Leonie Schott
By Leonie Schott

Just when The Parliament of New South Wales, Australia, disallowed the new licensing laws for so called ‘High-risk’ festivals and rather wants to focus on harm reduction, the first step is already taken. A NSW Greens member of the parliament just introduced a pill testing bill to the state’s parliament.

READ ALSO: Australian parliament disallows rushed festival licensing laws

Drugs can be contaminated, may contain much more than thought or may not contain what they’re sold as at all. Dangerous substances, like PMMA are sold as MDMA and can therefor lead to serious health issues. Six young people in NSW died drug-related in just about a year (December 2017 until January 2019), two of them at last year’s Defqon.1 Australia.

After every of these tragedies, the discussion about pill testing came up again, but ended in nothing. Now, the first solid step is taken: Greens member of the parliament Cate Faehrmann, who is also spokesperson for Drug Law Reform and Harm Reduction, introduced a pill testing bill to the state’s parliament.

Pill testing for approved organisations

The proposed bill provides that organisations, also festival organizers, will be able to apply for a licence to conduct pill testing services. The secretary of the health department will be responsible for the approval on licence applications. Anyone carrying a substance will get the possibility to make use of the pill testing and information service.

NSW Premier Minister Gladys Berejiklian holds on her conservative opinion:  “I don’t think it works, I don’t think the evidence is there and I don’t support it. Anyone who advocates pill testing is giving the green light to drugs, that is absolutely unacceptable, there is no such thing as a safe drug.”

Voices of pill testing supporters are getting louder. Politicians like Victorian MP Fiona Patten and Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi state that the possibility of testing will contribute to keeping people safe and informed. Young people know the risks of taking illicit substances, yet continue consuming them anyway, despite the fact they don’t know what’s in them.

The Australian Capital Territory allowed pill testing trials at a festival in Canberra in 2018 and 2019. The emergency physician David Caldicott described this as aiming to create a death-free festival instead of a drug-free festival. According to him, we should rather focus on a safer festival environment than on making a moral judgment. The trial is seen as a success. In some of the pills possibly deadly substances were found and the drugs have been thrown away. No one died at the festivals where they provided pill testing services.

Preventing people from taking unsafe substances can safe lifes

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, who introduced the pill testing bill, concludes: Pill testing works and it’s time the premier had the courage to acknowledge that. If they won’t act before this summer, then I’m hoping the parliament will.” The Greens hope the parliament will approve the bill before the festival season starts, but due to the lengthy debates about this topic, this seems quite unlikely. Hardstyle producer Code Black hopes it won’t take long though and comments on this topic in his Instagram story: “About fucking time… Save lives in any way possible.”

Footage taken from HSU – Harder Styles United

Add a comment