Two Australian drug experts have announced that they are willing to break the country’s strict laws against drug support in order to commence pill testing trials at music festivals.
The country’s current tough zero-tolerance approach on drug control at music festivals involves sniffer dogs and a heavy police presence. The New South Wales government is opposed to any sort of harm-minimisation measures, such as pill and drug testing.
Despite this lack of government support, Dr. Alex Wodak, president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, and emergency medical specialist, Dr. David Caldicott have announced their plan to set up privately funded pill testing centres at music festivals in Sydney.
Dr. Wodak discussed their plans with Fairfax Media,
“We are going to do this, doctors, analysts who know how to operate the (testing) machines and peer interviewers who can translate the scientific results and explain to people why the drug they bought is talcum powder or highly toxic. The idea is to save lives. I am prepared to break the law to save young people’s lives.”
Dr. Caldicott elaborated, stating that the idea was very simple:
“We want to run a trial at a place where everyone is using drugs anyway. It’s time for our politicians and elected representatives to catch up with what the majority of parents want for their children, which is for them to return home safe.”
Dr. Wodak and Dr. Caldicott are shocked and confused at the lack of support from police and government officials. The current method has not made any progress in reducing the amount of drug use and drug related injuries or deaths. In fact, earlier this year, the Premier of New South Wales declared he would look at banning music festivals in Australia to prevent drug related deaths and hospitalizations, taking the zero-tolerance approach to the extreme.
It seems like the government is a long way from supporting pill testing centres or other harm reduction techniques. However, we can hope that the work of Dr. Wodak and Dr. Caldicott make a difference in drug related problems at festivals in the future, prompting the NSW government, and other governments worldwide, to reconsider their current approach.
The pair will need permission of festival organizers in order to proceed, but they already have a few 2016 events in mind, including Stereosonic and Splendour In The Grass.