An Australia-first pill testing trial will go ahead at Sunday’s Groovin the Moo music festival at the University of Canberra after the promoter gave the go-ahead late on Thursday.
The trial already had the ACT Government, police and health officials on side but the promoter, Cattleyard Productions, had been holding out.
Festival-goers will now be able to have their illegal drugs tested for chemicals by independent group STA-SAFE.
Confirming the go-ahead, the ACT Government said the trial did not condone illicit drug use.
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“However, it will provide an opportunity to encourage people who are considering using illicit drugs to modify their behaviour in ways that reduce risks of harm to their health,” Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris said.
The STA-SAFE consortium was set to conduct a pill test at Spilt Milk in Commonwealth Park with the support of the Government only to see it scuttled by the National Capital Authority after the Canberra Liberals approached their Federal counterparts, and the organisers withdrew.
However, this time it will be on ACT land.
Festival goers will be able to have their pills analysed by providing a scraping and be advised of its chemical makeup, its effects and potential harms.
They will be provided with information about what to do and where to go for medical attention if they do choose to take a pill and there are adverse effects.
The STA-SAFE consortium members are the Australian Drug Observatory, Noffs Foundation, DanceWize, Students for Sensible Drug Policies and Harm Reduction Australia.
The Canberra Liberals said the Government has acted irresponsibly by pressuring a festival promoter to participate in an unproven and potentially illegal trial.
Shadow attorney-general Jeremy Hanson said the trial would be a legal minefield.
“Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet when it comes to protecting festival goers from illicit drugs,” he said.
“The Canberra Liberals maintain their opposition to illicit pill testing on public safety and legal grounds.”