News September 20, 2018

Spilt Milk will not be Canberra’s second pill-testing festival

Spilt Milk will not be Canberra’s second pill-testing festival

Canberra may have won kudos for being the first in the country to officially sanction pill-testing at a music festival.

The results of the first test, at Groovin The Moo at the University of Canberra in April was generally regarded as positive enough for the STA-SAFE (Safety and Testing and Advisory Service at Festivals and Events) consortium, to apply for similar trials at other festivals around the country.

Last month one member of the consortium, Harm Reduction Australia, launched a $100,000 campaign to fund these.

It also applied to test at on Saturday, November 17 at Commonwealth Park.

Spilt Milk was, in fact, supposed to be the first last year but its promoter pulled out six weeks ahead because of “approvals”.

The ACT government might have been pro the tests, but because the festival is held on Commonwealth land the federal government could easily sabotage the decision.

The Canberra Times reports that Spilt Milk will not be testing in 2018 either.

The National Capital Authority, which operates Commonwealth Park, has refused permission citing the lack of legal framework for the trials.

The NCA informed The Canberra Times: “The Commonwealth’s concern first and foremost is the safety, health and wellbeing of Australians, including the safety of people attending events held on national land.

“The government does not support decisions to use illicit drugs, and does not in-principle support , as it could imply that illicit drugs are safe.

“All illicit drug use contains inherent risks and even taking a known substance can result in unintended harm.

“It is important to note that pill testing may not be able to identify all components in an illicit substance and does not take into account any underlying health conditions a person may have or interactions with any other substances or medications a person may have taken.

“Importantly, there is no legal framework currently in place and the Commonwealth will not facilitate measures to enable pill testing to take place on Commonwealth land, for the reasons I have mentioned.”

ACT health minister Meegan Fitzharris wrote to federal minister Greg Hunt last Friday, as his permission would be vital for the NCA to green-light a Spilt Milk testing lab.

An option being considered is for the drug lab to be set up outside the Spilt Milk site and on ACT land, which can be accessed by its patrons without coming under Commonwealth jurisdiction.

129 people used the Groovin test, with two pills found to be the same which killed others overseas, and two new drugs identified.

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