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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Over 200 Festivalgoers Had Their Pills Tested at Groovin the Moo This Weekend

NSW and Queensland government representatives and Victorian politicians also inspected the pill testing trial — which identified seven potentially deadly substances.
By Libby Curran
April 30, 2019
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Over 200 Festivalgoers Had Their Pills Tested at Groovin the Moo This Weekend

NSW and Queensland government representatives and Victorian politicians also inspected the pill testing trial — which identified seven potentially deadly substances.
By Libby Curran
April 30, 2019
  shares

Over the weekend, thousands of punters pulled on their gumboots and descended on Canberra for the annual Groovin the Moo festival. And, while they were there, many festivalgoers had their illicit substances tested at the the country's second ever pill testing trial.

Taking place on Sunday, April 28, the trial was deemed "an overwhelming success" by organisers, with 171 illicit drug samples tested on the day — a huge increase from the trial's debut at the same festival last year, when 85 substances were examined.

Headed up by harm reduction advocates Pill Testing Australia, again with the backing of the ACT Government, the 2019 trial tested samples from 234 participants and identified seven dangerous substances containing potentially deadly n-ethylpentylone. The punters carrying those were advised of the dangers and all turfed them in the amnesty bin provided.

Among all of the day's tested substances, MDMA appeared most often, with cocaine, ketamine and methamphetamines also identified. Health warnings and safety information were given to every festivalgoer who had their drugs tested.

Despite a stack of international research, support from local experts and now two successful local pill testing trials, many Australian politicians — including the NSW and Victorian Premiers — have stuck firm on their anti-pill testing stance, even in the wake of a spate of deaths from suspected drug overdoses at NSW music festivals last year and a thousands-strong rally in Sydney earlier this year.

In response to the deaths, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian introduced a strict new licensing regime for festivals — which doesn't include pill testing.

However, according to the ABC, the pill testing trial did attract interest from Queensland Health and New South Wales Coroner's Office representatives — along with a group of Victorian crossbenchers — who visited the testing site as it was being set up on Saturday.

So, while the ACT is currently the only state that allows pill testing, maybe this means we'll see pill testing once again up for debate across the rest of Australia. Especially since, just last week, according to the SMH, Premier Berejiklian gave the go-ahead for a government inquiry into illicit drug use to examine the merits of pill testing.

Pill Testing Australia is also currently raising funds to roll out free trials across the country. It will need the support of the respective state governments to do so.

Image: Groovin the Moo by Jack Toohey.

Published on April 30, 2019 by Libby Curran

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