The nation’s first illicit pill-testing trial at Canberra’s Groovin the Moo festival has been deemed a success by drug treatment experts.
In a controversial move, partygoers were able to get their drugs tested by volunteer medical staff and chemical analysts at Sunday’s event.
The STA-Safe consortium received the last-minute go-ahead to offer free pill-testing in a mobile laboratory in a festival health tent, with the support of the ACT government and ACT Police.
The Canberra trial saw 128 participants have 85 samples tested, with 50 per cent containing pure MDMA 50 and per cent of the pills containing ‘other’ substances while. Two of the samples were ‘deadly’, according to the organiser.
‘We’ve just taken a big step towards taking back control of the dangerous black market in drugs in order to keep our kids safe,’ Ted Noffs Foundation chief executive Matt Noffs said in a statement on Monday.
Greens call for statewide rollout
The Greens, meanwhile, have called for the testing to be rolled out across NSW after the revelation that the testing could potentially have averted two deaths at the party.
Pill testing provides information to people who intend to take drugs at festivals, and allows health professionals to come in contact with these people and give them advice, Greens NSW drugs and harm minimisation spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi said.
‘The NSW Government has to pull its head out of the sand and recognise that pill testing saves lives. We have just had a successful trial in Canberra that shows pill testing is safe, effective, popular and most importantly saves lives.
‘The reality is people take drugs whether the NSW Government likes it or not. They need to get out of the way to allow experts to get on with the job of keeping people safe.
‘Pill testing provides information to people who are intending to take drugs, and allows them to come face-to-face with medical professionals who can give them some sound advice.
‘We could have a comprehensive pill testing program here in New South Wales with just a stroke of a pen.
‘There is clear evidence that a punitive, heavy-handed approach to drug use does not work, and will not stop people from taking dangerous substances at festivals.
‘Pill testing can minimise the risk of harm and save lives. It’s absolutely time we acted on it,’ Ms Faruqi said.