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NSW Music Festivals Set To Have On-Site Drug Testing

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Two members of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation (ADLRF) have announced they plan to trial drug testing services at upcoming music festivals in New South Wales.

President of the ADLRF Dr Alex Wodak and emergency medical specialist David Caldicott have announced they will privately fund the services even if the New South Wales (NSW) Government does not support or contribute to the program.

“We are going to do this. The idea is to save lives. I am prepared to break the law to save young people’s lives,” Dr Wodak said.

Under current Australian law drug-testing is considered illegal as the drug-tester would be in possession of an illicit substance, and in control of it. This also means that drug-testers cannot plead ignorance and risk going to jail.

“It’s very straight forward. We want to run a trial at a place where everyone is using drugs anyway,” said Mr Caldicott.

“It’s time for our politicians and elected representatives to catch up with what the majority of parents want for their children, which is for them to return home safe.”

Dr Wodak helped establish Australia’s Needle and Syringe Program in the 1980’s which aimed to reduce the number of cases of HIV contracted by the use of unsanitary syringes. The World Health Organisation has accredited his work in reducing HIV contraction rates whilst being a cost effective strategy.

Dr Wodak has ambitions to take the drug-testing program to some of Australia’s larger music festivals.

“Stereosonic would be a suitable one…Splendour in the Grass would be another. We want to do a big one. We want to do several big ones,” Dr Wodak said.

Drug testing at festivals would allow users who have been sold dangerous substances to be aware of what their drug is actually made up of, giving them the chance to accurately evaluate the risk of ingesting the drug.

Founding member of Victorian organisation Enlighten Harm Reduction, Johnboy Davidson, has campaigned for drug testing at events in Australia for over 15 years. Enlighten Harm Reduction previously set up drug testing services at music festivals in the mid-2000s, however were forced to shut down due to lack of government funding.

Davidson says that when testing showed drugs contained dangerous substances, the person in possession was less likely to then ingest the drug.

Read our in-depth look at illicit drug usage HERE