Another Blow For Pill Testing

A plan by a group of medical professionals to give free pill tests at Australian music festivals in the southern summer has taken a second blow.

Lead by Australian Drug Law Reform president Alex Wodak and Canberra-based emergency medical specialist David Caldicott, the idea came after a horrendous summer of drug overdoses and deaths at festivals.

Permission was refused in New South Wales, which hosts a huge number of festivals. State premier Mike Baird said, “It’s just making it easier for drug dealers, and undoing the work of police.”

Undaunted, the medics said that they had the funding to do the tests in other unspecified states, in which senior politicians and law enforcement officials had expressed confidence it would help save lives. Each test costs $100,000 ($75,900).

It was assumed that Victoria, the second-largest festival state, would be where the tests would take place. But a statement from Victoria Police warned that it had internal legal advice that under current legislation, anyone involved in pill-testing would be prosecuted.

“In Victoria it is currently unlawful to use, possess, cultivate or traffic illicit drugs in any form,” it said. The state’s government has no plans to make an exception for tests.

Dr Caldicott responded that his legal advice was that licenced forensic chemists undertaking the tests could not be charged. However those submitting drug samples could be.

“We want to work with the police on this.”