Victoria’s Rainbow Serpent Festival has joined the call for drug testing measures at music festivals and says it is looking at introducing such testing at its own events if the government were to approve it.
As The Music reports, Rainbow Serpent organisers have released a statement saying that testing the chemical makeup of pills is needed to keep festival-goers safe, because police sniffer dogs and strip searches aren’t working.
Rainbow Serpent Festival Director Tim Harvey says legislative chance is preventing the festival from implementing these drug testing measures.
“We need some progressive and brave politicians who recognise the current approach isn’t working and can communicate the benefits of changing strategies to the mainstream Australian population,” Mr Harvey says.
Rainbow Serpent’s statement refers to a Change.org petition calling for pill testing to be introduced at Australian festivals, which has gathered almost 30,000 signatures since launching two days ago. The petition was created by Adriana Buccianti, whose son Daniel Buccianti passed away at Rainbow Serpent Festival in 2012.
“We fully support Adriana’s impassioned plea,” Mr Harvey says. “What many people don’t realise is Daniel passed away from the interaction of a prescribed medication, not an illicit drug.
“While the purity and composition of illicit substances continue to be a focus for the police and media, we have concerns about any potentially unsafe behaviour including alcohol, prescription medications as well as illicit substances.”
Mr Harvey says governments around the world are realising that “drug use has been a reality in societies for thousands of years”, and believes Australia will eventually “follow the lead of countries like Portugal and Ireland, who have moved towards treating recreational drug use as a health issue, which incorporates a strong harm-minimisation approach”.
“Recreational use is occurring every weekend in every city and town around Australia,” Mr Harvey says. “At music festivals, we at least have the benefit of exceptionally well-resourced medical crews to look after patrons.”
Rainbow Serpent Festival’s statement comes after 25-year-old Sylvia Choi died after collapsing at the Sydney leg of Stereosonic over the weekend, with police, doctors and artists joining the call for a rethink on festival drugs policies since her death.
The 2015 Rainbow Serpent Festival ended with three recorded overdoses and multiple drug charges.