Festival punters back pill testing in WA

The controversial issue of pill testing at Australian festivals is back on the public agenda with punters joining some health professionals to back the idea.

The ACT was the first state to trial pill testing on ecstasy at the Groovin’ the Moo festival last weekend – with many claiming it was a huge success.

More than 100 people took part with 85 samples being tested.

Half were found to be pure MDMA with two being potentially deadly.

Although the Canberra experiment was deemed successful, some are now wondering if pill testing will feature at GTM in Bunbury on May 12.

The news is, it won’t.

ECU’s Dr Stephen Bright, from the School of Medical and Health Sciences, says the government is not going to look at drug testing in Western Australia for at least five years due to political problems.

“In terms of anything happening in WA the political obstacle with the government is probably out of line with the public opinion.”

Sarah Gibbons from Maylands says drug testing is a good idea because people will do it regardless, so they may as well do it safely.

“I think it’s really going to prevent reoccurring events that have happened before like when they see sniffer dogs at the front and swallow all their pills, they have a bad outcome because they don’t know what is in them.”

Dr Bright said people can’t say the pill testing in Canberra resulted in there being no deaths although it certainly had an impact while getting information out there.

“If you’re just saving one young person’s life that’s got to be seen as a tremendous success.”

Many students believe that pill testing is a good opportunity to encourage people to be more aware of what they are putting in their bodies.

Kat Corrie from Morley supports pill testing and said it’s not just about getting punished it’s more about their wellbeing.

“It’s such a big part of the whole festival environment so rather than making it a taboo and not talking about it I think it’s good they are making it something to communicate and discuss.”

Dr Bright said while people wait for their drugs to be analysed they are provided with a brief intervention, while some choose not to take the drugs after this but if they do they are given more information as to when they should have water and take care of themselves.

“Evidence from international research is absolutely clear that it does not increase drug use it decreases drug use.”

Many festival goers hope that pill testing does get introduced to WA not only for their safety but also for their friends safety.

Dr Bright advice to people planning on taking pills at GTM Bunbury next weekend or any future festival is to get a testing kit from online as they give people some idea of what they are taking and can identify potentially toxic chemicals.

“In the absence of sophisticated testing in W.A. it is completely legal for people to access their own test kits.”


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