In an Australian first, music festival-goers in Canberra were recently able to go to a drug-testing tent at a music festival to determine whether drugs they had obtained and intended to use contained deadly substances.
Medical groups and certain law reformists and other advocacy groups have been championing this idea - already in operation in other jurisdictions worldwide - be embraced by law enforcement agencies and government in Australia. It is yet to be embraced in NSW where possessing such substances can see you automatically charged and/or convicted with the criminal offence of Possess Prohibited Drug.
However, following negotiations with the ACT Government, police, and health officials, Groovin’ the Moo allowed the testing to occur. The testing was carried out by STA-SAFE: an independent drug testing agency. Amnesty bins meant that attendees could dispose of drugs, as police kept a distance from the testing tent throughout the day.
Apparently some 85 substances were tested throughout the festival of which two were found to have potentially lethal toxicity. Indeed, substances such as spray paint, toothpaste and other harmful ingredients were said to have been found as part of the testing.
It will be interesting to see whether other Australian states and territories consider following suit.