Australian government officials have resisted calls for pill testing at festivals despite the suspected overdose deaths of two party-goers who had attended separate music festivals over the New Year’s Eve weekend.

The original argument started after another two men died from ingesting substances at the Defqon 1 hardcore music festival. Since then, many attendees have suggested drug screening as a solution, to which Planning Minister Anthony Roberts replied, “The government position is quite clear on pill testing…. We oppose the use of illegal drugs at these festivals.” 

Despite another official’s claim that “If there was a way in which we could ensure that lives were saved through pill testing we would consider it – but there is no evidence provided to the government on that,” the proposed program was trialed at the Groovin the Moo festival in Canberra in April 2018 and found two potentially deadly samples, with half of all the drugs tested being found to contain no psychoactive substances at all.

Many other advocacy groups around the world have participated at renowned festivals and were able to detect the highly dangerous drug fentanyl (among others) in substances that were sold as something completely different, thus saving countless lives. Testing groups then sent out warnings to their followers, spreading the word about bad drugs.

The complicated issue will surely be addressed by leaders of the Australian Festival Association (AFA), which was launched in recent weeks with the aspiration for making fests safer for patrons among its common goals.

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