Free pill-testing kits to be handed out at Sydney festivals
'Just One Life' aims to minimise harm this summer
Harm minimisation advocates plan to hand out thousands of free pill-testing kits at Sydney music festivals this summer.
The legal do-it-yourself kits will allow festival-goers to test substances they have bought to see whether they contain what they have been marketed as by dealers, and potentially avoid taking something that isn't what they thought it was.
But those behind the ‘Just One Life’ campaign advise the tests are basic and unable to detect the presence of potentially deadly cutting agents.
It wasn’t the preferred operation from the harm minimisation campaigners.
In February, president of the Australian Drug Law Reform foundation Dr Alex Wodak and emergency medical specialist Dr David Caldicott announced they would start a privately funded pill-testing trial at music festivals with or without the New South Wales government’s support, risking arrest in the process.
Their initial vision was to set up laboratory-grade equipment, doctors and analysts on site to promote a safer approach to drugs across the summer festival period.
But the conservative state government has maintained its threats to prosecute anyone associated with a pill testing trial, leading to a change in approach from the group to a less comprehensive method, Fairfax reports.
"These kits give no information about purity and one of the biggest problems we have in this summer's market is very high dose MDMA,” Dr Caldicott told the media outlet.
"It is disappointing. There is a far better way we could do this. But they (the government) have ignored the evidence and expertise available to them."
According to the article, four festival organisers announced they were strongly in favour of pill testing to minimise harm at their events but it was emphasised to them by government and law enforcement officials that if they allowed the trials to operate on site it would be regarded as a tacit admission drug consumption was occurring under their watch.
Harm Reduction Australia, Ted Noffs Foundation, the Australian Drug Observatory, Students for Sensible Drug Policy Australia and DanceWize have combined for the ‘Just One Life’ campaign.
"Nobody is endorsing drug use. Nobody is trying to encourage it. What we are trying to ensure is that young people don't die ... that is the basis for Just One Life," Dr Caldicott explained of the initiative.