No Queensland pill testing trial over summer festival season


pill testing grooving the moo
Photo: Groovin The Moo

Queensland will not introduce a pill-testing trial ahead of the music festival season this summer.

Health Minister Steven Miles previously said he would look “closely at the work currently under way in Canberra in relation to the use of pill testing as a harm-reduction strategy”.

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The ACT conducted two pill testing trials at the Groovin the Moo festivals in Canberra in April 2018 and April 2019.

Results of those trials at the Groovin the Moo festival were expected at a meeting of Australia’s health ministers in late October.

However, pill testing was pushed off the agenda until the next meeting in several months at the earliest, the Brisbane Times reported.

A spokesperson for Mr Miles told the Times he would welcome the ACT going ahead with its briefing at the next meeting.

Emergency medicine consultant David Caldicott oversaw the clinical team at both Canberra trials. He warned a clinical trial is needed in the state over the summer.

“Telling young people not to take drugs is about as useful as telling them not to have sex before marriage,” he said.

“We obviously need to do something new because we have a whole generation of young people ignoring what they are told,” he said.

“A wide variety of new drugs are coming onto the market. Nobody thinks pill testing is the answer to all of the drug problems in Australia.

“But it is a very good way to start a dialogue with young people about their choices and also to monitor the market.”

Queensland LNP opposes drug testing trial

Last month, the NSW coroner called for pill testing after an inquest into six drug-related music festival deaths last summer. This included the death of 22-year-old Brisbane man Joshua Tam last December.

On pill testing, a spokesperson for Queensland’s LNP opposition told the Brisbane Times, “The state LNP believes in education and rehabilitation – not giving festival-goers a false sense of security.

“Drugs are illegal for a reason. One pill can kill.”

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Earlier this year, the Australian Medical Association Queensland called for a controlled pill-testing trial in the state.

“Any death or serious harm caused by taking a pill at a music festival or other event is too many,” AMAQ President Dr Dhupelia said.

“We need to have a look at a raft of solutions in terms of dealing with these issues.

“A pill testing trial should be considered as part of a wider harm minimisation strategy for festivals.

Read more: Why the time is now for pill testing