In an official statement released to Fairfax last night, a spokesperson for Totem OneLove, the organisers behind the festival, said they “strongly support any policies or initiatives that would minimise harm, reduce drug use and make events a safer environment for patrons.”
They went on to say: “In principle, pill testing would have our full support as long as all the key stakeholders sanctioned the initiative to ensure its effectiveness.”
Stereosonic is the first festival that’s been able to throw its support behind the pill testing scheme in an official capacity. Fuzzy, the team behind Field Day, Listen Out and Harbour Life, have inferred to triple j’s Hack that they would be in favour of the scheme, but that “it’s tricky” because “all of [their] events are run on government land.”
The experts behind the privately-funded pill testing scheme – Founder of drug law reform agency Unharm, Will Tregoning, President of the Australian Drug Reform Foundation, Alex Wodak and emergency medical specialist David Caldicott – have said that the mobile laboratory-grade drug testing facilities they are planning to set up at music festivals will allow revellers to make sure their drugs don’t contain anything that will do them serious harm, something that will reduce the number of drug-related deaths like those seen at Stereo last year. Their research is based on decades of training backed up by sturdy legal opinion.
The NSW Government has stood staunchly against the scheme from day one, with Deputy Premier Troy Grant describing the life-saving service as a “very dangerous regime that the NSW government fundamentally rejects”. It has been predicted that mass arrests will be made around the drug testing facilities, with the experts behind the testing scheme planning for the possibility of arrest for possession.
Medical specialist behind the initiative, Dr Caldicott, says that the planned trial is extremely necessary. “We want to run a trial at a place where everyone is using drugs anyway,” he says. “It’s time for our politicians and elected representatives to catch up with what the majority of parents want for their children, which is for them to return home safe.”
In response to the government’s misguided concerns Caldicott adds: “The misrepresentation is that we are there to condone drug use and this couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The scheme has the backing from the majority of festival goers: almost 84% of more than 10,000 Music Feeds readers polled voted in favour of implementing the service.
— Unharm (@Unharmdotorg) February 28, 2016
@troygrant How can you ignore 82% young people attend dance music events & who support pill testing? Don’t care if young lives lost? Trial?
— Alex Wodak (@AlexWodak) February 27, 2016