Pill Testing Trials Will Go Ahead At Sydney Music Festivals, Even Though It’s Still Illegal

"I am prepared to break the law to save young people's lives."

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The President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation will begin trialling pill testing at Sydney music festivals with or without the NSW government’s permission. Speaking with the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr. Alex Wodak (who also introduced Australia’s first legal injecting station) explained that even though the trial was illegal, he was frustrated at the Baird government constantly blocking his proposal and had decided to privately fund the trials with emergency medical specialist David Caldicott.

“We are going to do this,” Dr. Wodak said to Fairfax. “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.”

The Baird government has maintained a zero-tolerance stance on drugs and seem to struggle with the idea that advocating for pill testing isn’t the same as advocating for pill taking, but public support for the introduction of legal pill testing seems to be growing. It’s safe to say that the ‘KIDS, DON’T DO DRUGS, OR ELSE!!’ method is not preventing drug-related deaths, nor is the threat to shut down music festivals all together. It is unclear if the NSW government will actually work with Dr. Wodak after initial trials take place.

Dr. Wodak and Dr. Caldicott’s plan is one of pragmatism; if you can’t stop young people from taking drugs then you need to make it a little safer. At this summer’s Stereosonic tour alone, two people died of drug overdoses and more than a hundred people were taken to hospital for drug-related illnesses around the country.

“It’s very straight forward. We want to run a trial at a place where everyone is using drugs anyway,” says Dr. Caldicott. “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.”

Image from Let Them Eat Cake Facebook.