Will pill testing save lives?



December 22, 2018 10:44:35

We asked four Australians under 30 whether pill testing should be allowed at music festivals.

Following three festival deaths in four months from suspected drug overdose, debate has reignited over whether pill testing could save lives or gives the green light to illicit drug use.

Australia’s first and only trial of pill testing took place at the Canberra Groovin The Moo festival in April.

Shelley Smith coordinates policy and harm reduction campaigns for youth service provider Noffs Foundation.

She advised festival-goers at the trial.

DJ and event producer Ayebatonye Abrakasa has seen friends make hurried decisions around drug-taking when police have been present at music festivals.

Sam Hurrell is a clinical science student who will start a medicine degree next year.

His close family member has struggled with methamphetamine addiction for several years.

Samraat Joshua Grewal is national president of the Christian Democratic Party’s youth wing.

He says that pill testing gives a green light to drug use.

Australian ecstasy pills rank among the highest in the world for concentration of dangerous ingredients.

It can take up to a week of lab analysis to show a drug is completely free of lethal toxins.

Advocacy groups called on the NSW Government to support pill testing after two young people died at the Defqon.1 festival in September.

The pressure has been renewed after another teenager died from a drug overdose at a Sydney dance festival in December.

The NSW and Victorian governments have both stood by their opposition to pill testing in the wake of several suspected overdoses.

Several drugs tested at Groovin the Moo this year carried a high probability of users developing dependence.

The same batch of toxic pills that killed four people in the UK claimed no lives in the Netherlands, where pill testing is part of government health policy.

Watch the full discussion on YouTube


  • Story, video and photography: Mridula Amin and Jack Fisher
  • Additional filming: Edwina Storie, Abubakr Mahmoud, Dave Maguire
  • Cover image: Jack Toohey




First posted

December 22, 2018 06:04:40

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