Criminal Law

By Satomi Hamon


Drug deaths at festivals: Is pill testing the solution?

The growing number of drug related deaths at Australian music festivals call for drastic measures. The availability of pill testing services at places where there is likely to be a large consumption of recreational drugs will keep drug users safer by providing them with the opportunity to make informed choices. 

The United Nation’s 2014 World Drug Report[1] revealed that Australia ranks highest in the world in ecstasy use per capita. Party drugs, such as ecstasy, are predominantly taken in social situations and have been credited as the cause of multiple deaths occurring at Australian music festivals over the past few years. Young Australians are not slowing down in their consumption of recreational drugs and it is clear that the time has come to steer away from our current ‘strictly no drugs’ policy.

Pill testing is an on the spot harm reduction service that allows recreational drug users to get their drugs checked by a professional who will tell them what substances their drugs contain. This will make for a safer drug taking experience and won’t change any of the current drug possession laws in Australia.

Contrary to what some might believe about this service, pill testing is not about promoting drug use. This service is established in Europe and shows that people are much less likely to voluntarily consume a drug if they are alerted of its possible danger, than if they remain blissfully unaware.

If you are charged with possessing drugs at a festival in Canberra or elsewhere, be sure to contact an experienced criminal lawyer for advice and representation.

[1] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2014 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.14.XI.7).