Senior police and politicians are reportedly backing a pill testing trial at Australian music festivals this year – except for the third of Australia who live in NSW.
The charge for pill testing is being in part led by Alex Wodak (of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation) and Canberra doctor David Caldicott who, as the SMH reported earlier this year, were going to setup a pill-testing facility outside Sydney festivals, regardless of whether the cops would let them or not (and NSW Police weren’t cool with it).
However, a bit of progress has been made with sympathetic pollies and cops in other parts of Australia – although it hasn’t been revealed where. As Dr. Caldicott told the SMH: “We’ve got the funding. Meetings with law enforcement have been face to face and in more than one jurisdiction outside of NSW…There are very senior police supporting us currently. There are very senior politicians supporting us currently. We are now working out how we can have a system in place for the forthcoming festival season.”
This news comes after a summer in which there were an unfortunately large amount of deaths at music festivals related to drugs, which pushed the pill testing debate into the forefront of social consciousness again.
Calling the recent hospitalisation of a 15 year old girl at the Maitland leg of Groovin the Moo a “dire warning”, Dr. Caldicott explained that: “We had talked about the possibility of pill testing at Groovin’ the Moo and we shrugged our shoulders and said, it’s not actually high yield… so the fact that people got sick there, the fact they were so young, obviously emphasises the ongoing need for this. Even the experts have underestimated the nature of the market. It is absolutely going to be far worse next season.”
NSW Premiere Mike Baird has previously stated that he does not support on site pill testing at music festivals, and according to Fairfax his government’s position “has not changed”. Still that position – particularly in the face of calls from leading Aussie health groups and a number of drug policy experts – could prove even more problematic for the Baird government if such programs begin to roll out in jurisdictions outside of NSW.
The news that other governments and law enforcement organisations are willing to take a lead in moving drug policy beyond blinkered moralising and towards something approaching a harm minimisation strategy is welcome news indeed.
And, according to our research, over 80% of Music Feeds readers would agree.
Should Australian Music Festivals Implement Drug Testing?: The Poll Results