Illegal drug users will be able to test their pills for free at the Spilt Milk music festival in November.
The ACT Government move is the first in Australia, and will be provided by Harm Reduction Australia at the Canberra event.
Festival-goers have been assured that the program is not a trap, and police will not be lurking outside the testing area to arrest drug users.
Illegal drug users will be able to test their pills for free at the Spilt Milk music festival in November (pictured are police sniffer dogs in action at the Stereosonic music festival)
ACT Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris said the service is intended to keep young people safe and did not condone drug use, Triple J Hack reported.
‘Pill testing means young people who are considering taking drugs can be informed about what’s really in their pills and how potent they are,’ she said.
‘And it creates an opportunity to remind them of the risks before they make the final decision to take a drug.’
President of Harm Reduction Australia Gino Vumbaca said it was good the ACT Government are approaching the issue with an open mind.
The ACT Government move is the first in Australia, and will be provided by Harm Reduction Australia at the Canberra event (pictured is a stock image)
‘We’re talking about safe drug use. We want people to be as safe as they can be when they’re using drugs, and that means knowing what they’re actually using,’ said Mr Vumbaca.
He said his organisation will not be telling people it is safe to use drugs, but aims to make people who have decided to use them safer.
The process is expected to take 10 to 15 minutes, and will begin with a short survey.
Pills will be scraped for analysis and volunteers on site will explain the results.
Festival-goers (pictured, stock image) have been assured that the program is not a trap, and police will not be lurking outside the testing area to arrest drug users
Punters will have the choice to throw away the pills after the test results are known, and can throw them in amnesty bins containing bleach if they decide not to take them.
Mr Vumbaca explained there would be no point in police arresting people who use the service, as there was ‘no public health interest’.
Similar to needle and exchange programs or safe injecting rooms, if the police waited outside to make arrests they would never end up being used.
Harm Reduction Australia hopes to make the service available in other states and territories, but so far only the ACT government has been supportive.
Mr Vumbaca explained there would be no point in police arresting people who use the service, as there was ‘no public health interest’ (pictured is a stock image)
ACT Chief Police Officer Justine Saunders said: ‘ACT Policing supports harm minimisation initiatives and has been actively engaged with ACT Government and stakeholders regarding pill testing at the Spilt Milk music festival.’
‘The use of illicit drugs is not condoned by ACT Policing and we will continue to target trafficking and possession, this initiative is aimed at harm minimisation.
‘ACT Policing will be patrolling the festival to ensure patrons enjoy the event in a safe environment.
‘Police will not enter the health facility that contains the pill testing station unless requested to do so by festival organisers, security staff or emergency services or in response to an emergency situation.’
ACT Police confirmed their support of the initiative (pictured are police sniffer dogs at the Stereosonic music festival)