POLICE and the State Government have resisted calls for pill testing at this weekend’s Rainbow Serpent Festival, despite a plea from festival organisers and the Pryenees Shire Mayor for its introduction.
Police say the risk of not being able to detect what is in drugs is among the reasons that pill testing has not been legislated.
Superintendent Jenny Wilson said the focus for police would be to make the festival safe.
“Obviously over the years we’ve had at this, and at other festivals, the issue of drug taking,” she said.
“We have a zero tolerance around people taking illicit drugs, they are illicit drugs for a reason. It’s well documented how dangerous it is to take these things.
“The reality for us is there’s a number of issues, nobody knows exactly whats in the drug they are taking, people’s own health and physiology means they react in different ways, so it’s very unpredictable the outcome. What we want is a drug free event that people can come along and enjoy it and that’s our goal this week and into the future of the event.”
Pyrenees Shire Mayor Robert Vance said he backed the use of testing in a hope it would save lives.
“Pills don’t wash with me, I don’t agree with drug taking and I’m sure my co-councillors would agree,” he said. “But if one life is saved by testing the pills, it’s got to be a good thing.”
Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley said there were too many issues to introduce pill testing at this point
“(There’s a) whole lot of other unresolved issues around liability, around certainty of those tests, and around legal obligations that may place the state, operator, or provider in,” he said.
“What I can tell you is the New South Wales government’s knee-jerk reaction to regulate the bajeebies out of (festival/music) providers is not a path that we’re going down. They will kill the music scene going down that path.
“It’s a complex issue because of all those other unresolved issues and those shifting of resources means we’re not in a position to do so.”
Rainbow Serpent Festival marketing manager Tim Harvey said organisers welcomed the opportunity to work with authorities on any evidence based harm reduction strategy.
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