra's pilot health and drug checking service

Australia's first fixed-site health and drug checking service opened in Canberra in July 2022. The service is funded to run as a pilot until December 2024.

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

Staff will provide you with information about the results of drug checking and discuss the risks that you may face if you consume the substances found, as well as any other concerns you may have.

Drop-in nurse consultations also offer general health, sexual health and mental health advice. You don't have to get drugs tested to see the nurse.

The service is free and confidential. You will not be asked to identify yourself as part of testing. You can choose not to answer any questions you are asked for data collection purposes.

The service is available to all community members.

Where to get drugs tested

You can find the drug checking service at:

CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service
Ground floor, City Community Health Centre
1 Moore Street
Canberra City, ACT

Opening hours

You can get drugs tested or see the nurse:

  • every Thursday from 3pm to 6pm
  • every Friday from 6pm to 9pm.

You can't post drugs to the service in the mail. You must go in person to have drugs checked.

What drugs can be tested

You can test drugs in pills, capsules, powders, crystals or liquid form.

Some substances like plants, or dilute solutions may not be able to be tested. You can still get advice on these substances and how to reduce the risk of harm.

Only a very small amount of the drug is required for testing, and this will be destroyed in the testing process.

Your drugs will not be confiscated, but you should only bring small amounts of drugs for testing that are intended for personal use.

How drugs are tested

Testing and consultation can be as quick as 20 minutes, but it may take longer.

Staff may offer extra optional testing depending on the drug being tested, which can take longer.

When you arrive for testing:

1. Testing staff will ask you to sign a waiver noting the limitations of testing and that testing does not mean that a drug is safe.
2. They will ask you what you believe your pill or drug contains. They may invite you to fill out an optional pre-testing survey.
3. You provide a small sample of the drug.
4. They will tell you what the test results say and talk about the risks you would face if you take it and how to reduce those risks.

If you have had a drug tested and don’t want to keep it, staff can safely dispose of small amounts of drugs.

You will have the option to see the nurse about general health, sexual health or mental health.

Drug checking at music festivals

Drug checking organisations work with government and festival organisers on a case-by-case basis to decide whether drug checking will be available at a festival.

Drug checking was available at the Canberra Groovin the Moo festival in 2018 and 2019 as part of a broader harm reduction approach.

Australian National University independently evaluated the 2019 trial, which was the first research of its kind in Australia. Download the evaluation of the 2019 festival trial [PDF 1.7MB] for more information.

Event planners

For guidance about drug checking at events, download the Festivals Pill Testing Policy [PDF 521KB].

Police and drug checking

While the police can always enforce the law, ACT policing supports harm minimisation and health protection initiatives such as drug checking.

Evaluation of the pilot

The fixed-site health and drug checking pilot has been independently evaluated, and the results will inform future decisions about drug checking in the ACT.

Download the Interim evaluation report [PDF 3.1MB] for early findings from the evaluation, or the Final evaluation report [PDF 5.8MB] for a summary of the pilot's outcomes.

Where to find more information

Monthly service snapshots of the CanTEST pill testing results, published by the service provider Directions Health Services, can be found on the CanTEST webpage.

CanTEST also publish community notices on their social media about any particularly dangerous substances they find.

ACT Health issues dangerous drug warnings through public health alerts.

This page is managed by: ACT Health Directorate