NSW Govt's Stance Against Pill Testing Could Result In Trial Outside State

2 May 2016 | 9:54 am | Staff Writer

"We are now working out how we can have a system in place for the forthcoming festival season."

Due to the NSW Government's firm stance against pill testing, talks of the initiative have commenced with senior politicians and police in other states which could see it be trialled at summer music festivals throughout the country. 

According to Fairfax, other states are reported to be more "sympathetic" and "interested" towards pill testing and observe the strategy as an "early warning" for dangerous substances, after NSW Premier Mike Baird dismissed the proposal earlier this year saying, "There's a pretty simple way that you know you're going to be safe — don't take the pills".

"We continue to progress," said Dr David Caldecott of the pill testing proposal.

"We've got the funding. Meetings with law enforcement have been face to face and in more than one jurisdiction outside of NSW."

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Though he declined to say which states trial organisers are in talks with, Caldicott added, "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."

The news comes just a week after two festival-goers, one of which was a 15-year-old girl, were taken to hospital in a critical condition for alleged drug overdoses after attending Groovin The Moo.

Caldicott said the incidents are a "dire warning" for Australia's summer music festival period. 

"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," he said.

"Even the experts have underestimated the nature of the market. It is absolutely going to be far worse next season."

In an interview with theMusic last month, Greens leader Richard Di Natale blasted Baird's stance on pill testing as a "silly, failed approach".

"It doesn’t work as a deterrent, but it contributes to harm. You’ve got some people who engage in riskier behaviour when sniffer dogs are around," Di Natale said.

"People will continue to take some of these substances and often the harms associated with them is because people are taking drugs of unknown quality, toxicity, purity, and to be able to test those drugs will go someway to make sure people aren’t exposed to the riskier substances that are going around."