The local council which produces Melbourne’s free St Kilda Festival has voted in favour of pill testing, and is calling on the Victorian Government to help it hold pill testing trials at its local festivals, clubs and parties.
Last night, Port Phillip Council passed a motion to urge the Victorian Government to put in place legislation which would legalise pill testing trials. The council is also calling for funding for the trial program.
Councillor Dick Gross, who motioned for the trial, says he and his colleagues want to work with the Government to examine pill testing as a way of potentially changing the behaviour of drug users.
“While we acknowledge not everyone supports our proposal, we hope [the Government] will reconsider their view as recent deaths and hospitalisations linked to illicit drug taking show a new approach is urgently needed,” he says.
“A pilot program would provide important data for an informed debate on the merits of pill testing and potentially save lives by alerting recreational drug users to bad batches of illicit drugs.”
Councillor Ogy Simic, who also motioned for the program, says that Port Phillip is “an ideal location” for a pill testing trial, but has made it clear that the Council isn’t condoning drug use at any events, including this month’s St Kilda Festival.
“Medical, scientific and legal experts agree that pill testing should be implemented immediately,” he says. “It’s the honest conversation we had to have.”
Music Feeds has contacted the Victorian Government for its response to the motion, while St Kilda Festival organisers have so far declined to comment.
Renewed calls for pill testing in Victoria come after a “bad batch” of MDMA led to multiple deaths and overdoses in Melbourne last month.
Later this year, a Victorian Government parliamentary inquiry will examine the laws around illicit and synthetic drugs, as well as prescription medication.
UPDATE 03/02/17: In a statement to Music Feeds, City Of Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss says:
“Drug testing cannot proceed in Victoria without a change to existing State Government legislation, so there will be no drug testing at the 2017 St Kilda Festival on February 12.
“If drug testing is legalised, we would then consider which events, including Council’s St Kilda Festival, were best suited for the pilot testing program.
“We see drug testing as just one possible tool to help with harm minimisation and are not condoning or encouraging illicit drug use.”