Australian drug researchers and risk prevention advocates are calling for trial drug testing to be implemented amid deaths from overdose at two of the nation’s biggest outdoor music festivals.

The call comes after the death of a festival goer at Defqon’s hard-house music rave in September, and two deaths at Stereosonic’s electronic dance music show this month.

The idea of drug testing has seen more light recently after medical crews treated 20 youths for an array of drug overdoses in Queensland’s capital of Brisbane in one day this week alone. However, a long fight to get trial drug testing at festivals is expected to ensue between the government, law enforcement authorities and drug safety advocates despite Australia’s zero-tolerance policy on drugs in such events.

National Policy Manager for the Australian Drug Foundation, Geoff Munro told IBT that the organisation hopes young people would be able to access medical attention at the festivals.

“The Australian Drug Foundation supports a trial of drug checking or pill testing regimes at festivals, in order to provide the best protection to young people who are taking drugs at the music festivals,” he said.

Munro spoke of a fatality at one of last week’s festivals, saying the response of young people being pulled out of queues or being mocked for seeking help after ingesting drugs is not required.

“We would hope that festival organisers do whatever they can to make sure that people have access to medical attention as quickly a possible, whenever they need it,” he said.

There are several attractive aspects to drug and pill testing at festivals, the main being that health authorities can catalogue these drugs and monitor their specific ingredients that could be dangerous.

“Young people who have their pills tested would have a better chance of identifying pills that are dodgy or potentially harmful,” Munro said. “We believe that will reduce the risk of overdose as has been shown in [other] European countries that have such testing.”

Founder and CEO of drug awareness and harm minimisation organisation Unharmed, Will Tregoning, also spoke with IBT and said that drug testing at music festivals is long overdue, and is something that should absolutely be done. He said the pill and drug testing will, without a doubt, help people in cases of overdose, once those in the medical field log and find treatment for unknown substances.

“These are substances that are typically manufactured because just changing a molecule [can] manage to change existing prohibitions,” Tregoning said. “It means that these are substances that have little or no history of human use”.

One of the largest problems in the said drug testing, according to Tregoning, is the fear that comes with telling authorities about drug-related problems at zero-tolerance festivals.

“We want to make sure that should they [festival goers] experience problems related to their use of legal or illegal drugs, they seek help."

A 2013 survey for the Australian National Council on Drugs showed that of 2,300, more than 80 percent of 16 to 25-year-olds, supported the idea of pill and drug testing at festivals. Should it receive approval, the trial drug testing will help youths and other recreational drug users to stay safe at festivals and will offer a "dump station," where unwanted substances can be left after drug testing.

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