Why New South Wales will NOT be getting pill testing at music festivals

Why New South Wales will NOT be getting pill testing at music festivals 2
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Why New South Wales will NOT be getting pill testing at music festivals – as police minister issues a warning to drug users

  • NSW Police Minister Paul O’Toole said he won’t bring in pill testing for festivals  
  • Mr O’Toole said despite studies showing the drugs were pure they were not safe 
  • Unwanted chemicals were found in 15 per cent of drugs tested in 2019-20 
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Pill testing won’t become standard at music festivals, the NSW government has declared. 

New police minister Paul O’Toole warned that the tactic gives ‘false confidence’ to drug users that what they are consuming is safe.

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‘Pill testing sends the wrong message to people about consuming illegal substances,’ Mr Toole told The Daily Telegraph.

‘There’s no such thing as a safe way to take these drugs and we don’t want to create a false sense of confidence that there is.’ 

‘Tragically, too many families are living with the consequences of people thinking there is,’ he said. 

Mr O’Toole said a recent study by NSW Health showed that MDMA seized at music festivals was generally highly pure.

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But he warned just because the pills weren’t polluted with poisons it did not mean the drugs were without risk, and users were still taking a gamble. 

Plenty of sniffer dogs were spotted outside the front entrance of the Field Days summer music festival on Saturday afternoon as police said official pill testing would not be brought in

Plenty of sniffer dogs were spotted outside the front entrance of the Field Days summer music festival on Saturday afternoon as police said official pill testing would not be brought in

The pills tested were seized across music festivals between 2019 and 2020 and showed a purity of as low as eight per cent of the drug it was sold as varying to as high as 88 per cent. 

The median purity was around 74 per cent, according to the Combined Surveillance and Monitoring and Seized Substances report issued in December. 

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NSW Health added that the report was not an assessment on pill testing and issued a reminder that ‘any’ illicit substance carries dangers.

Six teenagers lost their lives at NSW music festivals between 2017 and 2019 connected to illicit drugs. 

A subsequent inquiry into the tragic deaths of Alexandra Ross-King, 19, Nathan Tran, 18, Callum Brosnan, 19, Diana Nguyen, 21, Josh Tam, 22, and Joseph Pham, 23, recommended that pill testing be brought in by the government. 

Other recommendations included phasing out the use of sniffer dogs, as it was argued they could lead to people taking pills they would otherwise have kept, and decriminalising the personal use – not sale – of some illicit substances. 

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Mr O’Toole’s comments come just days after police charged 85 people with drug crimes at the Field Day music festival in Sydney. 

Sniffer dogs helped police detect and seize MDMA, ketamine, magic mushrooms, LSD, cocaine, and marijuana. 

A concertgoer is escorted by police outside the Field Day gates as the summer festival kicked into gear on Saturday (pictured)

A concertgoer is escorted by police outside the Field Day gates as the summer festival kicked into gear on Saturday (pictured) 

Two people were arrested for drug supply, one of them allegedly carrying 50 ecstasy pills, and the rest for possession. 

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Almost 12,000 people attended the annual New Year’s Day festival at The Domain in the city’s centre to watch electronic duo Peking Duk, DJ Anna Lunoe, and Brisbane singer Mallrat, among others.

One of the drug supply charges was of a 22-year-old man allegedly found with 50 capsules of MDMA.

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