Image for Poll: Should Australian Music Festivals Implement Drug Testing?Image: US DEA / Wikimedia Commons

Poll: Should Australian Music Festivals Implement Drug Testing?

Written by Tom Williams on December 7, 2015

UPDATE 09/12/15: Our poll has now closed and the results have been published.

Drug use at Australian music festivals is back in the spotlight after the deaths of two young festival-goers — 25-year-old Sylvia Choi and 19-year-old Stefan Woodward — who both attended Stereosonic 2015, where many more drug-affected punters were treated by paramedics over the last two weeks.

With the continuing use of recreational drugs at music events, Music Feeds wants to know where you, the music-loving Aussie public, stand on the issue of implementing drug testing services at local festivals.

The tragic deaths and hospitalisations around Stereosonic have seen police, paramedics, doctors and drug experts share their views on festival drug use, with the suggestion of helping punters test the chemical makeup of their drugs raising some opposing views.

Police Assistant Commissioner Frank Mennilli has said Australia’s drug culture and music festival culture need to change. “There’s no such thing as safe drugs. You’re playing Russian roulette with your life,” he said after the death of Ms Choi.

However, ER Doctor and drug harm minimisation advocate Dr David Caldicott has told ABC‘s 7:30 program that a shipping container of forensic equipment has been successfully used at raves in the Swiss city of Zurich, to help punters test their drugs.

“Then in the 20 to 30 minutes they’re waiting for a result, [testers] engage with the consumer, let them know what’s going on… and also look at their habits and how they can stay safer,” Dr Caldicott said.

“They’ve already decided to use drugs and we need to be far more nuanced in our approach to illicit drugs than we currently are.”

Artists have joined the call too, with the likes of Melbourne MC Illy and Stereosonic main-stagers Peking Duk arguing for a rethink of drug safety measures at Aussie festivals.

“You’re talking about recreational drug users at a festival, not addicts, not dealers or criminals, except for the few hours when they have a pinger on them,” Illy told triple j‘s Hack. “There’s an environment at festivals where there are risks… if it’s going to make better informed decisions for these people then I think it’s something that should be encouraged.”

Meanwhile, those who argue against implementing drug testing have said the services are costly and aren’t 100 per cent accurate, while others like The Project‘s Steve Price have also suggested that drug testing would legitimise drug taking at concerts.

Festivals themselves have differing views as well, with Victoria’s Rainbow Serpent Festival hoping to implement drug testing and others like Big Pineapple Music Festival and Caloundra Music Festival telling Sunshine Coast Daily that drug testing isn’t necessary at festivals which don’t have a drug culture.

“I can’t see it being practical,”Caloundra Music Festival organiser Richie Eyles told the publication. “Testing people’s drugs is like saying ‘hey it’s okay to take drugs’.”

With all those conflicting views in mind, hit up the poll below and let us know where you stand on the issue of drug testing at Aussie festivals.

The traditional drug safety approach involving cops, sniffer dogs and heavier security isn’t working as well as authorities would have hoped for, so would drug testing help stop more punters from injuring themselves or dying at music festivals?

UPDATE 09/12/15: Our poll has now closed and the results have been published.

[Poll has ended]

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