Image for Illy Joins The Call For Drug Testing At Music Festivals After Stereosonic DeathImage: Illy / Facebook

Illy Joins The Call For Drug Testing At Music Festivals After Stereosonic Death

Written by Tom Williams on December 1, 2015

Melbourne rapper Illy is calling for a rethink of drug safety measures at music festivals, following the death of 25-year-old Sylvia Choi at the Sydney leg of Stereosonic 2015 over the weekend.

Posting to Facebook, Illy says, “If we, and the police, really are that concerned with safety of festival goers, we should be making it easier for people to test the drugs they have, so they can make better decisions.

“Telling the public you’re ‘alarmed and disappointed’ because you arrested 70 people out of FORTY EIGHT THOUSAND, after ‘warning about the dangers of drug use’, doesn’t make you sound like you give a fuck about people’s safety,” Illy says.

“It makes you sound like your head is in the sand to the situation. Having a zero tolerance approach doesn’t stop anyone doing drugs. It never has, it just pushes it to more risky situations.”

In his post, which can be read in full below, Illy references Ms Choi’s death, saying, “Even one death like this is one too many. And IMO there’s a more sensible way to make sure music fans stay safe and enjoy the party.”

Speaking with triple j‘s Hack program about his Facebook post, Illy says his focus is on the safety of punters, and says he believes that giving them the option to have their drugs tested at festivals should be looked into in Australia.

“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 says.

“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.”

ER Doctor and drug expert Dr David Caldicott, who again pushed for drug harm minimisation following Ms Choi’s death, has told ABC‘s 7:30 program that the Swiss city of Zurich has seen a shipping container of forensic equipment being brought to large raves, allowing punters to have their drugs tested.

“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 says.

“It’s not so much the contaminants that we’re worried about, we’re worried about purity, we’re worried about the diversity of products.”

Like Illy, Dr Caldicott believes the ‘don’t use drugs’ approach doesn’t work for people who use recreational drugs at festivals. “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,” he says.

Aside from the death of Ms Choi, this year’s Stereosonic has also seen two men arrested for allegedly attempting to drill holes into Sydney Olympic Park in order to hide drugs for the event.

Catch Illy’s statement in full, below.

So, what do you think? Should Australian music festivals implement drug testing? Have your say via our poll.

If we, and the police, really are that concerned with safety of festival goers, we should be making it easier for people…

Posted by Illy on Saturday, 28 November 2015

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