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Should Australian Music Festivals Implement Drug Testing?: The Poll Results

Written by Tom Williams on December 9, 2015

This week, a Music Feeds poll has been asking music-loving Aussies to have their say on whether or not local music festivals should implement drug testing services in an attempt to prevent drug-related injuries and deaths.

The poll, which posed the yes-or-no question ‘Should Australian Music Festivals Implement Drug Testing?’, has amassed over 10,000 votes in two days (10,164 to be exact), and with such an impressive response from readers, we’ve crunched the numbers. Here are the results:

83 per cent of responses to the poll are in favour of Australian festivals introducing drug testing procedures at their events, while the other 17 per cent of responses are against such measures.

pill testing chart

The issue of possibly introducing drug testing at festivals is of course more complicated than a simple yes-or-no approach, but there is clearly an overwhelming interest in at least looking at the possibility of changing the way we approach drugs at music events.

Hundreds of Music Feeds readers have taken to Facebook to let us know why they are either for or against the idea of drug testing at festivals.

Facebook user Kristofferson Renick said that if drug testing was implemented, he would want promoters or ticket-holders to cover the extra cost. “If my tax dollars cover this in any way I won’t be happy,” he said, to which user Bec Plumpton asked, “Would you rather your tax dollars cover people’s hospital admissions then?”

User Cosimo Laface took a hard line on drug-taking, saying, “If your [sic] stupid enough to take any substance at any function, you play Russian roulette,” echoing a statement made by Police Assistant Commissioner Frank Mennilli.

Erin Grace thinks differently, saying, “Of course there should be free drug testing at music festivals. It could save lives and prevent overdoses, illness and horrible experiences. Anyone who says ‘no’ to drug testing is just ignorant.”

For us at Music Feeds, the results of our poll aren’t all that surprising, given the renewed push for a rethink of drug policies following the deaths of 25-year-old Sylvia Choi and 19-year-old Stefan Woodward at Stereosonic over the last few weeks.

Artists like Illy and Peking Duk have both endorsed the idea of drug testing, while ER Doctor and drug harm minimisation advocate Dr David Caldicott has called for the government to re-think its entire anti-drugs strategy.

With this renewed push comes further questions about what would need to be done for Australian festivals to implement drug testing, as well as questions surrounding its effectiveness, cost and legal implications.

Music Feeds is going to be looking at these questions and more as the issue continues to play out.

UPDATE 11/12/15: Music Feeds has spoken with drug experts to see if they think drug testing at music festivals will be implemented on a wide scale, and to ask how we get such tests to work to the best of their ability.

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