Image for Spilt Milk Festival Wants To Host A Pill Testing Trial In 2017Photo: Spilt Milk / J Brebner Photography

Spilt Milk Festival Wants To Host A Pill Testing Trial In 2017

Written by Tom Williams on May 2, 2017

UPDATE: Spilt Milk Festival’s bid for a pill testing trial has been approved by the ACT Government.

ORIGINAL STORY: Canberra’s Spilt Milk music festival says it’s interested in hosting a pill testing trial at its annual shindig later this year.

In a statement to Music Feeds, Spilt Milk Festival says it “hopes” the ACT Government “develops the appropriate framework to deliver [pill testing] for trial at Spilt Milk” in December.

The festival’s organisers, Kicks Entertainment, say they “strongly support harm minimisation initiatives that have proven results and can be delivered within local legislation”, noting that “medically supervised pill testing initiatives have proven successful overseas”.

Last month, the ACT Government rejected a proposed pill testing trial put forward by Harm Reduction Australia for the Canberra leg of this year’s Groovin The Moo festival. Harm Reduction Australia President and co-founder Gino Vumbaca has since told Music Feeds that the organisation is hoping to hold a trial at the next Spilt Milk event.

“Our attention is now focused on working with Government to get them to endorse or support — or whatever word they want to use — our trial at an upcoming festival, which we hope will be Spilt Milk,” he says.

“We’re confident that the ACT Government, once it’s had a chance to test all the evidence and [know] quite clearly how we’re going to operate, and the checks and balances and safety issues have been addressed — they should be comfortable in at least trialling a pill testing program.

“We’re not saying they should introduce it at every festival, or something that happens everywhere. We’re saying a trial that happens at one festival.”

Mr Vumbaca says Harm Reduction Australia isn’t asking the Government for any funding for the trial, and says it would be an Australian first if it does go ahead.

“This will be with a mass spectrometer [a scientific device which identifies and sorts chemicals], the latest technology available,” he says.

“At some festivals there are sometimes people who sell or give away the reagent test kits, but that’s not quite the same standard at all, the information you get in them, as to what we’re offering.”

Meanwhile, the ACT Government says it will be considering “all of the health, legal and other implications of a pill testing trial”, but notes that “it remains illegal to take, possess or supply illicit drugs and it is dangerous to take them”.

“While there were some general discussions in late 2016 regarding a potential trial of pill testing at an event in the ACT and some preliminary assessment has been done, the ACT Government will not rush a decision on a trial to meet an artificial deadline,” it says.

“Pill testing is a complex issue with a range of serious legal and health implications that need to be carefully considered. It is naive and irresponsible to pretend these issues don’t exist.”

Spilt Milk Festival is yet to announce its dates or music lineup for 2017.

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