Australia’s second ever pill-testing trial being hailed as a huge success

The second ever pill-testing service was trialled at Canberra’s Groovin the Moo music festival over the weekend and has been hailed a huge success.

The results of the trial were unexpected, sparking more debate surrounding drug use and safety for young Australians.

Photo by Jack Toohey

Over 230 people used the pill testing service with seven people choosing to dump pills that contained potentially deadly substances.

The dumped pills displayed traces of n-ethylpentylone, a synthetic stimulant which belongs to a family of drugs which are more commonly known as “bath salts.” It has been reported that this substance can cause dangerous side-effects such as hyperthermia, seizures, hallucinations, and even death. All festival goers who were told their drugs contained the potentially dangerous material dumped them in the bins provided.

It is clear that demand for the pill-testing has skyrocketed since last year. 171 substances were tested during this year’s event, compared to 85 at last year’s. The most common drugs tested included MDMA, cocaine, ketamine, and methamphetamine.

What’s surprising however is that while previous trials uncovered that most drugs were of low-purity and contained adulterants, the purity levels at this year’s event far higher.

With the enormous costs associated with pill testing, many question the worth of the service. Others claim that pill testing will create a “false illusion” that pill taking is safe, and as such, cause more deaths.

However, Pill Testing Australia’s Gino Vumbaca, has a different view, as is reported by SBS. “We helped reduce drug-related harm by giving young people access to a medical service they would not have had otherwise.” It seems pretty clear that the pill testing service has potentially saved seven lives this weekend.

Many see that pill testing is encouraging young festival-goers to learn more about the stuff they put into their bodies. While there is still a need for more dialogue, we should be jumping on board and supporting the pill testings agenda to ensure that people are as safe as they can be at festivals and gigs across Australia.