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Australian Report Provides Strong Case For Pill-Testing at Festivals

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation recently aired a report confirming what many of us involved with the electronic dance music scene already knew: a zero-tolerance drug approach puts event attendees’ lives at risk. Medical experts from down under declare that pill-testing programs should be made available at music festivals, in order to prevent further drug-related deaths.

The report also made an argument against the use of drug dog operations as a preventive measure at music festivals. Experts suggest that sniffer dogs have the exact opposite effect on reducing drug users. Following the suspected overdose of a 19-year old man at Sydney’s ‘A State Of Trance’ festival earlier this month, it’s clear that the age-old drug policy debate is stirring in Australia. One of the doctors involved in the ABC study even said that pill testing changes fundamental choices of festivalgoers.

“We know for a fact that when there is a pill-testing program in place, that consumers actually change their behaviour. If the result of a test on a pill is something other than what they thought it would be, they frequently elect to abandon taking that pill. And we have the opportunity to let them know and interface with them about how they can moderate their behaviour.” –Dr. David Caldicott, Emergency Department Consultant

Here in the upper left corner of the United States, our EDM community has had our share of drug-related tragedies. From Paradiso 2013 to Freaknight 2014, the fatal consequences of drugs are ever present at music events, regardless of the various harm reduction methods employed. Pill-testing programs are illegal in the US due to the RAVE Act, preventing venues from testing illegal substances. However as the ABC report shows, pill-testing may be the best, yet unlikely, harm reduction option. If you’d like to see a change in our current drug policy, there’s a petition you can sign here to amend the Rave Act.

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