News April 29, 2019

Canberra’s pill testing may have saved seven lives on the weekend

Canberra’s pill testing may have saved seven lives on the weekend

Yesterday’s pill-testing at the festival in Canberra may have saved seven lives.

The (PTA) consortium, which conducted the trials for the second year in a row, found seven of the 171 samples tested included n-ethylpentylone – a substance linked with mass overdoses overseas and also detected at last year’s Groovin’.

It is three times as toxic as MDMA, the most popular substance yesterday, followed by cocaine, ketamine and methamphetamines.

All seven immediately discarded their drugs into the amnesty bill, PTA reported.

Out of a 20,000+ strong crowd at Exhibition Park to see Billie Eilish, Hilltop Hoods and Coolio, 234 punters took part.

The number of tests doubled from 85 in 2018, with more toxic substances detected in the unmarked test tent. (For legal reasons, the test could not be advertised).

Last year 18% abandoned their pills after the analysis, 12% said they would consume less of the drugs, and 5% said they would find another drug.

Yesterday’s test marked the end of an era of free tests by concerned doctors, chemists, counsellors, students and clubland identities.

PTA said that the ACT government should now start considering paying for the costs of the tests as part of healthcare benefits.

Dr David Caldicott of PTA said further funding options including public subscriptions and payment by festival promoters – but firmly ruled any scheme where festival-goers pay for their drugs to be analysed.

“This is a health issue and we should be approaching it as such,” he is quoted in The Canberra Times.

Discussions have not begun between the consortium and the ACT government.

The Australian National University will now assess the results of the tests, and the government will rely on these as it moves forward.

As reported in TMN, the non-profit PTA is currently crowd-funding for an initial $100,000 primarily to increase the number of equipment and offer more costs for volunteers.

Yesterday’s test showed that the equipment was being used “non-stop”, according to PTA’s Gino Vumbaca.

Possibly more pill-tests will be in demand from other states,

The Canberra tests were attended by reps from Queensland Health, the NSW Coroner’s Office, NSW special commission of inquiry into ice usage and a group of Victorian politicians.

Police were in heavy presence at Groovin’ The Moo’s shows in Wayville in South Australia, Maitland in NSW and Canberra.

34 were detected with possession of drugs. A 17-year old was charged with possessing 54 MDMA pills in Maitland, Two found with drugs in Canberra have to go through a drug diversion program.

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