Music

The NSW Premier Has Banned Defqon.1 From Ever Returning To NSW And Experts Are Pissed Off

Pill. Testing. Saves. Lives.

Defqon.1

Pill testing advocates are frustrated with Gladys Berejiklian’s Defqon.1 ban, saying that her reaction to the two deadly overdoses last night won’t stop drug deaths.

“I never want to see this event held in Sydney or NSW ever again. We will do everything we can to shut this down,” Berejiklian said earlier today. “Young lives lost for no reason.”

“Pill testing is not a solution,” the NSW premier continued. “Giving a green light to taking drugs is not a solution. That exposes people to risk and unfortunately tragic consequences.”

A NSW Police spokesperson backed Berejiklian up:

“I think it would be an exceptionally bad look for the government to support the testing of pills, because those pills are illegally produced. It’s not a good look for the police or the government to support pill testing.”

But pill testing advocates say that banning Defqon.1 will do nothing to fix the broader problem of drug overdoses at music festivals.

“The premier has the same problem as Defqon.1: thinking that a ban will make a problem go away,” Will Tregoning, the founder and director of drug harm reduction organisation Unharm, told Junkee.

“For years, Defqon.1 told their patrons they have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for drugs. We now know that at least half the people at an event like Defqon.1 will be illegally using drugs,” Tregoning continued. “Banning things just pushes them into the shadows.”

Tregoning said the premier’s plan to cancel Defqon.1 would fail, because it would push drug use even further into the shadows.

“Drug safety testing helps identify the most dangerous substances in circulation, and engages people who are planning to take drugs in a consultation with a health professional.”

On Twitter, others agreed.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale called for pill testing in music festivals.

David Caldicott, a pill testing activist and doctor, criticised the use of sniffer dogs and strip searches.

And drug academic Kate Seear suggested that evidence from the Groovin’ the Moo pill testing trial earlier in the year supported calls for drug testing at music festivals.

In comparison to the dozens of drug-related arrests at Defqon.1 — and the more than 100 arrests at Byron Bay’s Splendour in the Grass last month — there were only three arrests when pill testing was trialled at Groovin’ the Moo.

“We were able to identify two highly toxic substances, and a significant amount of drugs that differed from people’s expectations,” one of the people behind Groovin the Moo’s drug testing trial, Matt Noffs, told Junkee earlier this year. “They had everything, from paint, to lactose, to milk powder and toothpaste.”