Australia approves music festival pill-testing trial
Australia will conduct its first ever pill-testing trial this weekend at a music festival in the capital Canberra in an attempt to reduce harm from illicit drug consumption, officials said.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government announced that party-goers attending the Groovin the Moo festival on Sunday will be able to have their drugs tested by experts, who will inform users of the ingredients and counsel on potential risks.
An amnesty bin will be on offer for those who decide to get rid of their drugs.
“This trial is a breakthrough for harm reduction,” ACT health minister Meegan Fitzharris posted on Facebook late Thursday.
“It does not condone illicit drug use, but for the first time people will have access to information they wouldn’t otherwise have to make better decisions,” she added.
A number of countries have pill-testing programmes, including the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and New Zealand.
The composition of illicit party drugs varies widely. Authorities warn that makers regularly mix recreational drugs with unpredictable or hazardous ingredients.
Police have pledged they “will not actively target” the section of the festival where pill testing will take place.
“Whilst ACT Policing does not condone the use of illicit drugs, we do support harm minimisation strategies such as the decision to provide an accommodating environment to allow for pill testing,” a police spokesperson said.
“As a police force, we will continue to target and investigate the sale and supply of illicit drugs.”
According to 2016 government data, some 8.5 million people — around 43 percent of Australians aged 14 and over — have used recreational drugs such as cannabis, methamphetamines, ecstasy and illegally-obtained pharmaceuticals in their lifetime. MKH
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